Police cracked down on rule-breaking bicyclists in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill last Friday, issuing tickets for running red lights and then slapping offenders with additional summonses for minor infractions, including one bicyclist who didn’t have a bell.
The dragnet snared 36 bicyclists on the popular DeKalb Avenue bike lane that links the two neighborhoods with Downtown Brooklyn.
Bikers protested that they’re being prosecuted for victimless crimes.
“I admit the red light was a red light,” said Gideon Levy who was busted on DeKalb Avenue near the police precinct building at Classon Avenue. “But when I go through red lights, I always look to see if pedestrians and cars are coming. There should be a similar attitude as with jaywalking. New York can afford to look the other way as long as the bikers are riding safely.”
The red light violation carries a $120 penalty, and this was Levy’s second pedaling punishment this spring.
Back in Fort Greene on Friday, one biker was slapped with $350 in tickets for running a red light on Lafayette Avenue and not properly signaling as he made a turn onto the Carlton Avenue bike lane.
“There have to be rules for bicyclists, but cycling needs to be encouraged,” said the suddenly discouraged Brion Snyder, a music producer from Clinton Hill. “Now I have $350 in fines. It seems irrational since it’s a minor infraction. It’s egregious.”
Cops said the crackdown was long overdue.
“It was targeted towards enforcing traffic laws,” said a police source from the 88th Precinct. “Running a red light is not safe for the cyclist or anyone else in the street.”
The ticket blitz is a bitter irony for bikers who have complained since the lane’s creation last year that vehicles, including officers at the 88th Precinct stationhouse near the corner of Classon Avenue, but especially delivery trucks, regularly block the lane with parked cars along the busy corridor.
Cop sources conceded that the newfound heightened enforcement of the traffic rules came only after motorists and pedestrians mounted complaints about dangerous and illegal maneuvers by their two-wheel loving neighbors.
One driver, himself stopped at a red light in Clinton Hill, said many bikers are a hazard.
“No, they don’t follow the laws,” the driver moaned. “Last week, my car got hit by a bike.”
And with only five motorists getting nailed in last week’s crackdown with citations for obstructing the bikers’ route, word quickly spread among rogue riders that they were under scrutiny — and they quickly heeded the lesson of the suddenly strict enforcement.
“This whole ride I’ve been stopping for red lights,” said Lauren Kelleher, near the corner of Clinton Avenue on Monday afternoon. “My roommate just got a ticket for it!”
But most cyclists act like red lights are stop signs, halting just long enough to see that intersections are clear of traffic.
“I stop, at least a quick stop, just to check,” said Catalina Monsalve.