Friday’s Headlines: It’s Fake Crackdown Season

Photo: NYPD
Photo: NYPD

Been there, fake-cracked-downed on that.

The NYPD heralded its latest “Bicycle Safe Passage” ticket blitz at a press conference on Queens Boulevard on Thursday (which only Patch covered) to claim that officers from all 77 precincts would begin a weeklong ticket spree against drivers who block bike lanes, talk on their cellphones while driving, fail to yield to cyclists, etc.

And that would be nice … if it was real.

Fact is, the NYPD has been doing “safe passage” blitzes since 2016, and then as now, the stepped-up ticketing typically results in one or two more tickets written per day per precinct. (For scale, there have already been 61,005 crashes caused by car and truck drivers so far this year, roughly 290 per day).

We haven’t come very far since 2019, when Speaker Corey Johnson mocked the NYPD’s periodic blitzes as ineffective in lieu of what we really need: automated enforcement, consistent enforcement and zero tolerance for cops who themselves are among the worst drivers and parkers in town. (For scale, city speed cameras issued 1,835,775 speeding tickets in the first seven months this year, up from 620,533 in the same period of pre-pandemic 2019. This year’s figure is only slightly lower than the 2 million camera-issued tickets during the first seven, mostly pandemic, months of 2020, so it is clear that reckless driving has continued and automated enforcement holds far more drivers accountable than cops.)

Of course, it’s irrational to seek police enforcement to get us out of the current mess of chaotic, car-choked streets that have made 2021 the bloodiest year of Mayor de Blasio’s two terms. For instance, also on Thursday, the NYPD leaked to the Post (rather than making a wider splash) that it had arrested one of the masterminds of the fake temporary license plate scandal. (Hold your applause — there will be other such scammers to take his place.) The story noted (in the last paragraph, oddly) that the NYPD claims it has towed nearly 3,892 cars with the fake paper plates since July 1 — which is a lot, though only 800 cars were not later retrieved by their owners. Doing the math, it means that the cops got a few hundred likely bad drivers off the road. Not a lot, but it’s a start.

In another Thursday story, the NYPD press office tweeted about its success in seizing 1,200 illegal dirt bikes and other forms of micromobility. All-terrain vehicles and “dirt bikes” are always illegal, but blanket enforcement of all the other forms of sustainable transportation can be a very blunt tool — the classic NYPD hammer that only seeks nails. The video shows plenty of super-fast and illegal machines, but also plenty that are, potentially, neither.

Indeed, some of the mopeds seized were no doubt owned by delivery people who now have lost their livelihood. Certainly, if the illegal moped rider was doing something reckless — like speeding, running red lights or driving on the already narrow Queensboro Bridge bike path — let’s have enforcement. But it’s a bad idea to default to a regime that puts cops in charge of taming streets that many people believe have become a Wild West due to an explosion of new devices, a boom in new users of said devices, state law that hasn’t kept up with the reality that delivery workers need these devices, an immigration system that treats the very workers we want following the law as illegal people, and a Department of Transportation that forces moped users to break the rules if they don’t want to ride on streets that give virtually all space cars and trucks rather than to the sustainable, electric vehicles that the DOT itself says are important part of the future if we are to continue living in a low-lying, waterfront city as the planet warms.

Whew.

Yes, enforcement is one tool. But the best tools — serious car-reduction strategies to make our roadways safe and less polluted by encouraging electric mobility and, yes, bringing mopeds out of the cold (which would then keep them out of the bike lanes and off the sidewalk) — remain in a dust-covered de Blasio toolbox.

All of that said, it is nice that the city has put out a handy reference guide to micromobility so that everyone knows, more or less, what we’re dealing with out there:

new DOT e-bike chart

In other news:

  • Get to know Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul — unlike Gov. Cuomo, you might see her on the subway. Conveniently enough, her surname rhymes with “local.” (NY Post)
  • The Post made a mountain out of a molehill when an illegal scooter rider showed up in the background at Thursday’s Bike Safe Passage presser.
  • The Post followed up on the story of four streets in the Meatpacking District going car-free — thanks to a business improvement district that is willing to create better public space than Mayor de Blasio.
  • A road raging motorist turned himself in for beating up an old man who told him to stop honking his f’ing horn. (NY Post)
  • Former federal transit man, Larry Penner, said even a massive increase in federal funding won’t satisfy all of the New York region’s extensive transit needs. (Mass Transit)
  • Someone in Forest Hills does not like Revel mopeds! (Queens Chronicle)
  • Gridlock Sam reminds drivers to avoid Park Avenue because of Summer Streets on Saturday.
  • Other outlets covered the wild police chase on congested Fordham Road on Wednesday. But the Post, XXX didn’t mention what our eagle-eyed reporters noticed: What’s with that plainclothes cop who shows up on a Citi Bike, abandons it, and pulls out his gun? The NYPD didn’t respond to our questions about that.
  • Oh, Curtis, you didn’t really go there, did you? (NY Post) And while where on the topic of the GOP mayoral nominee, he also is positioning himself to be the anti-bike lane mayor. (Bike NY via Twitter)
  • And, finally, here’s a really bad tweet from someone who should know better. Our take? We are fairly certain there are better reasons to fix the subway than helping entitled drivers stay out of the traffic they cause:

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