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Does NYPD Understand the NYPD Bike Crackdown?

11:38 AM EST on January 12, 2011

Page one of NYPD's two-page handout distributed to cyclists on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Page one of NYPD's two-page handout distributed to cyclists on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Streetsblog reader Hilda sent us a report of her encounter with two NYPD officers on the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday evening, when she was handed a two-page flier explaining the rules of the road.

"A friendly head's up," said the first officer. "It is getting more dangerous out there, and we are doing what we can to keep it safe."

The officer continued, and to paraphrase, said that I should not be surprised if I was pulled over for not following traffic regulations, like running a red light, or riding the wrong way in a bike lane, or on the sidewalk.

The officer seemed apologetic, and very friendly. I assured him that I was all for enforcement, and that I was absolutely confident that this was a universal approach, to target all unsafe and illegal actions, by cars and pedestrians as well as bicyclists.

"We will do what we can," he responded.

Setting aside for a moment the questionable value of a bike crackdown when drivers continue to maim and kill unimpeded, it's encouraging that a precinct at least has officers engaging -- rather than harassing -- cyclists. Thing is, the papers Hilda received cited city regulations for commercial cyclists.

It's hard to perceive "Operation Safe Cycle" as a serious effort to reduce cyclist-involved collisions when beat cops, courteous as they may be, don't know the difference between private commuters and commercial delivery workers. And it makes one wonder what, if anything, NYPD is hoping to accomplish.

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