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Cyclists Need Protection From Reckless Driving, Not From Themselves

Cyclists remember following traffic rules will help prevent most collisions. Bike smart & stay safe #VisionZero #UES pic.twitter.com/Kw4V67Ca0J

— NYPD 19th Precinct (@NYPD19Pct) July 27, 2016

The 19th Precinct, on the Upper East Side, tickets more cyclists than almost any other precinct in the city. So it was fitting that the above tweet this morning came from the 19th. It encapsulates NYPD's failure to recognize how dangerous driving behaviors, not cyclists' own actions, are the big threat to people on bikes.

The riding tips are all well and good, but will they "help prevent most collisions," as the precinct suggests? The evidence says otherwise.

Of the 14 cyclist fatalities in New York City this year, 12 involved drivers breaking the law, according to data compiled by Streetsblog and Transportation Alternatives.

Five of the fatal crashes were hit-and-runs. Of those, one was the result of a driver failing to yield to Olga Cook; in another a driver ran a red light and killed an unidentified 41-year-old man; and a third was caused by a driver who appeared to deliberately strike Matthew von Ohlen.

In three other cases, evidence suggests cyclists had the right of way and were killed by drivers who failed to yield. Three more fatalities involved drivers impaired by marijuana or alcohol. And 33-year-old James Gregg was killed by the driver of an oversized truck on Sixth Avenue in Brooklyn, a neighborhood street where trucks are prohibited.

Meanwhile, motorists have killed at least 12 pedestrians in the 19th Precinct in the last two years while cyclists have killed none. Yet the precinct's officers have focused overwhelmingly on ticketing cyclists. According to NYPD data, the 19th Precinct ticketed just 22 speeding drivers this year as of the end of June. Meanwhile, officers gave out 100 tickets to cyclists during a single two-day blitz in May.

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