NAME WITHHELD, Los Angeles
WHEN A QUESTION includes the phrase "writhing in pain," it may well imply an ethical duty or at least call for ordinary compassion. And that's the case here.
Even if the cyclist acted thoughtlessly or broke the law, that doesn't place him beyond moral consideration. First respond to his writhing-in-pain, then sort out who's to blame. In your defense, though, the shock from being knocked to the ground might have prevented you from clearly thinking this through, so don't reproach yourself too sternly.
We shouldn't confuse local traffic regulations with moral precepts. It is legal in many cities to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk, including in Kyoto, Japan, where bikers and pedestrians share narrow sidewalks with courtesy and consideration. I'm not suggesting that we casually disregard the laws we actually have, but that people who violate them are still worthy of humane treatment.
(The New York Times Upfront, Vol. 143, January 10, 2011)