Crashes are not accidents; they are preventable, as NYPD finally realizes.

With all the dangerous and arrogant behavior I see from car drivers every day, it's amazing that crashes are still considered accidents. It may sound like semantics, but it's important because it's an example of how our car culture manifests itself in law enforcement. In most cases the police will take the driver's word as the truth without even talking to the bicyclist or any witnesses. Every crash is preventable, even according to the DMV. As a vehicle operator you have a responsibility to pay attention and exercise due care, which means scanning for hazards and being prepared to stop if necessary.

There may be no better example of how our car culture impacts policing that the relationship between cyclists and police.  Most police officers spend entire shifts in cars, with the exception of walking short distances to/from their car, and most of them live outside of the cities where they work. They tend to suffer from the "windshield perspective", lacking an understanding of what it's like to bike or walk among car traffic.

Things have been so bad in New York City that the police routinely announce "no criminality suspected" without even investigating. The total lack of traffic law enforcement there means that if you inure kill someone while driving your car over the speed limit through red lights and onto sidewalks, it's okay as long as you stay on the scene and aren't drunk.  Surely you didn't mean it, right? No criminality suspected.

Those three words will become less common as the New York Police Department, pressed by the City Council, expands its (newly renamed) Collision Investigation Squad to investigate any crash with a serious injury as determined by the emergency medical responders. While they should really be investigating all crashes involving non-motorists, this is a good start and a promising change for the city's least responsive agency. Hopefully it represents a growing understanding among NYPD brass of the significance of traffic crimes, and maybe -- just maybe -- we will start to see some enforcement for routine traffic crimes like red light violations, reckless driving ("speeding") and failure to yield the right of way, among many others.