The dominant narrative in the 2011 New York City bike wars—at least off Prospect Park West—has been the NYPD’s disastrous initiative to start enforcing traffic laws for cyclists. In addition to astounding abuses of power and outright brutality, there’s the more fundamental problem of how and when to meaningfully enforce traffic laws, as one Dumbo-to-Greenpoint commuter discovered on his way home Wednesday.
Cyclist Tyler Lafreniere told Gothamist what happened around 6:30pm on Wednesday night when, wearing “both front and rear lights on my bike and was wearing a helmet,” after stopping at a red light at Clinton and Flushing Avenues and seeing no approaching car, bike or pedestrian traffic, rode through the still-red light. And then:
A block or so later I was pulled to the side of the road by a police cruiser with lights and intermittent siren on. The officer informed me that he was citing me for running the light. While I waited for 15 minutes for them to run my license and write the ticket, I saw 4 -5 cyclists go by with no lights and several other run the red light at the next intersect.
Eventually I was given my $270 ticket, which was for the exact same moving violation that would be given to a car, except my vehicle make was listed as “bike.” I plan to fight the ticket, but thought that you might be interested to know that the apparent backlash against cyclists seems to be spreading. I’m not sure who in the police force to sending the message down the chain of command that cops should be wasting their time ticketed cyclist, and treating them the same as they would be a car.
So, to reiterate what we said during the great Central Park traffic light crackdown, it is absurd to enforce traffic laws created to ensure the safe operation of motor vehicles equally strictly for cyclists riding cautiously (after stopping!) through deserted intersections on the sleepy blocks near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. There are cyclists in Brooklyn who ride dangerously and put themselves and others at risk, but these are not them.