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Stats prove Prospect Park bike crackdown is real • Brooklyn Paper

Stats prove Prospect Park bike crackdown is real

The city has installed dozens of cones on West Lake Drive in order to slow cyclists in Prospect Park — after two nearly fatal crashes.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Riding a bike too fast in Prospect Park can cause some serious damage — to your wallet.

Park cops slapped cyclists with a whopping 188 tickets over the past four months compared to zero over the same period last year after several near-fatal bike-pedestrian crashes on the popular roadway.

“Cyclists need to know that a ticket is a very real possibility,” said Prospect Park Alliance President Emily Lloyd.

Parks Department officers wrote summonses ranging between $50 and $200 for “failure to comply with bicycle restrictions” including running red lights, speeding, and riding against traffic as part of a ticket blitz intended to improve safety along the loop, according to city officials.

The summons figures obtained by The Brooklyn Paper are the first concrete evidence that the city wasn’t just spinning its wheels when it promised to crack down on rogue cyclists in November.

But some bike riders say stopping at every red light is unnecessary and difficult, especially when riding downhill.

“It’s hard — they’re asking us to screech to a halt,” said cyclist Anthony Lowe.

“Pedestrians are part of the problem, too.”

Others cyclists who train for races on the loop say the lights should be set to blink yellow all the time — letting pelotons cruise through without facing the risk of tickets — because there are few other places in the city where they can train.

Too much enforcement, they say, could morph Brooklyn’s backyard, and the outdoor culture it attracts, into what feels more like a Singapore-style police state.

Park activists, however, contend serious enforcement is necessary because the roadway was not designed to be used as a velodrome.

“The very first concern must be for the safety of the public,” said Geoffrey Croft of NYC Park Advocates. “A number of cyclists [are] moving way too fast.”

The bicycle crackdown comes on the heels of several high profile crashes, including one that landed 54-year-old walker Linda Cohen in the hospital in a medically induced coma.

Those collisions sparked an impassioned movement to make the roadway less chaotic, starting with a controversial effort to slow cyclists on a dangerous downhill by funneling them into a narrow chute lined on both sides by traffic barrels. Workers yanked the barrels before a panel of city officials and park advocates unveiled a plan to redesign the roadway that promises to give less room to motorists and more space to pedestrians and cyclists — but also calls for more outreach and enforcement along the drive.

The ticket blitz pleases Nancy Moccaldi, a close friend of Cohen, who suffered brain damage after a cyclist hit her in the park.

“It will make people more aware,” she said. “These laws exist for a reason.”

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

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