Monday, September 22, 2014

"Daredevil biker" kills pedestrian in Central Park

A 59-year-old pedestrian, crossing the street in NYC's Central Park, was struck by a cyclist last week and the injury to her head proved fatal.  The STORIES I've read, and the comments following some of them, have generally been sympathetic to the pedestrian, and have called out the "maniac bikers" who are making life dangerous for innocent citizens.

I, too, am sympathetic.  Ms. Jill Tarlov, the victim, was allegedly crossing the street in a marked crosswalk when "fierce triathlete" Jason Marshall hollered a warning instead of stopping, and then struck Ms. Tarlov.

However, some questions need to be answered.  (I wasn't there - in fact, I've never stepped foot in Central Park.  So unlike so many "authorities," I need to refrain from being judge/jury/executioner... at least for now.)

Some people have stated flatly, "A pedestrian in a crosswalk has the right-of-way... period."

Not so!

At a "controlled" intersection - you know, with a traffic light and maybe a Walk/Don't-Walk sign, vehicles have the right of way when their light is green and the pedestrians have a "Don't Walk."

Do the crosswalks in Central Park have such features?  As far as I'm concerned, that's the only redemption Mr. Marshall might have.  And even then... it's shameful that he wasn't able to avoid the collision anyway.  A defensive rider would've anticipated a possible problem and been prepared to take evasive action.

(I once hit a pedestrian under slightly similar circumstances... except she darted without warning from between two cars, in the middle of a city block, right into my path.  I barely clipped her as I swerved to miss her, and slammed into the pavement.  She said "I'm sorry," and went merrily on her way... I hurt for probably 2 months afterwards.)

The speed limits in Central Park are 25mph... even a "daredevil biker" would have a difficult time maintaining a speed much faster than that.  (The story linked above says during his ride, Mr. Marshall hit a speed of 35.6 mph... but was he miles away and going down a hill or something?)

The main fact that the angry mob seems eager to ignore...?  This story is only newsworthy because it's so unusual!  How often does a bike rider kill somebody besides him or herself?  Hardly ever!  By contrast... in 2013, in New York City, 178 pedestrians and cyclists were killed in traffic aaccidents.  (Info HERE.)  It's a safe bet that all but one or two of those fatalities involved a motor vehicle.  So, when we're lamenting, "Something must be done about these daredevil bikers!!," let's just keep things objective and in perspective, huh?

1 comment:

Clancy Anderson said...

Here is an different view on this from BikeSnobNYC.

The police and media always seem to act when it involves the bicyclist as the bad guy. But when the cyclist is the victim, it turns around the other way. This horrific video shows a cyclist being hit, yet the police have done nothing even though they know who the driver was.