This morning I received a Google alerts email about the 21st crash that seriously injured or killed a pedestrian or cyclist on Long Island since September 13th of this year. This crash took place on Horseblock Road in Medford at 7:45 Monday morning and left cyclist Julien Robinette critically injured.
The motorist who injured Robinette was attempting to take a left from the southbound lane and collided with Robinette, who was riding north in the northbound lane. If this had been an automobile accident, the driver would have been at fault for cutting in front of northbound traffic during the turn, but for this incident no charges were filed.
Charges were filed in only two of the twenty-one crashes this month, both of which were suspected DUI's. Five of the crashes were hit-and-runs, the perpetrators as yet not apprehended. No reported charges were filed in any of the other fourteen crashes. In fact, in all but three it was specifically reported that no charges were filed, this last crash being among those.
On my bike ride home from work last night along Hempstead Turnpike, I was in a situation very similar to the one that left Robinette critically injured yesterday morning. There was a pedestrian walking the other way who was also almost a casualty. As I was nearing the intersection of Surrey Lane, heading west, I noticed a tow truck hurrying toward me with his blinker on, clearly intending to turn into Surrey Lane in front of me. I slowed down because it was clear he had no intention of giving me the right-of-way to which I was legally obligated and I had no intention of fighting him for it. At the same time there was a pedestrian heading east on the sidewalk who was just getting to Surrey Lane. The pedestrian was not facing the tow truck and did not notice that the tow truck was turning in front of him. The truck did miss the pedestrian, but barely. It was close enough that the pedestrian jumped back some.
From what I've seen this month, it seems that as long as the driver was not intoxicated and didn't leave the scene, he wouldn't have been charged if he had hit me or if he had hit the pedestrian.
Drivers who ignore cyclists and pedestrians when turning should be charged and they should be ticketed even when there is no crash. Negligence should be charged.
The photo above is of me waiting at the corner of Old Country Road and Glen Cove Road. My husband Bill and I went there specifically to take pictures because we didn't have to worry about who to give photo credit to for traffic scenes. However, at this particular time, I have the light to cross Old Country Road, but there were so many vehicles taking rights in front of me that I did not get into the intersection before the countdown was over. This was the worst case of all the experiments I did at that crossing, but in every single one of them, when I tried to cross from south to north, I had to wait for so many turning cars that I barely made it across before the countdown. Here is a video of one of those crossings.
To be certain, I believe many of the motorists who turned in front of me at the Old Country Road/Glen Cove Road intersection during that day of filming were doing so because they were intimidated by the entire culture around that intersection, not because they wanted to cut me off. They did so because they were afraid of getting honked at or even rear-ended. They may have even been afraid that if they were to stop and wait for me, the car behind them might race around them and hit me. I have had cars pass me while I was waiting for a pedestrian to cross at a crosswalk more than once on Long Island. During that day of filming there was actually one motorist who tried to wait for me to cross, but he was honked at and quickly went on again before I had a chance to.
We cannot let a few very aggressive drivers dictate the culture of driving on Long Island. Most of us want to live in a friendlier place.
We, as Long Islanders, need to make a concerted effort to remind motorists that it is their responsibility to watch for pedestrians and cyclists, but we also need to start really enforcing the existing laws that protect pedestrians and cyclists.