The Low Road

Blaming the victim
April 11, 2007, 8:34 pm
Filed under: General


Dave writes: “It’s been a month — where that knee at?” So I guess I’ll give an update.

Tomorrow it’s four weeks since the folks at Orthopedic Specialty Group took my knee apart and put it back together again. I’m still walking around in a brace and using a cane to take some of the weight off. But I can walk unassisted if I want to and I’m not in pain anymore. I’m going to physical therapy three times a week. It’s helping. But I’ve lost some muscle mass in my right leg and I’ll have to build it back up. I now have just enough flexibility to ride an exercise bicycle. I’ll be mounting a real one real soon.

On to other matters. I’m reposting the following from the Elm City Cycling message board because I think people should see it. The writer is a member of the group, but I’m redacting her name unless I get permission to post it here.

I was biking on Temple Street Saturday morning heading toward the Med School. I stopped at a red light at Grove St, next to an SUV that was also stopped. The SUV driver then decided to take the right turn, without looking both ways, and while the light was still red. She ran right into me, crunched my rear tire pinned my leg into the bike, so that I have a beat up ankle and leg and a very painfully bruised backbone (from the seat smashing up into me…). She was responsible enough to stop and stay while a pedestrian waiting to cross the street let me call 911 on his cell.

What troubles me was the responding officers attitude toward the driver, who admitted to turning on red against (posted) laws and hitting me. He just gave her a verbal warning saying that he didn’t want to give her a ticket for hitting me. Then he turned to me, and by way of explanation for why he didn’t want to write a ticket (since of course she had hit me), he said that afterall, I had decided to ride my bike. (!!!)

I was in a lot of pain, my day was shot, my bike unusable, and I was looking at spending the morning at Urgent Care. But this really knocked me. I realized as I waited for x-rays, that I was seriously angry. This officer seemed to be blaming me for getting hit! A friend of mine said it was a lot like the old police attitude toward rape victims, blaming them for being out at night or for what they were wearing. Was this officer really saying that cyclists are acceptable targets? That’s how it felt. Or did the officer see the moving violation on the part of the driver as mitigated in some way because I had pulled up and stopped for the light next to her?

What is the NHPD attitude about these sorts of accidents? Would they have ticketed if she had freaked out and instead of slamming on the brakes when she heard me scream, hit the gas, and left me dead or bleeding profusely? Did he really see this as an ambiguous situation — that I was biking too aggressively? Was he just trying to be “nice”? If the last, this is really scary — does NHPD not understand that everyone who breaks a law and hits a cyclist but is let go with a verbal warning, goes away understanding IT IS NO BIG DEAL TO HIT A CYCLIST IN NEW HAVEN. What is going on here?

[name redacted]

BTW — the verbal warning was to not turn on red where it is posted, NOT to look out for cyclists.

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