Today’s Headlines

  • NYPD Launches Two-Week Cyclist Enforcement Crackdown (Gothamist)
  • How Do Cops Parked in Bike Lanes Enhance NYPD’s Bike Safety Program? (@saidchelsea)
  • German Artists Say They Planted Bridge Flags (NYT); @BicycleLobby Flirts With Another Subpoena
  • NYPD Vouches for Driver Who Critically Injured West Village Pedestrian Last Night (News)
  • Off-Duty NYPD Officer Kills Himself and Another Motorist in Wrong-Way Thruway Crash (LoHud, Post)
  • Thanks to Transit, New Yorkers Have Lowest Transportation Costs in the U.S. (AMNY)
  • MTA and DOT Roll Out Wayfinding Maps in Subway Stations (WNYC)
  • NYT Amends Inaccurate and Misleading High-Speed Rail Story on the Editorial Page
  • Hey DOT, Upper Manhattan Really Needs Safe Spaces for Kids to Ride Bikes (DNA)
  • Working Families Party Opposes Horse Carriage Ban (CapNY)
  • Cuomo Fails to Knock Zephyr Teachout Off the Primary Ballot (News)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • J

    I really really want someone to doctor the NYPD brochure to show how the NYPD really feels about bicycling and walking. Just put some of those cop cars in the bike lane and on the sidewalk, and some of the other cars parked in the bike lane, right in front of the cops.

  • anon

    On day one of NYPD’s crackdown on cyclists, I almost got creamed by a commercial vehicle driver while biking through the intersection of 1st Ave with E 23rd St on a “protected” green light. A commercial vehicle driver stopped at the red he had in the turning lane simply decided to make that turn in the middle of his red cycle, across a busy bike lane and an ever busier crosswalk. Why not.

    Most drivers who run reds seem to do so just after the light changes, which is bad enough. This instance had me floored though; it was so blatant and intentional. Not a cop to be seen of course.

    Priorities… #MyNYPD

  • com63

    In the West Village pedestrian case, are there any other articles? The Daily News one doesn’t make sense: “..was running across W. 10th St….when a blue Ford E250 hit her as it drove northbound on Hudson St.”
    You can’t be hit by a truck travelling on Hudson street if you are crossing W10th st.

  • Charles

    This is common at protected left turn locations. I think a lot of drivers don’t understand, or don’t care, that they are not allowed to go left on red at those intersections when the thru lanes have a green light. Hence, I try to make eye contact with the drivers in that left turn box as I pass them.

  • Eddie

    I heard there was a elderly runner killed by a cyclist last week in the Central Park pedestrian lane. That may be the immediate cause of the crackdown.

    I agree that the NYPD should crack down on cyclist behavior that is truly dangerous. But the five tickets that I’ve received as a cyclist in the past two years have all been for completely harmless infractions: either riding on an avenue outside a bike lane while not hindering traffic in any way (three tickets), or going through a red light when the intersection was completely clear and there wasn’t even a pedestrian nearby (two tickets).

    In the end, these NYPD crackdowns are useless because they go after the cyclists violating the rules in a harmless way (which is like shooting fish in a barrel if they station themselves in an unmarked car at certain intersections), not the ones who are actually a menace.

  • I am no admirer of the thugs who work as cops in this City. They function primarily as agents of state terror; they engage in brutality as a matter of course; they have contempt for the people whom they ostensibly serve, meting out this contempt disproportionatly upon the heads of black and brown people; and they are coddled by the courts to the extent that their unremitting violence goes largely unpunished.

    That said, I find not one word to disapprove of in this:

    “The initiative will target the following hazardous violations that create a danger for pedestrians and bicyclists: failure to stop at a red light, disobey a traffic signal or sign, riding the wrong direction against traffic, riding on the sidewalk, and failure to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. An additional focus will be given to motorists who obstruct bicycle lanes, which creates a hazardous condition for bicyclists.”

    Everything listed in that quote constitutes behaviours that we as a society would be well rid of, behaviours which should be aggresively discouraged. If the police actually pay attention to all of this in an equitable manner (rather than using it as a pretext to further harass those whom they already afflict), then I would welcome this “crackdown”, and would even be content for it to become the norm.

    Alas, nondiscriminatory enforcement is probably too much to ask. Still, even despite this embarassing and shameful fact of life in New York City, it remains valid to say that if we bicyclists don’t want a ticket, then we simply should not break the rules.

  • qrt145

    If a cyclist killed anyone in NYC last week, I’m extremely surprised that it’s not all over the media.

  • A few days ago I had an interaction with a driver at one of the intersections of 8th Ave. that has a bike signal.

    The driver was proceeding with her left turn through the bike lane, despite the fact that she had a red arrow. I blew my horn and shouted, and pointed to the red arrow, whereupon she signalled apologetically with her hand, and stopped her turn.

    So this driver didn’t understand, rather than didn’t care. (Not that we should excuse such driver incompetence, even if we classify it separately from maliciousness.)

    Anyway, the advice to make eye-contact with drivers who are intending to turn left at such an intersection is an excellent one.

  • Eddie

    I’m also surprised no one reported it, but see the top sticky thread here: http://nycc.org/message-board/forums/message-board.

  • lop

    Riding on the sidewalk: If it’s one cross bay blvd by the belt parkway and there are no pedestrians nearby that shouldn’t get a ticket. Bikes treating a red light like a stop sign shouldn’t get a ticket. Or treating a stop sign like a yield. None of those are necessarily hazardous, and should only be ticketed if there are others nearby that are placed in danger.

  • qrt145

    General comment: I see that most of the links are now redirected through t.co. I strongly dislike this as I always like to know where a link leads before I click on it. I hope you’ll reconsider.

  • All of those things would be great changes to the law: there should be more places where sidewalk riding is legal; and we should definitely have the right to treat a red light as a stop sign.

    That should be the law; however, that is not what the law is at the moment. And we have the obligation to follow the law as it is, even while we advocate for changes for the better.

    This obligation to act in accordance to the law is most basically one of ethics; but it also has a strong aspect of self-interest: if we don’t show good citizenship by adhering to the current law, then we’ll never acheive any positive changes to the law, as the rest of society will refuse (not unreasonably) to reward law-breakers.

    Follow the law, for the benefit of all bicyclists.

  • Brad Aaron

    Because of this morning’s site outage we tweeted the headlines one at a time, and copied those links to expedite getting them online once we were back up.

  • qrt145

    OK, no problem, then. 🙂

  • Kevin Love

    All of those activities are very rare where the infrastructure has been set up appropriately. As has been well documented here on Streetsblog, sidewalk riding plunged on PPW and other places that put in proper protected cycle lanes. Disobeying traffic lights, signals and signs has been hugely reduced in The Netherlands with direct, convenient cycle routes that have had all these things removed from them. Cyclist/pedestrian conflict is best resolved by re-allocating street space from car drivers.

    In other words, trying to change human behavior with harassing “enforcement” has a fairly consistent track record of failure. Infrastructure has a fairly consistent track record of success.

  • I don’t remember DNAinfo comments being that racist. Who linked from Stormfront?

  • Kevin Love

    There are a huge number of laws that were only ever changed by mass disobedience. Prohibition of alcohol rises to mind as one example.

    Another example is the laws banning homosexual activity. Suppose that over the last 50 years, every homosexual person made sure to “show good citizenship by adhering to the current law.” Seems safe to predict that nothing would have changed.

  • Daphna

    The law needs to change. Following it will not lead to positive change. Sidewalks can be shared use in places. More protected bike lanes should be set up to allow contraflow riding. Cyclists should be allowed to treat red lights just as pedestrians do: stop when needed for crossing pedestrians/vehicles, and proceed when it is clear to cross irregardless of the light.

    The laws were not made in a mindful way by legislators who considered different modes and transportation and the needs and safety issues of each. Rather, pedestrians and cyclists were lumped into existing laws that were designed for the needs/weight/speed/capacity of motor vehicles. When very poor, thoughtless lawmaking has been done, it is not worth following those laws. Legislators made a mistake. They need to correct it.

    There are plenty of laws that are not enforced. Just one example is that De Blasio announced publicly he will not enforce laws regarding financial sponsorship of legal immigrants. Pedestrians laws are also not enforced. Motorists do not obey the speed limit. Plenty of laws are not obeyed and not enforced. Pushing cyclists to obey faulty laws is counterproductive to safe cycling and counterproductive to the goal of increasing bike ridership.

  • Bolwerk

    Fuck the law. It’s not looking out for us, and we have no obligation to obey it for its own sake. What we sometimes do have very good reason to disobey it.

    Besides that, all these laws that effect us negatively are the types of things that make sense to have on the books…if the police have high enough moral development to enforce them reasonably. They just don’t.

  • Those comparisons are not applicable. The prohibition of alcohol made illegal an entrenched mainstream act that was practiced by the majority of the population. That law was extremely unpopular from its inception, as it ran counter to longstanding societal customs; and the breaking of it was tacitly endorsed by ordinary citizens.

    By comparison, bicycling is practiced by a comparitively small group; it is not yet a mainstream act. Unlike drinkers under prohibition, we bicycilsts are not close to being the majority. For this reason we do not have the capacity to engage in mass disobedience that is large-scale enough to effect positive change (in the way that mass disobedience is leading to positive change on marijuana laws).

    Furthermore, unlike the prohibition of alcohol, the laws that require bicyclists to adhere to traffic regulations that were designed for cars are not unpopular in the society at large, despite the absurdity of such laws.

    Finally, the comparison to the oppression of gay people (or black people, or any other oppressed group) is invalid mainly because we as bicyclists cannot claim that sort of moral high ground.

    Whether we like it or not, we bicyclists are not operating from a position of strength. We’re lucky to be at the table at all; and this is so only because of a mayor who is gone now. If we want our precarious position in the political mainstream to continue, then we had better protect it by acting within the law.

    Only by being good citizens can we hope to build allies (and hope to avoid making enemies), with the hopes of moving the law in a positive direction.

  • Daphna

    When laws are unfair people have to stand up against them. People protested racial segregation laws. Obama is not enforcing the Defense of Marriage law that would discriminate against same sex couples. Lumping cyclists into laws that are designed for motor vehicles is unfair. The laws discriminate against cycling as a mode of transportation.

  • You’re right when you say that the laws were never designed for bicycles. We need changes in the laws regarding red lights, sidewalks, and other things. But you’re very wrong to advocate that we should just ignore the law and do as we please.

    As compared to when I was a kid, the quality of life of a bicyclist in New York has improved dramatically. We want this to continue. But the reality is that, if we don’t follow the laws (flawed as they are), it will all go away. Not only will the improvements cease, but we’re also going to lose a lot of the improvements that we now have. And we’ll surely never get those improvements in the law that we all want. Things will get worse for us, not better, if we promote the idea of ignoring the law.

    The way to get the laws changed for the better is to play the political game — to have legislators who feel safe in taking up our cause. But when bicyclists arrogantly decide that the law doesn’t apply to us, this makes it a lot less likely for a politician to back our interests; what they hear from their constituents is complaining about bicyclists, not clamour for more bike infrastructure.

    Thanks to Bloomberg, who gave us so many great gifts, we have a beautiful thing going in our City. Bicyclists’ interests are taken seriously for the first time ever; and we must not squander this opportunity. We can change the laws for the better only if we remain at the table and remain part of the discussion. Ignoring the law is antithetical to that goal, and can only lead to our re-marginalisation.

  • By nature I am sympathetic to the “fuck the law” position. It is one that I practiced for much of my life as a bicyclist.

    Then came the Bloomberg-era improvements. Our quality of life soared; and this dramatically changed my attitude. For the first time I felt that the social contract applied to us as bicyclists, and I felt the obligation to follow the law.

    And, as I mentioned above, there is also the cold calculation of self-interest: if we want to encourage more of the changes that have so enormously benefitted us over the past decade-plus, then we have to do our part and play along in order to win allies (and, just as important, in order to not empower our enemies).

  • Bolwerk

    I take the skyrocketing of cycling to have started around ’07 or so. Back then, cyclists seemed a lot more cowboyish to me. They would run into crowds, ignored pedestrians, etc.. It seems to me that kind of thing has dropped off a lot as cyclists themselves learned to navigate the city and share space. Maybe it also helps that pedestrians (my usual perspective, but I am a cyclist too) have also learned to cope with them better.

    Nowadays, AFAICT, not many people have reason to complain about our conduct. Nowadays our “law-breaking” is mostly not done out of malice or stupidity, but for two other reasons: (1) sometimes it’s convenient to break a law and nobody will ever be injured when we do, and everybody, even the police who catch it and write the ticket, knows it. (2) Other times, the same conditions are in place, but we are compelled to break a law for our own safety.

    I can *sort of* see your argument with regard #1. Maybe. However, #2 happens a lot. And when it happens, getting a ticket is incredibly unfair.

  • Matthias

    “But the five tickets that I’ve received as a cyclist in the past two years have all been for completely harmless infractions: either riding on an avenue outside a bike lane…”

    That is in no way an infraction. Cyclists are not required to ride in bike lanes; they may legally use any lane they choose.

  • qrt145

    “Cyclists are not required to ride in bike lanes; they may legally use any lane they choose.”

    Not quite; you are supposed to use the bike lane unless there’s a good reason not to. Now the problem is convincing the judge that the reason was good and the cop was wrong.

  • Matthias

    Re: West Village Pedestrian Crash

    The driver never saw the pedestrian–once again, drivers who can’t see should have their licences revoked.

    Also, John Liu released a Transportation Plan calling for the state to subsidize driving even more by means of a gas tax holiday. http://www.qgazette.com/news/2014-08-13/Features/Liu_Releases_Transportation_Plan.html

  • Bolwerk

    More evidence the NYPD has too little useful work to do: http://www.bkmag.com/2014/08/13/two-week-nypd-crackdown-on-bicyclists-starts-today/

    Or we just have too many cops.

  • Kevin Love

    It is called “The enforcement of imaginary laws.” Happens all the time. See the Streetsblog entry about the woman ticketed for riding while wearing a dress!

  • foody4booty

    How did the NYT ammend their HSR story? It looks like a standalone editorial that is based on the original piece to me.

  • Brad Aaron

    DNAinfo comments are often invaded by out of town morons for some reason. Bunch of tough guys with pseudonyms who wouldn’t be caught after midnight above 100th Street (if even) if you paid them.

  • Brad Aaron

    Yeah, but it seemed they were trying to correct course some, if only in tone. Maybe not.

  • Joe R.

    We’re never going to get those kind of changes to the law. I’ve discussed them with noncyclists and usually I get laughed out of the room. The best solution is what Kevin Love mentioned-better infrastructure. Cyclists won’t run red lights if: 1) They’re on sensors so they never go red if nothing is crossing. 2) Bike routes have all or most traffic signals removed (or are put above/below grade if that isn’t possible). Cyclists won’t ride on sidewalks if they have safe places to ride.

    The best thing we can do during these crackdowns is not make it any easier for the police. Scan for police before running red lights or stop signs. If any are present, just obey the law to the letter. When they come up mostly empty in these dragnets, they’ll move on to better things. This is a total waste of manpower. I want the police to be out shooting criminals, not giving cyclists tickets for harmless infractions.

  • Joe R.

    The really galling part is they act like they’re doing this for our own safety. Just wait until the police accidentally shoot someone during one of these nonsense dragnets. I wrote a letter to several politicians during the Guiliani administration warning of exactly that when police were on so-called quality-of-life duty. If something bad happens, those letters will be sent right to the tabloids as proof the city was warned of this years ago, but ignored the warning. The police should have very limited contact with the general public. Every time they stop someone for any reason, the possibility exists of something going horribly wrong. That’s why stops should only be done if a serious crime is suspected. Sooner or later we’re going to have a cyclist accidentally killed by the police just for running a red light or riding on the sidewalk.

    As of today, I’m calling on both Bratton and De Blasio to resign. Neither are fit to hold any public office.

  • Joe R.

    I feel things were better years ago for cyclists. It’s true we had very little special infrastructure back then, but at the same time we were totally off the NYPD’s radar. I remember riding on the sidewalks in downtown Flushing back and forth all day long right in front of cops. They didn’t care. They didn’t care about anything you did on a bike, short of hit them with one. I don’t care how great the bike infrastructure is now. It’s all but worthless if high levels of enforcement make it essentially unusable by forcing you to stop every two blocks. Most of the cycling advocacy organizations are similarly useless here. If nothing else, I want people repeatedly and forcefully telling those in charge why we need laws and infrastructure designed with the limitations of cyclists in mind, not telling cyclists to obey the law because it’s the law.

    Last I checked, we’re still marginalized. If you really want action, passively obeying silly laws isn’t going to help. First off, hardly anyone will even notice. Second, no matter what you do personally, the vast majority of people on bikes will still take liberties. Three, the politicians will predictable tell you if you’re stopping at red lights now, then it’s evidently possible and we don’t need to change the law. Four, and this is especially relevant to me, a fair number of cyclists would rather just not ride at all than stop at every red light/stop sign. Even if you magically succeeded in getting everyone on a bike to do as you do, you’ll have a lot of people giving up riding in disgust because it would no longer be enjoyable. If anything, we need to increase our numbers to make further progress. We’ll only do that by making cycling less burdensome.

    I think what we need to do at this point is to keep nagging those in charge until they give in. Call their offices. Keep calling, 3, 10, 20 times a day until they do what we want. In the end I’ve found this is the only reliable way to get people to do things. Keep bothering them. Eventually they’ll do what you ask just to get rid of you, even if they totally disagree with it.

  • carma

    bratton is fit. i still have faith on the guy. but deblasio should have NEVER been elected.

  • Kevin Love

    The still have the incorrect $11 billion in spending statement.

  • Joe R.

    Bratton is competent in that he knows how to run a major police department. His failing is his broken windows philosophy, or at least the way he’s implementing it. When it gets to the point that large numbers of average, law-abiding citizens who never were charged with anything in the previous decades start getting tickets, then things have gone too far. Police intervention is only warranted when someone is doing something outright dangerous or highly disruptive. A very small subset of the cyclists being ticketed are engaging is such behavior. The rest are just technically breaking the law, but not putting anyone in harm’s way by doing so. Indeed, one can argue if a cyclist passes a red light at an empty intersection, the failure is not on the part of the cyclist to obey the signal, but rather on the state for having a red light when there is no valid safety reason to stop.

  • Daniel

    I always try to make eye contact. Smiling and waving work wonders too. And if they have their windows down a say hi. Drivers in the city tend to fall into a trance like state. It can be very stressful to navigate the streets in a large vehicle with limited visibility and turning your brain off makes it easier. Anything friendly you can do to break that “flow” will improve your safety and the safety of anyone else encountering that vehicle in the next five minutes. Yelling at the driver for some stupid ass thing they did usually doesn’t work. That will break the flow trance but can trigger a ‘fight-or-flight’ response which may be even more dangerous.

  • If course there’s no point in being needlessly aggressive. But sometimes shouting is advisable, for the sake of loudness.

    In the situation that I described, I believe the thing I shouted was a simple “yo! yo! yo!” to accompany my horn blasts, in order to get the driver’s attention through the closed window (and through the inattentive state) while she was already moving.

    But at a stop, a mere hand signal and eye-contact is enough. And, if the window is open, then it makes sense to make a spoken announcement of the intent to turn.

  • carma

    absolutely agree. a cyclist going through a t intersection with no other crossing traffic assumming they slowed down to take a look at other pedestrian surroundings is not a hazard to others and following the broken windows theory on this behavior is silly stupid and a waste of time.

    a cyclist blazing through at a good pace at a red light at a normal intersection with no regard to other life should be ticketed and in this case, the broken window will apply, as the person likely doesnt care about much any other laws.

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