Hit by a Car? Nothing Can be Done Unless You’re Hurt.


A letter in the Daily News this week reminds us of the need for better enforcement as well as the open source hit-and-run investigation conducted by Streetsblog readers last November:

Brooklyn: Last week, as I rode my bicycle along Third Ave. in Brooklyn, I was hit by a car as it cut around traffic in the parking lane. Other than a few scrapes I was not hurt, and my bike was not damaged. I argued with the driver and he sped off, hitting my bike again. I went to the precinct to file a complaint and was told nothing could be done because I was not hurt and my bike was not damaged. So, bicyclists, beware: You can be bullied, harassed and even hit without any repercussions. My suggestion: Fall down and scream for an ambulance. Then maybe the cops will do something.

Photo: Jason Varone

  • This is an outrage. Even if you’re not hurt and your bike isn’t damaged, the police should take a formal complaint so that there is a record of the incident. And if you don’t even have a plate number, they should still take the complaint for statistics.

  • I carry my Krypto lock in my hand (mini Evo) and one good swing usually gets a driver’s attention and can leave a nasty dent. Be prepared to split though.

  • MD

    I had a similar experience at the 77th Precinct in Bklyn recently. I had to be very insistent before the officer would take my report, but she wasn’t happy about it. She became nicer as we were filling out the form and at some point I explained that if we were to demand a bike lane on Franklin, where this happened, it would be important for incidents like this to be on the record. She was very agreeable after that.

  • Timely.

    I was harassed on my commute the other day.

    I followed up with the state (Mass.) registry of motor vehicles and the city (Newton, Mass.) police.

    Haven’t heard anything yet.

  • James

    If you fall and scream for an ambulance, make sure there are witnesses. Or that you fall in between parked cars, so the drivers can’t fire up his engine and “finish the job” to keep you quiet.

  • Yanover

    I had the same experience going down Adams Street off the Brooklyn Bridge. A van sped by me and his mirror hit my shoulder and knocked me off. The van just rode on.

    I drive mostly in Manhattan and my experience is drivers in Brooklyn are more brutal.

  • I’ve witnessed and attempted to assist in 5-6 accidents involving delivery cyclists. No matter how shaken up they were, they wanted only to get back on their bikes and make their deliveries. The drivers got off scot free. There needs to be another way of estimating accidents — by multi-lingual surveys of bikers perhaps? Weighted for the hours ridden?

  • I have been hit by a car, and rest assured, even with injury and damage to my bike, the cabbie who ran the stop sign was not in any way ticketed. He was warned for driving on expired plates, but nothing else as I sat there in shock. He drove off w/ nothing more than a verbal warning while I walked my trashed bike back home to clean the blood off my shin and hand.

  • tOM

    Scrapes count as injury. If there’s any blood or bruises, I’d accuse the drive of leaving the scene of an accident.

  • anon

    What about if a biker hits your car? As a biker and driver I can see both sides of it. A biker on her cell phone was not paying attention and ran into my rear view mirror (I was stopped at a red light) and knocked it off. She brushed herself off and rode off and refused to give me her info. to pay for the mirror. I’ve also had bikes almost hit me head on as they are turning the wrong way up a one way street when they should be stopped at the red light at the intersection waiting to make their illegal turn. Although I’ve had my own fair share of near misses with careless dirvers, bikers and drivers both need to pay attention & follow traffic laws.

  • mfs

    if the driver of the car did the same thing with his person, that would be assault. it is a shame that precinct (76? 78?) doesn’t want to enforce the law. apparently, if you want to hurt someone, you just have to run them over. what a joke.

  • ddartley

    There needs to be, and despite my rage at car culture, I believe there will be, a gradual cultural shift, through which, after maybe ten years, most New Yorkers, as opposed to a few New Yorkers, will view cyclists as–gasp–human beings. I often truly feel that most New Yorkers currently don’t.

    For all my bitching about the kinds of bike lanes NYC has and is painting more of, I’m starting to think that despite their flaws, those lanes WILL attract more cyclists, and eventually those more-numerous cyclists will realize that they’re not a second-class citizens (I think even most cyclists still think they are), and then, those lousy bike lanes will get bigger and bigger, and things truly will get better.

  • db

    i was riding in the bike lane two weeks ago and there was a truck parked in the bike lane so i turned into the car lane and a driver sped up to keep me from riding in the car lane so i had to get out of his way and ride very carefully in a very tight space between a truck and a car. this driver yelled at me in a sarcastic tone “you’re supposed to be in the bike lane”. he actually came close to hitting me. this is reckless driving. isn’t there a law for this?

  • Rich Conroy

    I once had some punks throw deliberately something out a car window at me (and missed). At the next light I caught up and took down the plate number. After work, I went to the local precinct to report what I regarded as an attempted assault (if there is such a thing). The cop (our motto: dis-courtesy, unprofessionalism, disrespect)could not have been less interested. They were only interested in whether I was hurt, and only then would they take a report.
    Then they claimed that the plate number wouldn’t do much good, since it was a passenger and not the car owner who threw the object (as if they couldn’t locate the owner, driver to discover the offensive passenger). So much for prevention!
    I once had a cop tell me that I should have reported a dangerous driver to the local precinct, and that they actually would have done something. I told them this story, and they had nothing to say.

    This is actually an old problem–in his 1975 book “Effective Cycling”, John Forester has an entire chapter titled “The minute penalties for killing a cyclist”.

  • ams

    i’m not really one to advocate violence, but when i’m on my bike – well, i’m a different person.

    i’ve been hit or almost hit many, many times… i’m not proud of it, but i do feel like the only recourse i have is to fight back in some way. which is to say – i can’t begin to count the number of times i’ve kicked/spat on/attacked someone’s car because they swerved or dodged and almost killed me.

    … luckily no one’s gone crazy on me and hit me again or shot me or anything like that.


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