A cyclist in New York City who was hospitalised after being struck by an unmarked police car has spoken of his disbelief after being billed more than $1,200 for the damage that happened to the vehicle during the incident.
According to the New York Post, it’s at least the third time in recent months that city authorities have sent victims bills in similar circumstances – and each time, they have quietly dropped the demand for money after being challenged.
The latest bill, in the sum of $1,263, was received by Justin Johnsen, a 31-year-old resident of South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who was riding his bike to work as a design-engineer in Red Hook last November when he was hit by a Ford Taurus that happened to be an unmarked police car.
“I think it’s preposterous,” said Johansen of the bill he received. “I was upset,” continued the cyclist, who had to visit hospital after the incident to have stitches inserted in wounds to his arms.
“I was in kind of disbelief that they were going to send this letter after four months or so and ask me to pay damages for their vehicle, when they hit me when I was on a bicycle.”
Describing the background to the incident, which happened at 8.30 in the morning on 5 November, he said: “I had left the bike lane to make a left turn, and I looked behind me and saw that it was clear, and the farthest car was a fair distance.
He indicated to turn, but said that before he could do so, he “was swiped by this car on my left side. I didn’t feel too good . . . I got some big gashes to my elbows,” he explained, adding that the while the two officers in the vehicle were “pretty friendly” after the collision, they were “not apologetic at all.”
While his medical bills ran to several hundred dollars, Johnsen said he hadn’t thought about suing the police, but in the matter of the demand for money for damage to his vehicle he has a lawyer, Daniel Flanzig, acting for him on a pro bono basis.
Flanzig, who had volunteered his services after hearing that the city had told Johnsen it would sue him if he didn’t pay, said: “They should be sending an apology letter instead of a bill.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.