Death in Central Park Puts Cyclist Behavior Under Microscope
Even on the crowded, chaotic streets of New York City, it is a rare occurrence for a person riding a bicycle to strike a person on foot. Rarer still is for that collision to result in serious or fatal injury. This type of accident is mostly seen with motorists hitting pedestrians; in New York 156 pedestrians were killed and thousands injured by cars in 2013 alone.
Jill Tarlov, who was crossing the park's West Drive on foot, was struck by a cyclist—reportedly riding a high-end road bike and traveling at high speed— and knocked to the ground with such force that she was left brain-dead. She later died in the hospital.
Almost immediately following the reports of the crash involving Tarlov, waves of passionate responses broke out online. People who love to hate bikes in New York predictably jumping on the incident. New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser’s notoriously overheated hyperbole went into overdrive as she railed against “terrorists on wheels” and “[a]ssassins in Spandex.”
Death is an awful thing, especially when it was caused by an avoidable accident. However, this type of response is frankly terrifying. I'd like to give my perspective on this situation.
First and foremost, the full facts of this incident have not been release. No one knows whether or not the cyclist or Tarlov made a mistake, there is no sense of placing blame on any particular party at this point.
Secondly, pedestrians and cyclists are killed by motorist in the United States by the thousands. One case in particular sticks out to me. Earlier this year Milton Olin Jr., ex COO of Napster, was struck and killed while cycling legally in the bike lane. An on duty police officer hit him with is cruiser and killed him because the officer was distracted by sending text messages on his phone.
This situation happens nearly weekly for cyclists and pedestrians, but when a cyclist is in the wrong everyone loves to hate them.
I feel terrible for Tarlov and her family, that does not mean I should start hating every cyclist. A cyclist MAY have made a mistake, that is not a reason to take up arms against every cyclist.