There is ample evidence that the NYPD harshly and regularly discriminates against bicyclists. In a city that would benefit immensely from alternative transportation one might conclude that the police would be spearheading a campaign to promote and protect cycling. They do the opposite instead.
A recent case adds a new twist to what is really happening on the streets; the police spent more resources on surveillance of those who suffered a loss than on the attacker who caused it.
Incredibly, there are no photos of the scene of the incident in the NYPD’s file because “the investigators’ camera was broken.” However, the file does contain “numerous” photos of the Lefevre family and their attorney, prompting Erika Lefevre to write, “Apparently, NYPD cares more about investigating our family’s efforts to get information from it, than about properly investigating Mathieu’s death.”
A description of surveillance video of the crash, as provided to Streetsblog, describes Mathieu being struck by the passenger side of the truck before being hit again by the driver’s side wheel. The footage makes the NYPD’s decision to not file criminal charges against Degianni all the more puzzling.
Camera broken? The police in New York City could not find a functioning camera?
The necessary change, if you agree with the risk thermostat theory I’ve written about before, is to get the police out of their tax-guzzling gasoline cars (you thought I would say doughnut shops, didn’t you) and onto bicycles. It would help if city officials also would ride, like Mayor Villaraigosa in Los Angeles.
The mayor was riding in the bicycle lane on Venice Boulevard in Mid-City at about 6:50 p.m. when a taxi abruptly pulled in front of him. The mayor hit his brakes and fell off the bike.
The mayor’s accident comes as bicyclists in the city have increasingly been complaining about safety issues and pressing city officials to do more to make cycling safe.
It is a sad fact that one incident in Los Angeles has a very different outcome than all the combined accidents in New York, yet that is just further evidence of how empathy plays a major factor in our risk thermostat.
Just one month after he was injured in a bicycle accident, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spearheaded a special bike summit on Monday morning, aimed at improving bicycle safety across the city.
Even if there are brush-ups between cyclists and the police, and a lack of training about why cyclists are safer and easier to deal with, the economical and logical fix is more police and officials riding cycles. That would generate empathy and dramatically shift their view of how incidents should be investigated.