As a New Yorker and bike-lane enthusiast, cars and trucks parked in the lane are the bane of my existence, and I know I’m not alone in this thought. It’s a pervasive issue throughout the city that forces bike-lane users to either hop up on the sidewalk (annoying pedestrians) or move into traffic (annoying everyone because no one wants a manslaughter charge).
But now we can possibly rejoice. According to Bloomberg, New York City Council Member Lincoln Restler is pushing a new bill that would give civilians like you and me the power to report bike lane bastards who take up the entire lane with vehicles that are decidedly not bicycles or scooters. The bill would also allow people to report vehicles that block entrances or exits of schools, sidewalks and crosswalks.
The report says that people who – let’s be honest – narc on vehicles in the bike lane can earn up to 25 percent of a proposed $175 ticket. Before getting the reward, the Department of Transportation would need to review the evidence that was submitted to see if a violation actually took place.
Council Member Lincoln Restler said the bill is necessary because the New York City Police Department, which has traditionally been responsible for enforcing these traffic rules, isn’t giving out enough tickets. The number of traffic citations issued in the city increased from fiscal 2021 to fiscal 2022, but remains nearly 50% below pre-pandemic levels, according to the Mayor’s Management Report.
“I feel the safety risks every day that are associated with illegal parking,” said Restler, who is a cyclist. “It’s even more problematic for the parent pushing a stroller or a person in a wheelchair who can’t get by on the sidewalk because of illegally parked cars. That’s why we are creating, in this legislation, a new structure to bring real accountability.”
It’s a similar bill to one we’ve covered in the past – the Citizens Air Complaint Program. It allows folks to take video evidence of vehicles idling on the streets of New York for a 25 percent cut of the fines. It’s been around since 2018 at this point. Last year, there were 12,267 reports, which was up 35 percent from 2019. Bloomberg says 92 percent of those reports ended in a ticket for the offender. It made the city $2.3 million and it made the civilians who reported the shit heads $724,293.
As you may have imagined, not everyone is onboard with the idea – including the good ol’ NYPD. A spokesperson for the department said they were concerned the law could lead to violent conflicts between drivers and the people who are reporting them.
Pedestrian and bicyclist deaths were down slightly in New York’s 2022 fiscal year, though the number has remained steady at roughly 115 and 20 fatalities per year. An additional 17 died on electric bikes and electric scooters — triple the toll from the year prior, according to the mayor’s management report.
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Bloomberg reports that the bill was unveiled with another piece of legislation that would – in essence – get rid of city-issued placards. They are the second biggest bane of my existence behind bike lane assholes. They are abused by city employees constantly and are used to park in all sorts of places they shouldn’t be in. Why can’t these people not abuse the tiny bit of power they possess?
Right now, the bill has more than 20 co-sponsors, so with any luck it’ll move forward in the City Council.