More Fury Over de Blasio Ticket Blitzes After Cyclists are Killed

Aurilla Lawrence, who was killed by a hit-and-run truck driver in Williamsburg on Feb. 28. Photo provided by Danijela Dusanic.
Aurilla Lawrence, who was killed by a hit-and-run truck driver in Williamsburg on Feb. 28. Photo provided by Danijela Dusanic.

Cops again launched a ticket blitz against cyclists after a fatal hit-and-run in Brooklyn, setting off yet another firestorm against New York’s Finest and Mayor de Blasio for targeting the victims of road violence instead of the perpetrators.

The morning after Aurilla Lawrence was run down by the still-unapprehended truck driver on Broadway near Rodney Street in Williamsburg, cyclists were again targeted by cops. A cyclist posted on Twitter a photo of a ticket another rider received for allegedly going through a red light just feet from where the 25-year-old delivery cyclist had been killed Thursday night.

The ticket blitz came as dozens of Lawrence’s delivery colleagues and her friends held a vigil and installed a ghost bike on Friday, decrying the road violence that often makes them feel unsafe on the same streets, and as nearly 200 cyclists on Sunday rode through the streets of Manhattan and over the Williamsburg Bridge to the spot where Lawrence was killed for a memorial ride. Another rally is planned today at 5:30, this time to focus attention on the NYPD’s ongoing crackdown against cyclists whenever a cyclist is killed, even though bike riders did not kill a single person in New York City in 2018, while drivers killed 201.

The motorist who killed Lawrence is now the fifth hit-and-run driver this year that has killed someone — police say they have made just one arrest in those cases.

The targeted enforcement follows a familiar pattern. Last month, cops went on a ticket blitz against cyclists after 72-year-old Chaim Joseph was struck and killed on Eighth Avenue near 45th Street in Manhattan on Feb. 4 — an officer days later issued a biker a summons for not wearing a helmet, which is not against the law. And another cop tackled a cyclist to stop him for riding outside a blocked bike lane — a move that led to a massive rally outside the Midtown North stationhouse.

Bike Snob Eben Weiss has chronicled many post-death crackdowns against cyclists, concluding, “There is one thing New Yorkers can pretty much count on after a driver kills someone on a bike though, and that’s an NYPD crackdown on cyclists in the vicinity of the incident for behavior that may or may not even be illegal.”

“If you ride a bike in New York City, it’s hard not to feel like the NYPD is the older sibling who occasionally grabs you by the wrists and forces you to punch yourself in the face,” he added.

Mayor de Blasio continues to defend the NYPD enforcement strategy, saying cops will stop anyone who breaks the law in order to keep everyone safe — despite the simple statistics that car drivers caused every one of the deaths on New York City streets last year. 

“Whenever there is a fatality at anyone, it’s a horrible situation, and we all feel it. That does not mean we’re going to stop enforcement,” the mayor said. “We’re going to be enforcing on anybody who we think puts other people in danger, period. So if an officer observers a cyclist doing something they regard as dangerous and illegal, of course they’re going to ticket them,” he said. “We need cyclists to obey the law, and of course enforcement is a part of that.”

But Transportation Alternatives said there’s a better way to make the roads safer for everyone without targeting cyclists: fix the streets and install better bike infrastructure.

“Broadway, which lacks protected bike lanes, is far from ideal for traveling on two wheels. When a driver makes one bad move on a street like Broadway, where there’s no room for error, people die,” said Marco Conner. “But it doesn’t have to be this way — a true, connected network of protected bike lanes with an accelerated timeline for doing so.”

A spokesman for the Department of Transportation said officials will now take a new look at the area to see how they can make it safer, in addition to the recently installed and in-the-works bike lanes leading to the Williamsburg Bridge.

“In light of this tragic fatality, DOT will evaluate the crash location for potential further Vision Zero safety enhancements in addition to the bike infrastructure we have installed in the surrounding neighborhood,” said Brian Zumhagen.

Reminder: Cars are 3,000-pound machines. Drivers of those vehicles caused more than 200,000 crashes last year, injuring roughly 15,000 cyclists and pedestrians, killing 131, city statistics show. Bicycles weigh about 50 pounds and their operators killed no one last year.

Update: An earlier version of this story misidentified the 72-year-old Chaim Joseph because of information from the initial NYPD reports.

  • Bringing this to the attention of @NYCSpeakerCoJo and entire @NYCCouncil is in the works.
    https://campaigns.transalt.org/petition/stop-ticketing-cyclists-when-reckless-drivers-kill

  • Reader

    The. Mayor. Is. A. Coward.

    He’s terrified of the police. That plus his windshield perspective means far too many people will be harassed. And killed.

    There have to be smart, good people in City Hall or DOT who are sick of this garbage. Send an anonymous email to Streetsblog and let everyone know what the hell is going on over there. This stuff is bullsh*t and it tarnishes everyone who works for this moron.

  • Reuben

    I sure wish double-parkers and triple-parkers who block cars, bikes, and buses were ticketed in a blitz.

  • Better yet: towed.

  • jamie

    when the Boston bombing happened the authorities used surveillance cameras to find two individuals out of THOUSANDS!!
    So they can’t find one HUGE tanker truck? Perhaps Boston actually cares about their citizens!

  • I like hearing supposedly grown adults conflating the dangers of automobiles and those of 30-40 lbs bicycles. Makes me laugh out my ass, and also confirms my worst suspicions about people in general.

  • Brynne Wrigley

    RIP AURILLA

  • Amerisod

    This doesn’t speak well for the quality of the police. Don’t they have enough to do without resorting to harassing people, or are they given quotas, so they head out and ticket for helmets, and tackle people?

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  • motorock

    Quotas continued to be a sad reality and unfortunately, the quality of NYPD cops continues to be low too. I think the NYPD may be headed to another class action lawsuit- the last one caused them $375 million that was awarded only about 2 years ago for basically the same reasons.

  • MidtownApt

    The horror of a cyclist’s death by truck is not an excuse for other cyclists to run red lights, ride the wrong way on one-way streets, or ride on sidewalks, all of which happen every day throughout the five boroughs. Bikes weigh much less than cars, but they are dangerous when operated unsafely. And they do kill people, Ask Irving Schacter’s widow, who posted this on NYCycling’s message board after her husband was killed by a cyclist in Central Park: “But this short message also should remind folks of the cyclist’s dual nature. Many of us see cyclists as potential victims of cars. And we are. The city still needs to do much more to secure our safety on Manhattan’s streets. To that end we should support the many Transportation Alternative campaigns. But we are also potential predators. One careless move on a bike and we can take down a runner, a walker, a child skipping along. As we want car drivers to be alert to our rights, so too we must act to protect the rights of other people.Almost a week after Irving’s accident I walked through Central Park and saw many cyclists in the runner’s lane. To one I called, “You’re in the runner’s lane.” He replied “yes, I know,” and rode away. Would he like a car driver to give that answer while he veered his car into the bike lane? We need our rights. We also we need to accept our responsibilities.”

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