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Drivers Are Killing People, and the 19th Precinct Is Sending Cyclists to Court

Police activity on 79th & 1st--a blitz of enforcement on cyclists https://t.co/KSOdmtUHvp pic.twitter.com/1HO3zaGUwm

— Our Town (@OurTownNYC) June 1, 2016

The 19th Precinct likes to boast about local officers aggressively ticketing people for riding bikes on sidewalks. A data analysis by Transportation Alternatives shows the precinct also issues far more criminal court summonses for sidewalk riding than other Manhattan commands.

According to TA, in 2015 the Upper East Side 19th Precinct issued 116 criminal summonses for sidewalk riding, and 15 moving violations -- a ratio of eight to one. TA says the typical ratio for precincts citywide is close to one criminal summons to one moving violation.

A moving violation can be resolved online or through the mail, while a criminal summons requires a court appearance. Failure to appear in court can result in a warrant that leads to jail time and barriers to employment.

NYPD greatly reduced the issuance of criminal court summonses for sidewalk riding in 2014, but the 19th Precinct is one of several that still sends hundreds of cyclists to court per year. Next month TA will release an in-depth report on bike enforcement, which will include criminal court summons data.

"In addition to disproportionately high bike enforcement in general -- they issue 51 percent of all bike on sidewalk c-summonses in the Manhattan North patrol area -- [the 19th Precinct is] choosing to take the extremely harsh option," says TA Deputy Director Caroline Samponaro.

It's unknown how many delivery cyclists the 19th Precinct is ticketing relative to all cyclists, because the city doesn't publish complete bike enforcement data. But last year the precinct was responsible for 17 percent of commercial cycling summonses citywide, and issued 95 percent of commercial cycling summonses in the 12-precinct Manhattan North patrol area, according to TA.

"Their practices are wildly different from everybody else's in the patrol borough area," says TA Policy and Research Manager Julia Kite.

Motorists killed at least 12 people walking in the 19th Precinct in the last 24 months, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog. NYPD data show the 19th Precinct ticketed just 21 speeding drivers this year as of the end of May.

The commanding officer of the 19th Precinct in 2015 was Deputy Inspector James M. Grant. Grant was succeeded this year by Deputy Inspector Clint McPherson after Grant was cited as a target of the ongoing NYPD corruption probe. McPherson has indicated he intends to continue the precinct's focus on bike enforcement, and he has support from City Council members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick.

“One of the top complaints I get in the district is about bikes,” Kallos told Our Town after a recent precinct bike crackdown.

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