NYPD Shoot Fish in a Barrel

Photo: Doug Gordon

Doug Gordon of Brooklyn Spoke fame reports that NYPD sent a battalion of bike enforcers out to the intersection of Chrystie Street and Rivington Street on the Lower East Side this morning. This is a T-intersection where no motorized traffic conflicts with the path of northbound cyclists. If you’re biking north on Chrystie, it makes a lot of sense to treat a red light here as a “yield to pedestrians and cyclists” sign. That does happen to be against the letter of the law, however, and police were taking full advantage, handing out $190 tickets. (Meanwhile, the maximum fine for drivers caught speeding in Albany’s proposed automated enforcement bill is $50.)

There’s a ton of bike traffic at this intersection in the morning as cyclists commute in from the Manhattan Bridge. I’ve seen similar stings at T-intersections on Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn, and readers have recently reported red-light bike blitzes at T-intersections on Riverside Drive uptown. It seems like police know how to stake out locations where they can rack up a lot of easy tickets — places where cyclists tend to break the rules without riding recklessly. But if NYPD wants to do bike enforcement that serves a genuine public purpose, like reminding people not to blow through crosswalks with heavy pedestrian traffic, do they know where to go? Reader Chris O’Leary suggests the following spots:

How about places like Union Square, where cyclists whip off Broadway onto the 17th Street lane with no regard for crossing pedestrian with a signal? Or 2nd Avenue at 14th, where I invariably see one dumb cyclist every light cycle cut through an active crosswalk against the light? Or 6th Avenue, where I face salmon that regularly force me into traffic in an already narrow bike lane?

If these ticket blitzes really are about safety and not harassment, the NYPD is doing a horrible job showing it.

Chris also recommends showing up at precinct community councils to tell the local cops what type of traffic enforcement you’d like to see. This intersection is in the 5th Precinct, which meets on the last Wednesday of every month, except for July and August. The 5th Precinct issued 63 speeding tickets in all of 2012.