Police State Shenanigans I Can Get Behind: NYPD Cracking Down On Cyclists

08/16/2010 1:11 PM |

bikes
  • “You got a permit for that?”

I don’t imagine this will win me too many friends around here, but I’m actually happy that the NYPD is cracking down on cyclists violating traffic rules: I’ve had too many near-misses crossing Berry and Wythe in Williamsburg (from bikers going the wrong way in the bike lane on a one-way street), and my dog was very, very nearly decapitated.

Of course, I also want the NYPD to crack down on all the motherfuckers who park and/or drive in bike lanes, but you can’t exactly have it both ways. I was all for the lawless, take-no-prisoners approach to bicycling in this town ten years ago, before the great bike lane emancipation project, but if bikes are going to be legitimized as bona fide modes of transport, they’ll need to be legislated as such.

My thinking on this was crystallized last month in Paris when I saw a hardcore fixed-gear biker type stopped in the bike lane at a red light with no traffic in any direction. If you don’t know, Paris is a lot like New York, insofar as it’s perfectly acceptable for pedestrians to cross against a red (unlike crazy Prussian Berlin, for example), so it really seemed like this cyclist was making a statement, a harder hardcore declaration that she’s not just a pedestrian on wheels but rather a bona fide vehicle. This was confirmed when she yelled at some tourists on rented bikes for not obeying the light. It was kind of awesome.

Can you imagine the moral authority a citywide letter-of-the-law cycling movement would create? IT’D BE LIKE MAKING OUR OWN SALT, PEOPLE. (And for those of you saying, “well, the cars are all assholes and the cops don’t enforce the laws,” that’s kind of like saying “they wouldn’t build a church in Saudi Arabia…” Again, think of the moral authority…)