NYPD: Sometimes You Have to Hit a Cyclist in Order to Save Them
"I'm going to use whatever means necessary to stop you, and that's for your safety."
At first blush, these words, from a New York Police Department officer to a cyclist whose Citi Bike was currently lodged in the officer's wheel well, seem contradictory. But when you think about it, it really makes sense.
The officer, a student of history, knows that sometimes you need to burn a village to save it. And in this case, he needed to hit a cyclist in order to save him. Save him from what, exactly?
Stop Hitting Yourself!
You see, the cyclist had (allegedly) run a couple red lights. He had also (allegedly) ignored the officer's orders to stop cycling. This could be because he was (allegedly) wearing ear buds while cycling. And if this brave police officer hadn't violently intervened with potentially deadly force? Well, the outlaw cyclist could've continued on his crime spree -- pedaling down Avenue A and presumably listening to some intoxicating tunes. And we all know how dangerous that can be.
"Statistics show that virtually every road fatality has been caused by drivers of cars and trucks," according to Streetsblog NYC, "but the NYPD continues to enforce traffic laws in a manner that suggests cops often see bicycle riders as a more-serious threat to the public." And so, this happened:
This Is for Your Own Good!
As the cyclist points out to the officer in the video, a Citi Bike-versus-armored patrol SUV tête-á-tête isn't really a fair fight. And, to its credit, the NYPD announced a week after the incident that it would discontinue its practice of 72-hour ticketing blitzes targeting cyclists after a fellow cyclist has been killed by a driver. (The New York Post reports at least 15 cyclists have been killed in the city this year alone.)
The cyclist -- who called 911 for assistance after being struck by the officer's vehicle -- received four summonses: two for running a red light, one for wearing headphones, and one for failing to comply with a lawful order. Surely a small price to pay for the guarantee of his future safety.