Friday, July 28, 2006

NYPD Bridge Dragnet Targets Bicyclers

In the latest round of NYPD versus bicyclists, Sunset Parker reports that the NYPD has put up a bike ambush on either side of the Brooklyn Bridge to catch bikers who - god forbid - ride across the bridge. If riders don’t dismount and walk their bikes across the bridge, they get hit with a summons and a $60.00 ticket. Sunset Parker wisely point out that there’s been a portion of the bridge designated for bikes for 123 years, which you can see from the clearly marked bike path and outline of a bicycle painted every thirty feet or so. [Very Big, Very Bad News for Brooklyn Bikers, Sunset Parker]

When I say this is an ambush, I mean it - signage is poorly lacking, meaning that riders have no notice that they face a ticket. Although the tickets are probably legally insufficient, since you need to have notice that you're breaking the law in order to be liable, the NYPD has long known that legality is beside the point. Plenty of people won't bother or don't have the time to contest the ticket, so it's sufficient for their purposes to flood bicyclists with tickets, even if the tickets wouldn't ultimately stand up in court.

Every so often, the NYPD embarks on a massive campaign to ticket bikers, usually ignoring far more dangerous driver behavior like speeding and reckless driving. Bike advocates and riders around the city have tried for years to educate the NYPD and the City, yet they persist in these indiscriminate quota-driven campaigns. [TransAlt]

It appears that this latest dragnet was spurred by the death of a pedestrian who collided with a biker on the bridge. Although this is tragic, and we all bear the responsibility to bike safely, these occurrences are so rare that the NYPD should really be focusing on the real problems: the risk to bikers and drivers from driver misconduct. Charles Komanoff, president of the pedestrian rights organization Right Of Way conducted a study finding that between 1994 and 1997, motorists killed 1,020 pedestrians and cyclists - comprising 56% of all traffic fatalities. Of these, the vast majority were pedestrians. An analysis of fatal bicycle crashes with car found that most were caused by traffic-law violations by motorists. The primary types of driver misconduct were (1) driver passing cyclist unsafely or aggressively; (2) driver turning into cyclist’s path; (3) driver speeding; (4) driver running red light or stop sign.

(Correction - According to the Brooklyn Record, the ticket is for failing to dismount on the Manhattan side near the stairs to the 6 train. Brooklyn Ramblings has ridden across the bridge countless times, yet I have no idea where these stairs are, and therefore where I'm now expected to get off my bike. But ok, I guess I'm allowed to ride across, until the gotcha at the end. Thanks, NYPD.)

More coverage of this story:
Brooklyn Bridge Bikers Beware [Bay Ridge Conservative]
Cops on the Bridges [Bike Blog]
Into Our Town the NYPD Came [Streets Blog]
Photo of burning citation from Bay Ridge Conserative.


Anonymous said...

Apparently the part about bicyclists being ticketed is not entirely true. See the correction at Brooklyn Record.

Anonymous said...

GOOD. A crosswalk is a crosswalk. A bikepath is a bikepath. Stay out of the crosswalk and you'll be fine. Or take the manhattan bridge...

Lee-Shak said...


the part about the ticket is true. i, and countless others who were in front of me--were stopped qand ticketed.