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 cyclist says an officer told him that the police are gearing up yet another organized "crack down" on cyclists.
The first NYPD harassment story comes from the Bronx where the police officers summonsed at least two cyclists for using the well-lit Mosholu-Pelham Greenway after dark. The Greenway runs through Van Cortlandt Park which, technically, is closed after dusk. The Riverdale Press has the story and one of the ticketed cyclists, he only wants to be identified as Rich, adds the following:
There are no signs on the Greenway that say the park closes at dusk. The Parks Department says that the Greenway is exempt from the curfew, but the NYPD is making up its own rules. Now I don’t use the Greenway after dark, because I don’t want to get hassled by NYPD simply for biking home. Even though the lights along the path are lit all night, the NYPD has made the Greenway unusable for evening commutes.
The second report was actually found in the used bike section of Craigslist on Tuesday morning. Listed for sale at $1 on the Lower East Side was the following:
Cops are ticketing bikers at Delancey
Reply to: email@example.com
Date: 2008-03-04, 9:50AM EST
Cops were flagging down people coming off of the Williamsburg bridge and ticketing them for running red lights this morning. I just thought I’d put the word out.
One enterprising Craiglister responded to the ad and here’s what he was told by the "seller:"
The cop informed me that this summer they may be looking to ‘crack down’ on bikers more. Just to make a point, I’m going to court to protest the ticket I received. The whole thing is just really silly; they want people to bike more, they do not provide "safe" bike lanes, and they punish people who bike. In order to bike safely in the city, you must break regular traffic laws. How they expect any biker to get across Delancey in morning rush hour from the far left lane (where there is no bike lane or shoulder) to the right without running a red light when the rest of traffic has stopped is beyond me. None of this is helping in the "us vs. them" divide between those driving cars and cyclists. About 3 other bikers and I were standing with the cop, and I have to say, it was refreshing that no one had a terrible attitude. Biking puts people in a better mood.