On Wednesday, August 14th 2019, we were fortunate to have Steve Vaccaro and Adam White (of Vaccaro and White) come and speak to the community about issues involving the law and cyclists in NYC.
This topic is painfully timely, as the 19th cyclist to die on the city streets lost his life just a few days ago. The mood of the attendees was serious and reflective as we all related stories with each other before teh presentation started.
The evening stated a little late, as Steve and Adam were attending the memorial for cyclist Jose Aslzorriz, who was mowed down at at stop light on August 11.
The first part of the discussion immediately jumped into the use of the term “accident” vs “crash” (https://www.crashnotaccident.com/). It was argued that the term “accident” implies a random event where no one is really responsible, and which can be simply shrugged off. The term “crash” implies that negligent decisions were made that lead to injury, death or property damage. Adam even mentioned that the NYPD has even renamed their Accident Investigation Division to use the word “collision”
Adam then continued on the sorry stae of affairs, and the preferential treatment that cars are afforded throughout the legal code.
The discussion them moved to what your rights are as a cyclist, what to do in case of a crash, and what you can do to make your ride safer. Another huge part of the discussion was diving into some of the institutional biases against cyclist throughout the legal system, from police officer up through judges. It was very eye-opening to hear the lever of training police offices get in this area (or lack thereof), and how they use crib notes circulated internally among their ranks to apply the law to cyclists.
We look forward to moving this discussion forward through advocacy and events.