Imagine you’re waiting to cross a busy intersection. Eventually, the traffic slows, and your “walk man” illuminates. You begin your trip to the other side.
But a driver, too hurried or busy or distracted to notice that you are in the crosswalk with the right of way, hits you. Is it reasonable to expect that his behavior would go unpunished, especially if you are seriously injured – or worse?
The phrase “no criminality suspected” has long been a sick joke among those who advocate for safer streets. Often, within hours of a crash, investigators announce that they are satisfied with the driver’s insistence that he followed the law – even when other accounts differ.
Nothing has incensed me more so far this year than the death of Felix Coss on July 6. Coss was crossing a street in Williamsburg with the light when Officer Paula Medrano, turning the corner in a police van, struck him. According to witnesses, Medrano was on her cell phone, which she refused to turn over to Internal Affairs.
One month later, no charges have been filed – yet the NYPD has no bones about putting a van in a bike lane and then ticketing cyclists who go around it. The last fatality from a bike-on-pedestrian collision came four years ago; as of last Friday, there have been 114 automobile-related deaths in 2013, with only 8 drivers charged.
On Wednesday at 8:30 am, hundreds of New Yorkers will turn out at City Hall to demand that the city fix its priorities when it comes to making streets safer. I hope you’ll join us.
I’d love to see charges brought against Medrano and others whose actions kill and maim innocent citizens, but I’d love even more for the NYPD to crack down on this dangerous behavior to begin with. In the first half of 2013, for example, Medrano’s precinct gave out just 29 speeding tickets.
That’s one every six days. Go watch traffic from any street corner for six minutes and see if that makes any sense at all.
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