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“Lady, you just don’t shut up do you!”

July 21, 2013
Screen Shot 2013-07-21 at 9.42.29 PM

A typical scene: ticketing cyclists while blocking a bike lane.

It’s well known that the NYPD’s crackdown on cyclists has done little to make anyone safer, seeing as how it’s largely focused on people who run red lights at T intersections or ride on empty sidewalks when the design of the street gives them no other option.  Now there’s another example of what can only be described as a campaign of harassment against New Yorkers who ride bikes for transportation.  Hilda Cohen, a dedicated livable streets advocate and StreetsPAC board member, was ticketed on Friday for running a yellow light.  Her story, below.

I was traveling east on Bleeker at 5:20pm in Manhattan. Had on my StreetsPAC t-shirt, so I was going an intentionally respectable speed in the painted green bike lane on Bleeker.

Heading towards the intersection of Charles Street, I notice that the T&LC next to me is speeding up for a fare ahead. There is also a car parked in the bike lane past the intersection. So I let the car pass, and then come out of the bike lane to avoid the car ahead. I typically react about 20-30 feet ahead of obstacles in my way if I can. I pass through the intersection with a yellow light.

I get stopped by the guy standing next to the car, NYPD in uniform.

“You just ran a red light.”

“The light was yellow when I went through the intersection.”

“No, it was red”, he said. “I saw it.”

“I am actually 100% positive that it was yellow. I looked for it, I saw it, and I don’t run red lights,” I said. “Why do you say it was red?”

“We saw the pedestrian crossing sign change from a flashing hand to a solid hand when you entered the intersection.” These police officers could not even see the light that they were referring to, they were about 30 feet past the intersection on a one way street. “That means that it was a red light.”

“Actually that proves that it was yellow. That is when the light changes from green to yellow.”

“Well you can’t go through yellow lights.”

To this I did say, “you’re not serious.”

“A yellow light means put on your brakes” he continued, “and you can’t go through a yellow light. You must have been going too fast to stop in time. I’ll give you a ticket for running a yellow and speeding. The speed limit is 25 mph, you were going faster than that.”

The above is an accurate telling of what he told me, and literally my jaw dropped. I realize now, at this point I should have just shut up because this was ridiculous. I should have just let him lie, and keep lying to me, and should have just kept my mouth shut, right?

But, in as even a tone as I could muster said, “you can enter the intersection when the light is yellow.”

“Then I’ll give you a ticket for being outside of the bike lane, and for speeding.”
I responded, “I could not stay in the bike lane as you are parked in the bike lane, and the speed limit is 30, and there is no way I was going 30 mph.”

“Lady, you just don’t shut up do you!”

So my resulting tickets are for “Reckless Operation of a Bicycle” (19-176-C) and “Obstructing Vehicle Traffic” (240-20-5) which I have been informed are code for disorderly conduct for a bicyclist. These are criminal offenses, and I have to show up to court whether I plead guilty or not.

I was stopped for running a yellow light, and then given two tickets for knowing my rights, and the law. These are the people that are looking out for our safety and well being, right?

For context, the NYPD’s 6th Precinct, where this incident occurred, issued three speeding tickets in June for a total of thirty in 2013.

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11 Comments
  1. invisiblevisibleman permalink
    July 22, 2013 10:09 am

    I’ve been thinking about this all weekend, after seeing Hilda’s original Tweets on Friday. I’m very angry about it. Also, frankly, if they can pick on Hilda that way, what’s to stop them picking on any of us?

  2. July 22, 2013 11:41 am

    Don’t argue with cops. You wont win. I’ve learned this the hard way. It sucks i know, but its true.

    Rarely do you find a cop that isn’t on a power trip.

  3. Chris permalink
    July 22, 2013 1:21 pm

    You have to wonder if those three speeding tickets the 6th Precinct issued in June were to motorists… or, based on this story, to cyclists.

  4. Also Chris, but not that Chris. permalink
    July 22, 2013 1:33 pm

    Take it to the CCRB. Seriously. Get them in mediation and talk it out. Won’t help your charges, but you can make them listen to your perspective and maybe they’ll be better cops to someone else in the future. The process is there for you to use; it’s important.

  5. July 23, 2013 1:48 pm

    Ha well, I got one of these for running a green because Peds started crossing early, so I “must have been going through a red”

    • July 23, 2013 1:56 pm

      Do you mind emailing me more details? I’m happy to put up a post if you’re comfortable. brooklynspoke at gmail

  6. Alyson permalink
    July 24, 2013 5:15 am

    Sad story to take nothing from this ill gotten citation, violation of rights and due process but view from other perspectives: women are raped in other countries and sentenced to hideous fates-in this country our laws are no better- blacks – especially black mem, are murdered for walking on the street with candy in their pockets so however you care to slice and dice the law, discrimination and male domination isucks. Yes you know your rights yes he was wrong and obviously on a power trip- moral-smile sweetly. Take lots of photos and wait your day in court on the lesser charge. Obstinate tit for tata NEVER get us anywhere with ego trips. Even when you’re 100% correct in rhe legal sense, they will win because they got to you.

  7. Mak permalink
    July 24, 2013 6:52 pm

    The 6th Precinct cops have no manners at all, and are so bored that when they catch a bicyclist they use it as an opportunity to let out their aggression. It would be interesting to know the percentage of moving violations written to automobiles versus those written to bicycles and scooters.

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