electrical bike Surviving a Hit-and-Run Bike Crash in a Metropolis Choked by Vehicles – Streetsblog New York Metropolis
A driver plowed into me from behind shortly after midday on Sept. 8 whereas I used to be using within the bike lane on Smith Road in Brooklyn. It was not an “accident” or negligence; it was a brazen, deliberate act of violence that attacked my physique, my livelihood, my id, and my autonomy.
Witnesses described how the driving force maneuvered his automobile from stalled site visitors on Smith Road, took purpose at my again as I turned proper onto Fourth Road, and mashed the fuel pedal. He didn’t cease when he hit me. As an alternative, he accelerated once more. The physics of the crash — impression, seconds, the measurements differentiating between mutilation and loss of life — elude me. I used to be swallowed in a tumult of sunshine and crunching steel. All I do know is that, as an alternative of being thrown in entrance of his crossover SUV, I landed face-up on the sidewalk — wordless and gasping, with all of the air dashed from my lungs.
That I used to be instantly surrounded by a couple of dozen New Yorkers speaks to my attacker’s emotions of impunity: He mowed me down on a Tuesday afternoon, subsequent to a crowded cafe patio in residential Carroll Gardens. Witnesses recorded his license plate — solely to be told by responding officers that no such registration existed, that means he was driving with falsified plates. The one different factor I do know for positive is that my attacker bought away, disappearing right into a metropolis some have declared “useless” regardless of streets teeming with individuals, many on bikes.
I later discovered that not less than one bystander had put his physique in entrance of my attacker’s automotive in an try to stop him from leaving the scene — to no avail.
Instantly after the hit-and-run, I saved repeating “I’m OK” like a prayer or a line from a script. I work as a courier, and my assault occurred whereas I used to be on the clock. I texted my boss from the ambulance, assuring him that whereas I couldn’t end my shift, I used to be “OK.” My physique shook; my left aspect was tender; my neck and shoulders felt sore. I fastidiously typed ginger reassurances to my brother with my bruised arms, cognitive dissonance rattling me as I glimpsed my legs strapped right into a stretcher, the blue striped socks I had chosen that morning instantly an artifact of the crash.
The EMTs wished to take me to the hospital, however as a result of I had no damaged bones or gushing wounds — and little insurance coverage — a probably bankrupting ambulance journey to the ER amid COVID didn’t attraction. “I’m OK,” I insisted, simply desirous to hunker down someplace secure. I signed no matter they put in entrance of my face so I might get out of there and do my greatest at making that true.
Since my assault, I’ve realized that, sure, I’m OK. I’m alive. I escaped severe harm, which, in line with witness accounts and the catastrophic injury to my bicycle, may be miraculous (in the event you imagine in that form of factor). But I’m reckoning with being the sufferer of a violent assault dedicated by a driver who weaponized his automobile in opposition to me in a metropolis by which car-centric insurance policies, insufficient infrastructure, biased policing and incompetent elected officers have dehumanized cyclists to the purpose the place this man not solely knew he would get away with harming me, a bicycle owner, together with his automobile, he doubtless felt entitled to take action.
He lives in New York Metropolis in 2020 the place, in an effort to stave off congestion, Mayor de Blasio has urged New Yorkers to not purchase vehicles — whilst he refuses to behave on promised initiatives and insurance policies that may make using bicycles safer.
This can be a metropolis by which the deaths of cyclists in site visitors violence were long met with ticketing blitzes that focus on the potential victims — cyclists — somewhat than motorists. Additionally it is a metropolis on the epicenter of the pandemic, by which bicyclists mobilized to supply neighbors with groceries and medicine by mutual-aid networks whereas officers busied themselves with press conferences.
Bicycles additionally buttress the Black Lives Matter motion, which has led to situations of cops targeting cyclists for arrest at protests. Biking has develop into a de-facto transit possibility as bureaucratic infighting and COVID render the MTA much less dependable and probably unsafe. Biking has helped New York Metropolis to outlive the pandemic. The report numbers taking to the streets on two wheels supply proof of life to these declaring our metropolis useless.
I’m grateful to the New Yorkers who took care of me whereas I used to be incapacitated on the sidewalk, ready for the “official response” of the ambulance and police. They saved me secure and nonetheless.
I used to be hit by a driver right this moment in a deliberate act of violence, whereas using within the bike lane following site visitors legal guidelines. My work bike is probably going totaled. My wrist & elbow are banged up. My nervousness, dread, & melancholy are via the roof. Making an attempt to hold in there. It’s laborious. #bikenyc pic.twitter.com/5LD2bXL62I
— Morgan L. Sykes (@morganlsykes) September 8, 2020
Throughout my 4 years in New York, I’ve seen no scarcity of heroism from on a regular basis New Yorkers. Our collective kindness and empathy reveals why life is price residing. I problem these in energy to behave as heroically as my neighbors: Biking shouldn’t be harmful in New York Metropolis, and the site visitors violence costing New Yorkers their lives represents a colossal failure that rests squarely on policy-makers.
The streets are for the individuals. They don’t belong to vehicles, that are unsustainable, congestion-generating, costly, and unique. The streets needs to be secure for New Yorkers in all our humanity — of all ages, means, shade, and id. Elected officers: You’re liable for the tradition of danger and violence that endangers New Yorkers on bicycles. Policing won’t repair it. We’d like structural, cultural change that locations human lives over the pace and comfort of automotive drivers. We’ll by no means cease using. Please do what’s essential to hold us secure whereas we hold this metropolis alive.
I don’t wish to die on the streets of New York Metropolis underneath the wheels of some livid machine.
Morgan L. Sykes (@morganlsykes) is a motorbike courier and freelance author.