The NYPD is launching an initiative Monday that will have police in precincts citywide focusing on drivers who put bicyclists at risk.
The “Bicycle Safe Passage” initiative comes as the weather is warming up and more people are out riding bicycles.
The initiative, which lasts through Friday, is part of Vision Zero, a safety project that aims to bring the number of traffic fatalities down to zero. Annually, about 250 people are killed in traffic crashes in the five boroughs, according to the city. More than 4,000 people are seriously injured.
This latest action focuses on protecting bicyclists, who like pedestrians, are particularly vulnerable in crashes.
“This targeted initiative will make sure New Yorkers on bikes have clear bike lanes and safe conditions as more and more people take to the streets,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement.
Officers from all 77 city precincts will be directed to focus on drivers who are committing traffic violations that endanger bicyclists. In addition, NYPD traffic enforcement agents will focus on parking violations most associated with bicycle accidents, like parking in a bike lane, double parking or parking in a No Standing zone.
“We are focusing on violations that can endanger our city’s cyclists, and making sure New Yorkers can safely travel on bike lanes throughout the five boroughs,” NYPD Commissioner Bratton said in a statement.
Avid cyclist Anthony Wheeler turns on his mounted camera to show on his Instagram page the dangers he faces during his 20-mile ride across Queens each day.
"Every day, people either try to swerve into you, in your lanes, cutting you off," said Wheeler, of the West Village.
One of the worst offenders documented on the Instagram page was a Fiat driver who swerved into his lane and stayed there for two miles, going between a bus and cars.
The number of people bicycling in the city has grown dramatically in recent years, with 750,000 New Yorkers riding bikes regularly. That’s 250,000 more people than five years ago, according to the city. In all, those cyclists are making more than 400,000 trips a day in the five boroughs — nearly triple the amount made 15 years ago.
While the number of cyclists has grown significantly, the number of biking fatalities has remained steady. The city credits Vision Zero enforcement and the city’s expanding safe cycling network as helping to keep the number down, even as the city continues to grow.
More than 15 new miles of protected bike lanes are planned to be installed this year. There are more than 40 protected bike lane miles in the city already.
As word spread of the tougher tickieting this week, some told us they want bikes policed, too -- especially those that don't obey traffic laws.
"There are responsible bikers out there, but we've got to crack down on everybody," one New Yorker said. "Everybody has to follow the rules."
Even with more enforcement and extra attention this week, Wheeler worries about neighborhoods where the bike lanes are hard to see, and as a result, hard to respect.
"If you look at this lane, it's just faded paint," he pointed out. "What's actually protecting you here?"
Andrew Siff contributed to this report