[messengers] Bikelash! Cops to crack down on two-wheelers By Thomas Tracy

Date: 7 Jan 2011 23:32:12 +0100
From: Michael Dodd <mikeydodds@xxxxxxxxx>


Call it a bikelash!

The NYPD has been ordered to begin a borough-wide crackdown that will hit
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.

Several police sources said on Tuesday that the strict enforcement of safety
and vehicle traffic laws — which apply the same to cars as they do to cycles
— will begin in a matter of weeks, and that bicyclists caught breaking those
rules will be issued a moving violation.

Two-wheelers were stunned to hear that they had risen on the list of police


“They should focus on drivers, because frankly drivers have more potential
to cause harm than cyclists do,” said Lacey Tauber, a Williamsburg resident
and rider.

Cycling activist Baruch Herzfeld predicted that the enforcement policy
itself will be “dangerous” and “inefficient” and could further strain
relations between the city and cyclists.

“Mayor Bloomberg will have as much luck getting the NYPD to enforce these
violations as he did getting the Sanitation Department to shovel this past
snowstorm,” said Herzfeld.

Officially, of course, bicycle advocate groups have begrudgingly endorsed
the increased enforcement — as long as every driver, in car or on bike — is
treated with an even hand by police.

“Cyclists need to obey the law, just like any other street user,” said
Caroline Samponaro, a spokeswoman for Transportation Alternatives. “But the
NYPD needs to prioritize enforcing the dangerous behavior of all street
users, whether they be cyclists or drivers.”

The crackdown comes as more and more people are turning in their Subarus for
Schwinns. In 2009, the bicycle advocacy group Transportation Alternatives
estimated that more than 236,000 people bicycle across the five
28 percent more than the year before.

At the same time, the city has continued its Bicycle Master Plan, which
calls for 200 miles of new bike lanes across town in the next three years.
Once that’s completed, the Department of Transportation plans to add about
50 miles of bike lane each year until 2030, when it is anticipated that the
bike network will be finished.

It also comes as some Park Slopers are lashing out against the city’s
bicycle lane program, most recently with protests on Prospect Park West,
where the bike lane remains a lightning rod, with opponents complaining that
it has made the boulevard less safe for pedestrians.

Indeed, cops say that’s the reason for the coming crackdown: Bicycle
accidents are on the rise and people are worried.

“It’s a safety concern,” said one police source, who couldn’t provide any
hard data about borough-wide bicycle accidents. “The public feels that we
are not strict enough [against bicyclists].”

Police brass said that the public has no reason to fear that the NYPD’s new
mission against errant bicyclists will hamper their ability to stop other
crimes like murder, rape, muggings, burglar and iPhone thefts.

©2011 Community Newspaper Group