NYPD’s Reckless Driver ‘Crackdown’ is a Breezy Three-Week Affair

Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Is that all there is?

One day after Mayor de Blasio responded to a surge of cyclist bloodshed this year with a promise of greater road safety, the NYPD unveiled a paltry effort to reduce the carnage: a three-week ticketing blitz focusing on moving violations that officers (and city road design) have failed to eliminate already: speeding, red light violations, failure to yield, distracted driving.

The NYPD’s announcement on Tuesday of “strategies to support NYC citywide bicycle safety passage” also included a promise to write more tickets to drivers who “are parked in, or otherwise obstructing, a bicycle lane” and those who are “double parking,” the agency said in a statement.

Police officials said the ticketing would “be conducted on all tours with participation from all enforcement personnel” between July 1 (which was actually yesterday) and July 21. That’s just 21 days amid a crisis of cyclists deaths that has consisted of 15 bicycle riders killed so fa this year, up from 10 in the entirety of 2018.

The NYPD says we'll see more of this through July 21. Photo: NYC DOT/Flickr
The NYPD says we’ll see more of this through July 21. Photo: NYC DOT/Flickr

If the short duration of the NYPD effort strikes cyclists and their advocates as paltry, the rest of the NYPD statement won’t likely alter that opinion. According to the NYPD:

  • Traffic Enforcement Agents will enforce the above hazardous parking violations throughout the city.
  • All Traffic Safety Personnel in all 77 precincts will participate and enforce the above Vision Zero and hazardous parking and moving violations commencing on July 8, 2019 through July 21, 2019. [Editor’s note: That is 14 days — and raises the question, “Don’t traffic safety personnel in all 77 precincts already participate in this manner?]
  • Patrol Supervisors will respond to a scene of a bicyclist/pedestrian struck in order to conduct a thorough investigation on whether Administrative Code 19-190, “Right of Way” law has been violated. [Editor’s note: Streetsblog has noted that patrol officers already respond to such scenes yet rarely issue such tickets, so we have asked NYPD if supervisors are being retrained to encourage them to write right-of-way tickets.]
  • Auxiliary officers will conduct high visibility education outreach educating drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians on safer bicycle, vehicle and pedestrian tips to reduce injuries and fatalities. [Editor’s note: They already do this.]

In a statement, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said cops would “work with all of our city partners to implement a comprehensive plan to reduce and ultimately eliminate bicycle fatalities.”

“The NYPD vigorously supports Vision Zero, and enthusiastically promotes safety for everyone on our city’s streets,” he added.

Reporters asked O’Neill if the NYPD effort included making good on a promise by Chief of Department Terence Monahan to stop cracking down on cyclists after a bike rider is killed — and the top cop said it did.

Indeed, Tuesday was the first time in recent memory that police did not write summonses to cyclist one day after the death a cyclist — in this case, Devra Freelander, who was killed by a cement truck in Bushwick on Monday.

But activists were unimpressed by Tuesday’s NYPD announcement.

“The rise in bike rider deaths and injuries is related to the increase in vehicle traffic in New York City in the past several years, and will require structural change in street design and law enforcement to turn around,” said Jon Orcutt of Bike NY. “Treating it like a momentary aberration won’t protect cyclists in August or thereafter.”

Transportation Alternatives’ co-Interim Director Marco Conner has long called for traffic enforcement agents to enforce dangerous driving violations.

“We can only hope that this initiative lasts more than just three weeks,” he said. “People were dying at unacceptable rates prior to this crisis, and this announcement sadly shows that the mayor failed to realize that.”

But Conner did applaud the NYPD for showing “part of what the NYPD’s role should be in traffic enforcement.”

“Our city’s thousands of traffic enforcement agents are particularly well positioned to enforce daily acts of dangerous driving violations — we don’t need armed police officers conducting the majority of such enforcement,” he said.

An earlier version of this story mischaracterized Marco Conner’s comment. Streetsblog has corrected the record.

  • Maggie

    I think out of everything, I’m most outraged that this list of emergency action items ends with still more “education.”

    We’re five full years into the Vision Zero plan. I know that it isn’t the mayor’s forte, but it’s long past time for strict data-based enforcement aimed at his goal. “Education” right now is an insult to all of our intelligence, and a dangerous distraction from actually keeping people safe, where the mayor’s priorities should have been from the start.

    On the other hand, if the city does have data supporting a thesis that “education” blitzes have made streets safer at all, I’d love to know about it.

  • Joe R.

    I don’t think there’s one person here who’s surprised at this. I would have been surprised. shocked even, if the NYPD had opted for sustained enforcement. That’s not their style, unfortunately (except for enforcing traffic laws against bikes).

  • Larry Littlefield

    With all those cameras, we’ll soon have more data on who the most dangerous drivers are.

    Very few people want to kill people with their cars, but very few think about the fact that they might do so until it is too late.

    The best route is a combination of automatic over-rides of driver error or anti-social behavior, as have been mandated for trains, and public service reminders that play every time someone starts to drive.

  • PDiddy

    NYC needs a mayor who gets around the same way the average resident does. Vote out old white men who commute in limos.

  • Sassojr

    When your only tool is a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail.

  • kevd

    (except for enforcing traffic laws against bikes)
    Even that is typically short lived sting operations to reach their quotas…. I mean productivity goal.

  • thomas040

    Lipservice. So disrespectful.

  • cjstephens

    I agree that we should demand that our elected representatives use the city the way we do (subway, bus, bicycle, not limos), but can we skip the race and gender baiting? If Corey Johnson were 20 years older, we he be an unacceptable politician for you?

  • PDiddy

    Nah. Corey Johnson is a true NYC’er and walks the walk.

  • cjstephens

    Glad we agree. So maybe a little less race and gender-baiting next time? We need more allies for safe streets from all communities. Remember, it was that old white man Mike Bloomberg who appointed JSK and did more for safe streets than any other mayor I can remember.

  • PDiddy

    Sure, why the hell not.

  • PDiddy

    You know what dude, that’s twice now that you are telling me what to do. So no, I’m not going to adjust my behavior or my personality. Don’t like it? Feel free to comment and provide your point, but honestly I resent someone telling me what to say and how to say it.

    Go be a dad to your own children and leave me be.

  • cjstephens

    Here’s what I’m telling you to do:
    “Stop being racist.”
    “Stop being sexist.”
    I’m not going to apologize for that, and your resentment is, at best, childish.

  • Fee

    You can easily quit yr unexciting 9 am to 5 pm job and then begin with getting paychecks monthly approx $12 k working at home. Let’s be real, no matter where you’re doing work from, you’re still doing just that: working. While working from home you have Flexible daily schedule – you can take rests anytime, feel absolutely no rush to hang up on your mates when they contact you, and have lunch at any weird time you choose, Stop thinking about crowds and traffic – Absolutely no stuffing yourself into a rickety transportation tube, having people scuff your brand-new shoes, or walking behind agonizingly slow people who apparently don’t know what a straight line is, More time with loved ones -Take care of a sick significant other at home, be ready for kids earlier in the day, get extra snuggles in with your doggo, or simply have some peaceful time to yourself! Try it out, what it’s about… abyssjohnny.mail.ht


NYPD “Bicycle Safe Passage” Stings Aren’t Creating Safe Passage for Cyclists

Rather than ticket cars blocking Jay St #bikenyc lane, I saw @OpSafeCycle @NYPD84Pct ticketing bikes near Mnhtn Bridge. #WhenIsBrattonDone? — dave ‘paco’ abraham (@subtle116) July 26, 2016 Earlier this year, when City Hall announced NYPD’s “Bicycle Safe Passage” enforcement initiative to ticket drivers for blocking bike lanes and failing to yield to cyclists, it sounded like a […]