Into Our Town the NYPD Came…

Your federal Homeland Security dollars hard at work (Photo: Untitledname from Flickr)

Apologies to Maurice Ogden but I guess I didn’t think enough of it when the NYPD was only cracking down on Critical Mass riders. Now it looks like the harassment has spread to regular daily bike commuters and is the product of official city policy. Here are four reports we’ve seen over the last few days:

The Sunset Parker:

Bay Ridge Conservative reports that the NYPD is now ordering cyclists to dismount and walk their bikes across the Brooklyn Bridge or face a $60 ticket. They’ve got cameras mounted on each side with officers waiting to issue summonses. Apparently, a cyclist hit a pedestrian last week.

From Michael at Bike Blog:

Today I observed a bike cop at the Manhattan base of the Williamsburg Bridge around 5 pm. I’ve been riding this bridge for 10 years, back when there were decaying metal grates barely holding the bike path together. You couldn’t dream of getting a cop to be stationed anywhere around to help with a mugger. Now, suddenly there are cops around and what are they doing? Stopping cyclists and telling them their speed is being monitored or checking for bike lights.

From Jacob via Bike Blog:

Police officers were stationed at both ends of the Brooklyn Bridge this morning (I was riding over at 9:10 am) and stopping cyclist to check for helmets, front light, tail light and bell. Neither I, nor any of the other cyclists I was stopped with, received a ticket, we all received verbal warnings.

A two week-old report, also on Bike Blog. Downright creepy:

Tonight (7/17/06) on my way home from work I was crossing the Williamsburg Bridge and when I get off the bridge in Brooklyn an unmarked cop car was sitting there. Sure enough a block later he pulls me over. He goes through this whole long thing. The jist of it is he claims I was doing 33 mph down the bridge which is rated 30 mph. I highly doubt I was going over 20 mph. I used to ride with a speedometer and I never broke 30 mph. I ride a mountain bike with street tires which are pretty wide but light tread….

Anyways I didn’t think he was going to ticket me for the claimed 3 mph over. He asks if I am aware of the laws regarding riding on the sidewalk which I wasn’t doing and he never accused me of doing. He then went on to ask if I had a bell and lights even though it wasn’t dark yet and lights weren’t needed but I showed I had them anyways. They said they had some tool to test the blinking speed of the lights and they were going to test but then decided not to. They mentioned my treads were almost worn out. They also took my ID and recorded info off of it and asked me generic questions like how long had I been riding and how often do I ride.

  • Cops on the Queensboro Bridge over the last couple of days too – they were just lounging around though.

  • Aaron: Who do we have to contact to find out why this is happening? How about the new director of the bicycle program at the DOT? Someone has to find out why this is happening all of a sudden (these reports above, + the weird recent cop behavior in central park). Is there someone sympathetic in the city government or at the DOT who will give a straight answer?

    Charles Komanoff seems to be good at finding out this sort of thing–perhaps he’d like to give it a try? 🙂

  • Ananda

    This is a police policy, not DOT. DOT is not involved, although the upper echelons could be complicit or even encouraging this. But really it’s the NYPD and the only way to change it is to go straight to the mayor. The cops don’t listen to anyone else.

  • mfs

    how do we do get this in front of the mayor? who are the cycling-friendly city councilmembers? I’ll make some calls if people can identify them.

  • Ananda

    My suggestions:
    1. Publicize these incidents (and how ridiculous they are) as much as possible. This blog coverage is a good start; it will help it crack into the major media.
    2. Harp on the reasons why this “officially sanctioned” bike crackdown is illogical and insane:
    a) it is official city & state policy to reduce greenhouse emissions and improve the environment, as well as to reduce energy use – bicycling does all of these. So why crack down on bicycling? Bicycling (and other sustainable modes) should receive preferential treatment
    b) it is a waste of our tax dollars – damage & injury caused by bikes is miniscule compared to that caused by motorized vehicles
    3. Get in touch with your representatives (council, legislative, etc) as well as the City Council members on the transportation committee (and John Liu, the chair of the committee)

  • John Hunka

    I’m so fed up with the NYPD that I’ve actually filed a formal complaint against a police officer who refused my request to ticket a motorist parked in a bike lane. I was riding north on the new buffered bike lane on 8th Avenue about six weeks ago. A police officer was sitting in his car reading the newspaper — and he was only about 20 feet behind the car in the bike lane! When I asked the cop why he didn’t issue a citation to the motorist, the cop said it was a “discretionary offense” and that “a lot of things are illegal in New York City.” So, I calmly asked for his name and badge number, and promptly called 311 to file a complaint against the officer for dereliction of duty. The NYPD has created a great Catch 22: the police ticket cyclists for not using the bike lanes, yet the NYPD refuses to ticket motorists parked in the bike lane. Meanwhile, check out the NYPD’s “Reminder to Cyclists” below. Of course, you won’t find any “Reminder to motorists” not to park in the bike lanes.

  • I took this today (hope this comes out in the comments…)

    Click to enlarge, and feel free to use this photo if you need it.

  • Ah, OK. That didn’t work at all. I took this photo on 9th St (near Broadway) today.

  • Eli

    I was riding down Clinton Street heading towards the bridge when I saw ahead of me a car blocking the bike path. There happened to be a bike cop approaching from the other direction towards me and the blockage. He said not a thing to the driver just sitting there casually waiting for someone (I surmise?) he simply slithered by the car without even looking at the driver. I slowed next to him, gestured to the obvious obstruction and asked what he might do about it. He looked at my bike and responded, ‘Ya know I could give you a ticket for not having a bell!’

    I thought wrongly that a bike cop would feel a modicum brotherhood with another cyclist.

  • drewo

    What’s that “CPR” thing I see on the side of police cars? Something about courtesy, professionalism and respect? Seems like some of the NYPD need a little remedial education.

  • Just to confirm: they’re ticketing folks for not dismounting on BOTH sides of the Brooklyn Bridge, not just the manhattan side.

    (and someone left a comment on our blog that DOT is planning on getting rid of the bike lane on the bridge for good- after 123 years!)

  • John

    Today — for the first time ever — I actually saw a police officer put a ticket on the windshield of a car parked in a bike lane! It happened on Ninth Street between A and First Avenue. To top it off, the officer told a driver in another car to move his vehicle out of the bike lane. I never thought I’d see the day…

  • Muchacho

    Some people do ride way too fast going down the Williamsburg Bridge.

  • A few years ago I saw a great edit of one of the bridge “cyclists dismount” signs — it had been changed to read: “Mount this!”


Is an NYPD Bike Crackdown Underway?

Even before the NYPD identified a hooded cyclist as the this morning’s likely Times Square bomber, two reports of bike commuters being ticketed and harassed by the police have already hit the Streetsblog inbox. Perhaps it’s just that the weather’s getting nicer and more people happen to be out on bikes but at least one […]