OPINION: 911 Call or Donut Run? The Question Misses the Point of City’s Contempt for Cyclists

A police officer dismisses our correspondent's concern about bike lane parking.
A police officer dismisses our correspondent's concern about bike lane parking.

It started with a simple tweet on Tuesday from a Friend of Streetsblog who posts under the handle JarekFA. The social media post showed two police officers inside a Dunkin Donuts location at Fourth and Atlantic avenues in Brooklyn and their SUV squad car parked outside in the bike lane. It was just your everyday run-of-the-mill example of the NYPD’s complete disregard for cyclists, except when JarekFA went inside to talk to the officers and found himself on the receiving end of a condescending tirade from one of the cops. An NYPD spokesman later told Streetsblog that the officers were responding to a 911 call — which, judging from the video, seemed preposterous, given the officers’ leisurely pace inside the pastry shop. We asked JarekFA, who bikes past that corner most days, to express his emotions:

My beef isn’t with any one individual officer, but rather, with the entire system by which her conduct should be viewed as a symptom of such broken system running on inertia. If it was in her incentive to act politely and take this stuff seriously, then she would’ve.

It’s just a failure by the city, but really the mayor, in so many ways:

  1. Failure by the Department of Transportation for negligently designing a bike lane at an intersection they know will be treated as a loading zone (near a bodega and Dunkin) by police and other drivers stopping for “just a second.”
  2. Failure by DOT and the city by requiring police enforcement as a Vision Zero partner as opposed to allowing design to do the enforcement.
  3. Failure by NYPD to not only enforce the lane, but to block it in non-emergency settings, which encourages others to treat it as a “quick stop” for the bodega, which they do.
  4. Failure by NYPD to treat bike safety as something serious; we regularly see bike patrols for policing protests (sometimes harshly) but they never use such bikes for patrolling bike lanes and protecting people on bike. The officer even insinuated that’s she’s frequently confronted by bike people angry about her bike lane blocking!
  5. Failure by the NYPD to train their officers to interact with the public insofar her immediate response to a polite sincere public safety inquiry is to immediately start shouting:
    a. There are no incentives for her to care about my well-being and instead the incentives are for her to be dishonest and hostile!
    b. If she merely said, “I understand your concern. I apologize for causing the inconvenience and I will try not to do it in the future” then I would’ve given a sincere thank you!
  6. Failure by the NYPD to take basic accountability by being dishonest on what our eyes could plainly see (there was a five-minute gap between video 1 and 2 because I dropped my child off at school in between) and instead used an excuse (responding to an incident) which actually took place at least 10 minutes after my interaction, according to the Citizen App.

I just want them to do their job properly! Hand out tickets in addition to brochures! Take traffic violence seriously! Don’t park in bike lanes outside of emergencies! And be a real partner in saving lives!

Why I’m this way? I take my child to school on my bike every day.

  • Bike: 12 mins]
  • Train: 25 mins
  • Car: 30 mins (mostly due to parking)
  • Bus (start/end within two blocks of a one-seat B63 ride): 50 minutes.

I want everyone to get the material time saving benefits from biking in the city!

Follow JarekFA on Twitter here.