Allison Eng ’23 was riding her bike down 5th Ave. in New York City as a part of a Black Lives Matter protest on Oct. 3 when she was struck by a car, destroying her bicycle and throwing her into the pavement.
Five x-rays, one CAT scan and half a day later, Eng found herself dealing with a sprained right foot, neck soreness and a few pulled muscles — she had gotten off easy.
Eng, who is currently taking a gap year, is no stranger to bike protests — New Yorkers biking together, chanting slogans and making noise in the main thoroughfares of the city — and would often go with her father on Saturday afternoons to participate.
“We were just riding down the street and then on the side of the road there was a car that wanted to enter the road,” Eng told The Sun in an interview. “A few minutes later, when we were a few blocks down, we could hear screeching on the road and I turned around, looking [out] for my dad’s safety.”
Eng was immediately sent to the hospital, and was not released until 12:30 a.m. on Monday. Her father was unhurt.
She now faces six weeks of physical therapy for her back and neck injuries, as well as a boot for the next three weeks for her right foot. Eng was grateful for the relatively minor nature of her injuries, despite the discomfort she feels.
Eng shared her experience in an Instagram post, which was widely shared and received 1,998 likes in the span of a week.
Two days later, the driver of the car that struck her was arrested by the NYPD. This was bittersweet for Eng, who found out that he was released from custody with no bail.
“Tuesday night, the driver got arrested. I didn’t even know because nobody contacted me. I had to find out through Instagram — through protest groups,” Eng said.
A similar incident had occurred a month earlier, again in New York City — a car had driven through a protest in Times Square, though no injuries had been reported. Eng criticized the New York Police Department for failing to arrest the driver in that case.
“There were videos [of the perpetrator], there were photos of their face and they were never found by the police,” Eng said. “I’m not really expecting any justice.”
Eng reflected on her experience with the police: “Because I am Asian and not Black or brown, there is more cooperation with the police and they’re doing more. If I was another race, this would be brushed off.”
While Eng may not be able to go to any bicycle protests in the near future, she stressed that her work with Black Lives Matter was not over.
“I wanted to make it clear that activism should continue. The Cornell community has to be more aware that this is not just an issue they see on screen and is [now] gone, under wraps, under covers,” Eng said. “It’s continuing.”