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Despite Bowery Death Toll, NYPD Decides Cyclists are the Real Menace

2:26 PM EDT on May 1, 2009

A reader reports of another NYPD cyclist crackdown, this time on the Lower East Side.

This tip is a little overdue, but 2-3 weeks ago I was pulled over on my bike by a traffic cop hiding behind a van on the east side of the Bowery, between Rivington and Prince St. He had also pulled over another cyclist, and proceeded to write him a summons for turning right on a red light. He said that the NYPD had received a lot of complaints about cyclists running the red light at Rivington. When the cyclist asked who had complained -- businesses, residents, etc. -- the cop replied, "Everyone." Interestingly, he said that he was not out to get cyclists, and rather than write him the $250 red light summons, he wanted to let him off easy with a $50 pedestrian obstruction summons. By the time he got to me, he kept me waiting while he answered a phone call, and ended up waving me off without a summons. This after about 15 minutes of watching him make a production out of how nice he was being to the other cyclist.

I decided to write to Streetsblog when I saw that, a couple of days ago, cops in the same location were writing out summonses to a good half-dozen cyclists. I guess they are doing a blitz. Cyclists using the Bowery to get to the start of the Prince Street bike lane, beware.

Cops are not the only thing to look out for. Motorists make this area an especially hostile environment. We know of two pedestrians and one cyclist killed on the Bowery just since late 2007. Yet instead of slowing down out-of-control drivers, NYPD again chooses to target cyclists -- even as the brass preaches the value of "green" transportation.

If intensified traffic law enforcement can be spurred by vague "complaints," where is the police response to actual fatalities?

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