Today through Friday, and coinciding with national Bike To Work Week, the NYPD says it will crack down on drivers who endanger cyclists by double parking, or parking in bike lanes or no-standing zones—phenomena all too familiar to Jay Street commuters forced to swerve dangerously into traffic during rush hour.
"We are focusing on violations that can endanger our city's cyclists, and making sure New Yorkers can safely travel on bike lanes throughout the five boroughs,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said in a statement. The Vision Zero ticketing initiative has been dubbed "Bicycle Safe Passage."
According to the Department of Transportation [PDF], about 86,000 New Yorkers commute regularly to work or school. And on a typical day, there are about 400,000 cycling trips within city limits.
Mayor de Blasio lauded 2015 as the safest year on New York City's streets since 1910 as part of his annual Vision Zero check in earlier this year. According to the city, there were 231 traffic fatalities in 2015—66 fewer than in 2013, the year before the Mayor's street safety initiative was launched. But cyclist deaths have held steady in recent years: 14 in 2015, in line with the 2000-2013 average.
Speaking at the Vision Zero Conference in March, Bratton stressed that traffic-related summonses were up this year to date—28% for speeding, 38% for red lights, 19% for improper turns, and 47% for texting. In the coming year, the NYPD is pushing for 400 to 500 additional traffic enforcement agents, to supplement the 3,000 currently on the street.
Despite the best efforts of some local community boards, NYC is also on track to build more than 15 miles of protected bike lanes this year, up from 12 miles last year. Still, enforcement of these lanes has been a perennial issue. At a recent Community Board 2 meeting, Brooklyn cyclists laughed bitterly when the Department of Transportation suggested that it could keep drivers out of proposed Jay Street bike lanes through community outreach. Illegally-parked municipal cars are a common site on that roadway, and cops have been called out as some of the worst offenders.
"Until somebody stands up against them... we're all wasting our time," one board member predicted.
So safe riding, everybody—this week and every week. Here's a refresher on what you're up against.