Rory Lancman Intros Bill to Undermine NYPD Crash Investigations

Rory Lancman introduced his bill to hinder NYPD crash investigations at a City Council meeting yesterday.

Rory Lancman

Lancman’s proposed amendment to the Right of Way Law, Intro 813, would require NYPD to consider “visibility, illumination, weather conditions, roadway conditions, roadway design, [and] faulty vehicular equipment or design” when determining whether to charge motorists who injure or kill people who are walking or biking with the right of way.

Lancman’s bill would also require police to take into account whether the victim was walking or biking in violation of the right of way — cases where the Right of Way Law wouldn’t apply in the first place.

Lancman says he wants to clarify the “failure to use due care” standard, but he’s proposing to solve a problem that does not exist. NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan has explained repeatedly that police file charges under the Right of Way Law only when probable cause can be determined based on evidence.

Lancman’s language doesn’t actually clarify anything — it’s a vaguely defined litany of circumstances that suggest it’s okay for motorists to hit people with the right of way sometimes. In effect, Lancman is looking to constrain NYPD crash investigators and create loopholes for motorists who hurt and kill people who are following traffic rules.

Motorists have injured or killed over 8,000 pedestrians and cyclists since the law took effect last August. As of April, NYPD had applied the law 22 times. It’s clear that, if anything, police aren’t using the law enough.

Council members Brad Lander and Margaret Chin and Public Advocate Letitia James took time to acknowledge family members of crash victims who attended Wednesday’s meeting. We have a message in with the office of council transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez for his position on the proposed Right of Way Law amendment.

As for Lancman, he left the meeting before his bill was introduced, according to Familes for Safe Streets. The intro had no co-sponsors as of this morning.

  • So just to clarify, Lancman is a city councilor in NYC? So, if you live in his ward, and walk or take transit on a regular, or even semi-regular basis. Remember, he’s fighting to make it safer for vehicle drivers to kill you.

  • Eric McClure

    Another milestone in Rory Lancman’s distinguished legislative career. Must be gearing up for a post-Council lobbying job at AAA.

  • Andrew

    I wonder how many drivers – perhaps the good Rory Lancman himself – truly believe that “yield to pedestrians” means “pedestrians aren’t really supposed to be here now, but if you happen to notice one you should make a half-hearted effort not to hit him” as opposed to “this is precisely when pedestrians are supposed to be here, which means you absolutely have to watch for them and wait for them.”

    Certainly the kind gentleman who honked his horn as I crossed the street in the crosswalk with the light in my favor appeared to misunderstand.

    Perhaps some serious education is in order – in conjunction with, not instead of, serious enforcement.

  • Joe R.

    I tend to think the first version is how most drivers see it. While we’re at this, cyclists are treated no differently, although a cyclist at least has the advantage of being able to get out of the way of a driver who sees them as an obstruction more easily. I recall this attitude riding with a friend of mine in his car last year. I actually had to scream at him to let people who were crossing go before he completed his turns. He wasn’t a new driver, either. He’s been driving something like 45 years. Surprisingly, he only had one collision. Thankfully this was with another automobile, not a pedestrian.



Would Jesus Blame the Crash Victim?

Last year New York City made it a misdemeanor for a driver to harm a pedestrian or cyclist who is walking or biking with the right of way. Since then, the Right of Way Law has come under attack from the MTA bus drivers union and members of the City Council, many of whom helped […]