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.

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