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Hundreds Ask NYPD to Cease Irrational Bike Crackdown in Central Park


Photo: Ken Coughlin

A crowd of 300 people, outraged at a police ticket blitz that threatens to effectively eliminate Central Park as a place of recreation for cyclists [2], ran into an unyielding blue wall at last night’s meeting of the Central Park Precinct’s community council. The precinct commander, Captain Philip Wishnia, offered no hope that his precinct’s enforcement of red-light laws at each of the loop road’s 47 traffic lights will abate, nor any assurances that his officers will exercise meaningful discretion.

Both Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Upper West Side City Council Member Gale Brewer made brief statements at the meeting, urging exploration of a proposal to change the traffic lights to blinking yellow when cars are not in the park. Brewer, however, grasped the essence of the problem. Noting that she has had a bill before the council since 2006 calling for a trial closing of the park to cars, Brewer said, “Let’s get cars out of the park and change the current policy.”

Central Park precinct commander Philip Wishnia. Photo: NYPD

Central Park Precinct Commander Philip Wishnia. Photo: NYPD

Wishnia initially tried to claim that the precinct’s sudden crackdown is in response to a “dramatic increase in incidents over the years,” an assertion that he failed to substantiate. When speaker after speaker challenged the claim, Wishnia would eventually fall back on the explanation that he is simply being instructed by higher-ups to enforce the law and has no flexibility. He suggested audience members talk to their legislators if they want a change.

Here are some further highlights, if you can call them that (many thanks to audience members Steve Vaccaro and Lisa Sladkus for their notes):

Where do we go from here? Your comments appreciated.