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.

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