As first reported in the Daily News, Brooklyn cyclist Ben Kopciel was issued a $200 ticket earlier this month in what looks like a retaliatory gesture for telling an NYPD officer to get out of the Ocean Parkway bike path. The encounter was captured by Kopciel on video (a New York Times-endorsed trend).
Kopciel was biking north on the Ocean Parkway greenway, located in a median between the service road and the central traffic artery. Where the bikeway intersects 18th Avenue, a police car was parked squarely across the painted bike crossing. As he swerved around the car, Kopciel curtly told the officer, “Move back,” while gesturing with his hand, then continued down the bike path.
As he approached the next intersection, however, the same officer was pulling into the same bike path-blocking position, this time with his lights flashing. The officer pulled Kapciel over and asked him why he didn’t stop at the previous light. Kopciel said he did.
Rewind the video and you can see that at the moment Kopciel entered the intersection, the pedestrian signal was still blinking red; the traffic light, which is out of the frame, therefore had likely not yet turned. As Kopciel crossed the street, the video shows a yellow school bus entering the intersection just before him. A few seconds later, you can see a pack of three or four cars behind that bus, cars which must have crossed at about the same moment as Kopciel. Only the cyclist, of course, was pulled over.
The misuse of police power on display is all the more revealing in context. The 70th Precinct, where the officer was stationed, only handed out 30 tickets for running red lights in the month of June, or about one a day. How many times of the tickets were like this one, and how many did the 70th Precinct issue to drivers for dangerously blowing through a red?