Is the NYPD targeting Brooklyn bicyclists?
The New York Police Department has recently cracked down on bicyclists in Fort Greene for traffic violations, according to cyclist and pedestrian reports. The primary target? Cyclists who cruise through red lights.
Nick Encalada-Malinowski confirmed the red-light bike sting in Fort Greene at the intersection of Clermont Street and DeKalb Avenue in a tweet on July 11.
“Bike red-light sting in Fort Greene. (Clermont & DeKalb) Checking IDs and running names for warrants of cyclists who apparently ran red lights. Added bonus is NYPD is now parked in middle of busy street causing traffic problems. #bikenyc.”
Reddit user and cyclist “Hirsh” reported a similar incident on DeKalb avenue that same week.
“Was biking to work on DeKalb, saw two bikers ahead of me breeze on past a cop and then stop at a red light for traffic,” they posted. “And then when traffic was over, decided to run the red light, as the cop was right behind them. I think this was between Clinton and Washington? anyways, don’t be like these people and have your day ruined.”
Encalada-Malinowski said he suspects that the NYPD is stopping bicyclists for more than just red lights alone.
“Basically, what’s going on, is that the police are looking for any opportunity they have to have an interaction with bikers,” Encalada-Malinowski said. “Doing this kind of red light enforcement allows them to say oh look somebody on a bike, I can now take their ID, run their name for a warrant, see if their anybody we’re looking for, and anything like that. My friend in Coney Island is saying that they are stopping black teenagers who are riding their bikes and then asking where they are going, asking for their ID’s. Doing all of that kind of stuff — that’s typical NYPD enforcement.”
The New York City Department of Transportation’s website explains cyclists have to follow many of the same laws as cars, with only a few exceptions.
“Bicyclists must obey all traffic lights and signs and must signal for turns whether riding on a roadway, a bike lane or shared-use pathway with pedestrians,” according to the website. “Bicyclists who violate the law are subject to traffic tickets.”
However, Joe Cutrufo, communications director at Transportation Alternatives, the organization that advocates for better bicycling, walking, and public transit in New York City, said the problem isn’t rogue cyclists but the city’s infrastructure.
“The city gets the cyclists it deserves based on its infrastructure,” Cutrufo said.“If the government of the city wants bikes to behave a certain way, providing the correct infrastructure will make it possible for bikes to behave in that way. If you can imagine seeing no traffic lights or stop signs, our motor vehicles would behave much differently and it goes the same way for bikes.”
The NYCDOT website also said bicyclists should stop at traffic lights and stop signs, and yield to other traffic and pedestrians with the right of way. “Most importantly, bicyclists must obey and are protected by the rules of the road.”
“Ultimately a bike sting is a misallocation of NYPD resources,” Cutrufo said. “Bicyclists don’t pose a threat to people in the same way that drivers do.”
The NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information was unable to comment.