Cyclists; advocates for safer streets; and the parents, family, and friends of deceased cyclists will gather outside NYPD Headquarters at 1 Police Plaza Wednesday morning to demand justice. Brooklyn artist Mathieu Lefevre became the most recent fatality after he was killed by a flatbed truck in Williamsburg last month—although the driver left the scene, the NYPD opted not to press any charges. Lefevre's parents, who are from Canada, learned about this not from the NYPD—which they say blew them off—but from the press, which seems to have an easier time getting answers than a grieving family.
Transportation Alternatives will attempt to deliver over 2,570 Letters To NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly demanding "an explicit zero tolerance policy on dangerous and lethal driving." In Lefevre's case, the driver was not charged for leaving the scene of a fatal crash, nor for failing to yield the right of way, nor for failure to exercise due care. One officer near the scene of the accident told us that Lefevre ran a red light, and an NYPD spokesman told us the driver simply didn't see Lefevre. But his family says that according to the accident report, Lefevre was biking in the same direction as the truck driver. "So if my son ran the red light, so did the truck driver," Lefevre's mother Erika told us last month. "Why is the truck driver not charged for making the turn at the red light?"
It's unclear if Lefevre's family has been able to get an adequate explanation from the NYPD, but we have been contacted by an attorney representing the family, seeking any witnesses who may have seen the accident or the aftermath. The attorney declined to comment about any possible legal action against the city. Of course, Lefevre's death is not the only fatality in which the NYPD has been faulted for not charging the drivers. Transportation Alternatives has cataloged this roundup:
- January 10, 2011: Jerrold Chaleff, 71 years old; run over in a mall parking lot in the Bronx. No charges filed.
- February 27, 2011: 27-year old victim; car broke down on the BQE. Got out and was in front of his car when a driver slammed into the broken down vehicle, killing the owner. No charges filed.
- March 21, Margaret Choberka, 82 years old; crossing at the intersection of 70th Street and 32nd Avenue in Jackson Heights, a driver ran a red light, hitting the back of another driver’s vehicle which ran over Choberka. No charges filed.
- June 2, 2011: Leonia White, 89 years old; run over after a driver collided with pickup truck. No charges filed.
- July 17, 2011: Eric Bryant, driving 112 miles per hour, careens off the FDR and lands on a taxi below. Eight people are injured, several seriously. No charges filed.
- August 30, 2011: Erica Abbott, 29 years old; struck and killed by a driver after trying to avoid debris in the road and falling off her bike on Bushwick Avenue. No charges filed.
- October 25, 2011: Marian Siegel, 86 years old; struck by a tow truck driver on 5th Avenue while walking with the light. Driver left the scene and had to be tracked down. Said he was unaware he hit Marian. No charges filed.
"As long as the default response to a motor vehicle crash is 'accidents happen,' the behaviors that are killing and injuring people will continue," a Trans Alt spokesman said in a statement. "New York State’s Department of Motor Vehicles has identified over 80 contributing factors associated with crashes, and drivers breaking traffic laws cause the majority of fatal traffic crashes. Over and over, a careless, distracted or speeding driver takes a human life and the police shrug. This cavalier attitude to the epidemic of lawless driving is absolutely unacceptable."
At Wednesday's rally, which will start at 8:30 a.m. at 1 Police Plaza, Trans Alt says they will "announce a major new development in the fight for traffic justice." If you're interested in attending but can't make it, you can "add your name to the Roll Call by filling out the RSVP form but checking the box that says 'I can't be there.' T.A. will make sure you're represented among the thousands standing up against the NYPD's disregard for traffic safety."