Sometime between the ticket one cyclist received for turning right on red into Central Park and the ticket another received for riding with a bag slung over her handlebars, it became abundantly clear that NYPD’s “Operation Safe Cycle” is not really about safer cycling. Instead of applying the NYPD’s vaunted data-driven policing techniques to encourage safer and more courteous cycling behaviors, the department’s bike blitz seemingly consists of harassing cyclists and slapping them with large fines for the most minor transgressions.
In some cases, the fines are for non-existent violations. A cheat sheet circulated by police [PDF] indicates the department isn’t even limiting its bike enforcement to the offenses on the books.
According to reliable sources who obtained the sheet from police, the document was distributed by NYPD in February to assist officers in the bike ticketing blitz. The cheat sheet includes three violations that don’t apply in New York City, even though federal judges have made it plain to the NYPD on more than one occasion that such citations are bogus.
The sheet tells cops they can issue tickets for violating sections 1234 (a), (b), and (c) of the state’s vehicle and traffic law, which require cyclists to either ride in a bike lane or along the right side of the road, to ride no more than two abreast, and to come to a stop before turning onto a road from a driveway. None of those rules, however, apply in New York City.