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Scenes of Mindless Bike Enforcement From “Operation Safe Cycle”

NYPD's bike ticket blitz, a.k.a. Operation Safe Cycle, is halfway through its two-week run. The department has promised to target "hazardous violations that create a danger for pedestrians and cyclists," but the accounts pouring in from readers suggest that police haven't raised their game since the last flurry of bike enforcement. While it's tough to get a comprehensive picture of NYPD bike citations, readers report a lot of fish-in-a-barrel ticketing activity and flat-out bogus summonses. No one has written in to tell us about NYPD nabbing a wrong-way cyclist who just went through a crowded crosswalk.

A reader photo of NYPD issuing tickets on Houston Street today.
NYPD issuing tickets on Houston Street, where cyclists entering the Hudson River Greenway have to choose between biking on the sidewalk and mixing it up with cars and trucks in a dark tunnel.
A reader photo of NYPD issuing tickets on Houston Street today.

Upper West Side resident Howard was biking north on Eighth Avenue at about 3:30 p.m. Monday with the green light at 38th Street when officers pulled over him and two other cyclists to issue red light tickets. “The three of us looked at each other, and we had no idea why we were being stopped," he said. “I am sure this light was not yellow, not red, but green."

Howard said that since he got a red light ticket over a year ago, he has made sure to stop at all lights, and the officers seemed to know what they were doing was a waste of time. “They were apologetic. They said this was the mayor's initiative and they are obligated to enforce it," he said. "There’s enough going on wrong in this city. There are enough bikers going the wrong way and being hazardous. They don't have to stop innocent people." (This isn't the first time cyclists say they've gotten tickets for not running a red light.)

Midtown streets do have potential for cyclist/pedestrian conflict, but the same can't be said of the Hudson River Greenway near West 36th Street, where on Monday a reader spotted officers ticketing cyclists for proceeding against the red light at the NYPD tow pound driveway. At this location, it is drivers, including the NYPD's own, who are the source of danger to greenway users.

Yesterday, the same reader spotted Manhattan South Task Force officers stopping cyclists on the quiet sidewalk along Houston Street between the greenway and Washington Street. This is a critical greenway access point, especially with nearby Clarkson Street currently torn up. To avoid using the sidewalk, cyclists would have to ride on a road that runs beneath a building, is usually shrouded in darkness, with a bike lane sandwiched between two car lanes and often used by turning trucks. Staking out the sidewalk makes for easy ticketing.

Just a few blocks north, West Village resident Dan saw a taxi cut off a cyclist in the bike lane at Hudson and Charles Streets. The cyclist went around the cab, which then accelerated in front of him. Turns out the cab was an undercover police vehicle. The police officer inside the taxi then got out and stopped the cyclist to issue a ticket. "It all seemed rather excessive," Dan wrote.

Reader David Dartley also saw an officer in an unmarked car issuing red light tickets on Monday at First Avenue and 36th Street, a location where he's seen similar red light stings in the past.

As always, in the course of this bike ticketing, police are blocking bike lanes all over the place:

#myNYPD waiting in bike lane for a #bikenyc to go through a red! pic.twitter.com/GrRyYCO1AG

— Shmuli Evers (@Shmuli) August 20, 2014

Streetsblog has asked NYPD's public information office about the types of summonses issued during Operation Safe Cycle and how much manpower the department is devoting to ticketing cyclists. We have yet to receive a response

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