The 151 tickets that officers from Park Slope’s 78th Precinct issued to cyclists for cellphone use in 2014 — an activity that is not illegal — were actually issued for the illegal action of wearing headphones while riding, according to the area’s top cop.
The announcement by Capt. Frank DiGiacomo during the 78th Precinct’s community council meeting on Tuesday night came in response to a Brooklyn Paper report questioning whether tickets for cellphone use while riding a bike was something that police should be ticketing.
“The way the tickets are classified, the earphone tickets are labelled as cellphone tickets,” said Captain Frank DiGiacomo at a Community Council meeting at the 78th Precinct station house on April 28. “The reporter interpreted that to mean the tickets were for texting while biking.”
When pressed for specifics, DiGiacomo said every one of the 151 cellphone tickets issued to cyclists was actually for headphone use.
DiGiacomo spoke with The Paper about the tickets before the article was published, but didn’t give specifics on the reasons the tickets were issued. He affirmed the precinct’s commitment to keeping pedestrians and cyclists safe, but made no mention at the time of the citations being related to headphone use.
Police citation data released in response to a Freedom of Information request by The Brooklyn Paper showed that the 78th Precinct led the city by a wide margin in issuing tickets to cyclists for cellphone use in 2014. Representatives of the New York Police Department legal bureau did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but a spokeswoman testified at a recent Council hearing that New York’s texting ban technically applies to cyclists, although that interpretation does not appear to square with the language of the text-ban law.
If you have been ticketed for using your cellphone while riding a bike, did you pay it? Did you fight it? Let us know what happened by contacting Noah Hurowitz at the e-mail below.