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Dragnet! Cops nab bikers in red-light sting

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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.

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Reader Feedback

joe from gp says:
"Last week, my car got hit by a bike."

Yeah, ok, whatever dude!
May 12, 2009, 10:57 am
Publius from Bklyn Heights says:
The traffic laws should be enforced. I'm a cyclist, but as a pedestrian, I've also been clipped and injured by a law breaking cyclist.
May 12, 2009, 11:11 am
big W from Carroll gdns says:
"But most cyclists act like red lights are stop signs, halting just long enough to see that intersections are clear of traffic."

Of course I do,, it's safer that way. If I wait for the Green light, then I will have an armada of cars accelerating behind me. If it's clear I can go through the red light and get a head start, then I can safely ride to the next intersection without drivers tailgating my bicycle
May 12, 2009, 11:17 am
chuck from boerum hill says:
It must be very easy for cops to ticket bikers, since they always park their cars in our bike lanes.
May 12, 2009, 11:18 am
Matt Cvetic from Carroll Gardens says:
Keep up the good work, NYPD!

We need police handing out tickets on Clinton St and Kane St. The cyclists are out of control even with a crossing guard.
May 12, 2009, 11:47 am
Bob from Greenpoint says:
Its time for the bikers to educated them how to follow the rules like must bikers are not stopping for red flashing lights at the school buses,
Bikers got to share the road with respect always remember cars are # 1 and biker’s #2.rideing on a bike is a very good idea follow the rules is more important,
May 12, 2009, 12:16 pm
Dave from Carroll Gardens says:
Agreed, but it also needs to be realized that many lights are weight triggered and a person on a bike is not going to trigger the light to change, then what?

Here's a good article by a cyclist on the topic...

http://bikelemming.blogspot.com/2009/05/6-articles-bicycling-or-chris.html
May 12, 2009, 12:17 pm
Liam from East Village says:
Cyclists shouldn't have to be obey traffic laws around bike lanes unless the bike lanes are being kept clear of vehicular traffic.
May 12, 2009, 12:18 pm
sid from Boerum Hill says:
So if the bike lane is blocked its ok to go through the light? Strange thinking. What if the cars started doing the same thing? there is no one coming its ok to go through the red light. Chaos would ensure. Don't like the law? get it changed but your rationalization for not following it makes it ok for cars to do the same thing.
In NYC no lights are weight triggered. In cases where they are there is always the pedestrian button to hit....and most of the ones people go through aren't weight triggered anyway.

Personally I think its safer for bikes to go against traffic but that isn't the law either....
and I can't tell you how many times I have almost gotten hit as a pedestrian by bikes going through lights and almost hitting me as I am crossing the street with the light and coming in the wrong direction(when I am Jay walking)
May 12, 2009, 12:27 pm
brion from clinton hill says:
This is so ridiculous i don't even know where to start.

I was riding my bicycle on Lafayette street when i came to a stop at the corner of Lafayette and Carlton. I was in the left side of the left hand lane making a left onto Carlton. I checked for traffic, there was no one approaching, i checked for pedestrians, there was no one crossing. The light was red, and i proceeded to turn left into the bike lane on Carlton street when i was pulled over by the police. They wrote me a ticket for running a red light,($230) and failure to use a hand signal when turning ($120). All told, i was left with 350 dollars in fines for a bicycle violation.

I would like to make a few quick points,

First, i understand that New York law treats a bicycle like a car or truck, but i think any rational person within our community would view this as an excessive statute and that any reasonably sensible citizen could obviously draw a distinction between each of these "moving vehicles". I feel very strongly that these laws are discriminatory, unjust, and need to be changed.

Second, the punishment should fit the crime, if this even could be called a crime. We are punishing someone on a bicycle the same way we do someone driving a 2,000 pound motorized vehicle traveling upwards of 60 miles an hour. I can deliver a mountain of statistics on the number of deaths caused by automobile violations versus those caused by bicycle violations. Not to mention the fact that this law also unfairly targets the poor and those who can't afford to drive a car, and certainly can't afford fines like this.

Lastly, what does this say about how our community treats people who are trying to do the right thing by choosing not to drive, use fossil fuels, pollute the environment and the air we breathe here in New York, or add to the enormous automobile congestion crisis already gripping this city. This is wrong on so many levels.
May 12, 2009, 12:30 pm
Nellie Bly from San Simeon says:
This Just In: Drivers of vehicles break laws and get tickets!
May 12, 2009, 2:22 pm
Rosie from Williamsburg says:
Living here for years ....now driving or walking and crossing a street has become a hazard.
Between bike riders, skate boarders and everyone else who does not obey any of the signals. Don't they know that there are blind sides when you're driving and you can't see someone get in front of you from the right?
And if you give them a courtesy beep for them to know you're there, they give you the finger.....I don't get it............
May 12, 2009, 2:59 pm
Liam from EV says:
sid -

You think it's okay for cyclists to ride the wrong way up the street? Do you ride a bike? That's a terrible idea. Riding the wrong way down the street puts other cyclists at risk, probably more than going through a light after checking your surroundings.
May 12, 2009, 3:25 pm
Gant from Williamsburg says:
I think the law should be enforced. Too many times have I seen cyclists pull dangerous moves crossing illegally on red. They are going to get someone killed. I've even thought about the possibility of putting in the red light cameras: http://www.newsy.com/videos/red_light_revenue/ to get cyclists. Of course that brings up a whole new debate about the validity of these cameras, but something needs to be done.
May 12, 2009, 3:43 pm
Lee from Greenpoint says:
Must of the Bikers don’t have manners like they are the only ones driving, if a driver is beeping with horn to prevent of happening an accident they just
Giving you the finger…..bikers should remember if you can’t handle it just stay out of the kitchen, and get your self some money and use public transportation,
May 12, 2009, 3:43 pm
sid from Boerum Hill says:
Liam

did I say it was ok? I said it would be better if the law made them ride the opposite way - all of them not just some of them. They would have a clearer picture of who was coming at that and the cars coming out. Personally I would like to see separations between bikes and cars like they do in Europe but that will be years before its done. Why is it safer for pedestrians to go opposite to traffic than bike riders?....Please think a little and not assume how it works now.

and the bikers shouldn't assume I was honking them. Yesterday some kids started to cross behind a car that was backing up into the intersection I honked them(both the car and the kids) and the biker on the opposite side gave me the finger...don't assume I am honking you but please keep alert.
May 12, 2009, 5:05 pm
Liz from Clinton Hill says:
Yeah! Bicylists are getting out of hand. They act like they're in Cape Cod instead of Brooklyn.
May 12, 2009, 5:19 pm
Eric from Greenpoint says:
Wouldn't it be nice if more people relaxed as if they were on cape cod?

Bicyclists are getting out of hand? Yes they cause so much destruction, I mean a pedestrian has no way to protect themselves from a bicyclist that weighs 30 pounds more than them and is going 15 miles and hour, and cars well they are just so vulnerable to cyclists. Just one crazed bike can inflict hundreds of dollars in aesthetic damage to a car. I mean can you just imagine the toll dents and chipped paint can take on a man not to mention possible guilt over the dead cyclist under their tires.
May 12, 2009, 5:50 pm
ms nomer from Wburg says:
Bob from Greenpoint: You're mistaken. PEDESTRIANS are #1. After that cyclists are #2, then vehicles #3. Reason? In a crash involving a pedestrian and a car driver, who's hurt? The pedestrian. We have to "rate" our streets not by who's the biggest but who's the most vulnerable. Pedestrians in this city far, far outnumber the cars and bikes on the road. I don't understand why our streets aren't designed with this in mind. We'd all be a lot safer.
May 12, 2009, 6:15 pm
chip from fort greene says:
raise your hand if you think a bicycle and an automobile are essentially the same.

raise your hand if you think a bicycle is as threatening to you as an automobile.

raise your hand if you think bicycle fines and automobile fines should be the same.
May 12, 2009, 6:44 pm
sweetbrooklyngirl from prospect heights says:
Anyone with children knows that crossing the street doesnt necessarily mean watching out for the cars and trucks. There are some bicyclists, who speed, especially one black dude who is a racer and wears a helmet in my neighborhood who almost ran my child over and never stopped and once almost knocked down an elderly man in my nabe. He knows who he is, because he is alway racing down Flatbush Avenue towards the park speedracing with the whole biker gear on, and pretends he is a professional. He never stops at lights, nver yields for pedestrians and he should have his bicycle taken away from him.
He is a mancace to the neighborhood. At a recent town meeting, I mentioned this one guy and several other attendees said they to hand a "run in" with him. the next time I see him, I am going to find out his name and file a comlaint with the police department. He gives law abiding bicycle riders a bad reputation.
May 12, 2009, 7:44 pm
Mike from Flatbush-PLG says:
How many deaths caused by cars?
How many deaths caused by bikes?
May 12, 2009, 11:35 pm
Matt from Fort Greene says:
Brion, save the global warming bull—— for another day. Its about traffic law. You have to follow it too. You chose not too, and now you are out $350. Its very simple, obey the law and you wont get a ticket.
May 13, 2009, 12:26 am
Al from Windsor Terrace says:
I think the ticketing sting should be taken into context. It was at night with low traffic and low pedestrians. Of course cyclists are going to go on red if no one is around. Would everyone really just sit at each red light for 2 minutes when the streets are empty?

Everyone in New York jaywalks and I see this as the same, because when starting to cycle from stop, you go as slow as a pedestrian through the intersection.

The cyclists who speed through intersections with lots of pedestrians are clearly a-holes and they should be ticketed. It seems like a few bad apple cyclists have spoiled the perception of cyclists as a bunch.
May 13, 2009, 10:32 am
OED from vol. 19 says:
vehicle:a conveyance that transports people or objects
May 13, 2009, 11:26 am
Mirza from Sunset Park says:
It's amazing how many people on here succumb to the "obey, do not resist" mentality.

I am a bicyclist, and I see other cyclists riding dangerously on a daily basis. Most of the time the people running reds and riding carelessly are fixies. I curse myself all the time for not being careful as well.

We simply need to be safer riders. Bikers have adopted an aggressive behavior similar to that of cars.
May 13, 2009, 12:09 pm
BigMan from Carroll Gardens says:
I consider myself one of the safest and pedestrian considerate bike riders I know (12 years of city biking = zero incidents). After reading this article I decided to count how many red lights I purposely rode through on my commute home from the w. Village to Carroll Gardens. It was 12.
May 13, 2009, 12:54 pm
brion from clinton hill says:
hey matt from Fort Greene,
You're right it is about the law. Bicycles and cars aren't equatable. bicycle fines and car fines shouldn't be the same. so the laws need to be changed. I was taking a left from a left lane into a bike lane on a one way street. $350 for that? what planet are you on?
May 13, 2009, 12:56 pm
Matt from Fort Greene says:
I agree the fines are too much, though I suspect if you knew a red light fine was $230 you wouldnt do it. You probably wont do it again. I dont mind people riding bikes, different strokes for different folks, but what I dont like is the elitist attitude many bikers have (not saying that you do). That, and running red lights. If bikers want to be treated equally as cars on the road, they also must obey traffic laws.
May 13, 2009, 1:53 pm
FTGreeneLocal from fort greene says:
A friend of mine also got a summons the other day for running a red light. She said she asked the cop what's with the the recent enforcement. She was told that at some of the local community meeting citizens and the community board members were complaining to the cops to do something about the bikes disobeying the law and these summons were a result of that. I am not sure if this is true either but i think bikes have to obey the same laws as cars on the road?
May 13, 2009, 11:54 pm
Mike W. from Carroll Gdns. says:
What the police really need to do is to ticket bikers who ride the wrong way on one-way streets and bike lanes. Most bikers aren't aware that bike lanes on one-way streets are also one-way. This is what results in the most accidents and safety problems because drivers and walkers only look the in the direction of where traffic is SUPPOSED to be coming from. And don't even get me started on the amount of under 14 year olds ridind around without helmets... maybe ticket their parents?
May 14, 2009, 10:10 am
Mike W. from Carroll Gdns. says:
You can really tell which commenters in here have never ridden a bike on city streets, much less pretty much every day of the year like I do. I DO admit that there are many bikers out there who ride unsafely and/or just plain rudely to pedestrians and drivers alike.

FYI: many cities have already looked realistically at bike traffic law issues and changed their laws where cyclist can treat a red light as a stop sign. HOWEVER, when there is a red light, cyclists MUST yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk and of course car traffic on the cross street. Safer for bikes to ride against one-way traffic?!? Are you kidding?!? I already hate riding on two-way streets for fear that a half blind driver is going to make a left turn in front of me, which BTW is the type of accident that results in the most cyclist deaths. So lets just have ALL the bikers at risk for this. Great idea.
May 14, 2009, 10:20 am
Mike W. from Carroll Gdns says:
To sweetbrooklyngirl:

As a biker I would have no problem with you or someone you know knocking this guy down. Sounds like he needs a dose of road rash to learn some manners.
May 14, 2009, 10:28 am
Liam from EV says:
sid from Boerum Hill :
It's important to include information on how you see things actually working instead of just saying bikes should go against traffic. I agree with you : contra-flow bike lanes are safer and make sense on wide streets. But you have to include info on it in your first post.
May 14, 2009, 5:53 pm
Peter from Prospect Heights says:
It's completely outrageous that a bicylist should get a $350 fine for an offense that is essentially the same thing as jaywalking-- particularly when the so-called offense is one that isn't dangerous to anyone. The NYPD should focus on vehicular traffic offenses-- you know, the ones that are actually a danger to public safety. Probably thousands of people get killed or injured by unsafe driving in New York every year, and the police virtually ignore the chronic speeding and reckless driving you see every day here.
May 16, 2009, 8:28 pm
phil from park slope says:
it seems reasonable that bikes should have to follow traffic laws and those laws should be enforced. however, it does seem that the size of these fines is overly punitive. a bike breaking a traffic rule does not strike me as having anywhere near the same potential negative impact on society as a motorized vehicle. if we have these rules and they are suddenly going to be enforced, then the fines should be sized in the right proportion. personally, i think the first change should be that drivers from jersey should have their fines doubled, as they are the most egregiously dangerous players on our mean streets. but that's just me.
May 17, 2009, 11:32 am
Suzanne from Greenwood says:
"Bikers protested that they’re being prosecuted for victimless crimes." All sting operations are victimless crimes! They are also against the law of God! Romans 14:13
May 19, 2009, 11:29 am
MikeB from Greenwood says:
Speed limits are routinely ignored by cars. Try driving at 27 in a 25 MPH zone and see how many people give you the finger as they go crazy trying to pass you. Maybe a mob of people could show up at a meeting and get police priorities changed by complaining about that.
May 21, 2009, 10:49 pm
Jan from DUMBO says:
You can't have it both ways. On the one hand you can't scream and stomp your feet for more bike lanes, while on the other hand you're not obeying basic traffic laws.
As a biker, pedestrian, driver and former commercial truck driver, I can say that if everyone at least made an attempt to NOT be a friggin hypocrit we'd all be a lot safer. How about USING the bike lanes, now that the City put them there? There are plenty of cyclists who don't use the bike lanes for a myriad of reasons, inclusive among them is that they can't go fast enough because there are other bikers in the lane.
Let's face it , the ONLY reason you want to run a red light is to go FASTER. Isn't the bike advocates who are telling ALL motorists to SLOW DOWN?!?!?!?! You have no excuse.
May 21, 2009, 11:26 pm
bikerbrooklyn from fortgreenish says:
just got a 270 ticket for a riding through a red light on underhill, a totally dead street. Anyone know what happens if I don't pay it? I am not allowed on most roads where vehicles are allowed, why do I have to pay the same ticket?
Feb. 21, 2010, 1:48 pm
Scottilla from Midwood says:
Why doesn't someone ask drivers turning right at a light and those backed up behind them what they think about bicycles stopping at the light and waiting for it to turn green before proceeding?
April 14, 2010, 1:38 pm

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