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Providence PD: Disinterested in Bike Safety?


Today I was walking along Broadway on my way to Recycle-a-Bike, to fix a flat.  At the intersection with Barton Street, there was a car stopped at the light, and I had the walk signal.  I walked into the intersection.  The driver wasn't paying attention, and started to try to make a right turn on a red, partially forcing my bike under his car.

Overall, I'm really thankful, because I was not hurt.  I was concerned that the bike might have been damaged, though, so I asked the driver to provide his name and insurance in case anything turned up wrong with the bike when I checked it out.  He said he would, but when he pulled around the corner to supposedly stop, he just sped off and kept going.

So, I took the license down, and a description of the vehicle and driver (Grey Camry, CS 575, Latino male, in his forties, mustache).  The bricklayer working at St. Mary's Church let me use his phone because mine was at home.  I asked the police to send a cruiser so that I could file a complaint.

Then we waited.  And waited.

Cruisers actually went by several times while I waited, but I only got the third one to stop.  He said there was no report over the police radio of a hit-and-run.  I asked him to fill out a report, and he said he couldn't do that, that there was a specific police detail that worked on traffic that would come around.  After thirty more minutes of waiting without anyone coming by, I decided to leave.

I might have waited even longer, except that this is not the first time that I've had to report this kind of thing to the police department, and in every instance, I've been ignored. The day before Pride, I was riding my bike down South Water Street.  An SUV got behind me and revved its engine, and then whipped around me in the same lane and passed me going way over the speed limit. The construction people who were setting up for Pride actually yelled out at the SUV as it passed, which is why I have such a clear memory of when the incident happened.  So I had a whole crew of witnesses.

I waited an hour and a half for the police to come, which they never did.  I actually called the dispatcher back two more times after the initial call, just to make sure that there wasn't a problem locating me.  But a half an hour after the third call, and with no one in sight, I left.

I've been ignored like this at least four times.  Each time I've had the plate number, and at least one witness, to bolster my case.  This should mean that the case was easily prosecutable, and therefore worth the attention of whomever was on duty. Apparently that's not what Providence P.D. thinks though.

Nationally, more people are killed by cars than by guns--although sadly, in a few states, this trend may reverse simply due to the enormously high rate of gun violence in our country.  You would think this would mean that the police would treat these cases seriously.  A person who misuses a vehicle, especially in anger, is essentially doing the same thing as threatening a person with a gun.  I wish our criminal justice system would act that way.

Please feel encouraged to write your own instances of police ignoring your safety on the road as a cyclist or pedestrian, because I'd like to compile more examples.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, the same thing happened to me in Kansas City. I got hit by a car on my bike, called the police to make a report, and waited almost an hour while patrol cars went by, called again and was told that because "the vehicles can be moved" (out of traffic), I needed to go to the station to make any report. Lucky for me that I have friends that could come pick me up, because otherwise I would have been stuck on the street corner where I was hit all day until my wife got off from work.