Alex Goldmark is a senior producer in the newsroom for New Tech City and Transportation Nation.
Map | Tracking Bike Ticketing in the Five Boroughs
Friday, May 27, 2011
The crackdown on cyclists who break NYC traffic law is widespread around the city and not targeted at any one neighborhood or offense, according to results from our crowdsourcing project.
The results are in from our crowdsourcing project to map the uptick in tickets to cyclists who break traffic laws. Poke around on the map above for details about each ticket submitted by readers and listeners. (Add your ticket)
The most common violation was running red lights, which carries a fine of up to a $270, just as it would in a car if issued by a police officer. (Drivers caught by a red light camera pay a $50 fine.) Riding on the sidewalk was also frequently cited, earning cyclists in our survey $25 and $50 fees, sometimes more depending on the danger it caused.
Mapping the Tickets
WNYC has requested data from the NYPD on the number and locations of cycle summonses several times, starting in March. With no response from NYPD, we asked our readers and listeners to help us map the scope of the crackdown, as laid out in the map above.
A Quick History of the 2011 NYC Bike Ticketing Crackdown
Cycling has more than doubled in NYC since 2006. In mid-January, the NYPD initiated Operation Safe Cycle, a citywide step-up in enforcement of cyclists who violate the traffic law. Shortly after, a memo on what and how to ticket cyclists was distributed within the NYPD and an initial mid-winter ticket blitz immediately attracted the ire of hard core cyclists who felt the brunt of it.
Over time, a consensus was reached that the best policy for ticketing cyclists in Central Park was to focus on safety for pedestrians, which means allowing red light running in some cases. Ticketing remains widespread and common throughout the city.
The Law, and What's Next
A bike counts as a vehicle in New York. As such, it must obey the Vehicle Traffic Law code. Fines for bike offenses are just like fines for driving offenses: they can vary depending on circumstance and level of infraction.
Paul Steely White, the head of Transportation Alternatives met with the NYPD Chief of the Transportation Bureau, James Tuller, earlier this month. "We brought with us a number of recommendations," Steely White told Transportation Nation. "Those included more police officers on bicycles."
NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne said a citywide consensus to change the police ticketing policy was not in the works. Ticketing is here to stay, just as bikes are. But what earns you a ticket, may be slowly evolving.