Critical Mass

NYPD COMMANDER WHO ASSIGNS DOZENS OF OFFICERS TO MONTHLY PEACEFUL BIKE RIDE, REFUSES TO TICKET SPEEDING DRIVERS, DEFENDS HIMSELF 

55-still

Cyclists brought a speed gun, clocked speeds over 50 miles per hour, asked officers to enforce the law. Officers refused.

April 28, 2014

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release 

Contact: Keegan Stephan, 907.244.6426

New York, NY: On Friday, April 28, 2014, a peaceful group bike ride of 20 cyclists was followed by dozens of police officers. The cyclist took them to the intersection of Clinton and Delancy, where 12 year old Dashane Santana was killed while crossing the street by a speeding driver last year, and clocked the speeds of motorists regularly exceeding 40mph, well above the 30mph speed limit across NYC.

Not only did the officers refuse to enforce the law, their Commanding Officer David Ehrenberg justified using his resources to police the cyclists because he claimed they get many complaints about lawless bikers.

As the cyclists questioned the commanding officer, he told them to “forget about traffic fatalities,” said speeding was not a factor in any of the 10 pedestrian fatalities in his precinct in the last two year, and said he was proud of the speeding enforcement by his precinct, which has written only 7 speeding tickets this year. All captured here:

One dozen officers have been policing the monthly Critical Mass bike ride since the Republican National Convention in 2004, costing the city millions of dollars per year.

As far back as 2008, City Council members signed a letter demanding an investigation into the NYPD’s policies toward Critical Mass, including Tish James, Gale Brewer,  and Melissa Mark-Viverito, now Public Advocate, Manhattan Borough President, and Speaker, respectively.

Since then, most riders have stopped attending and the ride has dwindled to fewer cyclists than cops, but the officers kept attending and ticketing for minor and non-existent infractions, like this five year old ticketed for not wearing a helmet.

denis-the-menace

Stalwarts had hoped the police presence would diminish after the February 18th Vision Zero Press Conference in which the new NYPD Commissioner William Bratton repeatedly said resources would be focused on speeding and failure to yield, the crimes that are killing pedestrians.

That has not happened yet, but the activists are hopeful. “This is not about us being upset about the NYPD policing our bike ride. We are upset that they are using their limited resources to police a bike ride rather than save lives,” said Keegan Stephan, an organizer with Right of Way. “The administration has clearly demonstrated that speeding and failure to yield are the leading causes of pedestrian fatalities, and I think that we have clearly demonstrated that the officers assigned to a peaceful bike rides on Friday nights could better serve the city by cracking down on traffic violence.”