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:
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.


  • 11/27/07: NYPD Emerges as New Focus for NYC’s Livable Streets Movement. 
  • 10/10/07: Is Transportation Reform Possible When the Cops Don’t Care?
  • 6/5/07: NYPD Bike Raid Nets Bikes and Bystanders.
  • Cap’n Transit

    “The park is closed at dusk,” a spokesman for DCPI, the NYPD press office, repeated several times.

    Well, then they should be ticketing everyone who drives through the park on the Major Deegan Expressway or Henry Hudson Parkway.

  • ddartley

    Quick poll: how many readers/contributors to this blog have been asked in jest by two people or more, “hey, were you the bike bomber guy?”

  • Tony

    That bike bomber guy at Times Square is a False Flag Operation…

  • d

    In order to be taken seriously by the City at this point in time, cyclists need to obey traffic laws. If we want to “share the road,” we have to obey the rules of the road. If we want our own separate roadways with our own separate traffic signals and rules, then we’ve got to start fighting for it. And I’m not sure that civil disobedience is going to be the fastest way to achieve this goal. (Not my goal by the way. I’m on the “share the road” team.)

  • Mitch

    If the NYPD is ticketing bikers for legal activities, like riding on a greenway after dark, that’s not a “crackdown” or a response to “civil disobedience;” it’s harassment.

  • mfs

    Not exactly sure what the posters are describing when they say “ticketing for running red lights”. A really frequent (and idiotic) behavior I see many other bikers doing coming off the WB bridge on the Manhattan side is using their 20 mph speed off the downhill slope to jump off the sidewalk and merge with traffic from the left onto Delancey.

    This is a situation where the bikers in question are putting themselves at huge risk. If this is what they are ticketing, I have no problem with it.

  • Louis

    Oh no way, mfs…that 20mph merge onto Delancey is the cat’s meow!

    (Seriously, though, please don’t do that unless you’re a good Manhattan rider and/or have a deathwish.)

  • Grmsca

    actually that setup at the Manhattan Bridge is fucking srupid, they could easily smooth out that curb and make it so you could actually merge into traffic, instead of have to avoid the people at the bottom, and just be generally inconvenienced every time you come off the bridge

    haha i always fly on to delancey, but i have decent judgment and im a good manhattan ride

    and people getting ticketed in the bronx might be related to this incident, but not that likely, i think there was generally a crackdown going on before because of the nicer weather and we all know cops hate bikes
    but people were getting harrased in times square, but i rode through there everyday that week with no problem, and broke as many traffic laws as i normally do

  • Alex

    It’s not just bicycles. NYPD are a-holes to motorcyclists as well.

    For instance, NYPD refuses to allow a rule change to permit bikers in the HOV lanes, despite a federal law REQUIRING states to allow bikers to use the HOV lanes!

    See more here:

  • The police throughout the country need a review lesson on the rights of bikers. Perhaps, with the high prices of gasoline and the growing numbers of bikers the police will recognize that bicycling is here to stay.



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