A Crackdown

Stop Sign

The Brooklyn Paper is reporting that the NYPD is planning a crackdown in that borough on “renegade riders” for “often-overlooked ‘vehicular offenses’ like failing to obey traffic signals and signs, breaking the speed limit, tailgating, and even failure to signal before turning.”

I’m all for bicyclists obeying traffic laws, but a crackdown? I’ve never driven in NYC, but from what I’ve heard anecdotally, they might want to focus on “renegade motorists”, all of which have much more potential to injure, maim, and kill due to the nature of their vehicles (cars).

What’s your take on this? Do so-called “scofflaw cyclists” deserve to be singled out for a crackdown, or should all road users be policed evenly and equally?

Read the article in the Brooklyn Paper

16 Responses to “A Crackdown”

  • Micheal Blue says:

    Well, I’ve seen some cyclists riding like nuts and thus being dangerous to others. I agree that those should be kicked in the butt. OTOH, if a cyclist blows a stop sign when it’s safe to do and doesn’t inconvenience anyone, then cops buzz off. Yeah, maybe that would be a good yard stick – if the cyclist’s behaviour presents danger to others or not. It would be difficult to form laws around this, as laws tend to be black and white, but that’s why people are endowed with intelligence…cops too…right?

  • Stevep says:

    The NYPD plan is an overreaching statement. While I can imagine that officers could be inclined to ticket the most reckless offenses, I doubt that officers would go out of their way to ticket a cyclist for ordinary offenses like not signaling a turn. Cops don’t even ticket car drivers for failing to signal – it’s just not a priority among other duties.

    The NYPD plan is just political posturing and little more.

  • Dan says:

    Having been nailed by a car in a hit and run back in July, I might be a bit biased, but here goes…

    I think your point about the greater potential to injure via automobile is a point often missed by motorists and lamented not only by cyclists but also motorcyclists and pedestrians alike. So when drivers complain about bikes, motorcycles, and jaywalkers and demand enforcement they seem (at least here in DC) to demand similar punishment to that levied against car offenses.

    But it only makes sense that traffic laws and punishment demand more from motorists who have a greater responsibility given their greater “privilege” – that is, the privilege to steer around a 1-2 ton blind spot delivery unit made of steel at 60mph.

    Moreover, the statistics seem to argue in favor of greater penalties for car infractions. I don’t know what the statistics are for bikes, but only 1 in 10 motorcycle accidents are caused by cyclist fault. the other 9 are auto driver fault.

  • Everett says:

    Given all the investments NYC has made into cycling infrastructure, I think that it is more than fair to police cyclists with the same fervor as motorists.

  • Larry Guevara says:

    There are other examples of traffic behaviors that are singled out, such as jaywalking, DUI checkpoints, cell phone violations, that are performed for publicity or political purposes. I don’t that these “crackdowns” will stop.

  • CedarWood says:

    Are they targeting cyclists while ignoring motorists’s infractions? I think road users should be treated equally if possible, with tickets issued to whomever endangers the other road users. Wishful thinking, I’m sure.

  • th says:

    We’ve experienced these crackdowns in Denver. Supposedly, the police receive many complaints about cyclists failing to stop for red lights and riding on the sidewalk. Then the police set up and hand out tickets. I don’t have a problem with this. I have a problem with the fact that cyclists are being singled out. Where are the tickets for the red light running or speeding motorists. I guess that nobody complains about them.

  • Fergie348 says:

    Ah yes, those ‘scofflaw cyclists’. We’ve been disruptive from the start. First we were a threat to decent society (still are), always scaring the horses. Ever since the invention of the internal combustion engine, bicycles and automobiles have competed for roadway space and rights. The automobile has been vastly more successful in this competition, in that the roadway facilities and laws are almost exclusively designed for their operation.

    Most cycling advocacy organizations in the U.S. have taken the equivalency approach for expanding bike networks and ensuring access. ‘Same rights, same rules’ is a slogan I’ve frequently heard from the likes of LAB or local advocacy groups. I think it’s a useful fiction that actually impedes the adoption of a more effective set of rules.

    Bikes are not like cars, not really at all. They’re lighter, more maneuverable, they don’t go as fast or (generally) carry as much. The rules for governing auto traffic are not always the best and most effective choices for governing pedestrian and bicycle traffic. I personally would like to see the Idaho Stop Yield (http://bikeportland.org/2009/01/14/idaho-stop-law-faq-13387) regulations be made the law of the land – I think it’s a more realistic take on how cyclists traverse a landscape that’s not designed for them. In an ideal world, we would have segregated and overlapping facilities, but that’s a dream for now.

  • Dolan Halbrook says:

    My personal favorite least-effective enforcement action is here in Portland. Every six months or so the police put a sting at a series of stopsigns. Now, I don’t think this is such a bad thing in general, except that they do it at stopsigns that are at the entrance to a roundabout. Now, the whole idea of a roundabout is that YOU DON”T HAVE TO STOP on entering, so in this sense it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. If riders fail to yield for pedestrians, then sure, ticket them, but otherwise it’s just pointless.

    The fact that this is considered a legitimate action really rankles people, and does a lot in mind to alienate the police here from cyclists, but nonetheless, every six months it happens.

  • Opus the Poet says:

    My only complaint is one of penalties. Cyclists in NYC kill on average one person a year, while motor vehicles kill on average, one person a week on the sidewalks. Notice I’m not even getting to the streets, just the sidewalks where motor vehicles kill 52 times more people than cyclists do in the entire city. And yet penalties for infractions by cyclists carry the exact same penalty as if they were performed by a motor vehicle driver.

  • kanishka new england says:

    i applaud the cyclists who manage to break the speed limit! overall hilarious,

    though i have had a remarkably number of cyclists riding the wrong way on one way street bicycle lanes in nyc on my few visits. usually a delivery looking bike, with a pizza or something on it, beater transpo model bike. blatant disregard for fellow cyclists

  • Alistair says:

    Here (thanks BikePortland) are the last 5 years of results of Portland police issues citations at crosswalks for scofflaw motorists. Works out at better than a citation per 5 minutes of enforcement. Yikes.


    I think is either in choosing when and who to target is potential danger, disruption to other transportationistas (of whatever mode), or damage to porperty . After all those are the reasons there be a law in the first place right? Oh yes, and recent media coverage.

  • Alistair says:

    P.S. and given that priority of of danger and disruption the bike crackdown should be on unlit cyclists at night. Well that’s my 2 lumens worth anyway.

    Cheers, Alistair

  • neighbourtease says:

    Although we are certainly in the midst of some serious media hysteria here in NYC , I’ve found that the general vibe on the street has not changed. No one has harangued me for riding a bike, armed with their new anti-bike information, is what I am saying.

    I’m in favor of sane enforcement, though not hopeful enforcement will be sane.

  • John Lascurettes says:

    Someone please tell me how a bicyclist “tailgating” poses a threat to anyone other than the cyclist himself?

    I find it annoying that when I’m in the lane at a light that has just turned green and I stand on my pedals to mount my cleats so I can take off as fast and not block the cars behind me, the car in front of me often suddenly brakes hard like I’m too close to their bumper, ignoring the fact that if they stepped on their gas as normal, I’d be nowhere near their bumper.

    I just don’t get it.

  • Darryl says:

    I think there is enough blame to go around for both motorist and cyclist. Also, many of the arguments given on this topic seem to be mixing two different issues.

    The first is that laws ought to be different for cyclist. If you think the traffic laws should be changed for bikes, this should be taken up with your legislator, not the police. Taking out your frustration with the police is really wasted effort. That’s not where laws are made. On the other hand, it doesn’t help much that police selectively enforce traffic laws, but that’s another issue.

    Secondly, both motorist and cyclist should obey traffic laws as they exist. I am not a fan of cyclist that disregard stop signs, illegal lane changes, illegal passing, etc. Motorist see this as disrespectful and wonder why they should be respectful of the cyclists if the cyclist have no respect for them. In addition, motorists need to take biking laws seriously and drive in a legal and safe manor to accommodate cyclist on the roadways. As others have mentioned, motorist do not own the right of ways although many of them still think they do.

    I think it is going to take a long time for both parties to respect the other. We’ve had 40 or more years of bicycling being mostly a sport in the US. We’re just now seeing bikes become serious transportation. Changing is hard. The motorists don’t want to give up their privileged position and some sport riders don’t want to be bothered with traffic regulations. Eventually both will be forced to adjust.

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