The post, “Careless Drivers Pose an Ongoing Danger, Worries Avid Cyclist” concerned Donal Fitterer, a rider connected to the Finger Lakes Cycling Club in Ithaca, and a bad experience he had with a truck.
That post inspired this response from a NY Bike Accident Blog reader:
“A comment/question about Don Fitterer’s incident with a truck pushing him off the road: Something similar happened to me 2 years ago when a Cornell University cop in a police car(!) tried to nudge me over because he thought I wasn’t riding far enough to the right.
Isn’t this grounds for a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment?
According to NYS Penal Code S. 120.20, reckless endangerment occurs when a person “engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.” No actual injury need occur; it’s the creation of a fear of injury in the mind of the victim that matters.”
My response to that question:
The short answer is Yes, arguably conduct of this nature could constitute grounds for Reckless Endangerment. The practical problem is whether you can convince a police officer to ticket the driver and then the prosecutor to aggressively prosecute the charge.
Sadly, all too often, police are deaf to cyclist’s complaints regarding unsafe motorists. In their defense, sometimes this unwillingness is based upon their prior bad experience with cyclists who screamed about dangerous motorists but then didn’t have sufficient information to permit an effective prosecution (namely the license plate of the car and a decent description of the driver).
The key for us as cyclists is to diplomatically approach the police and provide them with all the info they need to do their job. If we do that and we still get a deaf ear, it is time to go to that officer’s supervisor or even to the chief of police. I have had good luck with this strategy in Elmira and Chemung County but it has taken me a long time to develop the kind of relationship necessary that they take me seriouslly.
I think it is imperative that local cyclists start to educate and forge relationships with the local law enforcement community if we hope to have their assistance.
I hope this helps.
Thanks for reading and RIDE SAFELY,
James B. Reed, Esq.
NY & PA Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14901
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Toll Free: 1-800-943-3529
Please visit the New York Injury Law Blog at www.NYInjuryLawBlog.com
E-mail me at FreeReports@zifflaw.com for two free books:
NY Car Accidents and NY Car Insurance Secrets YOU Need to Know.