The New York Police Department has recently cracked down on bicyclists in Fort Greene for traffic violations, according to cyclist and pedestrian reports. The primary target? Cyclists who cruise through red lights.

Nick Encalada-Malinowski confirmed the red-light bike sting in Fort Greene at the intersection of Clermont Street and DeKalb Avenue in a tweet on July 11.

“Bike red-light sting in Fort Greene. (Clermont & DeKalb) Checking IDs and running names for warrants of cyclists who apparently ran red lights. Added bonus is NYPD is now parked in middle of busy street causing traffic problems. #bikenyc.” 

Reddit user and cyclist “Hirsh” reported a similar incident on DeKalb avenue that same week.

“Was biking to work on DeKalb, saw two bikers ahead of me breeze on past a cop and then stop at a red light for traffic,” they posted. “And then when traffic was over, decided to run the red light, as the cop was right behind them. I think this was between Clinton and Washington? anyways, don’t be like these people and have your day ruined.”

Encalada-Malinowski said he suspects that the NYPD is stopping bicyclists for more than just red lights alone.

“Basically, what’s going on, is that the police are looking for any opportunity they have to have an interaction with bikers,” Encalada-Malinowski said. “Doing this kind of red light enforcement allows them to say oh look somebody on a bike, I can now take their ID, run their name for a warrant, see if their anybody we’re looking for, and anything like that. My friend in Coney Island is saying that they are stopping black teenagers who are riding their bikes and then asking where they are going, asking for their ID’s. Doing all of that kind of stuff — that’s typical NYPD enforcement.”

The New York City Department of Transportation’s website explains cyclists have to follow many of the same laws as cars, with only a few exceptions.

“Bicyclists must obey all traffic lights and signs and must signal for turns whether riding on a roadway, a bike lane or shared-use pathway with pedestrians,” according to the website. “Bicyclists who violate the law are subject to traffic tickets.”

An NYPD vehicle crossed through the same intersection moments after the bicyclists at the intersection of Clermont Street and DeKalb Avenue on July 19 at 11:30 a.m.

However, Joe Cutrufo, communications director at Transportation Alternatives, the organization that advocates for better bicycling, walking, and public transit in New York City, said the problem isn’t rogue cyclists but the city’s infrastructure.

“The city gets the cyclists it deserves based on its infrastructure,” Cutrufo said.“If the government of the city wants bikes to behave a certain way, providing the correct infrastructure will make it possible for bikes to behave in that way. If you can imagine seeing no traffic lights or stop signs, our motor vehicles would behave much differently and it goes the same way for bikes.”

The NYCDOT website also said bicyclists should stop at traffic lights and stop signs, and yield to other traffic and pedestrians with the right of way. “Most importantly, bicyclists must obey and are protected by the rules of the road.”

“Ultimately a bike sting is a misallocation of NYPD resources,” Cutrufo said. “Bicyclists don’t pose a threat to people in the same way that drivers do.”

The NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information was unable to comment.

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Miranda Levingston

Covering everything Brooklyn. Twitter: @MLevNews

Join the Conversation

5

  1. If the problem is bikers not following traffic rules/right of way-as drivers do, I’m for this. With people distracted by cell phones and ear plugs, etc.,cyclist, like motor vehicle drivers, need to be more responsible. They also should know road rules. Although bike lanes are all over the city, for me it sometimes still does not register as a pedestrian on a casual stroll (or driving) to look for bikes. They have no horns to warn you of their approach; many do not slow down to prepare to stop as they approach an intersection – they break abruptly at the light if they do stop – or they circle around a car stopped at the light waiting for light to change. Drivers have to wait for them to get out of the way.
    Also younger people who bike, who do not have a drivers license, as well as visitor’s to the city, may not be aware of road rules.
    Something needs to be done to make bikers sharing the road with cars …and pedestirans (joggers) more responsible

  2. I am a biker, a pedestrian and a car driver. Police, yes, please step up your enforcement of bike rules. I can’t tell you how many times I have been walking on the sidewalk in my neighborhood of Midwood and had a biker whiz by me from behind, narrowly missing me. One step in the wrong direction and that would be serious injury. Almost every time I walk on the streets around here there is a biker on the sidewalk.
    How many times have I been crossing a one way street to have a bike come at me from the wrong direction. Sure, I try to be vigilant, but am not always. Yes, step up enforcement

  3. It’s not just “black kids in Coney Island” being stopped. I got a ticket on my bike in Lower Manhattan for starting too soon through an intersection before the light turned green. My bad. Got a ticket for $190 – ouch! That’s what it costs for running a red light, whether you’re in a car or on a bike – same price in NYC, fyi to readers. I’m waiting out all red lights now. Bad enough I got one ticket, I certainly don’t want to get another. I see other people whizzing through red lights all the time, including many “minorities.” I think the cops who stopped me factored into their thinking I’m older and white, therefore I’m less likely to give the cops a hard time (they were both just doing their job and no, I didn’t complain, etc.), plead for leniency (I saw an immigrant Chinese delivery guy do just that at the same intersection the next day who had been pulled over by the same cops – he probably got off) and more likely to be able to pay the fine (which I did). Sometimes younger riders might look at an older rider (who was young once, still is on the inside) stopped at a red light and think what happens when people get older, why do they stop when they could just go? Because for the reasons stated above.

  4. It frequently happens where I work in rhe Flatiron neighborhood that bikers whiz from behind often coming from the wrong direction and narrowly missing me. It’s dangerous and on top of it the bikers are then unpleasant and rude. Ir seems to me that bicyclists in this city are an increasingly privileged group – or at least they sure act that way. I have nearly been hit by bikers at least a dozen times. That does not happen to me with cars. I am very, very happy to see increased NYPD enforcement

  5. Really can’t fathom this. Bicycles have much more in common with pedestrians than they do with 4,000 pound automobiles. A 200 lb man jogging down the sidewalk has more mass and velocity than many cyclists do.

    You really might as well start giving pedestrians jaywalking tickets, if you’re going down this route. It’s illegal to walk through a crosswalk when you have a red light…but I don’t know anyone who reliably follows this rule.

    If you’re a regular bike commuter in this city, then you know exactly why these stops are absurd and unfair. Your life is under constant threat from drivers parking in, driving through or merging into your lane. You bike on the sidewalk because you’re worried about getting killed. You run a red to get away from traffic (and avoid getting killed).

    Traffic enforcement is a limited resource. If you’re a pedestrian who’s more worried about getting hit by a bike than by a car, you’re out of your mind.

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