In New York City during 2011, 21 cyclists were killed, but only 2 drivers were prosecuted. On average, nearly forty percent of drivers who kill pedestrians or cyclists in New York City walk away without so much as a traffic ticket.
In a recent meeting, five District Attorneys were asked why so few drivers face criminal charges, and Joe McCormack, an Assistant DA in the Bronx, gave quite an interesting quote:
We as a society have chosen to drive these big cars. And we also as a society have chosen not to criminalize every single small mistake that has a dramatic consequence just because you are driving a car.
There are times where the factual situation that is presented to us doesn’t raise it to a crime. And it’s important to realize that the reason it doesn’t rise to a crime is that society has made the decision that it doesn’t want it to be a crime.
Really! When did society vote on that mandate?
It sounds to me that ADA Joe McCormack is blaming society in an attempt to shift the responsibility away from the NYPD for not doing its job; namely to serve and protect.
There are two main causes of bicycle/auto collisions and both are preventable. They are speeding, and inattention. (Distracted driving.) If a driver is traveling at the correct speed for the road conditions, and is paying attention, he/she should never run into a cyclist.
The laws are already in place and to get more drivers to comply is simple; education and law enforcement. McCormack’s statement does however reveal a disturbing reality:
That society has always bullied minorities and the failure of the police to protect that minority, has throughout history reflected society’s current attitude.
It is one of the flaws of a democracy; the majority holds the power of the vote. The power to elect politicians, who in turn appoint police chiefs; who then do the bidding of the majority, often at the expense of the rights of the minority.
Cyclists at this point in time can still be considered a minority. The daily near misses along with the abuse and harassment cyclists take from some members of the motoring public, with little or no protection from law enforcement causes some to rebel.
Some cyclists are lawless, rude and arrogant, and while I do not condone this behavior, I can certainly understand the frustrations they feel and the reasons they act this way.
All cyclists should try to remain cool, and realize fighting lawlessness and bad behavior by doing the same only does harm to the individual and to the cycling cause. To be constantly angry while riding detracts from something that should be a joy.
Cyclists may be a minority now, but they are a minority that is growing constantly, and will not be one forever. The cyclist has not only right on his side, but common sense.
Our highways and streets are becoming increasing congested, and the situation will only get worse. We still have high unemployment; as the economy improves and more people return to the work force, there will be more and more people commuting to and from their jobs.
High gas prices and obesity are other common sense reasons to ride a bicycle. I feel it is the common sense angle that is probably causing certain segments of our society to resist the change; they are in denial. People hate to change; especially when change takes a certain amount of effort.
They resist, they become angry; they turn their anger towards the people they see as forcing the change, namely cyclists. However, in reality the change is necessary because we are becoming over populated and we are running out of space. Cycling is not the cause of change; it is one of the solutions.
Try to understand the reasons for the anger and the injustice society is leveling against cyclists; it is born out of ignorance. It is not leveled against you personally, but what you represent. You can’t fight ignorance with like minded behavior. You can only do so by good example.