NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 04: A cyclist rides in Central Park on April 4, 2011 in New York City. Central Park, long a center point to Manhattan`s burgeoning cycling community, has become ground zero of a battle between the New York Police Department (NYPD) and riders as the police have begun issuing tickets to cyclists for both speeding and not stopping at traffic lights. The NYPD has issued 230 tickets to cyclists for over $200 between Jan. 1 and March 15 of this year. The riders are beginning to fight back with a Facebook group and appeals to New York`s Mayor Michael Bloomberg to set traffic lights to "blinking yellow" during off-peak hours. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
It's well-treaded territory, and the issue of bicycling in New York City remains a hot topic. Just take a look at the NYPD ticket blitz targeting bicyclists who run red lights in Central Park.
What is it about cycling that engenders such animosity in New York? The usual angry rhetoric accuses New York’s cyclists of ignoring the laws. But here’s the thing: ALL New Yorkers, pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists alike, disregard the traffic laws.
So if New York cyclists disregard the traffic laws, how does that make them any different from any other New Yorker?
And when it comes to the most serious consequence of breaking traffic laws -- deaths -- cyclists, Mionske argues, bear hardly any responsibility. While 18 of the 269 people killed in crashes in New York City last year were cyclists, no figure could be provided on how many of the total deaths could actually be blamed on cyclists because they were "so insignificant a factor."
Everyone has a duty to observe the traffic laws. They are an essential component of public safety and should be enforced. But what’s happening in New York is different—the traffic laws are being strictly enforced against cyclists, while pedestrians and motorists get a pass to continue to ignore the traffic laws.