July 16, 2020
Contact Jon Orcutt, 718-383-6631
With New York City’s leaders stating that reform of the New York Police Department will be an ongoing process that will go deeper than changes included in the recently enacted city budget, Bike New York issued this statement and set of recommendations to policy makers regarding areas of police policy and practice that affect traffic law enforcement, riding bicycles and street safety.
Bike New York is dedicated to a city where anyone from any part of town can choose to bicycle for transportation, health or fun without fear of unwarranted attention from law enforcement. The New York Police Department has not been on board with efforts by the NYC Department of Transportation and other parts of city government to make New York City safe and welcoming for bike riding. A city that embraces, supports and encourages bike riders requires strict adherence to fairness and a focus on truly dangerous behavior in traffic law enforcement.
We urge city policy makers to adopt these principles and policies as they examine and change NYPD practices:
- Manage traffic law enforcement to avoid disproportionate racial application. The Mayor’s Vision Zero Task Force should issue regular public updates explaining the specific problems traffic law enforcement is seeking to address and how enforcement resources are being employed.
- Urge the NY State Legislature to minimize enforcement car stops for speeding and red light running and provide safer streets for everyone by ending restrictions on traffic camera enforcement in NYC.
- Further expand street safety without the need for car stops by implementing citizen-submitted video evidence programs for reckless driving, as London has done.
- Expand alternative sanction programs for reckless drivers, building on the city’s already enacted (but so far not funded) Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program.
- End police involvement in city decisions about traffic patterns and event-related bike detours (like the West Side greenway and Fleet Week), leaving those matters to NYC DOT. Remove “expedite vehicular traffic within the city” from the PD Transportation Division’s mission statement.
- End quota-oriented and randomly-applied summonses for bike riders for non-dangerous offenses like proceeding through “top of the T” intersections with no traffic conflict, or riding with no bell. DOT could facilitate this change with new traffic regulations for bikes at specific intersection types.
- End riding-on-sidewalk summonsing in favor of communication about the city’s rules for bike riding.
- End the police’s reflexive victim-blaming of bicyclists in comments on traffic crashes to media.
- Officially admit that NYPD vehicles today routinely stop and park in the city’s bike lanes and set a negative example for motorists citywide. Make precinct commanders accountable for ending the practice in their areas.
- Reduce police vehicular impact and patrol officers’ isolation from city neighborhoods by putting more of them on foot and bicycles.
- Deliver on Mayor de Blasio’s promise to expand PD’s Collision Investigation Squad (CIS). It remained understaffed as of last year. This reduces and undermines charges against reckless drivers and production of data that could inform everything from street design to enforcement strategy and speed/red light camera placement. Today, many cops at crash scenes are reluctant to help victims or make a crash report. An overhauled CIS could form the kernel of a completely new approach to safe streets by NYPD or a successor agency.