You better watch out for bikes.
This really has become pretty useful advice for anyone driving these days just about anywhere, but certainly in any major city.
And much to her chagrin, that’s something Amy DeGise learned last week. DeGise, a Jersey City councilwoman and former Hudson County Democratic chair, was driving in her hometown on July 19 when her vehicle crashed into a bicyclist who appeared to have run a red light. The biker didn’t seem to be seriously injured judging from videos of the incident taken by city street cameras.
The video, however, showed something more damning. DeGise (pictured above, photo by Al Sullivan) did not stop. Despite hitting the biker, her vehicle kept moving, the video showed.
Although she did eventually report the accident to police, the ramifications of DeGise not stopping – both legal and political – are still developing.
Putting politics and the related issues aside for a moment, it’s necessary to talk a bit about bikers on city streets.
Encouraging biking by planning and constructing bike lanes is very common these days. There are justifiable reasons for this. Biking is good exercise and it can take vehicles off the roads, theoretically reducing congestion and pollution.
At the same time, it’s reasonable to expect, if not demand, that those who bike do so responsibly.
For myself, and I am sure others, who ordinarily drive in cities it’s become common to see bikers paying no attention to red lights or stop signs. Nor is it uncommon to see bikers riding the wrong way on one-way streets.
In the incident at hand, videos from two different angles show a red light and what you’d expect to see at a red light – cars stopped and a pedestrian crossing the street.
A bike then appears alongside the stopped cars and rides straight into the intersection where it is struck broadside by the vehicle reportedly driven by DeGise.
So far, it’s been DeGise’s failure to stop that has generated the most buzz.
Two of her fellow council members want her to resign. One of them, James Solomon, says he was “horrified” by the video. Two local Jersey City groups dedicated to safe streets and bike safety also want her to go.
There’s more. A Change.org petition calling on DeGise to resign has quickly popped up.
Besides being a councilwoman and a former chair of the Hudson County Democrats, Amy DeGise is the daughter of Tom DeGise, the county executive. Clearly, this is a woman with some political juice. But it’s questionable if she’ll be able to survive the growing pressure against her.
She should not have left the scene of an accident. No question about it.
But bike riders should obey the rules of the road and not run red lights. There are two parts to this story.