Some Great Story Ideas for New York Post Reporter John Doyle

Cross-posted from Naparstek.com

Hi John,

I was glad to see you writing about the NYPD’s bike crackdown in Monday’s New York Post. I hope you’ll consider following up with some more reporting on this issue in the coming days. There are lots of interesting questions to explore when it comes to bicycling and the NYPD’s enforcement of New York City traffic law. Here are two ideas I have for additional reporting if you or your colleague Sally Goldenberg are going to be regularly covering the prestigious bike beat…

1. How big a problem are these “brazen cyclists” on NYC streets anyway?

Sure, we hear a lot of bitching and moaning about bikes in the New York Post and on CBS2. But has the NYPD, DOT or anyone else ever tried to quantify the problem? How much pedestrian-endangering red light-running is there anyway? Where are the city’s biggest trouble spots when it comes to bike-ped conflict?

We know New Yorkers are being injured and killed just about every day. (Like the 21-year-old man who was run over by a dump truck illegally backing up on the Upper East Side last month while walking in the crosswalk. Did you hear about that one? The dump truck driver stayed at the scene and wasn’t drunk, so it was basically a freebie for him — a clean, legal kill as far as the NYPD is concerned. Can you imagine if he were your son or brother or colleague? Anyway… back to those damned bikes, right?) How many New Yorkers are being hurt by these “out-of-control” cyclists that you write about anyway? How big is the problem?

2. How does the NYPD measure success in these bike crackdowns?
Thanks to your big “exclusive” we know that the NYPD has written a bunch of tickets to cyclists over the last few weeks. But every time one of these crackdowns happens, we hear scores of stories about cops writing completely bogus tickets to cyclists and, in some cases, even apologizing as they do so. We know, at the end of the crackdown, the NYPD simply wants to be able to say: “See, we wrote lots of tickets. The crackdown was a success!”

But does writing a bunch of summonses — many of them bogus and tossed when challenged — actually do anything to solve this problem of “brazen cyclists” on NYC streets? The NYPD has made great strides in the last 15 years in using CompStat data analysis to enhance its policing. Do they have any similar data or analysis of traffic enforcement to help get a better handle on these out-of-control cyclists? This would be a great story! I know a lot of cyclists who would also like to see real traffic enforcement happening on NYC streets, not just bogus ticket blitzes.

As co-founder of the Park Slope Neighbors community organization and editor emeritus of Streetsblog.org I am more than happy to go on record and give you great quotes for your bike and transportation stories. I’ve got lots more story ideas like the ones above. Feel free to give me a call.

Thanks,

Aaron Naparstek

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

City Hall Announces NYPD Crackdown on Drivers Who Endanger Cyclists

|
NYPD will crack down this week on motorists who put cyclists at risk. The “Bicycle Safe Passage Initiative,” which coincides with Bike to Work Week, will last through Friday. Officers in precincts citywide will focus enforcement on motorists who commit traffic violations that “endanger bicyclists,” according to a City Hall press release. Traffic enforcement agents will concentrate […]

When It Comes to Bike Enforcement, NYPD Can Do Better Than This

|
Warm weather means more bicyclists on city streets. It also means more ham-handed attempts by NYPD to improve bike safety, and officers are out in force this week ticketing people on bikes. Instead of ticketing wrong-way cyclists buzzing pedestrians in crosswalks, the police typically camp out and rack up tickets where cyclists break the letter of the law without jeopardizing anyone. […]

NYPD Shoot Fish in a Barrel

|
Doug Gordon of Brooklyn Spoke fame reports that NYPD sent a battalion of bike enforcers out to the intersection of Chrystie Street and Rivington Street on the Lower East Side this morning. This is a T-intersection where no motorized traffic conflicts with the path of northbound cyclists. If you’re biking north on Chrystie, it makes […]

Will This Year’s “Operation Safe Cycle” Make Anyone Safer?

|
Yesterday NYPD showed New York that police do actually enforce the speed limit on local streets. Check out the radar guns on Broadway. Today the department is showing the city that cyclists get tickets too. NYPD’s “Operation Safe Cycle” is a two-week enforcement campaign targeting “hazardous violations that create a danger for pedestrians and cyclists.” […]

NYPD’s Fifth Precinct Goes for a Ride With Street Safety Advocates

|
NYPD’s Fifth Precinct doesn’t have a great reputation for safety-focused traffic enforcement. Known for ticketing cyclists at T-intersections and at the base of the Manhattan Bridge, the precinct has relied on questionable math to back up its disproportionate focus on bike enforcement. Seeking to bridge the divide, a group of about 10 people went for a bike ride with […]