24th Precinct CO: We’re Making Streets Safer by Cracking Down on Cyclists

An Upper West Side NYPD precinct where motorists killed six pedestrians and cyclists in 2014 says it’s reducing injuries by cracking down on people riding bikes.

Captain Marlon O. Larin, commanding officer of the 24th Precinct.
Captain Marlon O. Larin, commanding officer of the 24th Precinct.

The 24th Precinct is where drivers fatally struck Cooper Stock, Alexander Shear, Samantha Lee, and Jean Chambers, prompting a public outcry that, coupled with the launch of Vision Zero, raised the profile of traffic violence as a citywide issue.

Though data show that motorist behavior is the main factor in most serious crashes, this week Captain Marlon O. Larin, the precinct’s commanding officer, credited a drop in injuries to an August cyclist ticket blitz.

DNAinfo reports:

In August, officers from the 24th Precinct handed out 135 summonses to cyclists for violating bicycle laws — such as running red lights, cycling the wrong way and riding on a sidewalk — up from 52 citations during the same period last year, police said.

That vigilance is paying off, with 12 injuries from collisions involving a bike or a car last month, compared to 20 during the same period last year, according to the precinct.

When bicyclists run red lights, they could get seriously injured and are putting themselves in “unnecessary harm,” said 24th Precinct Capt. Marlon Larin at a meeting Wednesday.

“I don’t think bicyclists should be able to [run] a red light. A car’s going to win,” he said.

Given the small sample, I asked data analyst Charles Komanoff about Larin’s claim.

“A drop to 12 from 20 for a single 30-day period is almost certainly random fluctuation rather than evidence of a statistically significant trend,” Komanoff said via email. “So we would need to see at least several months of data. And it would need to be correlated/connected geographically with the increase in summonses, given the distances covered by the precinct.”

According to the DNAinfo story, Larin also indicated that enforcement in the 24th Precinct is at least in part based on anecdotes, rather than data.

The precinct gets a high volume of calls from residents complaining about cyclists who aren’t adhering to the rules of the road, Larin added.

“We also have to take heed to the complaints we get,” he said.

DOT’s Vision Zero View tracks the density of traffic injuries by precinct, on a five-level scale, indicated on the map in shades of red. As of July the 24th Precinct ranked in the middle — level three — indicating it’s not doing as well as other precincts in keeping injuries low.

Longtime street safety advocate Ken Coughlin attended the Wednesday precinct meeting, telling Larin: “Every ticket written for a cyclist is a ticket not written for a more dangerous violation… I would urge you to enforce against the truly dangerous violations.”

Local officers wrote more bike tickets in August than for speeding and failure to yield combined. Since there haven’t been any traffic fatalities in the 24th Precinct this year, Larin may as well claim the bike crackdown is responsible.

  • KeNYC2030

    What prompted this discussion at the community council meeting is the precinct’s recent practice of regularly assigning officers to wait for cyclists to roll through reds at the T intersections of the northbound bike lane on Central Park West. This is like shooting fish in a barrel since most cyclists do it (and in fact it’s now legal for Paris cyclists to go through reds at Ts). If there is a bigger waste of limited enforcement resources, I can’t think of it. It seems clearly to be all about upping the numbers against cyclists.

  • Disclaimer

    “We also have to take heed to the complaints we get.”*

    *Does not apply to complaints about dangerous driving.

  • bolwerk

    A little off topic, has anyone else noticed that there seems to be a huge uptick in the number of Vespas (and similar scooters) since that e-bike crackdown? I guess they’re as legal as ever.

  • Alex

    If you stand on your bike and ride as fast as possible in that door zone lane you can coast 4-5 blocks at a time, a half dozen if you’re lucky and can race through a yellow! That’s the problem with a sting like this. It actually promotes more dangerous riding instead of preventing it.

    The intersections there are not in conflict with cars, but rather with pedestrians, which is why there are so many complaints. I consider it ridiculous that there are so many parking spaces between blocks, making pedestrians have to cross between caverns of parked cars that make them invisible to cyclists if it’s an SUV.

  • walknseason

    Culture war, culture war, culture war.

  • neroden

    We’re starting to figure out which precincts are the problem precincts. Keep up the data collection and keep monitoring for the deranged precinct captains.

    And by the way, precincts where the cops harass or assault pedestrians are also a street safety problem.

  • Bernard Finucane
  • danger d
  • Matt

    When heavy, dangerous vehicles that require much more responsible handling than a bicycle are involved, it’s always just an honest mistake.