T.A.’s Online Ticket Tracker Helps Map Bike Crackdown

A new feature on Transportation Alternatives' website allows you to easily submit info about any traffic tickets you get while cycling.Tracking the NYPD’s enforcement of traffic laws, including tickets issued to cyclists, has long been part of Transportation Alternatives’ job. A new tool on their website makes it easier than ever — especially relevant while the city’s bike ticketing blitz continues.

The new web form looks just like a traffic ticket, so you can just copy the information onto the site, box by box. Collecting that data “really helps us get a better perspective on where to target our advocacy efforts,” explained Aja Hazelhoff, a bike advocate with T.A.

As an example, she explained, T.A. is working with a number of other cycling groups on the police ticketing of Central Park cyclists. “This helps us in our meetings with the NYPD and the city to help characterize the nature of what’s going on in Central Park as opposed to other areas of the city,” said Hazelhoff.

Soon, luckily, there won’t be quite so much need for this kind of ticket tracking. Once the Savings Lives Through Better Information Bill goes into effect, said Hazelhoff, accurate information about every traffic summons in the city will be available monthly. That summons information, though, will still only be available at the precinct level, rather than broken out into individual locations, meaning that finer-grained geographical detail will still be important to flesh out the picture of police enforcement in New York City.

In addition, T.A. is currently filing a freedom of information request with the police department to see what violations the current bike ticket blitz has been focusing on and in what locations. “We’re going to be making the argument that if it doesn’t align with safety priorities, it should,” said T.A. general counsel Juan Martinez.

  • Thank you TA for taking these steps to target some of the major hurdles to safer streets.

    But first, we need a computer program to help decipher the muddled and misspelled information often written by under-trained NYPD officers on summonses. This program could be linked to whatever the official laws. Not sure who has that information 😛

  • Eric

    Good for the TA. Ticketing cyclists in Central Park may be more convenient for the police, but it does not address the underlying safety issues that the general public faces. This actually tracks to see if the police are dealing with the actual problem and not just writing quotas to keep their bosses happy.

  • Marco

    The TA page says that this is to “reduce cyclist harassment,” which is pretty silly. To the extent that cyclists are running red lights at pedestrian crosswalks, I would think that the primary reaction of a livable streets advocacy group would be to *encourage* enforcement. Maybe TA should just change their goal to “rideable streets” and be done with it.

    If a driver suggested that a red light should be treated like a stop sign at his own discretion, or that all traffic lights should be blinking yellows if pedestrians are the only cross-traffic, TA would recommend a televised execution.

  • Eric

    Marco, when you quote a phrase like “reduce cyclist harassment” it helps if you don’t take it out of context.

    “Compiling and analyzing this data helps Transportation Alternatives engage these agencies and make informed recommendations to reduce cyclist harassment and focus enforcement of truly dangerous behavior.”

    you forgot everything after the “and” where the TA wants to to focus on “enforcement of truly dangerous behavior”. Instead of relying on speed traps in Central Park which do nothing to deal with the real problems.

  • Marco, the point is to encourage enforcement in the right places. If cyclists are being stopped in Central Park that’s not a great allocation of NYPD resources. If cyclists are running red lights in midtown, that’s where the NYPD should be.

    This information allows TA to pinpoint where the real problems are, allowing them to give recommendations for where enforcement would make the kind of difference that would actually make pedestrians safer.

  • I just heard a report yesterday of a cyclist ticketed for riding counter-flow (eastbound) on the 72nd Street Transverse in Central Park. If it’s true that NYPD is enforcing the flow-of-traffic rules on the few Central Park roadways where cycling is permitted–even when there are no cars on those roadways–then cyclists literally have no safe way to bicycle across the park without detouring 5 or more miles. The sub-grade transverses at 65th, 79th, 86th and 97th Streets are not properly designed to accommodate bicycle traffic safely along with motor vehicles; I have discussed that matter with DoT repeatedly and its position is that those Transverses are not safe for bicycling. The pathways areforbidden to cyclists, with the exception of the W.106rd Street path to West Drive. If cyclists must also follow the flow of traffic on the Loop and the 72nd Street Transverse, on any round trip across the park one is forced to follow either West or East Drive to its terminus to get across.

    Of course, the design flaws on the sub-grade transverses would not be such a problem but for the rampant unchecked speeding of the motorists. I’ve never once seen NYPD conducting speeding enforcement on a sub-grade Transverse. For those who haven’t tried it, here’s an idea of what it’s like.

    Maybe now that Central Park has finally found the resources to do some traffic enforcement, we can convince them to pay some attention to the transverses. Central Park Precinct Council is held the second Tuesday of each month. Location will posted on the Streetsblog calendar.

  • JK

    Thursday I was in Central Park during car-free hours at 72nd transverse and East Drive (Northbound.) I stopped at a red to wait for…what? There were no pedestrians, no cyclists, no one except a Parks enforcement guy at the barricade. After 30 seconds of waiting I decided to go and the Parks guy shouted “don’t go” and pointed. A cop on a scooter was behind me. I thanked the Parks guy, and he told me that cops were ticketing cyclists there. This is BS. Somebody should look at the rules on signal timing warrants. How is it reasonable to time traffic signals the same for car-free and car hours? Yes, cyclists are there own worst enemies on the sidewalks and threatening pedestrians, but this arbitrary and non-nonsensical summonsing in Central Park needs to be challenged. Rules that make no sense do nothing but increase contempt for the law. This enforcement in Central Park makes no sense.

  • Reminder: If you want to safely ignore the motor-centric laws while with your bicycle, WALK IT OUT!

  • To Doug G.’s comment, maybe things have changed in the few years since I moved from NYC to Portland, but to date the only accident I’ve ever been in was when I was hit by a cyclist oblivious to traffic-control devices in Central Park. (I was on foot.) From my admittedly distant perspective, Central Park is exactly the right place to crack down on scofflaw cycling.

  • Driver

    Michael M, the real problem was not that the cyclist was oblivious to the traffic control device, but that he was oblivious to you, the pedestrian. Mindless adherence to laws and traffic control devices should not be nearly as important as respecting those around you and using proper judgement.

  • Michael, Driver is right and I think the way you describe it is completely turned around.

    First and foremost, no matter where one is biking or driving, being mindful of pedestrians is what’s important, regardless of what the lights say.

    Secondly, there has been a longstanding unspoken rule that the traffic lights don’t apply when cars aren’t allowed in. In my opinion, that’s exactly when an adherence to what peds are doing is even more important that simple fealty to lights. When the situation warrants it, I’ll yield to peds even when the light technically gives me the right of way.

    Third, considering the density of foot, auto, and bike traffic in Midtown or any of a thousand other locations in Manhattan, an NYPD presence in Central Park diverts resources from other more worthy locations. Even CP itself saw a <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local/new_york&id=7959438&quot;44% increase in crime last year, which suggests that a policeman who is spending 10 minutes ticketing a cyclist for running a light at which no one was waiting to cross could be of better service doing something else.

    That’s not to say bike-on-ped accidents don’t happen in the park, but only that if we could really look at the data we’d be able to see whether stationing cops at lights in CP is an appropriate allocation of limited NYPD resources.

  • Not to mention the REAL traffic danger in the park–in the sub-grade transverses. How can Central Park Precinct justify ignoring this in favor of junk summonses on the car-free Loop?

  • David

    Someone in the NYCC posted a link to a video that does a good job of showing why many of the cyclists are so annoyed.

    http://chasingwheels.blogspot.com/2011/02/46-lights-of-central-park.html

  • David,

    Thanks for that video sharing. I sympathize with those cyclist in the NY area. I am in Austin TX where our concerns are not as prevalent. We simply have to worry about great roads that don’t have shoulders. The good thing is most of the roads do not have too much traffic. Luckily we do not have too many pedestrians other than sections of the downtown area where cyclist don’t usually find themselves. This is a complex issue that has good points on either side, but I think that all in all the humans walking do not have a motor vehicle and need to be watched for at all times. Proper judgement is a great solution in my book.

    Cheers,

    John
    Sell Tickets Online – http://www.ticketbud.com

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