January 3rd: The Wrongdoer is Brought to Justice

"The wrongdoer is brought to justice because his act has disturbed and gravely endangered the community as a whole, and not because damage has been done to individuals who are entitled to reparation. It is the body politic itself that stands in need of being repaired, and it is the general public order that has been thrown out of gear and must be restored."  — Hannah Arendt

eric_ng.jpgAt 9:40 p.m. on a Friday evening last December, 27-year-old Eugenio Cidron left an office party at Chelsea Piers, steered his silver BMW onto the Hudson River Greenway, a bicycle and pedestrian path where cars are not allowed, and drove south for a full mile until he smashed head-on into cyclist 22-year-old Eric Ng at Clarkson Street, killing him instantly.

Cidron, who was drunk, pleaded guilty in November to second-degree manslaughter, in exchange for a sentence of 3½ to 10½ years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Thursday morning, Jan. 3, in lower Manhattan. A number of Eric’s friends and associates plan to be there.

I’ll be there too, although I never met Eric, a graduate of the NYC Department of Education’s teaching fellow program who was subbing at Automotive High School in Greenpoint at the time of his death. But I know that a prison term for killing a cyclist or pedestrian is a rarity – roughly on the order of a comet, say, or a total solar eclipse. Most killer-drivers get off scot-free or, at worst, get their license lifted or receive a suspended sentence. If Cidron is actually going upstate for a while, I want to see it happen.

Perhaps that sounds harsh or bloody-minded. Perhaps it is. But after twenty-some years of watching the brutal and cavalier way drivers routinely treat other road users, I think some payback, and pushback, is long overdue.

Perhaps those of us who ride should bring bike gear into the courtroom to self-identify. That seems fitting. Writing last year about Eric’s death, I said, "Everyone who rides in New York dies a little when a cyclist is killed." Our presence will reflect that.

I hope not just Cidron and his family but the D.A.’s office — indeed, the entire city — will feel our grief at losing Eric and see our resolve to hold drivers accountable for acts that rend the community.

Sentencing is scheduled for 9:30 am, Thursday, January 3, at NY State Supreme Court, 111 Centre Street, Room 948 (9th Floor) "Part 32," in the court of Justice Gregory Carro. It is possible that other sentencings may precede Cidron’s, so plan accordingly.

  • Shouldn’t there be occasional bollards in the middle of that bike path, so lunatics like this can hit a bollard and injure themselves instead of hitting a bicyclist?

  • Andy B from Jersey

    It’s not “harsh or bloody-minded.” Its called justice.

  • Mike

    Might not bollards in the middle of the bike path injure plenty of bicyclists?

  • In Berkeley, we have bollards at every intersection of a bike path and a street, so cars on the street cannot drive into the bike path. I have never heard any complaints that they are dangerous (and people in Berkeley are famous for complaining).

  • Stacy

    I believe there were flexible bollards that the driver broke when he entered the bike path, just south of Chelsea Piers. DOT replaced those and several others along the route in the days following. Perhaps something more substantial, like retractible bollards, would keep unauthorized vehicles out and still allow access to Parks and Sanitation Department vehicles

  • PM

    i think the path is run by hudson river park, not dot.

    i heard the flexible bollards were not there at the time of the crash. the park took them down for the winter because they thought it would be too much work to remove them if it snowed. after the crash, they put them back up but did a good job of keeping the fact that they weren’t there on the down low.

    fixed posts plus thousands of cyclists a day plus joggers and rollerbladers is a recipe for about 10 serious injuries a year. if your handlebars or pedals clip a post pollard you are going down; the flexible ones give way. yes it would seem safe like berkeley because 99.999% of bike would go by safely but why cause that many crashes when the bright yellow flexible ones do the job (has anyone driven a car on the path since last winter?)

  • Clarence Darrow

    Dude, don’t make a scene. That would be tacky and the court officers would throw you out in a heartbeat. The defendant will go upstate for 3 1/2 minus time served to this point, and he’ll be paroled at the first opportunity…He got what he deserved. He won’t max out. You can bet on it. If you disagree, then follow up with your assemblyman and or state senator to make the necessary amendments to Article 1190 VTL…

  • PM
    That section of the bike path is in Hudson River Park but according to the story on the TA website, which originally appeared in The Villager, the bike path was built by DOT. Either way, Tully seems to be the usual subcontractor for the bike path and is also the subcontractor doing the Houston Street project as well as the Bleecker Street and Prince Street bike lanes. IT;s probably easier for each city agency to hire Tully than to try to build and maintain a bike paths on their own.

    There are a number of city agencies that regularly drive on the bike path including Parks, Sanitation, NYPD and their mounted unit located near the tow pound. Id’s not uncommon to see a stray cab or a car full of tourists wander onto the path near the ferry or Circleline terminal, but they usually figure out they’ve made a wrong turn immediately. Until this happened, I doubt anyone thought some drunk driver would wander onto the path.

  • http://tinyurl.com/2m7htg
    queens courier article ,
    Police believe that 46-year-old Juan Franjul had been speeding away from the scene of another accident when he hit Jacob, and Franjul was charged with speeding, failure to stop at a red light, leaving the scene of a fatality and leaving the scene of property damage.
    “On Tuesday, January 15, Franjul is scheduled to appear in Queens Criminal Court, said a spokesperson for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. “

  • Mike

    #4 (Charles): Do the paths in Berkeley have thousands of tightly crowded people, going at multiple different speeds (e.g. walker, rollerblader, slow biker, fast biker) going by them every day? It’s different than a lone path with occasional traffic.

    General comment: The path is maintained by STATE DOT, not city DOT. I think city DOT has nothing to do with the hudson river path except may be an advisory role.

  • #10 mike, are we sure state DOT is responsible for the path, how about the traffic signals?
    i have been writing to city dot since july concerning traffic signals on the greenway that no longer direct vehicle traffic, but are still adjacent,facing, and lower like the official greenway bicycle signals. Danger factor is they are conflicting to the bicycle signals.

  • Clarence (#7) pretty much hit it . . . Cidron was sentenced to 3 1/2 to 10 1/2 years, though there was no mention of credit for time served. During the sentencing hearing, a few more facts came out that I do not remember hearing at the time of the killing–such as the fact that Cidron was traveling down the West Side bike path at *60 MPH* for a mile before he hit Eric Ng. Unbelievable.

    Charles seemed to be taking notes at the hearing so I suspect he will have a follow up report to put this in perspective.


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