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Nyc Bike Crackdown

Transportation Nation

Map: Bike Ticketing In New York, Widespread, On the Rise

Friday, May 27, 2011


Click here for full size map.

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The crackdown on cyclists who break NYC traffic law is widespread around the city, but concentrated most heavily on Manhattan's West Side, Downtown, near the East River bridges, and in Downtown Brooklyn according to Transportation Nation's crowdsourcing project and other reporting. That's also where past monitoring has shown the heaviest bike riding in New York City.The most common violation was running red lights, which brings 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.

This week, the NY Post cited an unnamed police source saying there have been almost 14,000 tickets issued to city cyclists so far this year--a jump of almost 50 percent over the same period last year--and that the tickets are scattered widely around the city but with far fewer in Staten Island and the Bronx. Neither the NYPD nor the Bloomberg administration would confirm to WNYC that those numbers are accurate, but the figure seems probable given our past reporting and other efforts to quantify the crack down. The geography is also consistent with our crowdsourced findings.

Red light running was the most common offense, though riding

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Transportation Nation

Crowdsourcing NYC Bike Tickets - Tell Us What You Know!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Show Us Your Ticket!

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) If you haven't filled out our survey about bike tickets in NYC, or sent it to someone else to fill out, here's another chance.

Cycling increased dramatically in the city in recent years, and then this year, suddenly, ticketing of cyclists has spiked to new highs. Have you noticed that? Have you gotten a ticket yourself? Know someone who has?

We’re looking to map where these tickets are happening and for what. Please spread the word to all the cyclists you know. And fill out the form below.

Here's a shortened link to send them: http://bit.ly/WNYCBikeTickets

And the simple form to fill out below.

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Transportation Nation

NYPD Tickets Cyclists for Not Riding in Bike Lane [UPDATED]

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Victor Velasquez showing his ticket for not riding in the Lafayette St bike lane (Photo: Alex Goldmark)

Victor Velasquez showing his ticket for not riding in the Lafayette St bike lane (Photo: Alex Goldmark)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) I witnessed two cyclists ticketed in succession today on Lafayette Street in Manhattan for not riding in the bike lane. (See below for a close up of one ticket, which reads "not in bike lane" under the description of offense.)

"I was riding my bicycle ... on the wrong side of the street," said Victor Velasquez, "and they gave me a ticket."

Many cyclists understand when it comes to traffic law, they're treated like cars. But there's confusion about whether it's okay to ride outside of a bike lane if one is provided. And the short section of bike lane on Lafayette going north seems to add to riders' confusion (keep reading for photos of the street.)

New York City DOT's website says "you have the right to ride in the center of travel lanes when necessary for your safety." But state  law seems to indicate that if there's a bike lane, you need to use it "Whenever a usable path or lane for bicycles has been provided, bicycle riders shall use such path or lane only except under any of the following situations" (Full text towards the end of the post.)

Here's what the street looks like for a better visual:

Lafayette is a one-way avenue, northbound at this point, with the bike lane on the left hand side of the street. The lane begins just two blocks south. Cyclists riding north on Centre Street must merge onto Lafayette and end up on the right-hand side of Lafayette. They then have to cross two lanes of traffic to reach the bike lane. Many do not, especially if they plan to make a right turn at Houston St or another nearby street.

"The law is the law and lawbreakers should be ticketed but the unusual focus on cyclist behavior seems out of step with the realities of the road," emailed Transportation Alternatives in a written statement. " Hundreds of New Yorkers are killed or injured by cars every year--we need enforcement that will protect New Yorkers from the real dangers on our streets."

The police were parked in a van on the left side of the street, just north of Prince St. At one point they had pulled over two cyclists at the same time. This comes just a day after the NY Post ran a story about cyclists flouting traffic laws at exactly this intersection, noting that of the 7,182 cyclists they watched ride by, at least 24 percent violated a traffic law. The Post did not count the number of cars or pedestrians that violated laws or obstructed the bike lane.

Here's how Velasquez, who was the second cyclist I saw pulled over, described his interaction with police. "When he pulled me over, I said 'why you pulling me over?' He [the police officer] said, 'I'm pulling you over because you are not riding your bicycle in the line bicycle [points to bike lane], you are on the other side.' I said, 'I never heard of that.' He said, 'we're doing that now.'"

Here's the ticket:

The NYPD has not responded to a request for a clarification on the law. We'll update you when they do. The DOT response is below.

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Here's what we have found on the law so far.

The DOT did not offer a definitive answer, but forwarded relevant sections of DOT's Traffic Rules and State Vehicle and Traffic Law: (Full text here):

(1) Bicycle riders to use bicycle lanes. Whenever a usable path or lane for bicycles has been provided, bicycle riders shall use such path or lane only except under any of the following situations:

(i) When preparing for a turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

(ii) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, motor vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians,pushcarts, animals, surface hazards) that make it unsafe to continue within such bicycle path or lane.

Vehicle and Traffic Law:
§ 1231. Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates. Every person riding a bicycle or skating or gliding on in-line skates upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this title, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to those provisions of this title which by their nature can have no application.

It gets even more confusing, Section 1234 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law, which has also been cited as outlawing riding outside an available bike lane. This, however, is superceded by City law, above, and below. One section, sent in by commenter Steve, seems to contradict the ride in the bike lane mandate. We believe it is still a violation to not ride in an available bike lane, but we're trying to confirm that with the DOT and the NYPD. In the meantime, here's the rest of the law.

Section 1234: (Which does not apply in NYC)

"Upon all roadways,  any  bicycle or in-line skate shall be driven either on a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane or, if a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane has not been provided, near the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or upon a usable right-hand  shoulder in such a manner as to prevent undue interference  with the flow of traffic except when preparing for a left turn or when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that would make it unsafe to continue along near the right-hand curb or edge."

Here's the law that specifically supersedes the above, 34 RCNY 4-02 (e) as sent in by commenter Steve.

You’re forgetting two important part of the VTL as it applies to bike lanes and roads:

RCNY § 4-12 (p) Bicyclists may ride on either side of one-way roadways that are at least 40 feet wide.

RCNY § 4-12 (p) Bicyclists should ride in usable bike lanes, unless they are blocked or unsafe for any reason.

Lafayette is surely more than 40 feet wide.

Cyclists are SUPPOSED to use bike lanes, but can use their discretion to bike elsewhere in the road for their safety or if the lane is obstructed. If there’s a pothole, a puddle, glass, or something you wouldn’t want to run over or that could cause harm, the rider does not have to use the lane. You could even argue that some bike lanes are so close to the door zone that you saw someone exiting a vehicle and left the bike lane to avoid getting hit.

It’s a fuzzy area of the law – “should” means that officers can also look at a rider and decide that it was perfectly safe.

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Transportation Nation

NYC DOT Wants Cyclists to Take a "Bike Smart Pledge"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The New York City Department of Transportation wants cyclists to take the "bike smart pledge" to obey all the rules of the road.

This is the latest effort to ease tensions between cycling enthusiasts and bike lane opponents by getting bike riders to behave better, thus eliminating one of the complaints about the increase in city cyclists recently. The number of bike riders has doubled in NYC since 2006.

This comes amidst an NYPD crackdown on rule breaking riders that has drawn regular attention on this website and in the local press, most recently including a video of a pedestrian getting a ticket for "ridiculing" a cyclist in the process of getting a ticket for riding on the sidewalk, Robin Williams who says he was stopped for the same offense, and a prep-school exec who got a ticket for hanging her handbag on her handlebars.

Here's the pledge.

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Transportation Nation

Central Park Becomes Center Stage for NYC Bike Crackdown

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cyclists running a red light in Central Park. (Alex Goldmark)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation)  Cyclist Derrick Lewis used to train every day in  Central Park. On a cold February morning he had just put new brakes on his bike. “I took a short test ride on my bicycle and very slowly rolled through a red light and a police officer in a small three wheeled vehicle pulled me over and gave me a $270 ticket.” He felt singled out as a cyclist because, he says, pedestrians aren't ticketed for jaywalking, nor are the horse-drawn carriages he points out.

This kind of comparison has been common on the NYC bike blogs and local papers since rumors of a crackdown began to surface in mid-January. One notable video made the rounds showing what it is like to stop at various lights on the 6.1 mile loop.

But it's been prompted by an equally fierce reaction from pedestrians, many of whom feel threatened by fast cyclists. “Quite honestly sometimes I wanna knock them off the bike, honest that's how I feel, 'cause they whiz right by you even though I have the light," pedestrian Jeanne Vodak said on a recent sunny morning.

"Sometimes I feel that if I wasn't watching he would have hit me, or the dog, that's the other thing I was concerned about, hitting the dog.”

The commander of the Central Park Precinct, Captain Philip Wishnia, told a crowded community meeting on Monday that in Central Park alone, the NYPD has issued 230 tickets to cyclists since the beginning of the year.

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