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NYPD “Bicycle Safe Passage” Stings Aren’t Creating Safe Passage for Cyclists

Rather than ticket cars blocking Jay St #bikenyc lane, I saw @OpSafeCycle @NYPD84Pct ticketing bikes near Mnhtn Bridge. #WhenIsBrattonDone?

— dave 'paco' abraham (@subtle116) July 26, 2016

Earlier this year, when City Hall announced NYPD's "Bicycle Safe Passage" enforcement initiative to ticket drivers for blocking bike lanes and failing to yield to cyclists, it sounded like a step up from predecessors like "Operation Safe Cycle" -- which were notorious for fining cyclists, not protecting them. But the new NYPD bike safety approach still looks a lot like the old.

This week marks the third "Bicycle Safe Passage" operation of 2016. So far, people have reported NYPD ticketing cyclists on Ninth Avenue, Chrystie Street on the Lower East Side, Second Avenue near Stuy Town, and Jay Street by the Manhattan Bridge.

On Jay Street, the 84th Precinct is ticketing cyclists around Nassau Street and Concord Street. Just south of that location, between Fulton Street and Tillary Street, the bike lane remains blocked by double-parkers, as per usual.

During the previous "Bicycle Safe Passage" week, in June, the NYPD gave out 1,757 tickets to drivers obstructing bike lanes and 810 for motorists who failed to yield to cyclists or pedestrians, according to AM New York. It's not known how many tickets were given to cyclists.

Some enforcement activity today does seem to be more in line with the stated goal of giving cyclists safe passage. Outside of NYPD headquarters at 1 Police Plaza, the Lafayette Street bike lane was entirely obstructed by parked vehicles earlier in the day, then it was cleared north of Worth Street was cleared by the 5th Precinct.

But that's the same precinct that ticketed cyclists for turning left from Chrystie Street onto Hester Street. The left turn is banned to reduce potential conflicts caused by turning motorists. Ticketing cyclists for violating the turn ban will only make cycling less convenient -- it doesn't address the dangerous behaviors putting lives at risks and it certainly doesn't create a "safe passage" for cyclists.

So far this year, cyclist deaths have more than doubled compared to 2015. Handing out tickets to cyclists for making left turns or riding without bells isn't going to reverse that trend.

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