Family Assaulted in Park Slope. NYPD: “Be careful.”
A reader, who I’ll only identify as Heather, sends in this account of a disturbing interaction she and her husband had while riding with their children in Park Slope:
My husband was biking in front of us (I had our two toddlers on my bike) on 2nd street and a Prius rode up behind him and sideswiped him. My husband was not totally innocent—he was outside of the bike lane—but the car made no effort to avoid him. The driver yelled at him and drove on. We kept going but I guess the Prius driver stopped to look at his car and was very upset to see a scratch from my husband’s pedal. As we turned onto 5th ave, we noticed the Prius was gaining on us and he chased my husband, driving in the bike lane, and yelling that he was going to run him down. My husband hopped up on the sidewalk and the Prius driver pulled over, got out of the car, and chased him. I was scared and called the police. When they showed up the driver was still there as were a number of witnesses who were waiting with us.
First, a point of clarification, which I explained to Heather in a follow-up email: it is legal to exit a bike lane “when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, motor vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, pushcarts, animals, surface hazards) that make it unsafe to continue within such bicycle path or lane.” The shoddy pavement on 2nd Street is probably enough to warrant staying out of the bike lane all the way from Prospect Park West to 4th Avenue. And, besides, even if riding outside of a bike lane were strictly illegal, I’m not aware of any ethical law that entitles drivers to hit people on bikes.
Nevertheless, one would think that this particular act of vehicular violence–an attempted assault on a father in front of his wife and their two children–would be taken seriously by officers of the local precinct. But if one thought that one would not be living in New York City, but in some utopia where human lives are worth more than the cost of repainting a car’s scratched side panel.
The police talked to both of us and then one policeman said he would be upset [by the scratch on the car] too and it is a felony to leave the scene of a crime. The witnesses were telling the police what happened too, but apparently the scratch justified trying to run down my husband in a car. The policeman told us that we are lucky that no one was hurt and to be careful.
The policeman told us that the driver could file a report because my husband scratched his car (didn’t matter that driver hit him) and we left the scene of the crime. Police recommended that no one file a report and we go on with our day. They did not take our information or the names or numbers of the witnesses who came up to talk to them on our behalf.