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By the Numbers

December 5, 2011

The 78th Precinct was in Prospect Park this weekend, ticketing cyclists for such violations as red light running and speeding.  There are no official counts available, but a few anecdotal reports from various park-goers who witnessed the crackdown firsthand paint an interesting picture.

The image above, courtesy of Michael Mandiberg, shows five NYPD officers stopping three cyclists.  A FIPS reader also reported witnessing “9 bikers get tickets within 10 minutes for whizzing past the red light near the lake.”  The reader describes the scene: “I’ve never seen so many police and parks department crews in the park ever and they were stationed at every red light giving out tickets.”

As a comparison, here are the number of specific moving violations issued to motorists to all street users by the 78th Precinct during the entire month of October. [PDF]

  • Backing Unsafely: 3
  • Disobey Sign: 8
  • Fail to Stop on Signal: 44
  • Improper Passing: 2
  • Improper Turn: 3
  • Not Giving Right of Way to Pedestrians: 3
  • Speeding: 5
  • U-Turn: 1
  • Unsafe Lane Change: 6

The above list reflects only my own opinion of the most dangerous violations, at least from the point of view of a bike commuter, pedestrian and stroller-pushing father.  There are nearly twenty-five other categories on the list, including Tinted Windows (44), Cell Phone (178), and Safety Belt (100).

Let’s be conservative and say the real number of tickets issued to cyclists on Saturday was five.  Let’s also assume the tickets were for running a red, or Failure to Stop on Signal.  If the 78th ticketed drivers at the same rate, they would have had to have issued 111 additional tickets during October, and that number would not even begin to reflect a fraction of the red light violations that occur on a daily basis in the area under the precinct’s command.  Heck, you could probably count 111 drivers running red lights on just one stretch of Fourth Avenue in less than a few hours.  And the only thing I can say about the fact that the 78th issued only 3 summons in October for “Not Giving Right of Way to Pedestrians” is that I’m not given the right of way at least 3 times a day.  Getting hit by a car as I push my daughter’s stroller through a crosswalk is probably my number one fear as a parent.

Then there’s the issue of speeding.  Does the NYPD believe it’s a good allocation of resources to crack down on cyclists going 28 mph or on drivers going 40, 50, or even 60 mph through residential streets?  The fact that the 78th issued just 5 speeding tickets to drivers for all of October may answer that question for you.

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14 Comments
  1. Dave 'Paco' Abraham permalink
    December 5, 2011 12:45 pm

    TRUTH.
    Can you send this straight to the 78th precinct too?

  2. Mike permalink
    December 5, 2011 2:25 pm

    Actually, those “motorist” numbers for October probably include cyclists too. Somehow I suspect that even back in October, they wrote more red light tickets against cyclists than against motorists.

  3. December 5, 2011 2:39 pm

    Fixed to reflect that it is “for all road users.” Thanks for the clarification, Mike.

  4. Michael P. permalink
    December 5, 2011 8:23 pm

    Really annoying. This sort of disproportionate response is typical. Two wheels == “book ‘em”, four wheels == they’re one of us so no worries.

  5. Michael P. permalink
    December 5, 2011 8:25 pm

    Did a quick search on Twitter & other people and sites are documenting the imbalance also – https://twitter.com/#!/search/78th%20precinct

  6. flip permalink
    December 6, 2011 9:14 am

    Cyclists should never get ticketed. Ever. For anything.

  7. michael permalink
    December 6, 2011 9:20 am

    It makes no sense that the 78th Precinct is cracking down so hard on speeding and red light running in the park when it is closed to vehicles. Didn’t we just go through this in Central Park, where there was an agreement to ticket only bicyclists who did not yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Do we have to go through this again with the NYPD. Also can someone please take video and pictures of NYPD vehicles and parks department vehicles going through red lights on the park drive when it is closed to cars. I would love that to be plastered all over the place. Fair is fair.

  8. Parker permalink
    December 6, 2011 10:25 am

    Given the stats, flip, drivers pretty much never get ticketed. Ever. For anything.

  9. Marina permalink
    December 6, 2011 11:39 am

    Last night biking through PP on the way from the gym around 10 pm I was followed by a police van. There were no other cyclists or pedestrians around on the foggy and drizzly night. Knowing about the crackdown on cyclists I slowed down and prepared to stop at a red light, only to have the police van pass me on red. I rolled slowly through the red and saw the van slow down to match my speed. At the next red light, the same thing: van went through, then me. The van continued around the park, while I exited at Coney Island circle.

    It’s possible that the van was there to protect me, a lone female cyclist on a foggy night. But with the crackdown on cyclist and general NYPD treatment of bicyclists, I couldn’t help but feel afraid of the police. By the way, I have no problem stopping and waiting at red lights if there’re pedestrians crossing, but waiting alone in a dark park at red lights while there are no other park users around feels unsafe to me.

Trackbacks

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