78th Precinct Honors Mike Ameri’s Commitment to Safe Streets

The unofficial Michael Ameri bike lane on Bergen Street. Photo: @BrooklynSpoke
Michael Ameri made sure the 78th Precinct respected this block of the Bergen Street bike lane Photo: @BrooklynSpoke

The Bergen Street bike lane between Sixth Avenue and Flatbush was unofficially christened the “Inspector Michael Ameri Bike Lane” yesterday in honor of the late commander of NYPD Highway Patrol.

Outside the 78th Precinct, police officers, Public Advocate Letitia James, and local residents honored Ameri, who took his own life on May 13, for his commitment to safe streets. Ameri served as commanding officer of the 78th before taking the reins at Highway Patrol in July of 2014. It was at the precinct where he acquired a reputation for taking the safety of pedestrians and cyclists seriously.

Ameri shoveling the Bergen Street bike lane in 2014. Photo: N. Wayne Bailey
Ameri shoveling the Bergen Street bike lane in 2014. Photo: N. Wayne Bailey

Early in 2014, Ameri began holding monthly community meetings on traffic safety in the 78th Precinct. Residents were pleasantly surprised by his responsiveness to their concerns. “That to me really gets to what Mike Ameri was all about,” said Eric McClure of Park Slope Neighbors. “He helped to embrace the community aspect of policing, and he really came to value Vision Zero.”

Ameri’s adoption of the bike lane on Bergen Street is what first endeared him to street safety advocates. In 2012, guerrilla street engineers arranged some orange Con-Ed traffic cones to prevent motorists from parking on the segment of the bike lane approaching Flatbush. NYPD vans were a frequent offender, and Ameri realized that the precinct could do better. After the first iteration of the bike lane barrier disappeared, it reappeared in the form of metal crowd-control barriers thanks to Ameri. Two years later, he was shoveling snow out of the bike lane.

Street safety advocates had Ameri’s ear after he moved to the Highway Patrol, which includes the Collision Investigation Squad, and he seemed open to reforming the department’s opaque crash investigation process. That work remains unfinished.

“We’re gonna really miss him,” said James. “They’re going to be huge shoes to fill.”