LAUGHABLE: The NYPD is the Front Line of Mayor de Blasio’s ‘Crackdown’ on Bike Lane Parkers?

Just another day in New York City.
Just another day in New York City.

Fox, meet henhouse.

Mayor de Blasio’s announcement that he had ordered the NYPD to crackdown on reckless drivers and cars parked in bike lanes is being ridiculed for one key reason: NYPD officers routinely drive recklessly in their personal cars and often park in bike lanes.

A Streetsblog investigation earlier this year revealed that police officers’ private cars had been slapped with multiple moving violations at a rate roughly twice that of normal people. Fully 37.6 percent of cars parked in NYPD-only parking around precincts, or illegally parked with department-issued placards, had multiple moving violations, compared to roughly 19 percent of normal people. And 58 percent of cop cars had received at least one serious moving violation, more than 20 percent more than regular citizens.

Worse, of course, is the daily disrespect of seeing police vehicles parked in the very bike lanes that the NYPD has now been charged with defending.

On every given day, social media is filled with pictures of police vehicles parked in what is supposed to be protected space for cyclists, so it’s difficult to see how anything short of a cultural change in the NYPD is going to change that. Reminder: A vehicle parked in a painted bike lane forces a cyclist to veer into traffic, which is exactly how Madison Lyden was killed last year.

When citizens make 311 reports of blocked bike lanes, the cases are almost always “closed” by the local precinct without an officer even responding to the complaint, as Streetsblog found earlier this year. (The mayor himself once famously said, “If someone’s blocking, for example, a bike lane, for 30 seconds while they take out the groceries or let their kid off, I don’t think they should get a ticket for that.”)

Worse still, cops are among the first people to blame cycling victims after crashes. After Robyn Hightman (who preferred the pronouns they/their) was killed by a truck driver last week in Chelsea, a police officer told Gothamist that the rider was responsible for their own death because they were ”

“As far as the female who passed away unfortunately, yesterday, I believe she was riding off the bike lane, you know,” Officer Carlos Negron said, neglecting Hightman’s preferred way of being identified. “It’s sad, but it’s sad that she was off the bike lane, you know? Maybe if she had been on the bike lane, maybe she’d still be alive.”

That comment came as part of a crackdown on cyclists after Hightman’s death — which is part of the standard NYPD response to any road fatality. In this case, with Hightman still being mourned, cops wrote 40 percent of the ensuing traffic summonses to cyclists, even though they represent a tiny fraction of the vehicular traffic on Sixth Avenue and lack the killing power of 3,000-pound cars moving at 30 miles per hour.

Later on Tuesday, the NYPD and the Department of Transportation are expected to announce details of their efforts going forward to “crack down on dangerous driving behavior like parking in bike lanes” and develop “a new cyclist safety plan to make biking in our city safer.”

In the meantime, folks are skeptical.

Gersh Kuntzman is editor of Streetsblog. When he gets really angry, he writes the “Cycle of Rage” column. Prior posts are archived here.

  • At the very least, this issue is exposing more NYPD corruption to the general public. In theory, that should be a positive development. In reality, who knows. NYPD are truly above the law.

  • kevd

    “even though they represent a tiny fraction of the vehicular traffic on Sixth Avenue”
    I actually doubt the percentage of cyclists is tiny. Perhaps by total volume – including vehicle, but not by number of people.

  • Vooch

    4 or 5 years agao TA did traffic counts of the Avenues. Sixth Midtown had typically 10-15% bikes versus motor vehicles. I recall during peak rush hours bikes were 20% of vehicles on Sixth. This was before the PBL on Sixth was created.

    Even more surprising was First and Second below 14th. These Avenues had 20-30% bike traffic.Peak hours sometimes saw 40% bikes.

    Motor Vehicles occupy a huge amount of space and are in-your-face. Bikes are quiet and unobtrusive.

    Next time you stopped at a light, count how many motor vehicles are stopped. Its likely a dozen. Then look around and you will see 4 or 5 cyclists.

  • mfs

    As I drove (yes drove) down 4th Ave in Brooklyn yesterday, along the new protected bike lane, there wasn’t a single block that didn’t have a car parked in the green lane.

  • Snapperhead

    How is that lane protected? Bollards?

  • yippee1999

    Bike lines are very poorly designed and considered, esp. on very narrow side streets in place like Astoria. As a cyclist, I am terrified at the idea of riding in the bike line on a narrow side street, for I know that means I’m in the door zone. And even IF I were to ride on the far edge of the bike lane, even then if a door were to suddenly open, it would jostle me so much that I’d likely fall over (which was exactly what happened to me last year, resulting in an elbow injury!). Now, I no longer use the bike lane. I ride in the middle of the street, and if there’s too much traffic or I feel I’m holding up a row of cars, then I pull over, wait for the line of cars to pass, then go back out into the middle of the street.

    And indeed, I see asshole cars parked in bike lanes all the time in Astoria. Ditto for cars idling in MTA bus stops, double-parked all up and down Steinway, double-parked outside Telly’s Taverna on 23rd Ave., outside Dunkin Donuts at 37th and Ditmars, parked across CROSSwalks, and yes, even at times parked across the SIDEWALK that is at the end of their private driveway. (Course, these poor homeowners can’t park in their own driveways because…the driveway is already taken up with their 1-2 SUVs. So yeah, since the city doesn’t provide them with ‘enough parking spaces’ for their precious 2-ton PRIVATE POSSESSIONS, then they are forced to take matters into their own hands and park across the sidewalk. And hey, they wouldn’t have to do this if it weren’t for the city giving into all those ‘treehuggers’ and taking away precious street parking spots for their stupid Citibikes!) lol

    Pedestrians need to fight to Take Back Our Streets. We have given way too much importance to cars and their owners. On any given day, cars are sitting, parked, and Not In Use, for 90% of the time. Just think of how wasteful this is…. the expense that is spent on these vehicles, all for ‘convenience’ and a sense of ‘control’? Why on earth do so many people, and in a place like NYC, all need their own private 2-ton vehicles? What happened to carpooling? Sharing? Picking up or dropping off a family member?

    And while we’re at it… how is it that, back in the day, a family of 6 could pack up their ONE station wagon and go on a week’s vacation out of state? And now? Everyone needs their OWN car. And 9 times out of 10, that ‘car’ is…. yup, you guessed it… an SUV.

    So as if it weren’t bad enough, now everyone needs their own private gas-guzzler army tank? SUVs block the view for other people who drive ‘normal cars’. SUVs are more likely to rollover during a collision. They are NOT safer, much as the auto industry would like you to believe. But then, they make more money by selling SUVs, now don’t they?

    SUVs also make it harder for pedestrians to see what’s going on on the rest of the road. SUVs pose a far greater danger to pedestrians. At narrow street intersections (such as those often found in Astoria), I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been hit by an SUV while I was in the crosswalk with the Walk sign. In all instance, the problem was that the SUV was making a legal turn ONTO the street I was crossing. Drivers often try to beat the light, and/or they cut the corner to beat the light. Instead of first driving out INTO the intersection, they quickly clip the corner. SUV drivers are obviously higher up in their seats than drivers of traditional cars, so if a pedestrian is in the crosswalk directly ahead of them as they turn, the SUV drivers often don’t SEE the top of the pedestrian’s head, which is directly below the front of their grill, in the crosswalk. An SUV driver’s field of vision, due to the elevated seat, is further ahead down the road.

    SUV drivers need to be MUCH more careful when driving in dense urban areas, and much more careful when making turns.

    Nowadays, it seems 8 out of every 10 cars I see in NYC are SUVs. This is beyond perverted. Why oh why the need for such massive cars??!! Oh, the drivers will say ‘SUVs are safer for me and my family…. or…. I have a big family to transport… I need to drive my older parents to the market…. we have lots of groceries to buy each week…..’ blahblahblah. The excuses never end.

    Fact is, it’s the auto industry who has brainwashed consumers. If SUVs are so safe, then why don’t we start mass marketing mini tanks for folks to buy? Wouldn’t that be even ‘safer’?

    The DOT is great at ticketing parked cars, but I never see them doing ANYTHING about double-parkers, bike lane parkers, MTA bus stop parkers, etc. Nor the police. And everyone knows this. It’s a total farce, which is why it is so rampant. Drivers know there will be zero repercussions.

    We must fix the MTA and have better management and oversight. The problem is not so much lack of funds as it is, MISmanagement of funds. They spend all kinds of money on bells and whistles….fancy new stations…WiFi…. artworks in new stations…. but what about improved P/A communication systems….signal systems…. SBS for all bus lines to speed up the bus travel…. bus-only lanes, etc.?

    Is anyone at the city level taking a comprehensive look at how to improve transport as a whole in this city???? Once again, so many other ‘world-class’ cities are ahead of us…NYC…the supposed ‘greatest city’ in the supposed ‘greatest nation’.

  • mfs

    paint.

  • Joe R.

    SUVs and pickups are farm vehicles which should be banned from cities. They also should be counted in CAFE regulations so the automakers couldn’t make them in large numbers without exceeding the CAFE standards (and paying huge fines as a result). You’re right, years ago a family got along fine with a station wagon at most, but many times a regular sedan, and in quite a few cases with no car at all, especially if they lived in a big city. Now everyone needs a huge, f*cking SUV. And a 3,000 square foot house on a 1 acre lot. It’s all wasteful beyond belief, as well as unsustainable.

  • qrt145

    Exactly. I remember my surprise one time I did such a count and found the number of bikes and cars to be the same (it was on a small street). The cars were filling most of the block, while all the bikes combined took about the same amount of space as the first car. I’m not saying this one count is representative of anything, just that it showed me how strong the “optical illusion” can be when it comes to the car/bike ratio.

  • Snapperhead

    Wow, that must be a lot of coats of paint!

  • qrt145

    TL;DR.

  • Vooch

    SUVs are a marketing scam of the Automobile companies; its a way they get you to buy ‘more’ car. Plus, Auto companies know the people that buy SUVs aren’t, well, too smart about value.

    The margins on SUVs are staggering, approaching 40-50%.

    On normal sedans and hatchbacks; Automobile companies are lucky to make 2-5% margin.

    Think about that – when one buys a $50,000 SUV, the car company makes close to $25,000 margin. When you buy a $18,000 Hatchback, the car company might make $900.

    SUVs are a perfectly rational response by the Auto companies to the gulibility of the American consumer.

    A sensible regulatory response would be to include in registration fees a steeply sloped sliding scale for weight. A 7,000lbs vehicle should cost maybe $5,000 to register. A 2,000lbs vehicle maybe $200.

  • Vooch

    Its mind boggling how much space cars take up.

    I think it helps our advocacy to mention this when stopped at a light.

    “Hey how many cars are stopped ?, How many pedestrians ?, How many bikes ?”

  • Joe R.

    Insurance should also be a lot higher. A 2,000 pound vehicle should maybe cost a few hundred a year to insure. A 7,000 pound SUV should cost at least $10K annually for insurance. The only way people will stop buying these abominations is if we make it prohibitively expensive to own one.

  • Stephen Simac

    Wait until these high end cargo vans/personal vehicles are ubiquitous like they are becoming here in California. It could be a response to not being able to see over other SUV’s, so they went one higher, but they’ve made parking lots and lanes basically no see zones when they’re around.

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  • Ishamgirl

    Only speaking about officers answering 911 calls – where do all the Ohio transplant bike lovers think the NYPD should park when responding to a 911 call? Look for a legit spot? Circle around for hours as someone is getting their face beat in? Pay for a parking garage? Park on the sidewalk?

    Enough with your precious bike lanes. Go back to Ohio and take your bikes with you.

  • Seymour Butz

    so not really protected

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