Courtesy, Professional and Disrespect — NYPD Tickets E-Bike Riders For Legally Following Pedestrian Signal

SAY CHEESE: Officer Jessica Ricotta of the 114th Precinct writing a ticket to an e-bike delivery worker for following the LPI. Photo: Twitter
SAY CHEESE: Officer Jessica Ricotta of the 114th Precinct writing a ticket to an e-bike delivery worker for following the LPI. Photo: Twitter

This is whey out of line.

Officer Jessica Ricotta is still apparently going after cyclists for legally taking advantage of leading pedestrian intervals — a city law that took effect in December, 2019 so that cyclists could safely get a head start on drivers.

Ricotta, of the 114th Precinct, was caught on camera pulling over a delivery worker on Saturday at the intersection of 30th Avenue and 21st Street, and writing him a $190 ticket for going through the red light, according to a witness who tweets under the pseudonym Chad Formaggio for fear of retribution. Formaggio told Streetsblog that the biker — who was still carrying a delivery order — said he went through the light once he saw the “walk” sign because, as everyone knows, that’s legal under the law.

And Formaggio knows Ricotta’s cheesy act personally — the same officer wrote him up for the exact same “offense” —  VTL 1111 (D)(1) — at the exact same location back in June. He fought the law, but the law won (at least in this round).

“That’s the law,” he told her on the video of his own incident (below). “When the pedestrian signal turned to walk, bicycles are allowed to cross with the pedestrian signal.” 

Ricotta found that argument grating. 

“No you’re on a bike, sir,” Ricotta said, voice curdling. “They have to stop at the red light. You’re not a pedestrian. You would have to be walking it across in order to be a pedestrian.” 

Formaggio says he pleaded not guilty and is awaiting an August, 2022 trial.

The NYPD declined to comment on why its officer does not know the law. But advocates fumed that even if Formaggio and the delivery workers’ tickets are eventually tossed by a law-knowing judge, the city has a responsibility to vacate any such ticket written after December, 2019, especially for the often low-income delivery workers who risk their lives everyday keeping New Yorkers — including the cops themselves — fed.

“These tickets should all be dismissed so the folks being targeted here don’t mistakenly pay them thinking they’re valid or don’t waste their time fighting them in court,” said street-safety activist Doug Gordon.

One delivery worker and advocate said inept ticket-hungry cops like Ricotta are just one of the myriad things he and others have to worry about while biking the perilous streets of New York City.

“These are the problems that the food delivery man has to deal with in the city,” said Gustavo Ajche. “Many times I think it is a lack of knowledge of the officers.”

It’s certainly not the first time the NYPD’s incompetence and ignorance when it comes to street-safety issues was on full display — last September, cops wrote a 23-year-old cyclist a bogus ticket (which police said was later voided) for not wearing a helmet after a reckless driver cut him off. New York’s Finest has a long and storied history of wrongly ticketing cyclists for made-up rules, misunderstanding vehicular laws, especially when it involves bikers, and even blaming them for their own deaths or injuries after crashes. 

And it’s not like officers at the 114th Precinct are steadfast rule followers of their own — the Astoria Boulevard station house took home the award for being the worst offender of public space in Streetsblog’s March (Parking) Madness tournament this year, after its cops shamelessly illegally parked their private vehicles and squad cars all over the sidewalk, and in the crosswalk.

Citywide, cops have written a total of 30,991 tickets for going through a red light so far this year (though October), with the 114th Precinct issuing a well-below-average 219, according to NYPD data — but it’s not clear how many were given to those on two wheels as opposed to drivers.

But in early 2020, the NYPD once admitted it seeks to go after cyclists who run red lights. Then Transportation Bureau Chief William Morris said that 22 percent of the red light tickets written by cops were handed to cyclists, even though two-wheelers represent roughly 1 percent of the mode share on city streets.

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