Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Nobody’s Fault?

I was biking back from Lower Manhattan on 1st Ave between 52rd and 53rd St., on the left side of the Avenue. There’s a bus about 3 car-lengths ahead of me. He’s in the next-to-left lane, but about to move in the far left lane. He’s signaling. Then out of nowhere a car speeds by me, about 40-45 mph, and comes way too close to me, about a foot away. I’m thinking pretty nasty thoughts about him as I watch him zoom by me and try to take the bus on the left. The bus continues its leftward drift and runs into him. Suddenly my bike is wheeling through the Schadenfreude Café!

I’m also suddenly aware of my psychic ability to move large objects. As we all know, with great powers come great responsibility. And clearly I wasn’t using these powers for good. But I enjoy seeing my wishes come true as the front fender of the car comes off in one big piece and a dent is put in the side. Meanwhile the bus doesn’t even realize what it did. The car chases the bus, which makes a left on 53rd St and stops.

I’m basically a good samaritan and felt bad for the bus driver. He did nothing wrong, and buses are always blamed for crashes like this. And basically bus drivers are good drivers. And from the damage, it would be all to easy to blame the bus for turning into a car. But clearly the car was at fault. First for speeding. Second for almost clipping me. And third for zooming in the way of a turning bus. So I go up to the bus driver and give him my info. And then I wait 20 minutes for his boss to come. And I tell her what I saw and how it was the car's fault.

And the police come. And don’t even want my info. The bus supervisor questions this and she (the cop) says, “It doesn’t matter because it was an accident. Nobody is at fault.”

Now I understand it’s unusual to write a ticket for something you don't see. And I understand the temptation to be a lazy cop (I am a former police officer, after all). But somebody was at fault. The car. And based on the facts and my account, she could have cited him for something. Just as you cite a drunk driver after a crash. The least she should do is take my information in case it’s needed later, like, say by the MTA or insurance company.

But what bothered me most is that instead of the bus hitting the car, the car could have hit me. And if he had killed me, the cop would have done the same thing. No ticket. No fault. Another bike fatality stat for “bicyclist crossing into a vehicle path.”

If, God forbid, I should die in a bike crash, please remember it wasn’t my fault. Or even if it partially my fault, like running a red light, please remember that it wouldn’t have happened if the driver wasn’t speeding.

No comments: