Police to Ticket Scofflaw Cyclists

IMG_8290Timothy J. Stenovec Deputy Inspector Kenneth Lehr, pictured at a police ceremony earlier this month, told the Ninth Precinct Community Council Tuesday night that cyclists who violate traffic laws in bike lanes will receive tickets just as motorists do.

The head of the Ninth Precinct issued a stern warning to East Village cyclists at the Community Council meeting Tuesday night – traffic laws don’t just apply to vehicles.

“They are under the same rules and will get a moving violation just like a motorist would,” said Deputy Inspector Kenneth Lehr, referring to neighborhood cyclists. “They’re required to adhere to the same rules as the road.”

Much of the council meeting focused on enforcing traffic laws in the re-designed bike lanes that were introduced this summer along First and Second Avenues from Houston to 34th Streets.

Kurt Cavanaugh of Transportation Alternatives called bike lanes the “new hot button issue” and asked the Ninth Precinct to step in to prevent bike lanes from being blocked by vehicles, delivery trucks and even pedestrians.

“We ask the local precinct to increase the bike lane blockage enforcement,” he said. “There’s still a lot of bike lane blockage, which is really unsafe for all parties.”

But it’s not just cabs and delivery trucks blocking the bike lanes that are a problem, Mr. Cavanaugh said. He acknowledged that some cyclists have flouted traffic laws, too.

Inspector Lehr said that motorists, cyclists and pedestrians all have a bit of a learning curve with regard to the reconfigured lanes.

“This is going to be a process,” Inspector Lehr said. ”Everyone’s going to have to learn to use the new lane configuration properly. It’s going to take a sustained effort on our part. I can’t say there aren’t going to be injuries on First or Second Avenue.”

In response to the redesigned lanes, the precinct has changed the way that it works to prevent traffic violations, Inspector Lehr said.

“We’ve revamped our whole daily deployments in terms of traffic enforcement, specifically on First and Second Avenues,” he said. “We have Houston up to 14th Street and we’ve done a lot of enforcement in the past two to three weeks.”

Ultimately, Inspector Lehr said, it’s all about improving the safety of the new lanes.

“We’re not just doing enforcement to try to make someone pay a fine,” he said. “We’re trying to save lives.”