Matthew von Ohlen was riding in the bike lane in Williamsburg on Saturday when, according to police, a motorist intentionally slammed into him. Von Ohlen was killed and the driver fled the scene. The NYPD responded the following morning by issuing summonses to cyclists on the same block for running red lights.
According to the NYPD and video footage of the crash, von Ohlen did nothing wrong. “He was killed like a dog in the street,” a neighbor told the Daily News. Yet officers from the 90th Precinct were out the next day summonsing cyclists and passing out pamphlets about their obligations and responsibilities.
Here in bicycle-happy West Los Angeles, I am often frustrated by the lack of attention paid by cyclists, as if I am solely responsible for their safety. Yes, they can be a little annoying, but we all try to coexist peacefully. Should a motorist deliberately plow into a cyclist and kill him, the rational response would seem to be to let motorists know that course of action is, always has been, and always will be unacceptable.
When tasked with something like public safety, random, mindless busy work is never a valid approach, especially when trying to prevent death. What the NYPD higher-ups were thinking here is mystifying, if they were thinking at all. Of course, there is nothing wrong with getting the cyclists to be more aware of what they should be doing, but you MIGHT just want to bring the motorists up to speed on their obligations too.