After Cyclist is Killed on Eighth Avenue, NYPD Cracks Down…On Cyclists!

File photo: Liam Quigley
File photo: Liam Quigley

The NYPD responded to the death of a cyclist on Eighth Avenue this week with a ticket blitz on Wednesday night against bike riders, including summonses for not wearing a helmet, which is not against the law.

As activists gathered at the intersection of W. 45th Street to mourn the hit-and-run killing of Joseph Chiam by a truck driver on Monday, many noticed that NYPD officers were handing out tickets.

Rider Kalle Westerling said he was on a Citi Bike when he got a ticket for riding without a helmet, which is not required of cyclists over 14. He tweeted about the incident, prompting Council Speaker Corey Johnson to say he would look into the matter.

Claudia Corcino of Transportation Alternatives said she saw three cyclists get tickets.

And Streetsblog stringer Liam Quigley arrived at the Transportation Alternatives vigil to find another woman getting a $190 summons for passing through a red light, which is illegal for cyclists, though is common when cyclists feel it would be safer for them to get ahead of speeding cars on roadways designed and enforced for drivers.

“There’s so much traffic,” said the ticketed rider, Celia Turner. “There’s always a ton of pedestrians in the bike lane and cars turning.”

Cyclists were frustrated that the police were writing tickets to bike riders even before they have apprehended Chiam’s killer. Police said they know the driver’s identity, but have not made an arrest.

“Amazing the bias against and willful ignorance of bicyclists here,” tweeted JD. “@NYPDnews might just be the most corrupt, car-centric police department of any major US city.”

The NYPD declined to comment. A person who works in another branch of city government called the NYPD’s practice of stepping up enforcing against cyclists after the death of a cyclist is “one of the stupidest things the NYPD does.”

Streetsblog has long reported on what many cyclists believe is a concerted effort by the NYPD to discourage cycling by writing bogus tickets.

— With Liam Quigley