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Bikelash! Cops say they’ll crack down on speeding cyclists • Brooklyn Paper

Bikelash! Cops say they’ll crack down on speeding cyclists

Some bicyclists on West Lake Drive in Prospect Park are still confused about rules; others chose to ignore them.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Do they make radar detectors for bikes?

Cyclists in Prospect Park might want to consider such an accessory now that cops have said that they will start ticketing bike riders who exceed the park’s 25-mile-per-hour speed limit.

Cops spent much of Thursday barricading the East Lake Drive and stopping all bicyclists to hand out fliers announcing the rules enforcement, which begins on Saturday and comes on the heels of two serious crashes between riders and pedestrians.

Officers will also target riders who salmon against the flow of traffic on the park loop.

“The issue on the stretch [along the downhill part of West Drive near the Vanderbilt Playground] is speed,” 78th Precinct commanding officer John Argenziano told Patch.com. “Bikers are going too fast downhill.”

An NYPD spokesman added that the enforcement effort will mostly target the speeders.

“We’re not going to be jumping out of trees, ticketing for little things like wearing headphones,” he said.

The crackdown comes after collisions in the park left two women with brain damage — and after dozens of other accidents and close calls.

Cops say the crackdown will not focus on pedestrians who break street rules — but on “bike enforcement.”

Officers did not hand out any fliers — which also note road “safety tips” — to pedestrians when The Brooklyn Paper visited the barricade on Thursday.

That irks cyclists, who say spaced-out walkers and in-the-zone joggers are just as much to blame for the recent string of crashes.

“The problem is with both parties — so targeting just us isn’t going to solve anything,” said long-distance cyclist Prince Quinland. “What about all the pedestrians who don’t watch where they’re going?”

The increased enforcement comes three weeks after 55-year-old park volunteer Linda Cohen was struck by a 61-year-old cyclist in on West Lake Drive, leaving her so badly injured that doctors kept her in a medically induced coma.

And in June, 37-year-old actress Dana Jacks suffered brain damage after a cyclist collided with her in the same spot. She’s planning to sue the city, citing the very lack of enforcement that apparently ends on Saturday.

Reducing speeding was a major theme at last week’s public hearing on ending the battle over Prospect Park’s roadways, where hazy rights of way have long made the roadway chaotic.

The Department of Transportation then responded by installing cones to slow cyclists on West Lake Drive. Police enforcement is the second wave of city action, with one officer citing the crashes as “the impetuous.”

The fliers that were handed out on Thursday offer the usual safety tips, such as “do not bike with a dog on a leash” and “cyclists and skaters must travel clockwise.”

It also reminded cyclists of existing, but often flouted, rules, including that cyclists must have a bell, and cannot wear headphones and must stop at red lights.

The red light rule particularly angers some cyclists, who say the park’s roadway is a sacred car-free spot — unlike a normal street, where they’re happy to stop for lights.

“They’re asking us to screech to a halt after reaching 25 miles-per-hour,” said Anthony Lowe, who belongs to a bicycle racing team and noted they recently fought a similar battle in Central Park. “There’s nowhere left to train in New York City.”

Rules for two-wheeling park users are perfectly fine with two-legged park-goers, who say the open space was never meant to be a mini Tour de France.

“The cops are late,” said Forrest Cicogni, the husband of the injured actress. “But his is what we wanted — it’s a good first step.”

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

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