Letters to the editor, Nov. 15

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Scofflaw cyclists are out of control

Dear Town & Village,

Please HELP!

On two separate occasions I have been knocked down by bicycles going the wrong way against the light! This has led me to look both ways on one-way streets and in all directions when crossing the street. Now I have come so close to having had been run over on sidewalks with bicycles riding on sidewalks, going the wrong way! Stuy Town is pretty strict about the rules regarding bicycles riding around the Oval (riders are approached by Public Safety Officers to dismount) but of course, they cannot be everywhere.

No one should be riding on sidewalks or riding the wrong way against traffic.

Something has to be done!

Could we encourage the NYPD to pick a week, any week, and clamp downs on lawbreakers? NYPD should come out in full force to demand that laws are enforced! It is a serious issue!

  • Give tickets for those who do not stop at stop signs.
  • Give tickets for those who do not stop at red lights.
  • Give tickets for those who are riding the wrong way on one-way streets. Bicycles are supposed to ride in the same directions as cars.
  • Confiscate these illegal electric bicycles and fine restaurants that have delivery people using them.
  • Give tickets to bicycle riders who are riding on sidewalks.

It would be a good idea if some course were offered regarding laws that must be obeyed while riding a bicycle in the New York City. More and more accommodation seems to be given to bicycle riders — more lanes, more Citi Bikes, relaxed laws regarding helmets (they should be required), parking spaces that have been usurped — and it is only going to get worse when the L train shuts down and more inexperienced bicycle riders take to the roads.

The New York Police Department needs to get more actively involved; pedestrians have rights and should be protected. Otherwise there is going to be big trouble! “People are mad as hell and are not going to take this anymore,” to quote a famous line from a movie. We are sick and tired of bicycle riders not obeying the law!

Kay Vota, ST


Traffic agents needed from 14th-23rd

As long as the Peter Cooper/Stuyvesant Town Community continues to be disproportionately impacted due to the L train shutdown, we must call on our elected officials to insure that public safety is increased from 14th Street to 23rd Street.

A two-way bike lane on East 20th Street (north side) compounded by increased bus dispatches in both directions leaves little room for pedestrians to navigate. There are four traffic lights from First Avenue to the FDR Drive. The NYPD needs to station traffic agents at each for the public’s safety.

Additionally, as the city is promoting more bicycle traffic during this time, the traffic laws need to be enforced for the bike riders and this means stopping at red lights.

Our community is sacrificing during the construction and shutdown and the least the city can do is to add more resources while we endure the disruptions.

Charles G. Sturcken, ST

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23 thoughts on “Letters to the editor, Nov. 15

    • I’d urge you to come out to the NW corner of First Ave and 20th St at about 7-8am on a weekday morning. Every day I see cops there, hiding in a doorway, or behind a parked car, waiting to ticket bicyclists ($190) for running that red light.

      Betcha they write 100+ a week.

      I

      • Sorry, I’m at 1st Ave a lot and rarely, if ever, do I see the bike laws enforced at the lesser cross-streets. Mostly, cyclists just keep on going. Sometimes there will be police enforcement on the major cross-sections, like 14th and 23rd, but not regularly. No way.

  1. Bike riders should be made to obtain bike licenses and pay insurance for the protection of pedestrians. This would create a sense of ownership and responsibility.

    Sent from my iPhone

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    • That only stops people from getting to work.

      Riding a bicycle is not hard, does not present the same collision dangers as an automobile, and does not need a state bureaucracy to govern every last user and piece of equipment.

      And, to be frank, it doesn’t work for automobile drivers, because you see a lot of non-residents tearing through this neighborhood with their cars with no “sense of responsibility”. Car ownership costs are oppressive to the poor and a mere inconvenience to the rich, and you basically want that to extend to bicycles too because it’s a lot better if only rich people can afford to hit you.

      Please don’t take this line of reasoning as opposition to the idea that we should do whatever makes sense to express the importance to cyclists about following traffic controls & yielding to pedestrians in all circumstances. I support that very much and I think the city should explore good ways to do that which don’t involve extreme red tape or jail for people who haven’t hurt anyone.

  2. The 13th Precinct is CONSTANTLY doing bicycle enforcement along First Avenue from about E18th northward. Most of the violations they are citing are for cyclists who pass through the red lights in some fashion, and are not responding to collisions.

    Cyclists who fail to yield should be cited, and we should also consider improving the traffic controls to allow cyclists less stoppage time at the empty intersections when First Avenue vehicle lanes are being held for the crosswalk. One benefit to this would be that pedestrians who are crossing First Avenue would hardly see any cyclists at all, since they’d be up the avenue and not trapped by irregularly-timed signals along the way (of which there are many). DOT has been alerted that the signal timings on First Avenue are causing more pedestrian conflicts and bicycle traffic backups, when it is possible to give some direction for cyclists to smoothly navigate northward & clear the area. This is not a luxury accommodation, this is good safety practice, but the status quo is for First Avenue to be timed like a state highway. (Which is bad for everyone except sports cars & SUVs)

    Sidewalk riding should always be ticketed if observed. I don’t particularly understand the request here, because it seems the problem is that there isn’t a beat officer stationed to patrol every block to address every violation, not that the police are ignoring the behavior. The 13th Precinct is uncompromising about this.

    There are hardly any stop signs in the district for the bicycles to blow through, so when I see that listed as a complaint (or the helmet thing, which just seems to be judgmental finger-wagging about an issue people don’t understand in the least) I begin to wonder if the issue at hand is just that cyclists are seen as arrogant interlopers for an aimless pedestrian’s privilege to wander into any part of the street that they would like. I would be interested to hear of any STOP intersections where this has caused real problems, though. And I mean, injuries and not just “he could have hit someone” in principle – bicycles are not cars and can yield at stop signs a lot easier than a car.

    I’m also concerned that there were some really horrific traffic incidents outside of Beth Israel involving cars running over pedestrians in the dead of night when there’s no traffic and lots of visibility. And incidents along E14th now that it’s a construction zone with much smaller vehicle clearances but that doesn’t seem to stop motorists from bullying pedestrians out of the roadway when present. (Errant cyclists are guilty of that too, this is another issue where they’re more clearly in-the-wrong) And also, PCV residents have constantly told the local community forums that traffic along E23rd (where there is a crossing to a park/rec facility) is insanely fast and dangerous. When I think of those problems, the idea of “putting cyclists in their place” falls to the wayside & the 13th Precinct has been very clear with the public that they feel the same way.

    Traffic agents would help a lot, I support that idea!

    • “The 13th Precinct is CONSTANTLY doing bicycle enforcement along First Avenue from about E18th northward.” Hmm. not in my experience. I am regularly in Gracefully where those full length windows are, and I have NEVER seen the police stopping cyclists on the opposite side of the street. I am not saying it doesn’t happen, but CONSTANTLY. When???

      • Miro – having trouble finding the posts but NYPD is very frequently spotted during the warm weather months at First Avenue between 19th and 20th doing a ticket trap – not quite AT Gracefully but a bit north of there. Ask the 13th Precinct. They also sometimes set up at spots between 20th and 22nd, and between 25th and 29th.

        (Much less common for them to be at the spots where there are gaps in this coverage – part of their rationale is that they’re much more able to catch slower cyclists who go when the coast is clear & it is safe to proceed, rather than at spots where very few cyclists feel comfortable blowing through cross traffic. The vast majority of cyclists DO stop at streets like 14th and 23rd. It’s instructive to figure out where most of them feel comfortable passing through when it’s clear, since most of them are able to do this quite a few times over a distance and rarely crash into anyone. Keep in mind, the overall count of bicycle traffic up First Avenue is quite high, and this publication has reported few or no serious incidents recently)

        • Brian Van –

          https://bikeleague.org/content/traffic-laws

          Basically states that bicyclists on the road have to obey traffic laws.

          The point of all these threads is not whether or not it’s cool to breeze through signals or ride the wrong way as long as you don’t hurt anybody — but the effect it’s having on pedestrians and everyone else who are following the signals and the law and the dangers this scofflaw attitude creates. Not to mention the bad ‘rap’ it gives all cyclists, which is probably undeserved.

          This isn’t a kid’s game.

        • The effect is theoretical in many of the situations outlined, not a real effect.

          I tell people, follow the law & try not to startle anyone unnecessarily. There are police out pretty frequently (again, twice a week in warm weather) to catch scofflaws. Traffic violations are something to avoid, but they’re a problem when they cause crashes. Traffic laws are to be followed by bikes and cars but they are mainly designed for cars, and things that bikes do that aren’t in line with automobile traffic directions/signals have different effects than they have with cars. (This is why bikes are safe sharing space with pedestrians in a mixed path environment on the East River Greenway, and cars are not safe sharing that space.) Furthermore, we don’t have 100% traffic law enforcement on motor vehicle drivers of any type (but particularly for large trucks and utility vehicles) and I’ll make a bet that people who are alarmed about bicycles have a relatively forgiving opinion about motor vehicle enforcement, and if we compared the two, the argument that the bikes are worse would not hold up to scrutiny. So, yes, bikes also need law enforcement but there’s not much of an argument to be made that a strong ramp-up in focus on “bike crime” is going to be of general good effect to anyone. Again, the local precinct feels this way & they are making efforts to enforce the laws – you should ask them about this.

        • Gracefully is located between 18th and 19th streets along 1st Avenue. I never see the police watching for cyclists at these lights. These cyclists no NOT stop at the red light for them (unless a car is in their way), but keep on going. I’ve seen this so many times…. The fact is that cyclists disobey the rules.

  3. Totally agree about the Bikes!!! Even though some of our neighbors are enthusiasts, it only takes a few ‘bad apples’. 1st Ave bear 23rd is the worst – actually 1st Ave from 14 to 23rd bike lane is full of cyclists who do t think the red light is for them! However, our NYPD don’t look fit enough to catch them! It’s a problem – how do they catch a cyclist? If they’re hiding on 1st Ave and 20th NW — they’re still missing plenty who reach 1st Ave and 23rd SW!!!

  4. As if bikers on the roads weren’t enough, the mass influx of deliverypersons on our property every single day is out of control. Those silly posts with the “Have A Nice Day” are a joke, and do absolutely nothing to stop this real problem.

    A lawsuit is the only thing that will stop this, I just hope it isn’t someone I know that gets hurt.

  5. I cross at 1st and 23rd several times a day every day and I have NEVER seen any Law Enforcement, even when cyclists are on the sidewalk!!! The police must be hiding really well. Pedestrians can barely get through the crosswalk on the SW side of 1st/corner at 23rd in the morning – cyclists think its a stopping pad for them before they run the lights!

    • If they are stopping in the crosswalk then they aren’t quite blowing through the red light and barreling into pedestrians, are they?

      I’m quite concerned about the kind of cyclists that never stop at busy crosswalks, I’m less concerned about cyclists who stop and scoot through when the coast is clear. (And not concerned about cyclists who go through the green light only but don’t have their non-mandatory helmets)

      I mean, it’s not great to pass through on busy intersections with approaching cars (23rd street always has traffic), and I don’t do that, but the whole point of traffic controls is to give everyone the right of way, not to assign mandatory detention to road users every 3 blocks. If people are getting bowled over by cyclists on the sidewalks then I would probably go address that first. No need to cause a panic about other issues.

  6. Wrong!! Cyclists stop in the crosswalk at 1st and 23rd — and then run the red lights! Just because they can. Of course there are always those who don’t stop at all. There are others who go the wrong way consistently on the other side of 1st.

    Nearly every cyclist who picks up a CitiBike at 23rd off of 1st automatically rides the wrong way – who made them special????

    Your answers sound like cyclists don’t have to obey traffic laws. Only pedestrians have to watch out for them! Unless the police really enforce the laws – this will get worse and worse (especially with the L construction). Does something bad have to happen for ‘stupid’ to stop?

  7. There’s a serious accident just waiting to happen here.

    If you want any change with respect to bikes, go to the 13th precinct community council meeting and state your case. Community Council meetings typically take place on the third Tuesday of each month at 6:30 PM in the precinct.

    In effect I’m sure one person will be ignored. But numbers count. The more who show up, the more likely a response. Trading viewpoints here won’t do much.

    On one occasion about 1 yr ago, I saw the police confiscate a battery-powered bike from a delivery man. Outside of that, I’ve seen no police presence in the area giving out tickets for anything.

    If the 13th precinct wanted to generate serious money for the city, all it would have to do it station an officer at 22nd St and 1st Ave. The traffic light there has no relevance whatsoever on bike riders. They cut the red light there all day long. I’m sure they’re cutting lights at most non-main crossings all the way up the avenue.

    Bike riding on the sidewalks outside the complex is getting more common, too. 23rd bet. 1st & 2nd Aves. seems to be favorite.

    • You are right about attending that monthly meeting, but… I stopped going when the captain at that time rolled his eyes and said he didn’t want to hear about Stuyvesant Town. So, I stopped going. (It wasn’t my question, but I saw then the “special” relationship between the 13th and our Public Safety.) To your other issue, yes, if the 13th wants serious money, they could get it, but it seems that there is a quota and time element involved. Yes, they will stop cyclists now and then, but only now and then.

      • Well, this is what I mean about just one person showing up. There are only 2 things that count. Numbers…and without the TA or someone rounding up numbers to go to the council meeting, numbers aren’t going to happen. The other is authority. Which is in most cases means your councilman. That’s the way things are set up. Your councilman is your voice. So it would be up to Keith Powers to carry the ball. This is where I think all councilmen ought to be holding monthly or bi-month town halls throughout their districts to solicit feedback. In selecting a councilman people constantly focus on specific issues rather than asking important process questions like “do you view yourself as my leader or my representative?” If a leader, then the councilman is free to do what he wants. If a representative, the follow-up should be “how to you tend to solicit our issues and feelings? How do you intend to decide among opposing sides?” Process is key. If it’s clear someone elected isn’t following his/her own stated process, that person should be voted out. If someone views him/herself as both representative and leader, they need to explain and define as that position allows too much leeway. It’s a good question for Keith. Representative or leader?

  8. Last time I checked the records the 13th precinct issued a total of 3 tickets to cyclists. It can be looked up on their website. I doubt that anyone from the 13th precinct would put in the effort required to stop scofflaw cyclists since they can’t even walk from their parked vehicle to the station house unless it is less than one block.They are so lazy and ineffective they park in crosswalks, turn lanes, bus stops,etc. Given that behavior what makes anyone think they would be bothered doing any physical activity like ticketing cyclists.The 13th precinct can’t even park their own (personal) vehicles legally. Now that they don’t really do anything you would think they could cut the force in half (at least) and save taxpayers a fortune.

    • For a red light violation (Disobey Traffic Control Device, in DMV lingo), you receive the same ticket, appear before the same judge and receive the same fine, whether you’re on a bike or in a motor vehicle. There’s no separate category for bikes, so how did you determine this?

      Looking at the 13th’s stats, I see 1098 red light summons issued, YTD 2018. I’d bet a significant number of those were to bicyclists. Interestingly, I also see 179 One Way Violations, I’d bet most of those were issued to bicyclists as well, as I rarely see motorists driving against traffic, but notice bicyclists doing it frequently.

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