Do the 19th Precinct and Ben Kallos Know Drivers Cause Most Street Carnage?

Per square mile, the 19th Precinct on the Upper East Side has one of the higher traffic injury rates in the city. Though motorists cause the vast majority of traffic injuries and deaths, the 19th Precinct continues to make an example of cyclists, with support from City Council members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick.

Our Town reports that local officers ticketed 100 cyclists during a two-day period last week. According to NYPD data, the 19th Precinct ticketed just 11 speeding drivers this year as of the end of April — meaning precinct officers issued almost 10 times as many summonses to cyclists in two days as they issued to speeding drivers in four months. While the precinct has been more active citing motorists who fail to yield, issuing 395 tickets through April, that still works out to just a little more than three per day.

Motorists have killed at least 12 people walking in the 19th Precinct in the last 24 months, according to crash reports tracked by Streetsblog.

Our Town says last week’s bike crackdown was conducted in collaboration with Kallos and Garodnick.

“One of the top complaints I get in the district is about bikes,” said Kallos, who added that he was “deeply disappointed” by the community board’s continued inaction on bike lanes. “On the flip side, people on bicycles feel that pedestrians are not respecting the bike lanes… We are spending a lot of time working with motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians on education and sharing the road.”

Kallos says he was disappointed when Community Board 8 caved to complainers and failed to endorse new crosstown bike lanes, but with his calls for increased bike enforcement, he’s responding to the same sentiment. And his “sharing the road” happy talk implies that all street users are equally responsible for the carnage on Upper East Side streets, when reckless drivers do nearly 100 percent of the maiming and killing.

The 19th Precinct’s misplaced priorities are nothing new. In May, Kallos welcomed Deputy Inspector Clint McPherson, the precinct’s new commanding officer. McPherson replaced Deputy Inspector James M. Grant, after Grant became embroiled in the ongoing NYPD corruption probe. From the get-go, McPherson made clear he intended to pick up where Grant left off.

“From what I understand, bikes are a big problem,” McPherson said at the precinct’s May community council meeting, according to Our Town. “I think the 19th precinct is the only command in the city that writes and confiscates more bicycles than the 17th precinct. I think the officers here… are aggressively pursuing it. And my goal is to continue that.”

Eight days later, a driver crushed a man to death in a crosswalk at Third Avenue and 71st Street. The 85-year-old victim was the fourth pedestrian fatality in the 19th Precinct this year, all of them killed by drivers.

  • Reader

    Don’t forget Kallos’ other contribution to Vision Zero: attempting to allow bus drivers to run people over without consequences.

    He’s not a very courageous fellow.

  • AnoNYC

    We should start compiling checkpoint locations and usual times in effect like the drivers.

    Seems they stick to bicycle lane areas, has anyone seen a bicycle checkpoint not on a street with a bicycle lane?

  • This is yet another example of why it’s a terrible idea to base policing decisions on the complaints made by noisy whiners at community meetings. If the precinct were set a target for cutting the numbers of deaths and serious injuries on its streets, this nonsense would end very quickly.

  • BBnet3000

    Does Clint McPherson know that his decision to focus on less dangerous jayriding rather than more dangerous failure to yield and speeding wastes human lives?

    Bratton sure isn’t going to hold him responsible.

  • notsurprised

    great point, but also funnily enough when I noisily whine about speeding, blocking the bike lane, etc. it doesn’t seem to generate the same crackdown response.

  • notsurprised

    would love to see a numbers comparison between this and “Operation Bicycle Safe Passage”

  • Simon Phearson

    I have seen parked cruisers at 60th/1st a few times, during the evening rush, presumably to catch red light-runners on 60th and salmoners coming from the north, all in the PBL.

    Fortunately, I’m not on their turf for most of my ride.

  • walknseason

    Kallos is a fucking moron. We know he’s a craven little man, in the pocket of the NYPD with his empty gestures toward “education” (see Laurie Cumbo in Brooklyn for a better, more vapid example). What a joke. Glad to see the NYPD is indicting poor cyclists who are delivering foods to rich assholes uptown.

  • NYCyclist

    As someone commented, a few weeks ago, the NYPD announced a crackdown on drivers interfering with cyclists called, “Bicycle Safe Passage Initiative.” Were stats for that ever released?

  • mattkime

    where are these complaints about cyclists being registered? 311? tweets to the precinct? community meetings?

    My hunch is that the nypd listens to complaints that confirm its beliefs and ignores ones that challenge its beliefs.

  • This happens all the time at public hearings or town-hall-style forums. A cop or elected official says they have to crack down on people on bikes because people in the community complain about them. Meanwhile, they could be in a room filled with people from the community complaining about drivers and still do little or nothing in response.

    Shorter: If you bike and/or care about safe streets, you are often not seen as a member of the community.

  • AlexWithAK

    Complaints about bikes from a few vocal people result in constant crackdowns while complains AND deaths get little to no action.

    We’re effectively dealing with a clear bias against cycling from the cops combined with pols kowtowing to connected community members. None of this is uncommon in this town but few other instances of it literally result in unnecessary deaths.

  • Kevin Love

    NYPD provides an excellent example of “decision-based evidence-making.”

  • jooltman

    I would be curious to hear what Chief Chan and his entire department of personnel devoted to Vision Zero (a main pillar of which is data-not-whine-driven enforcement) have to say about this absurd misuse of NYPD resources.

  • When will Kallos call for a speed crack down on drivers? Red light running drivers? Heck even give us a failure to signal crackdown….that’s like 1 in 2 drivers these days!!

  • For clarity, I’m not in any way saying these complaints are justified – and I don’t get to any of these “community” meetings because I work late. But reports of the meetings suggest there are regular whines about cyclist behavior. It’s obviously stupid and it seems to be correct, as others note, that the police then discount complaints about speeding and so on as special pleading from activists. It’s all an absurdly silly way to set policy.

  • Joe R.

    I wonder if a sharp lawyer might be able to file a discrimination law suit here? Replace cyclists with “blacks” and it’s plainly obvious this is what’s happening here.

  • Joe R.

    Thankfully so far I’ve yet to see much enforcement in eastern Queens. This seems to be mostly a Manhattan and west Brooklyn/Queens sort of thing. The Guiliani-era sidewalk cycling crackdowns actually reached my neighborhood but I’ve yet to see a cop ticket a cyclist here for anything for a long time. I still wait the full cycle at red lights if police are around but I have a gut feeling they wouldn’t bother me if I went through safely.

  • KeNYC2030

    Part of the problem is that very few complain about drivers’ behavior because those transgressions are simply accepted as part of city life. But you can bet Council members hear from constituents about lawbreaking cyclists because their violations are more obvious and they’re a handy target. At a recent Manhattan CB7 meeting the commander of the 24th precinct admitted that he was devoting scarce enforcement resources to red-light running cyclists simply for political reasons.

  • Vooch

    the other Day Kallos said the 19th promised Hommagen Have NYPD on cycles this Summer

  • Joe R.

    Probably to make it easier for the out of shape cops to catch and ticket jaywalkers.

  • Tyson White

    Enforcement based on the number of complaints. How misguided.


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