NYPD Cruiser Hits Cyclist in Fort Greene

Photo: Chad Kellogg

Streetsblog reader Chad Kellogg, a cyclist who lives and works in Fort Greene, came upon this scene earlier today. He writes:

A police car hit a cyclist (who had the right of way) at the corner of Myrtle and Vanderbilt at around 11:40 a.m. this morning. The cyclist was knocked to the ground and injured his elbow and shoulder. His front wheel was crushed under the right front wheel of the car as the car was turning right onto Myrtle. I witnessed the incident from from a very clear vantage point across Myrtle.

FDNY was called to the scene at 11:22. A spokesperson said the cyclist suffered “non-critical” injuries and refused medical attention.

Photo: Chad Kellogg

This crash occurred in the 88th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Captain Scott M. Henderson, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 88th Precinct council meetings happen at 7:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month at various locations. Call the precinct at 718-636-6526 for information.

  • Jesse Greene

    Was this a right hook?

  • Anonymous

    He’s lucky they didn’t arrest him for damaging police property… or embarrassing a police officer, or something equally dubious.

  • Erik Griswold

    Please don’t refuse medical attention in these situations.  If you don’t any future stuff that crops up will be denied coverage by the Police Department’s Insurer, and this crash will not get recorded in the annual stats.

  • Joe R.

    @31430fe622ed4901edf6393b16744736:disqus Assuming the cyclist wished to receive medical attention, who pays? I personally have no insurance and very little money, so there’s no way I would go to the hospital unless I was literally dying (and in that scenario, I would probably have bill collectors hounding me until the day I die). Will the NYPD foot the bill for situations like this, or perhaps NYC? Or will the injured party need to pay out of pocket, and then hope to recover their money later on by suing? This question begs an answer because I’ll bet a large percentage of cyclists lack medical insurance.

  • Magellan315

    And as usual when a driver hits a cyclist in NYC, no criminality suspected

  • Does anyone have a legal reference as to why the cyclist has the right of way in this circumstance?

  • Rapierlynx

    From NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1160:

    The`driver of a vehicle intending to turn at an intersection shall do so as
    (a) Right turns. Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway or, where travel on the shoulder or slope has been authorized, from the shoulder or slope.If a vehicle driver makes a right turn from a point to the left of a cyclist going straight, he or she is not “as close as practicable to the right hand curb.”

    Also, there is Section 1146:

    Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law to the contrary, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any bicyclist, pedestrian or domestic animal upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the
    horn when necessary.

  • @d01a901138d35568c566c6fd1b1feccb:disqus : Not to be argumentative, but these citations don’t actually say anything about right of way. A right-hooking motor vehicle may be in violation of 1160, but that would be true regardless of the presence of a cyclist. Likewise, 1146 doesn’t specify a right of way; it is certainly not the case that cyclists and pedestrians have the right of way in all cases, as your reading would seem to imply.

  • Cal
  • Anonymous

    V&T Sec 1160 is clear about turning from the far right edge (as practicable) of the roadway.  V&T Sec 1234 and the NYC equivalent require cyclists to ride as far to the right as practicable/practical (subject to various exceptions allowing riding out from the edge) (NYC law allows cyclists on the left side of one way streets.)

    Way back in the 1970s, I noticed that 1160 and 1234 put bikes and turning cars into exactly the same place – possibly at the same time.  Clearly a conflicting issue.

    I wrote to the DMV Legal Counsel’s Office asking who has the Right Of Way in this case, the turning car or the straight through bicycle.

    Answer was quite clear.  The straight through traffic – the bicycle – has the right of way over the turning traffic – the car.  Under NYS and NYC law, it is against the traffic law for a car to cut off – right hook – a cyclist on the right side of the road (left side too on one way streets.)

    In parallel, other similar related sections of the law require turning traffic to wait / yield to straight through pedestrians and others using the crosswalk on the green.  All of these peds crushed by turning drivers who conveniently “don’t see the person in the crosswalk” were either driving too fast to stop and/or driving distracted.  There WAS criminality.

    There is no practical way for a cyclists to protect themselves from a driver who runs up from their rear in the main roadway lane and then suddenly turns right, as appears to have happened here. 
    Question – was the cyclists moving up to a green light, and the cop car overtook him? 
    Or was the police car stopped at a red light and the cyclist rode up along his right side just as the light was to turn green?  However, even if the cyclist rode up the right side, the driver of the cop car still should have been looking in his mirror and over his shoulder to see if any cyclists had been riding up the street, and waiting and yielding before turning.  This SOP in European driving classes – look over your shoulder for bikes before turning.

    Cyclists have to be careful and alert, but they do have the ROW over turning traffic.

  • Anonymous

    There *is* a practical way to protect yourself from right hooks: taking the lane (of course, you might be rear-ended, but that’s another story…) One problem, however, is cops and judges who don’t know how to ride a bike and disagree about how far to the right is “practicable”, especially if it involves leaving a bike lane.

  • Joe R.

    The only time I pass a motor vehicle on the right is when it’s stopped, with the brake lightts on, and I’m moving at a good clip so I’m long gone if it starts turning. The usual scenario where this occurs is when I time hitting a light just as it’s flipping to green.

    As a matter of safety, I just plain avoid being in an intersection at all at the moment when a light changes to green. The motor vehicles jockeying for position make this the single worst place for a cyclist to be other than on an expressway. Three ways to accomplish this-go through the red light before it changes, hang back so you’re a few car lengths from the intersection when the light changes, or hit the intersection at full speed just as the light flips to green (and watch keenly to make sure nobody is in the crosswalk when you do this). I’ve had a lot fewer problems once I learned to just not be near an intersection when motor vehicles might be turning or otherwise changing lanes.

  • Joe R.

    @qrt145 If you’re lucky enough to find a bus or truck to draft when you take the lane then you largely avoid the issue of being rear-ended. 😉 I’ve found taking the lane is generally safe if you can manage to ride within 5 mph of whatever speed the motor traffic is doing.

  • Station44025

    I’ve found the danger of drafting large vehicles is the inevitable gaping pothole, garbage bag full of broken bottles, smashed construction barrier, etc. that you don’t see coming because said vehicle is blocking your view of the road. Usually there’s another truck right on you ass ass you try to avoid by braking or swerving.

    Also, on the right hooks: even as a very careful driver I’ve nearly collided with cyclists who are right in my blind spot during a right turn.  There are a lot of things to keep an eye on in a NYC intersection, and it is easy to overlook someone who is outside your peripheral vision and not visible in any mirror as they pass by your right rear fender.  Just be careful and ride defensively is all…

  • Joe R.

    @2d1f4485f4071d40973ef0f25d75ed14:disqus Potholes is why I avoid drafting large vehicles unless I’ve been over the road recently and know there are no potholes. Even though it happened nearly 3 decades ago, that pothole I hit at 37 mph is still fresh in my mind (I wasn’t drafting anything at the time, the pothole just looked smaller than it was with the bad streetlighting). Fortunately, I came out of it with just road rash and one ruined pair of pants. Really scary though sliding on asphalt about 100 feet. And my front wheel was toast.