I read an interesting article in the New York Times today titled, “A new Breed of Lawyers Focuses on Bicyclists’ Rights.” The article focuses on a group of NY City Bicycle lawyers who are fighting a perceived NYPD prejudice against City cyclists. Cops have issued tickets to cyclists for not keeping right, which is the law in New York State generally, but not in New York City. Cyclists are also getting a lot of tickets for moving out of the designated bike lanes, even when they need to move out of the lane to avoid obstacles.
None of this really applies much to what I do as a Central and Syracuse New York bike accident lawyer, except for one thing: In a car-on-bicycle collision, I believe police tend to “blame the cyclist” more often than not, up here as well as down there. Many motorists, and police officers, feel deep down that cyclists are merely “in the way” of traffic, and should be able to avoid motorists.
Most people harbor this prejudice against cyclists because they aren’t cyclists, but motorists. As motorists themselves, people generally, and cops particularly, tend to side with motorists to the detriment of cyclists.
Imagine a world where 98% of the population cycled, and only about 2% drove cars. In that world, cops and others who were not motorists themselves, but rather cyclists, would tend to blame the motorist in a car-on-bike collision. They would “feel” for the cyclist, not the motorist. But things are, in fact, exactly the opposite, which explains why cops, and others, tend to blame the cyclist.
Only an experienced New York Bicycle accident lawyer can undo the harmful effects of this hidden prejudice. Through a careful investigation of the accident scene, and interviews with witnesses, and a thorough review of New York bicycle law, the truth can prevail in Court. Much attention must also be paid to educating the jury, during jury selection, about this hidden bias so that they can consciously fight against it when deliberating about who was at fault.
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Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer Michaels & Smolak, P.C.