To view this latest video from Brooklyn, taped by a cyclist who is practically mowed down by an abusive driver on a narrow
street, is harrowing, scary, and displays the ugly underbody of cycling in New York City.
In the video, cyclist Rafael Huerta is subjected to repeated assaults by a driver in his car, who then gets out of his car and threatens him again.
Difficult to watch, the video shows the kind of dangerous behavior by city drivers that goes unchecked and unpunished by the New York Police Department on a daily basis.
After nearly running the cyclist over several times, the driver gets out and starts taunting Huerta.
“You are not supposed to ride in the middle of the street,” he shouts, standing in front of him in a threatening way.
As Huerta repeatedly tries to talk to him, the driver repeatedly calls the cyclist a “liar” even though the entire event is on tape. He mocks him, taunts him, and bars him from proceeding along on his bicycle.
Not only did police not help this cyclist, who barely escapes attempted assault with a dangerous weapon by the driver, they aren’t even present at the scene. One wonders if they did arrive whose side they might have taken.
On a deeper level, the behavior of the driver points to the deep prejudice that many American drivers have against cyclists, and the ease with which they will endanger a person’s life while seated in the safety of their two-ton vehicle.
Most of that behavior can be attributed to culture, but perhaps the bulk of the blame can be thrown at the New York State legislature that has never adopted stringent penalties against drivers who threaten, assault, or kill cyclists and pedestrians.
In sum, the video is a painful reminder of how unsafe our roads are, and how poorly protected cyclists are as a class.
Watch how Huerta’s rights to the road are completely abrogated as the driver repeatedly tries to hurt him by pulling in front of him and stopping suddenly.
Finally, the driver pins the cyclist to the curb with his vehicle and gets out of the car to physically assault him, and further prevents him from moving forward.
The driver verbally assaults, demonizes, and physically threatens the cyclist as he impedes his path forward.
The driver then begins a shouting match with another driver in a car trying to pass.
He shouts, “You are not going anywhere, ” to the cyclist. He continues to shout at everyone around him, and claims the cyclist “banged my car,” even though he had squeezed Huerta to the curb, almost crushing him several times.
A melee almost develops, with several people gathering around the cyclist, and there is the awful feeling that Huerta is going to be beaten.
One man comes to the rescue of Huerta, protecting him from the hefty driver.
The cyclist finally passes.