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Operation Make Money

October 8, 2012

It’s hard to argue that the NYPD is taking a “a more targeted approach to policing bike riders” when stuff like this happens.  Via Gothamist, a Bushwick residents reports that he was biking home and turned right on red and before continuing to go through at least two more red lights.  He was stopped by a police officer.

He began asking me what I thought I was doing and we discussed what had just happened, he asked for my opinion on what I thought certain bike laws should be but quickly dismissed my answers as wrong.  He told me I went through 3 red lights and I was wearing 2 headphones so he wrote me 4 tickets.  He couldn’t give me a price of how much the tickets would be, but estimated it would total around $700.

The total was actually $1,555.

Let’s forget for a moment the typical explanation of going through a red light as a harmless action and instead live in a world where it is The Most Dangerous Thing a Cyclist Can Do.  If Operation Safe Cycle is really about safety it’s hard to see what benefit there is in allowing a dangerous cyclist to recklessly run light after light after light.  Why not stop him after the first infraction and make sure his habit of ignoring traffic signals doesn’t land some poor pedestrian in the hospital.  Once evidence of a “crime” is established one would hope the police would stop the criminal before he has the opportunity to really do some harm.  It’s like an officer witnessing a purse snatching and then thinking, “I’ll wait to nab this guy until after he robs a convenience store or a bank.”

Sure, one could argue that a ticketing cyclist so punitively has an effect on overall safety in that a person who finds himself on the receiving end of a string of tickets worth more than his rent is going to think twice about ever going through a red light again, but that opens up an argument about quality versus quantity of enforcement.  Do we want the cops catching murderers in general or do we want them really going after that one guy who killed a bunch of people?  It’s not as if murderers are surfing Gothamist and reading the story of the serial killer who finally got busted by the cops as a cautionary tale.

Maybe the WNYC report is right.  Is there anything more “targeted” than following a lone cyclist for blocks on end and cataloguing his infractions before punching him in the wallet?  Operation Safe Cycle is not about safety.  It is about generating revenue, meeting quotas, and doling out punishment to people who are an affront to the “real” New York.

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3 Comments
  1. KillMoto permalink
    October 10, 2012 9:51 am

    The lesson I’ve learned is if a cop cuts me off in a bike lane, don’t stick around. Pick the bike up, spin it 180 degrees, and high-tail it out of there. Use stairs, sidewalks, grassy knolls, wrong-way riding etc., to get out of there. Disappear into a subway.

    If cought, cite the Tamon Robinson case and say “After the police car swerved to hit me in the bike lane, I feared for my life and tried to escape”.

  2. October 11, 2012 12:04 am

    I run that many reds on Prince Street every morning, thanks to the signalization getting progressively more insane over the past few years. Yes, the police are apparently sadistic brutes, but the DOT does not do us any favors by making it impractical for pedestrians and cyclists to navigate the city without violating a traffic law at every turn.

    But I doubt Operation Safe Cycle is making the city a dime, considering what we pay the brutes to abuse us. Didn’t this all start with a cycling “safety” grant to the NYPD that was blessed by the DOT, at the height of the PPW lane nonsense? When that was announced I started walking my bike through lights, but after a few months I went back to riding through them like a normal person. I’ve been lucky or observant I guess, still no tickets.

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