NYPD Traffic Cop: “My Objective Is The Cars, Not The People”

This officer's job isn't to keep you safe, it's to keep cars moving. Photo: Mike Spriggs via Flickr.

The NYPD’s decision to crack down on cyclists committing even the most minor infractions — while an epidemic of deadly driving continues unabated — should make it clear that the police department is no friend to those on two wheels right now. A report we received today from Christine Berthet, the co-founder of the Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen Coalition for Pedestrian Safety, offers evidence that the police aren’t too concerned about the safety of those on two legs either:

Today at 10:30 a.m., I was waiting to cross the street at the intersection of 42nd Street and 9th Avenue.

A large construction truck was barreling west on 42nd Street where the traffic was light. The pedestrian signal turned to “walk” on the south leg. Instead of stopping the truck, the agent waved it to turn south, which it did at high speed, while the pedestrian platoon had already engaged in the crossing. People jumped back to avoid a collision but it was very close.

I approached the agent and mentioned respectfully to him that he had waved a truck at full speed into a platoon of pedestriansand that pedestrians expected to be protected by the police, to which he responded: “My objective is the cars, not the people.”

This is far from an isolated instance, but still, to hear it so bluntly put and seeing it nearly kill five people in a deliberate way is shocking.

So this is what our society has come to: In New York City , the most pedestrian city in the United States, we pay the police to protect cars, not people.

As the NYPD continues its assault on bikers, it is important to highlight that they are doing a horrible job of protecting pedestrians. The car owners have successfully pitted pedestrians against bikes, we need to refocus the press and everyone on pedestrians/transit users against cars.

I’d love for Vacca and Vallone to have a hearing on that.