By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Electric bikes as well as the old-fashioned variety of two-wheelers wound up being the hot topic at the first meeting of the 13th Precinct’s Neighborhood Coordinating Officer program for residents of Stuyvesant Town.
Officers from the 13th Precinct were at the Stuyvesant Town Community Center last Thursday evening for the new NCO program and addressed the bike operations being conducted in the area.
In particular, the NYPD has been cracking down on delivery people who use e-bikes and 13th Precinct Traffic Safety Officer Javier Alvarez said that the precinct conducted over 20 separate operations last year. During that time, 135 e-bikes were confiscated and summonses were given. All the while, officers, perhaps as a warning, would post photos of the confiscated bikes on the precinct’s Twitter feed.
Alvarez said that there is some confusion among residents about what’s legal and what’s not regarding e-bikes, which are a frequent topic of discussion at the regular precinct community council meetings.
“The confusion is that the bikes aren’t illegal to own,” he said. “You can also ride them like regular bikes but it becomes illegal when you engage the motor.”
Residents at the meeting, however, said that it wasn’t only e-bikes that posed a threat.
“It’s not just the e-bikes,” one Stuyvesant Town resident said. “People on regular bikes are always riding on the sidewalks, going too fast and going against traffic.”
Another resident at the meeting said that the work the precinct is doing doesn’t seem to be enough.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been the victim of a near miss,” she said. “I feel like I see 135 of these every day.”
Alvarez said that the precinct is trying to increase the number of operations but one of the main issues is that the riders will pay the fine and be out again the next day.
The meeting also included warnings for residents about the increasing number of scams that especially target seniors. John Molly, a representative from Con Edison who works in corporate security for the company, admitted that Stuy Town and Peter Cooper residents are less of a target than other residents in the city.
“This is a unique location because you don’t have (Con Edison) meters,” Molly said. “So I hope you can figure out that you don’t owe us any money.”
Still, Molly said that residents should be aware of other scammers who say they’re calling from various companies, telling residents to go to CVS or Walgreens and buy gift cards to pay fines. Police have warned residents at meetings in the past about the creative ways in which scammers attempt to bilk residents and one meeting attendee noted she got a call about a friend being in trouble and needing fast cash.
Molly also warned residents to be wary of uniformed employees because despite the official-looking attire, not all of them are upstanding citizens. Police officer Manny Rodriguez, one of the NCOs for the Stuyvesant Town neighborhood, reiterated this concern because of a recent related arrest.
Rodriguez said that the NYPD was able to make an arrest of a man who had been stealing packages from buildings in Stuyvesant Town and was seen on security footage wearing a UPS uniform, but with help from Stuy Town management and the surveillance video, officers were able to catch him.