Daily News to Deceased Cyclists: “Your Fault.”

2106558192_0e823a69d4.jpg
Cyclists protest on Sixth Avenue following the death of David Smith


Last week, we criticized accounts of the death of 63-year-old cyclist David Smith, who was memorialized Wednesday with a Ghost Bike and a die-in on Sixth Avenue. Though Smith was riding in the bike lane and was knocked into traffic by an illegally parked driver who opened his door in Smith’s path, initial media reports portrayed the crash as a blameless "freak mishap."

That was only a taste of what was to come. Here, verbatim, are the first five paragraphs of the Daily News story on Saturday, after another cyclist, Franco Scorcia, was killed at W. 40th and Broadway:

Only one person thought it was still safe for Franco Scorcia to take to the streets by bike – and that was Franco Scorcia.

For years, friends told the 72-year-old Bronx father to "leave the bike alone."

The ex-cabbie’s two sons were so worried about their dad they offered him a car.

"We told him so many times, ‘Don’t ride the bike,’" Scorcia’s son, Vito, 37, recalled Friday.

The elder Scorcia brushed such demands aside, saying he loved cycling too much to quit. It was that fondness for experiencing the city on two wheels that cost him his life Thursday night when he crashed into a charter bus in midtown.

Given such a loaded lede, you’d expect some exposition describing the mistakes Scorcia must have made that led to his death. But aside from strongly implying that Scorcia’s age was somehow a factor, the article includes no details of the crash, other than to say the bus driver was issued six summonses. Regardless, to the writers and editors of this story, Scorcia’s mistake was riding a bike on the streets of New York: "It was that fondness for experiencing the city on two wheels that cost him his life."

As such biased coverage is fairly commonplace, it’s no wonder the causes of cyclist fatalities and the lack of consequences for motorists go unchallenged, especially when the driver is the sole living witness.

Negating the Daily News’ own follow-up coverage that told of how David Smith was known as a safe rider, the Scorcia article links the two deaths — not because they were both killed at the hands of drivers, but because they were both "elderly cyclists" who, readers are to presume, had no business being on bikes. In so many words, the piece says Scorcia was asking for it.

On average this year, a city cyclist has been killed about every 16 days. Conveniently for much of the mainstream New York press — not to mention hostile police, indifferent prosecutors, and reckless motorists — they can’t defend themselves against such charges.

Photo: cultshaman/Flickr

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Evidence That Split-Phase Signals Are Safer Than Mixing Zones for Bike Lanes

|
When DOT presented plans for a protected bike lane on Sixth Avenue, one point of contention was the design of intersections. How many intersections will get split-phase signals, where cyclists and pedestrians crossing the street get a separate signal phase than turning drivers? And how many will get “mixing zones,” where pedestrians and cyclists negotiate the same space as turning […]

The Real Menace on Our Sidewalks

|
So it looks like the City Council is pondering legislation that would raise the fine for biking on the sidewalk (currently $100) and possibly establish a new squad of enforcement agents dedicated entirely to ticketing commercial cyclists. At a hearing earlier this week, transportation committee chair James Vacca framed the riding habits of commercial cyclists […]

TA, Manhattan Pols Urge DOT to Commit to Fully Redesigning Fifth and Sixth

|
Last month DOT announced its intent to add a protected bike lane along 19 blocks of Sixth Avenue. A coalition of advocates, business groups, community board representatives, and elected officials think the city can do better. At a press conference next to the Flatiron Building this morning, they called on DOT to redesign the entire length of Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. In a […]