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NYPD Blitz makes new cyclist "think twice" about using Citi Bike

Streetsblog: New Cyclist on NYPD Blitz: “It Makes Me Think Twice” About Using Citi Bike

by Stephen Miller

Officers from the 14th Precinct ticket cyclists this morning on Broadway at 30th Street. Photo: sashamoses/Instagram

NYPD’s approach to traffic enforcementall but ignore speeding, and launch ticket blitzes against cyclists for minor offenses — is an ineffective policing method if you’re looking to protect New Yorkers from things that are actually injuring and killing them on the street. Logic aside, the NYPD bike ticket blitz continued under this morning’s dry, sunny skies.

Officers were spotted in at least two Midtown locations during rush hour, ticketing cyclists on bike routes for disobeying red lights. As Brooklyn Spoke points out, this type of behavior — proceeding against a signal when the intersection is clear — is the equivalent of “jaywalking,” and isn’t a prevalent cause of death or injury on the streets. But it’s become a priority for NYPD.

Officers from the 10th Precinct were on the West Side Greenway this morning, issuing red light tickets to cyclists at 39th Street, and officers from the 14th Precinct were issuing tickets in the protected bike lane on Broadway at 30th Street.

Sam Shankman, a reporter for travel website Skift, was riding Citi Bike from the West Village to the Flatiron District when, with a green light, she turned from 30th Street to Broadway on her way to the bike-share station on that block. An officer gave her a ticket for running a red.

“The policeman,” she said, “saw me coming down Broadway, and assumed I had run that red light.”

Shankman, who began biking in New York when she joined Citi Bike in May, had just started using the bike-share program again after a hiatus due to July’s high temperatures. “I was doing as much as I could to follow the rules and be safe,” she said. “I was just kind of shocked because I feel like I’ve been doing a pretty good job of learning the rules and trying to follow them.”

Shankman says she will go to court to contest the ticket, but now has a different view of the risks involved with biking in the city. “I will continue to do Citi Bike because I enjoy it,” she said, but she now is wary of getting ticketed for riding a bike. “It makes me think twice about it,” Shankman said. “Who wants to have anxiety if you’re just riding to work?”

Shankman said the officer who ticketed her said that “the bikes are out of control” and are creating unsafe conditions for pedestrians. The last time a cyclist killed a pedestrian in New York was 2009, when a wrong-way delivery cyclist struck Stuart Gruskin in Midtown. From 2009 to 2012, 668 pedestrians and cyclists have been killed on city streets, and driver speeding ranked last year as the leading cause of fatal crashes. In 2012, the 14th Precinct, which handed out bike tickets this morning, did not issue a single summons for speeding.