The NYPD's citywide cyclist ticket blitz has yielded a record-breaking number of summonses so far this year, according to a report in the Post. The NYPD has issued 13,843 tickets to cyclists in 2011, up from 9,345 tickets written over the same period in 2010, and 3,708 for the same period of 2009. The tickets are for such offenses as running red lights, running stop signs, biking on sidewalks, speeding, not wearing a helmet, and hanging tote bags on their handlebars. Fun fact: only some of those things are actually violations in NYC! And that's why a group of cyclists are suing.
Within a couple of months, the law firms of Oliver and Oliver Law and Rankin & Taylor expect to file a class action lawsuit on behalf of cyclists who've been ticketed. Attorney David Rankin tells us, "We believe there's a viable claim because officers are being improperly trained and issuing tickets for violations that don't apply in NYC." In fact, Streetsblog recently obtained an internal NYPD memo instructing officers to ticket cyclists for a variety of violations—three of which are not actually illegal in New York City! Rankin says that memo is part of their case, and his firm's website has a great summary of how NYPD's attitude toward cyclists has worsened over the years.
As part of the cycling community's response to the crackdown, the website Transportation Nation is organizing a crowd-sourcing project to map where cyclists have gotten tickets, and what for. If the Post is correct, map will light up bright red in midtown north, where police have issued more tickets than any other part of NYC: 567 bike summonses so far this year, which accounts for 10 percent of the 5,666 written in all of Manhattan. Brooklyn was #1 for cycling tickets, with 4,489, while Staten Island came in dead last, with just 66 tickets issued to cyclists so far this year.
Asked about the crackdown, Transportation Alternatives spokesman Michael Murphy tells us, "We need enforcement driven by data, not anecdotes. More New Yorkers are killed by cars than by guns; 200-300 people die on our streets every year thanks to automotive violence. We need to put pedestrians first and bring that number down to zero."