Crackdown! Cyclists say cops are fining them on Downtown bike routes

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Riding a bicycle in Downtown Brooklyn can be hazardous — to your bank account.

Cyclists this week blasted what some describe as a ticket-writing blitz by cops on roadways in and around the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges, particularly at the intersection of Tillary and Adams streets, a dangerous nexus of commuters that has long been a battleground between bikes, cars and pedestrians.

“I have witnessed two sting operations set up at Tillary and Adams,” said Park Slope resident Adam White, a personal injury lawyer and cyclist. “They were ticketing slews of people who were riding [outside the bike lane] on Adams.”

The situation is made worse because the painted bike lanes on Adams Street and the parallel bridge approach route on Jay Street are often so jam-packed with double-parked cars that cyclists are forced to swerve into the roadway — and into the crosshairs of keen-eyed cops.

“I’ve stopped depending on bike lanes as any sort of safe infrastructure because they double as parking spots,” said Summer Greenstein, a Downtown resident who bikes to work in Manhattan.

Unless there is enforcement, she said, drivers will continue parking in bike lanes.

“I think the police respond vigilantly to complaints about reckless cyclists from pedestrians and drivers — but there is a much greater volume of reckless drivers,” Greenstein said.

The top cop at the 84th Precinct, whose coverage area includes Downtown Brooklyn, insisted there was no ticket blitz for cyclists who veer outside of the painted lines, though Capt. Mark DiPaolo admitted that his officers are writing such tickets as “part of our traffic-control program, which is to prevent accidents and injuries.”

But Sheepshead Bay resident and avid cyclist Sholom Brody said that until recently, he never saw cops writing tickets for cyclists.

“They’re doing this out of frustration from the community,” he said. “I don’t think ticketing just for the sake of ticketing makes sense.”

Caroline Samponaro, the director of bicycle advocacy for the non-profit Transportation Alternatives, has been hearing “persistent complaints from cyclists,” ticketed even though the lane was blocked by cars. “The point of enforcement should be to figure out what’s really going on,” she said. “It should be fair and balanced.”

State law permits requires cyclists to pedal in the lane — unless conditions are hazardous or it is blocked, White said. “And frankly, the bike lane on Adams is atrocious,” he said. “It’s not only uneven, buy there are vehicles that park on it that make it almost unusable.”

The lawyer said he has nothing to gain from speaking out on the issue — if road conditions improve, he could see his client base dwindle.

Updated 5:17 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Dav from Greenpoint says:
Finely: its about time to enforce the rules and regulations, cyclist never follow rules like stopping for a red flashers of yellow school buses, hand signals, driving upside direction, etc.
Cops should enforce them by handling out tickets as much as they can Ones for all!! Especially cyclists are not paying insurance, registration, fees etc. bikers are getting everything
Like wide bike lanes, buffer zones, jersey barriers etc. and still not happy... Just deal with it… Driving a bicycle is a good think only if you are having respected for others otherwise you should use public transportation...
March 19, 2010, 12:17 am
m from Greenpoint says:
@Dav -- you missed the point of the entire article
March 19, 2010, 7:38 am
Marty Barfowitz from An outer borough says:
If the 84th precinct wants to be useful then it should be writing tickets and impounding the vehicles of the tens of thousands of motorists who, on a daily basis, destroy safety and quality of life in Downtown Brooklyn by illegally double-parking, endlessly blasting their horns, recklessly speeding and performing numerous other illegal and sociopathic acts in their cars. Granted, a huge portion of the people driving into Downtown Brooklyn are police and court officers -- and I know that the cops don't like giving each other summonses. But there is simply no question that the most dangerous and destructive behavior on the streets of Downtown Brooklyn is being done by the drivers of motor vehicles. Giving tickets to the cyclists who put their lives on the line to ride through that mess every day is ridiculous and outrageous.
March 19, 2010, 8:38 am
Bob from PLG says:
This should be welcomed by any cyclists who want to see bicycles accepted as serious means of transportation.
March 19, 2010, 8:55 am
Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
This is classic "blame the victim." Our streets are 99% given over to cars, yet they still find it necessary to obstruct the Adams Street bike lane (among countless others)? And then cyclists looking for a safe path are ticketed? Genius.

And for the record, every cyclist quoted in the article is a safe, responsible rider/advocate who has worked hard to make street conditions better for all users.

Lastly, I think you mean Adam White, not "Paul" White:
March 19, 2010, 9:15 am
j mork from p hts says:
"State law permits requires cyclists to pedal in the lane — unless conditions are hazardous or it is blocked."

So the cop should just ask the cyclist if she felt the bike lane was hazardous. If the answer is yes, no ticket!
March 19, 2010, 9:16 am
Marty from Pk Slope says:
Everyone needs to tone down...I commute daily from Pk Slope to Dumbo, by bike, sometimes Vespa and rarely by car. A lot of 'transient' car drivers either don't pay attention, are on their cells!! or drive recklessly (i.e. don't care about their surroundings), don't use signal lights, sit waiting on green lights et. al!
Bicylists drive recklessly too....lots of them! Full speed into a red light intersection! No slowing down! Whats that? Wrong direction on streets, sometimes on sidewalks, no lights or reflectors in pitch black, and with the attitude of 'I own the road'!
Remember though bikers and bicycles have no protection around them like cars...
Then pedestrians, who just step into the street without looking! On the phone, pretending to not see you on your bike, in your car, from in between cars...what is that? Traffic laws apply to pedestrians too. Wait I forgot truck drivers and bus operators...while they drive like they own the world (and in terms of size they do)...I don't want to question the challenges of their job, (nobody lets them in ever...) but they need to adjust too! And be fined or drive a little friendlier....I know cause I got hit by one who didn't have his signal light on!

So make up your mind whom you blame for the bad 'traffic behavior' everyone who participates in traffic (and this is pretty much everyone in town!) may tone down their attitude and act a little more communal!
We're all in this though certainly don't change it, they don't educate they just piss off and fill the coffers of this money sucking city.

Have fun riding, walking, driving.....and remember traffic laws are for EVERYONE...
March 19, 2010, 9:23 am
Keith from Greenpoint says:

Marty Barfowitz from An outer borough says: .. Giving tickets to the cyclists who put their lives on the line to ride through that mess every day is ridiculous and outrageous. You out of your mind!! Cop in New York City are the only one to put their lives on the line!!! Cyclist are the one put people in danger by not following rules and regulations no respect what so ever!!!
March 19, 2010, 9:29 am
eliot from convord village says:
I've lived in Concord Village for 2 years and have seen 3 cars hit cyclists at Tillary & Adams. Every single day I see dozens, if not hundreds, of cars blow the light, make illegal turns, speed through the yellow, and otherwise flout the law. If the precinct is sincerely interested in safety, they should focus on the rampant driving violations.

According to this is the single most deadly intersection in Brooklyn -- and it's not cyclists who are the problem.
March 19, 2010, 9:59 am
Pete from BAY RIDGE says:
Bikes are for poor people who can't afford cars. They probably can't afford to pay the tickets anyway.
March 19, 2010, 10:07 am
Andrew from Cleveland Heights, Oakland says:
@ Pete

Cars are for fat people that can't navigate traffic without having their metaphorical hands held by a multi-thousand-pound glass and steel "mommy". You know what else is fat and yells and cries when it doesn't get its way? A toddler...hmmm...time to grow up, Pete. See how fair generalizations are?

My bike costs more than a lot of hoopties I see out there, anyway.
March 19, 2010, 1:41 pm
j mork from p hts says:
I'm proud to live in a "poor" place like Brooklyn where most households do not own a car.

March 19, 2010, 3:42 pm
Marty from Da Bklyn says:
Pete you sound like a guy who'd better stay in Bay must be the 'transient driver' I speak about in my post above....drivers that barrel through the hood..ignorant of whats around them....if you can afford one, get a chopper, if not, take the subway....but don't, please don;t ruin it for us and clog the streets with your attitude! Please...
March 19, 2010, 3:45 pm
Pete from Bay Ridge says:
I obey the traffic laws unlike 90% of the bikers I see. You guys don't give a crap, you'll run over pedestrians and if you hit a car you'd probably just try to sue the driver. Follow the rules and stop crying hippies.
March 19, 2010, 6:40 pm
Fourth Estate from DUMBO says:

"Follow the rules and stop crying hippies."

Is this a traffic law? Are you having issues with crying hippies and your upset that bikers aren't stopping them?

Did you do something to upset the hippies?
March 19, 2010, 7:54 pm
Andrew from Cleveland Heights says:
@ Pete

"...90% of the bikers I see...."

'Cause we all know anecdotal evidence is ironclad!
March 19, 2010, 8:10 pm
Fourth Estate from DUMBO says:
If the law says the lane can be avoided if dangerous or blocked and the biker still gets a ticket, there is a simple solution, photograph the hazard and contest the ticket. Just about everyone has a cell phone with a camera these days. Show the evidence to the court and get it dismissed, not that hard. I'm not sure if too many dismissals would look good for a officer, but it would be a sure sign of error on the officer's part.
March 19, 2010, 9:02 pm
Mat vG from Marine Park says:
You're all wrong. Bikes are neither motor vehicles nor pedestrians. Bikes do not have to stay in bike lanes. If bike riders were safer, they would never hit pedestrians and they would normally approach a dangerous, wide intersection/turn from the safest position, which often requires driving against traffic for a block or so, going up on the sidewalk when it's empty to avoid jams, Think out side the box. You're not on railroad tracks. Think efficient and smooth. This anal retentive rigidity, and pretentious, presumptive attitude is your own worst enemy.Hoping the cops will enforce against the drivers is so out of touch with reality. Be careful what you wish for - you just got it. It's not who's right, it's who's left! Hope you all grow up and move back to where you came from.
March 20, 2010, 3 am
Fourth Estate from DUMBO says:
Born and raised in NYC. I have never hit anyone on my bike, although I have had several near misses with trucks that blow through stop signs when they see bikes. I also have never received a ticket for bike riding.

It seems to me, that if the city is crying broke, it would make sense for a ticket blitz against cars parked in the bike lane. In the 1980 and early 1990's this was commonplace, the few lanes there were, were enforced and you hardly saw a car using the lane. I know several people that have been ticketed for driving in the bike lane, although I have yet to see it first hand.

Red-light runners need to be stopped. Are we repeating history? I remember in the 1980's a major public advisory campaign against running red lights when a child got killed on his way to school. Fast forward a couple of decades and people are brain dead. If you want to get you tube video of red-light runners nearly mowing down pedestrians, go to the intersection of flatbush and fulton. There is a cross walk that goes in the middle of the block, right next to ConEdison and runs across Flatbush ave. Just stand there, on average you will see about 10 people run lights every 15-30 minutes. Are there ever any cops? NO. Are there red light cameras? NO. So for something that can generate at least $50 a pop and increase safety, the finest at the 84th go after who?

WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? Why is the city claiming to be broke and not enforcing the real laws on the books.
March 20, 2010, 7:38 am
Cecile from Marine Park says:
I have little sympathy for cyclists since too many ride on the sidewalks and expect pedestrians to give them the right of way.
March 20, 2010, 8:50 am
Deb from Ditmas Park says:
There is no law to enforce, here.

regulation 34 RCNY 4-12(p)(1):
Bicyclists should ride in any usable bike lane, unless they are blocked or unsafe for any reason.

The Adams bike lane going towards the bridge has poor surface, parked cars, buses, and trucks, and cabs stopping without warning in front of the hotel. It is unsafe for many reasons.
March 20, 2010, 3:20 pm
jay from p slope says:
Good, the cops should ticket any one and everyone who violates the law, including other cops, fireman, city workers, state workers, judges, sanitation trucks, city council members, the mayor, Marty Markowitz when he parks on the sidewalk, or Chuck Schumer when he parks in front of the fire hydrant by his place, and not just regular people, and that includes people on bikes too.
I can't understand why any of the aforementioned people think everyone else should get the ticket. I also think that the cops need to start giving cyclists tickets in Prospect Park, they run every single red light, fail to yield the right of way, make illegal passes and obstruct traffic, and hit many more people than cars do, I have been hit three times in the cross walk by middle age blobos wearing spandex pants that make them look like jello sausage who think they are free to ignore the law. They are a menace, and they are stupid jackasses too.
March 22, 2010, 10:21 pm
Fourth Estate from DUMBO says:

If all those people got ticketed, the city would have a surplus!

Before we have cops giving tickets in Prospect Park, perhaps we need to have cops in prospect park, as cyclists are the least of the problems there.
March 25, 2010, 1:23 am

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: