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Surviving a Hit-and-Run Bike Crash in a City Choked by Cars – Streetsblog New York City

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Surviving a Hit-and-Run Bike Crash in a Metropolis Choked by Automobiles – Streetsblog New York Metropolis

A driver plowed into me from behind shortly after midday on Sept. 8 whereas I used to be using within the bike lane on Smith Road in Brooklyn. It was not an “accident” or negligence; it was a brazen, deliberate act of violence that attacked my physique, my livelihood, my identification, and my autonomy.

Morgan L. Sykes
Morgan Sykes

Witnesses described how the driving force maneuvered his automobile from stalled site visitors on Smith Road, took goal at my again as I turned proper onto Fourth Road, and mashed the gasoline pedal. He didn’t cease when he hit me. As an alternative, he accelerated once more. The physics of the crash — impression, seconds, the measurements differentiating between mutilation and dying — elude me. I used to be swallowed in a tumult of sunshine and crunching metallic. All I do know is that, as a substitute of being thrown in entrance of his crossover SUV, I landed face-up on the sidewalk — wordless and gasping, with all of the air dashed from my lungs. 

That I used to be instantly surrounded by a couple of dozen New Yorkers speaks to my attacker’s emotions of impunity: He mowed me down on a Tuesday afternoon, subsequent to a crowded cafe patio in residential Carroll Gardens. Witnesses recorded his license plate — solely to be told by responding officers that no such registration existed, that means he was driving with falsified plates. The one different factor I do know for certain is that my attacker acquired away, disappearing right into a metropolis some have declared “useless” regardless of streets teeming with folks, many on bikes.

I later discovered that not less than one bystander had put his physique in entrance of my attacker’s automotive in an try to stop him from leaving the scene — to no avail. 

Instantly after the hit-and-run, I stored repeating “I’m OK” like a prayer or a line from a script. I work as a courier, and my assault occurred whereas I used to be on the clock. I texted my boss from the ambulance, assuring him that whereas I couldn’t end my shift, I used to be “OK.” My physique shook; my left aspect was tender; my neck and shoulders felt sore. I fastidiously typed ginger reassurances to my brother with my bruised arms, cognitive dissonance rattling me as I glimpsed my legs strapped right into a stretcher, the blue striped socks I had chosen that morning all of the sudden an artifact of the crash. 

Morgan Sykes in the Bronx in aid effort with Corona Couriers. Photo: Courtesy Morgan L. Sykes
Morgan Sykes within the Bronx, delivering groceries with the Corona Couriers. Photograph: Courtesy Morgan Sykes

The EMTs needed to take me to the hospital, however as a result of I had no damaged bones or gushing wounds — and little insurance coverage — a probably bankrupting ambulance experience to the ER amid COVID didn’t enchantment. “I’m OK,” I insisted, simply desirous to hunker down someplace protected. I signed no matter they put in entrance of my face so I might get out of there and do my finest at making that true.

Since my assault, I’ve realized that, sure, I’m OK. I’m alive. I escaped severe harm, which, in accordance with witness accounts and the catastrophic harm to my bicycle, is likely to be miraculous (for those who consider in that form of factor). But I’m reckoning with being the sufferer of a violent assault dedicated by a driver who weaponized his automobile towards me in a metropolis by which car-centric insurance policies, insufficient infrastructure, biased policing and incompetent elected officers have dehumanized cyclists to the purpose the place this man not solely knew he would get away with harming me, a bike owner, together with his automobile, he probably felt entitled to take action. 

He lives in New York Metropolis in 2020 the place, in an effort to stave off congestion, Mayor de Blasio has urged New Yorkers to not purchase automobiles — at the same time as he refuses to behave on promised initiatives and insurance policies that may make using bicycles safer. 

The author delivering supplies to Black Lives Matter protesters. Photo: Courtesy Morgan L. Sykes
The writer delivering provides to Black Lives Matter protesters. Photograph: Courtesy Morgan Sykes

It is a metropolis by which the deaths of cyclists in site visitors violence were long met with ticketing blitzes that focus on the potential victims — cyclists — relatively than motorists. Additionally it is a metropolis on the epicenter of the pandemic, by which bicyclists mobilized to supply neighbors with groceries and medicine via mutual-aid networks whereas officers busied themselves with press conferences. 

Bicycles additionally buttress the Black Lives Matter motion, which has led to cases of cops targeting cyclists for arrest at protests. Biking has grow to be a de-facto transit possibility as bureaucratic infighting and COVID render the MTA much less dependable and probably unsafe. Biking has helped New York Metropolis to outlive the pandemic. The file numbers taking to the streets on two wheels supply proof of life to these declaring our metropolis useless.

I’m grateful to the New Yorkers who took care of me whereas I used to be incapacitated on the sidewalk, ready for the “official response” of the ambulance and police. They stored me protected and nonetheless.

Throughout my 4 years in New York, I’ve seen no scarcity of heroism from on a regular basis New Yorkers. Our collective kindness and empathy reveals why life is value residing. I problem these in energy to behave as heroically as my neighbors: Biking shouldn’t be harmful in New York Metropolis, and the site visitors violence costing New Yorkers their lives represents a colossal failure that rests squarely on policy-makers. 

The streets are for the folks. They don’t belong to automobiles, that are unsustainable, congestion-generating, costly, and unique. The streets needs to be protected for New Yorkers in all our humanity — of all ages, means, coloration, and identification. Elected officers: You might be liable for the tradition of danger and violence that endangers New Yorkers on bicycles. Policing is not going to repair it. We want structural, cultural change that locations human lives over the pace and comfort of automotive drivers. We are going to by no means cease using. Please do what’s essential to preserve us protected whereas we preserve this metropolis alive. 

I don’t wish to die on the streets of New York Metropolis beneath the wheels of some livid machine.

Morgan L. Sykes (@morganlsykes) is a motorcycle courier and freelance author.


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