CYCLE OF RAGE: Cyclists! Unite Today Against NYPD Violence and Intimidation

Here is the tackling incident on Thursday that will stoke rage today.
Here is the tackling incident on Thursday that will stoke rage today.

That wasn’t a mere tackle — that was the shove that might finally pushed us over the edge.

Hours after a Midtown North captain tackled a cyclist off his bike on Thursday, several advocacy groups announced that bike riders will gather in fury at the West 54th Street stationhouse today at 4 p.m. This week’s timeline explains the fire this time:

  • On Monday, a cyclist named Joseph Chiam was fatally struck on Eighth Avenue at 45th Street by a truck driver who fled.
  • Later that day, cops announced they knew who the driver was. But he was not arrested.
  • The death came on the same day that Streetsblog and other outlets reported a 20-percent uptick in roadway injuries to pedestrians and cyclists in the first 28 days of 2019.
  • Nonetheless, police started a ticket blitz against cyclists in the neighborhood, even writing tickets for actions that are not illegal, such as cycling without a helmet.
  • Then on Thursday, the cyclist, who is black was tackled by a cop, who is white, while other cyclists, mostly hard-working delivery bike riders, were ticketed.

Except for the tackle, it’s the same basic pattern that follows all cyclists deaths — the NYPD goes into its standard 72-hour plan, a three-day ticket blitz against the very victims of the violence itself.

But this time, cyclists aren’t merely taking to Twitter with angry rants or posting pictures of cops parked in bike lanes. They’re going to show up in force at the stationhouse on Friday to demand answers from Inspector Mark Iocco as to why his officers are attacking cyclists with physical violence and legal intimidation.

It’s not as if Iocco is doing such a good job with the “protect” part of “protect and serve.”

In just two years, 975 people were injured in crashes in the Midtown North precinct, a rectangle generally bound by Lexington Avenue, 45th Street, the West Side Highway and 59th Street. More than half — 560 — were cyclists and pedestrians. Two died. Virtually every one of the injuries — and all the deaths — were caused by drivers.

Yet Iocco’s officers wrote only 264 speeding tickets last year. And they wrote only 460 tickets for failure to yield to a pedestrian, a common crime that leads to many injuries. By comparison, officers at the neighboring Midtown South precinct wrote 2,743 failure to yield tickets.

So tackling cyclists or writing tickets to delivery workers because they are using an illegal e-bike to fulfill orders that Iocco’s residents place to begin with is not the way to meet the mayor’s Vision Zero goal because cyclists aren’t causing the deaths and injuries on Iocco’s streets. Will the mayor do anything? Did anything ever happen to that cop who tackled the cyclist on Jay Street last year? Of course not. These violent officers are answerable to, apparently, no one.

So united, cyclists, and show up in force today at 4 p.m. at 306 W. 54th St.

  • Joe R.

    This after the city has to pay out $2.25 million to Charles Puccio for nearly the same thing. The NYPD never learns, do they?

  • JL

    Why would they? It comes out of our pockets, not theirs.

  • Maggie

    This happened less than a quarter mile from the headquarters of the New York Times, in the shadow of scores of Broadway theaters employing thousands, and near many blue-chip corporate tenants in midtown. Leave aside how many of us would prefer to commute by bike but, simply put, absolutely don’t want to be shoved to the ground by a snarling cop. Bike couriers just like this one bring midtown workers literally thousands of meal deliveries a day.

    The idea that Bill de Blasio has any future, at all, when he ignores police brutality that he’s responsible for is preposterous. It’s tragic that the NYT doesn’t cover this better.

  • NYPD are literally dangerous criminals at this point. We are witnessing the breakdown of society here folks.

  • The Gorgon

    So Midtown South wrote over 7x the number of failure to yield tickets….sounds like they have a lot of catching up to do to make the street safer.

  • ddartley

    When a cop sees a motor vehicle driver commit a moving violation (btw, did this cyclist even commit one?) and decides to stop the driver, does he smash his cruiser into the suspect’s car? Cause that’s the equivalent of what happened here. No, they’d think that’s crazy–to harm vehicles like that. But flesh and bone? Fair game.

  • JL

    Actually, I don’t think it’s illegal to eff the bike lanes if the street is more than 40 ft wide. Definitely legal to forego the helmet if u r an adult. It would be nice if law enforcement knew the laws.

  • crazytrainmatt

    Looks to me the incident was at the SW corner (compare to the view from this streetview https://goo.gl/maps/1F9ms9gXeo82 ), on the opposite side from the PBL. For all the cop knew, the cyclist had just turned onto 9th and was merging over, was preparing to turn right on 47th (the next street), or maybe had just heard someone got killed in a mixing zone the other day…

  • Joe R.

    RCNY § 4-12(p) Bicycles.
    (1) Bicycle riders to use bicycle lanes. Whenever a usable path or lane for bicycles has been provided, bicycle riders shall use such path or lane only except under any of the following situations:
    (i) When preparing for a turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
    (ii) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, motor vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, pushcarts, animals, surface hazards) that make it unsafe to continue within such bicycle path or lane.

    It seems to me the “including but not limited to” clause allows the cyclist to leave the bike for any reason they deem unsafe. It’s the cyclist’s call, NOT the cop’s.

  • MatthewEH

    9th Ave is southbound, so this looks to me like this is happening at the *north*west corner of 9th & 46th. Speaking very narrowly, there would not usually be much practical reason to ride on the west side of the street here rather than in the east-side PBL. The streets are torn up further north of here, but by 46th Street the PBL is in normal shape again.

    The most logical place one might have made a turn from to get to this position is 48th Street (say, if you just caught the end of the light and couldn’t cross 9th Ave with the light before turning into the far-side PBL.) The next place one might take a right turn from here is 45th street. Either way, riding 2+ blocks opposite the PBL to prepare for a turn or adjust one’s position after a turn is probably excessive.

    The really surprising thing here is that NYPD is going after commercial/delivery cyclists for violations, and not just looking to confiscate throttle e-bikes. For ages it was an unwritten rule that cops just wouldn’t ticket someone who was working, at least as I understand it…

  • @JL – There is no “40 ft wide” clause in state or city law. Where did you get that?

  • @Joe R. – You are correct, that wording is thanks to the late Steven Faust, who also testified as an expert witness against mass-ticketing of bicyclists during the 2004 Republican National Convention, leading to all of those charges being dropped. 15 years later, the NYPD is still abusing their authority and harassing bicyclists with this non-applicable charge.

  • Joe R.

    I also vaguely recall Steve mentioning the wording was designed expressly to keep everything else out of bike lanes, not to keep bicycles in. NYC needs to clarify the real meaning of the law with the NYPD so they can stop ticketing cyclists for this non-existent offense.

  • JL

    I don’t know the laws either. The closest thing I found is this PDF file –
    Bicyclelaws-nyc.gov

    +https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/bicyclerules_english.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwigk8PIoa3gAhXF11kKHSrnCl0QFjAMegQIARAB&usg=AOvVaw1X98vM9BJFtdLmzWFh4Mgg

    4.12 -Which states that you can ride on either side of the road of a 40ft wide one way street.
    I’m eventually going to make a turn:-)

  • crazytrainmatt

    I’ve been avoiding 9th Ave for years because of that pavement and what always feels like a lot of truck traffic so I don’t know it so well. I spend more time on 1/2nd aves where the lights are timed to let you go about 10 blocks before hitting a red light, and I often prepare for a turn by getting over at the red light before my turn or at the tail end of the car wave.

    But regardless, I never see much bike traffic on the far side of an ave with a PBL. So the thing I don’t get is, why are the cops staking out the far side? Wouldn’t it be easier to plant themselves on the bike lane side and get folks running reds?

  • MatthewEH

    I can’t speak to the amount of “wrong”-side bike traffic on 9th Avenue, but I actually see a fair bit of it near my office on 6th Avenue. I don’t totally get why, and it seems to be more delivery cyclists than commuters.

    Occasionally I will do it myself, but generally only because I was coming from the unprotected side of 6th and I haven’t yet had a chance to merge over.

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