Over the last 48 hours, four pedestrians, ranging in age from 10 to 88, have been killed by drivers on NYC streets. One of those drivers has been arrested, and one victim's family has received condolences online from Mayor Bill de Blasio. Beyond that, it's uncertain whether the city plans to take any further enforcement action against reckless drivers following the spate of street fatalities.
Instead, some cops are spending their time cracking down on cyclist for petty violations.
On Monday, Streetsblog reporter Julianne Cuba came upon three cops ticketing cyclists at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge. While riding in the bike lane, Cuba stopped to take photos of the blitz, noting that the officers were ignoring several nearby drivers violating traffic laws.
"As I was taking pictures they all come up to me to say I'm obstructing the bike lane," Cuba told Gothamist. The officers then issued her a summons for not having a bell on her bicycle — an obscure violation routinely perpetrated by the former NYPD commissioner, but used as a pretext for officers to arrest cyclists seen as disruptive.
"I'm standing there the entire time pointing out how that car is stopped in the crosswalk or that one is double-parked," Cuba recalled. "One of the cops finally said, 'I'm using my discretion.' I asked several more times and they just flat out ignored me."
Streetsblog editor Gersh Kuntzman filed a formal appeal against the ticket on Tuesday, claiming that Officer Faber's action were "an attempt to harass" the reporter for taking photos. Gothamist's inquiries to the NYPD about the incident were not returned.
Cuba said she witnessed the officers issue at least three additional tickets to cyclists for not riding in the bike lane or having bells, all the while refusing to address unlawful behavior from drivers happening right in front of them.
"These are 4,000 pound machines versus a 120 pound guy," one of the cyclists can be heard telling cops in video taken Cuba. "It's too congested. It's too much shit going on."
Confusingly, one of the officers responded by noting that "cars are doing 50 plus" while going over the bridge.
The crackdown on cyclists is apparently not limited to the Manhattan Bridge. On Tuesday, multiple people reported an NYPD ticket blitz at 6th Avenue and West 23rd Street, just steps from where Robyn Hightman was killed this past summer.
A total of 29 cyclists were killed in 2019, the highest number in nearly two decades. Earlier this month, de Blasio announced that the NYPD would get a 100-person "Vision Zero Unit" tasked with patrolling dangerous hot spots where pedestrians and cyclists have been killed. Absent further details, transit advocates immediately raised concerns that the new unit would be focused on bicyclists and pedestrians, rather than drivers.
A spokesperson for the Mayor's Office did not respond to an inquiry about whether the NYPD's recent enforcement actions were part of this new "Vision Zero Unit."