Cyclists draw a line; Demand accountability in car accidents

Late last Thursday night, a bicycle activist stenciled at Third Ave. and 27th St. where, on Feb. 24, a still-unidentified pedestrian was killed after a car and cab collided, sending the car jumping the curb onto the sidewalk.  Photo by Jefferson Siegel

Late last Thursday night, a bicycle activist stenciled at Third Ave. and 27th St. where, on Feb. 24, a still-unidentified pedestrian was killed after a car and cab collided, sending the car jumping the curb onto the sidewalk. Photo by Jefferson Siegel

BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL |  All too often, the news is filled with stories of pedestrians and bicyclists killed in accidents with cars. The stories usually conclude with the drivers not being charged followed by the police statement: “No criminality suspected.”

In certain circles, there is even a saying: If you want to kill someone in New York and get away with it, use a car.

Last week a group of volunteers from Time’s Up!, the environmental advocacy organization, set out to question the lack of accountability involving drivers who kill pedestrians and cyclists yet are not held responsible for their actions.

A winter’s night isn’t usually prime time for a group bike ride. But late last Thursday night, several cyclists set out from the Lower East Side, making eight stops throughout the city. At the stops — each where a pedestrian or cyclist was killed over the past year — they stenciled the outline of a body on the street, along with the victim’s name, date of death and the phrase, “No Criminality Suspected.” Below that phrase was a question to the police commissioner: “Why, Ray, Why?”

“The N.Y.P.D. is charged with investigating serious crashes and enforcing traffic laws, including the requirement that motor vehicles be driven with due care. Yet in each of these cases, and in the vast majority of cases in which pedestrians and cyclists are killed by automobile, the N.Y.P.D. declared ‘No criminality suspected’ within hours of the crash,” said traffic analyst Charles Komanoff. He added that accident investigation reports in recent crashes have not been released to the public or to the victims’ families.

The New York City Department of Transportation reports that deaths resulting from traffic accidents increased 23 percent from 2011 to 2012. In 2012 there were almost 300 fatalities; more than 150 of those involved the deaths of bicyclists and pedestrians. “The N.Y.P.D. is whitewashing traffic violence to the public, withholding potentially emotionally healing information from grieving families, and robbing safer-streets activists of the information they need to best advocate for a livable city,” said Keegan Stephan, the Time’s Up! ride organizer.

By 2 a.m. last Friday the cyclists had finished stenciling body images and messages at the locations of the most recent crash scenes. Hours later on Friday morning, the group set out once again on their “Criminality Suspected Ride” — visiting the stenciled sites — to remember the victims and call for tougher enforcement of traffic laws.

Stephan also noted that, in two of the recent cases, police have still not identified the victims. They include a female cyclist killed by a truck on E. 23rd St. in January and a female pedestrian killed by a car that had collided with another car and jumped the curb at Third Ave. and 27th St. in February.

Following a City Council hearing last year, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced the department would increase its Accident Investigation Squad from 23 to 33 members. The squad is responsible for investigating all fatal traffic accidents in the city.

In a letter to the City Council earlier this month, Kelly said the squad’s investigators will now be sent to crash scenes that also involve serious injuries, rather than just to the scenes of fatalities. Also the police will now categorize such scenes as “collisions” instead of “accidents.”

Yet on March 11, just one week after Kelly’s letter, Tenzin Drudak, a 16-year-old student, was killed near his Queens school when a van crossed several lanes of traffic and jumped the curb, hitting him on the sidewalk. The driver admitted he lost control of his van while reaching for a milk carton he had dropped. No charges were filed against the driver, despite city laws requiring drivers to exercise extra caution when driving by a school. The police concluded: No criminality suspected.

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9 Responses to Cyclists draw a line; Demand accountability in car accidents

  1. And now we are making Living Wills to demand the NYPD suspect criminality if we are killed by automobile in the streets of NYC.

    Twitter: @StreetWillsNYC
    Or e-mail:

    Our videos can make a difference…

  2. Funny how Bloomburg will send you to jail if you legally fly a gun into a new york airport following TSA rules, go after large sodas, and breastfeeding, but killer drivers get ignored!

  3. One cyclist comes to dead by a car is not a new news for us, it is a daily news published by TV, News Paper, Inter Net, Social Media etc. This type of accidents should be minimized or stopped as soon as possible. It is a bad activity for our society.

    Now parents got feared when they left their child outside by cycle. The media of communication for many students is cycle, so some safety rules should be adopted by our Governor.
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  4. In present time car accident is a common occurs on rode. Accident an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss but yet I think every driver should drive carefully for prevent accident.

  5. Car crashes can inflict heavy damages in terms of loss of property and in extreme cases loss of life as well. It doesn't necessarily implicate loss of life of the one driving. In worst case scenario, it could also lead to the death of an innocent by-stander. Car crashes are totally unpredictable and make a mess out of the calm serene environment. Most car crashes are caused due to rash driving and driving under the influence of intoxicants.
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  6. The death rates due to car accidents are increasing. The accidents are generally occurs due to loose of control over driving. The death rates in accidents are more than others, so car riders have to be more aware which will save many lives.
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  7. The accident rates are increasing day by day and most of the times pedestrians and cyclists are the sufferers. They are getting injured in accidents and a lot of people are also dying. This is ridiculous that innocent people are dying because of somebody else's mistake. People who are causing such accidents must be punished so that such incidents can be stopped.

  8. Death in car crash is very common for this time. Mostly the people who are facing the accident they are suffering from injuries which are also not curable. Mostly car crashing affects the society people also. Car accident is a tough time of people whoever is facing accident .Accident is a serious matter which occurs very instantly and unknowingly. Car accident now a day mostly happens in the town areas. Sometime accident happens due to bad driving and some time due to disturbance of driver. I think they'll admit that the state has not supported the School District. They'll also admit that it's not teachers' faults that there's a budget deficit. They'll admit that they're corrupt and do not care about the children; then they'll apologize. They'll voluntarily disband because they've done nothing but destroy the District. The school district will become a real district, led by a Board, again.
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  9. It's just not acceptable in this day and age that car accidents can keep going up like this. Cycling is a healthy, low emission form of transportation that doesn't clog up the roadways and the air. We should be encouraging it, not discouraging it by leaving cyclists vulnerable in such a dangerous situation.

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