Central Park Riders BEWARE

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Anonymous's picture

The police were out in force today in CP to tell you that they will soon be ticketing riders in CP for a) running lights, b) not having proper signalling equipment (read you need a bell), c) creating a dangerous environment, and d) riding the wrong way.

Either someone one a big lawsuit or the city needs more money from cyclists. Just thought I would let every in on the news.

Anonymous's picture
<a href="http://www.OhReallyOreilly.com">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)

"Like the perverse tactic of removing ""abandoned property"", err check that, locked bikes during a recent critical mass ride, perhaps it's a preemptive strike by the police for this coming Tuesday's Car-Free Central Park Campaign. (See club home page for details.)"

Anonymous's picture
"Chainwheel" (not verified)
Re: Ticketing in CP

"""they will soon be ticketing riders in CP for a) running lights, b) not having proper signalling equipment (read you need a bell), c) creating a dangerous environment, and d) riding the wrong way.""

The bell thing is kind of silly, but easy enough to comply with. But what's your beef with the rest of it? Are you a red light runner? Wrong way Wilbur? Dangerous rider? Then you should be ticketed. At least the cops are giving fair warning.

I would particularly like to see the cops crack down on wrong way riders everywhere, for the safety of the rest of us.



Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)
running red lights in Central Park

There is a differce between running a red light and running a red light. Does this mean that you will stop at a red light and wait for the light to turn green on the Park Drive while you are doing your laps even though there are no pedestians at the crosswalk?

Anonymous's picture
Bryan (not verified)
Red Lights in CP


I'm a pretty law abiding citizen when it comes to riding. However, generally speaking, I only ride in CP as a means of getting to 125th street or doing a 25 mile TT. Generally I do my TTs at the beginning and end of the riding season at 5:00 am. CP is a great TT venue when it is empty, now that is no longer the case. I would be delighted to participate in a strict observance of the lights in CP if the peds would do the same. However, hell might freeze over first.

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
re: hell freezing over

The Red Sox won the series, how much more evidence do you need?

Anonymous's picture
bryan (not verified)

"I think the Soxs will win another Series before New York peds pay attention ""en masse"". That is a ""curse"" that will never be broken."

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
Parks Dept. cops

"I saw it too, around 1pm. The Parks Dept. cops had set up a ""dragnet"" on the west side drive around 75th Street, near their headquarters, where there's a downhill and cyclists typically pick up speed.

The roadway was blocked off by crowd-control grates and SUVs, and a flagman was waving cyclists onto the narrow bike path (which was crowded with runners, walkers, strollers, and parks dept. officials). Someone was screaming into a loudspeaker that cyclists had to slow down, respect others, blah blah blah.

I was on my maiden voyage as a fixed gear rider (wouldn't you know). While I wasn't going very fast (""pedal to stop!""), it was no easy feat to grab the business-card-size flyer the parks dept. was forcing on all of us. ""So cyclists are the new Taliban?"" I said to one fellow. Sounds like we are.

Here's what the card says:

All bicycles are subject to the rights and duties of vehicle operators.

No more than one (1) earphone.

No bike riding on foot paths.

Drive bicycle at a reasonable speed. [huh?]

Do not create risk of physical injury; (Bicycle will be seized as evidence) [sic]

You must stop at red lights and yield to pedestrians in crosswalks

Bike routes in the parks are one-way (counterclockwise)

Bike must have warning device (bell, etc.)

Refer to VTL and Traffic Regs.


While a concern with public safety is warranted, what's bizarre is the selected level of enforcement. Are cyclists really more of a hazard than pedestrians wandering all over the road without looking? Than insolent runners going four abreast against traffic, forcing everyone out of their way? Than walkman-wearing roller bladers taking up a full lane? Than anyone else behaving without regard for the welfare of others?

As it is, I rarely ride in the park, certainly not in the morning when the stupid runners force you into the traffic lane, where the motorists don't care if they leave you for dead. And on the rare occasions when I do ride there, I am indeed cautious of others. Some are not, but mosts cyclists I see are the same.

I think this campaign is BS and an abuse of tax dollars. Why couldn't they send one of those agents over to fix the overflowing toilet at the Boathouse?

Anonymous's picture
David Regen (not verified)
does this mean CRCA races will have to comply too?

"I once did the Solvang Century in Southern CA, an event with about 5,000 participants (kind of ""Escape from LA""). At one point, there was a stop sign; as I crossed it (with several hundred others), a cop, red-faced and losing his voice, was jumping wildly up and down screaming, S-T-O-P-P-P!!!!!! S-T-T-O-P-P-P!!!!!!. We all just smiled and coasted by the cop having a fit because of a massive public demonstration of civil disobedience.


Anonymous's picture
Robert Rakowitz (not verified)
Bells for racers

Carol et al. -

Does anyone know where to get a 'low profile bell' that would be able to fit on a racing bar?

My old MTB bell doesn't fit.

Maybe there's a market now for aerodynamic carbon bells. Or maybe Shimano and Campy can integrate warning devices into the next generation STI's.

The real irony is that you have to presumably change position to ring the bell, and hence invite risk in losing control to warn others.

Also - I am surprised that there were no regulations on front/rear deflectors.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
Putting safety first

Your best bet is to install what I saw on a tricked-out Schwinn during last Sunday's Tour de Bronx: a full-bore air horn. Gets your dinky little bike the street respect of an eighteen-wheeler. Get outta my way, mofo!

Anonymous's picture
Basil (not verified)
Audible device???

"I seem to recall a previous post on a similar subject suggesting that all the law required was an ""audible device"" (or some such description) and that a good man (or woman)'s lungs would be capable of producing the necessary decibels to satisfy the law's requirement.
Just found the post:
Date: Monday, May 24, 2004 8:07:24 PM
Author: ben ([email protected])
Thread: Ticket Blitz for Cyclists Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; PPC Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/85.7 (KHTML, like Gecko) Safari/85.7
Subject: bell?

(b) No person shall operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least one hundred feet, except that a bicycle shall not be equipped with nor shall any person use upon a bicycle any siren or whistle.

I'm not sure about NYC, but in MI, cyclists have successfully fought these types of tickets by claiming their voice to be the audible device that can be heard 100'.


Anonymous's picture
B. Dale (not verified)

The Incredibell is nice. It's light, low-profile, and loud enough. I bought mine at Excelsports.

Anonymous's picture
jk (not verified)

Until they invent them, what cyclist wouldn't love some defIectors to keep cars, taxis, and peds out of the way, I guess front and rear lights will have to do.

Anonymous's picture
Robert Rakowitz (not verified)

I meant reflectors....

But the idea of deflectors is a good one...maybe next year at Interbike

Anonymous's picture
Jim Reaven (not verified)
Cars out of Central Park!

This is another good reason for getting cars out of Central Park. The drive is now overburdened and often dangerous. It's true that the road can't serve as a workout course for bikes, a race course for runners, a learning place for skaters and a safe crosswalk for tourists and children all at the same time.

Without cars, especially on weekdays from 6:00 AM to 8:00 AM and from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM, there would be more opportunities for dedicated times to meet everyone's needs to a reasonable extent...bikers, runners, skaters, and wandering tourists. And the stoplights could be removed.

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
Red light rule when park is closed to traffic?

I can only assume that New York is now completely crime free and that the rest of the city outside of Central Park is without traffic violations and the police are underemployed. In which case, why not fire them and save on salaries?

I presume the red light rule still applies between 10am and 3pm on weekdays, when the park is closed to motor traffic. Will the police be ticketing horse-drawn carriages who go through the red lights during those hours?

Will the police be ticketing each other for going through red lights in the park, even when they are not chasing anyone? I don't think so.

I'd like to offer a compromise to motorists, if they do make the park motor vehicle free: let them drive in it between 1AM and 5AM when the park is closed to everyone else. That way we won't have any need for traffic lights in the park and the money saved on electiricy each year would probably be more than the revenue from tickets.

Anonymous's picture
David Regen (not verified)
The city sees us as just another revenue stream

I suspect that when NYC police stop cyclists for minor infractions and then ticket them, they are under pressure to bring badly needed money to City Hall. It's simple: enforcing some crimes costs money while other kinds (such as ticketing people) raises money.

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
City Hall needs money eh?

If City Hall is so desperate for money, why are they offering a $400 tax rebate to home owners? Perhaps cyclists are meant to subsidise this.

Anonymous's picture
sonny (not verified)
Need Money

If the cops need money, why not ticket the THOUSANDS of pedestrians that jay walk in the park. You know the ones, cross the road anywhere that they like even though there is no cross walk, cross at the cross walks when there is a don't walk signal so you have to swerve to avoid them even though you are riding properly and have the green light.

Anonymous's picture
jk (not verified)

Maybe this is Bloomberg's way of raising money for the MTA. This brings to mind the current campaign for the westside stadium and convention center. Do we really need it and don't we have a convention center already? Don't we pay enough in taxes? Will we be required to pay more for public transportation as the MTA is complaining they can't afford to run things as they are and are looking to raise fares next year.

Anonymous's picture
Ivy (not verified)

The MTA is State funded, so no, the revenues from ticketing cyclists are not being used to raise money for the MTA.

Anonymous's picture
jk (not verified)
State Funded?

That's not what Bloomberg said on NY1 this morning.....

Anonymous's picture
Ivy (not verified)
Look it up

The MTA is a State agency, not a City agency. I didn't see NY1 this morning, so I don't get what you are driving at. Nevertheless, my point remains the same: revenues generated from ticketing cyclists in New York City are not in any way going to the MTA (or towards building a capitally-funded West Side stadium for that matter, but I'm not going to touch that one).

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
From today's Times

"New York has gone through a profound shift in how transit is paid for - away from government and onto the riders - a change that was a stated, early policy of Gov. George E. Pataki and his administration, and also pursued by other politicians.

The shift began in the early 1990's and grew, step by step, culminating in 2000 with the capital program and voters' rejection of a transportation bond act.

The governor, three successive New York City mayors, and leaders of the Legislature have all contributed to placing more of the system's financial burden on riders, and all approved the capital program. But Mr. Pataki, a Republican, has the greatest sway over the authority, and the state plays the biggest role in supporting the system.""

[Otherwise known as ""privatization""]


Anonymous's picture
jk (not verified)

"Thanks Carol. Look at page B4, todays NYT - 10/26, bottom right. The Mayor is quoted about the MTA as saying"" They've had a fare increase, they get a lot of money from the city.........."""

Anonymous's picture
Tom Hayes (not verified)
central park

I rode in Central Park today betrween 10:30am and 12:30pm. There were several cop cars and cops riding horses, but none of the cops made any attempt to ticket or harass any of the bike riders.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)

Well, that's a relief for folks who can use the park on weekdays. It may have helped that the Parks Dept. was busy ticketing bike commuters on the Hudson Greenway yesterday.

Anonymous's picture
Ivy (not verified)

Carol, where were they ticketing cyclists and for what?That's my daily commute so I'd be interested to know what to look out for.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
Pier 40, at Houston St.

"This was posted on e-bikes yesterday:

""Anyone know what is the deal with the phalanx of NYC Parks police at Pier 40 (Hudson R bike path at Houston) this morning ticketing cyclists for running red lights on
the bike path? It's very confusing and clearly a set-up to harass bikers - they were not giving summonses to bladers or joggers."""

Anonymous's picture
Christian Edstrom (not verified)

FWIW, I whizzed through there today around 8.30 and no sign of the fuzz. I also rode there yesterday around 7.25am and didn't see anything.

That said, that is one of the busiest road/path crossings, so if you're going to enforce the light rules, that'd be the place to do it.

But what I really want is for the MTA bus drivers to stop turning right at the tourist piers when path users have the right of way and green light. I've almost been taken out 3 times by those lumbering behemoths...

- Christian

Anonymous's picture
Dave Bauhs (not verified)

Any idea why this blitz? And in the relatively safer areas to bike in the city? So late in the season when only the relatively hard-core are out? Any reason cyclists are singled out in this sea of reckless motorvehicle operation? Have cyclists started killing pedestrians and I haven't noticed? Is this some kind of retaliation for Critical Mass?

Anonymous's picture
Basil (not verified)
Critical Mass ride this Friday

"Coincidence???? Who knows!
Details at:
Hallowe'en Critical Mass

Anonymous's picture
jk (not verified)
See the NYT today 10/28/04

It all has to do with critcal mass. Page B3.

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
NY Times link
Anonymous's picture
Ivy (not verified)

Yes, thanks again to Critical Mass for making the streets safer and more receptive to cyclists!

Anonymous's picture
Fixer (not verified)

By insisting on poking City Hall in the eye, the Massholes are bringing the Boot down on all of us.

Geez, I've been commuting by Bike since the Koch years, and I don't see too much to complain about. But a handful of art school dropout transplants must know better.

Next time a cop pulls you over on a Sunday afternoon in Central Park, and writes you a ticket for not having a bell or proper reflectors, be sure and thank CM.

They'll do for cycling what Al Queda's done for Islam.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
Read the judge's decision

"Does it taste good to eat those bitter words?

Ironically, it's the cowardice behind this kind of opposition--""don't cause trouble by actively asserting your rights""--that leads to the loss of those rights, infinitely more disruptive to immeasurably more people than a two-hour bike ride once a month.

The putative disruptiveness of the Critical Mass rides--vastly exaggerated by its armchair opponents--is quantified by economist Charles Komanoff in this declaration to the court:

Anonymous's picture
Chris O (not verified)

Very bitter words, indeed, and beyond the pale as well (i.e. Massholes). You level a hateful broadside against cycling advocates but you have little to complain about re: motorists? That is very interesting. I wonder if you ride on the streets? Are your bike lanes not filled with double-parked cars and trucks? Are you are not honked at constantly as you rightfully make your way down the street? Are you not interfered with by masses of pedestrians crossing in front of you when you have the green light? Or even walking in the street when sidewalks are crowded? How about cars turning left from the opposite direction right in your path? You must be blessed to have none of these complaints.

Critical Mass has never interfered with my bike commute. And do you really think the cops in Central Park have anything to do with Critical Mass? That is quite a twisted assumption. But a natural one coming from someone who would compare Critical Mass to the worst terrorist attacks in history. Please go away.

Anonymous's picture
Fixer (not verified)
Bitter Bikers make Better Lovers

"I wonder if you ride on the streets?

Where else would I ride?

Are your bike lanes not filled with double-parked cars and trucks?

That's illegal. If you want those laws enforced more aggressively, you don't lobby for it by cruising through red lights en masse.

Are you are not honked at constantly as you rightfully make your way down the street?

Honked at? That bothers you? Move to Mayberry.

Are you not interfered with by masses of pedestrians crossing in front of you when you have the green light? Or even walking in the street when sidewalks are crowded?

Again, so what? Peds outnumber bikes, like what, 637 to 1? So that's gonna happen. Unless you want to pay for a few thousand more cops to agressively enforce jaywalking laws.

How about cars turning left from the opposite direction right in your path?

Already illegal. So what's to change?

PS: The term ""massholes"" is certainly not my invention. It was coined years ago. Google the bike newsgroups, you'll get hits from 1997. Guess I'm not the only one...


Anonymous's picture
Christian Edstrom (not verified)

I have to say I agree with Fixer on this one.

I'm all for riding en masse (since the law allows that)and having a good time, but the rampant running of red lights and corking at CM is totally inexcusable. We wouldn't tolerate it from cars, trucks, or unicycles, so there is no reason to tolerate it from bikes.

Based on my reading of the decision, it was almost entirely a due process issue. On that basis, I totally agree with the judgement.

That said, so long as you get stopped for running a red light, the cops can still seize your bike. So I guess my expectation for Friday is that everyone will have a nice ride, happily ride 6 abreast as is allowed by law, and then face mass arrest when the first red light is run.

Yes, that ought to make us all feel better!

See, those of us who like cycling, and the First Amendment, and due process, support cyclists right to ride in groups, the rights of property owners, and so on. We just don't like the flagrant breaking of traffic laws.

So answer me this - what, specifically, is achieved by corking and running red lights?

- Christian

Anonymous's picture
jk (not verified)
Art School?

What does that have to do with it?

Anonymous's picture
linda (not verified)
In case you can't access the NYT website - here's the article

"October 28, 2004
Ruling Due in Effort by City to Restrict Mass Bicycle Rides

federal judge said yesterday that he would rule this morning on the city's request for an injunction to bar the monthly Critical Mass bicycle ride from taking place in Manhattan on Friday night. The city also wants to require police permits for all future rides.

The city's motion was a response to a lawsuit filed last week by two civil rights lawyers, Norman Siegel and Steven J. Hyman. They are representing five plaintiffs whose bicycles were seized during a Critical Mass ride on Sept. 24. The suit had asked the judge, William H. Pauley III of Federal District Court in Manhattan, to prohibit the police from seizing bicycles belonging to people who are not charged with crimes or violations.

The lawyers for the bicyclists argued in court yesterday that the seizing of the bicycles violated the constitutional rights of the owners and said that permits were not necessary because state law gives bicyclists an automatic right to the road.

""The bikes have a right to ride the streets just as vehicles do,"" Mr. Siegel said. ""When cars go through the street, they don't need a permit.""

The seized bikes had been locked to lampposts and parking meters at West 36th Street and Fifth Avenue by Critical Mass participants who ran away as the police began to make arrests. Officers sawed off the locks and took 30 to 40 bikes to the Seventh Precinct station house on the Lower East Side, but returned most of them later.

Participants say the rides, which are held on the last Friday of every month to promote nonpolluting transportation, have no preplanned routes, and the riders claim no formal organization or leaders.

A lawyer for the city, Sheryl Neufeld, argued that the rides were unpermitted processions, which are illegal. She said that the rides have grown to include 1,000 or more bicyclists who fill the entire road and sometimes disobey traffic laws, posing a public safety threat. The city contends that the law requires bicyclists to ride no more than two abreast and to obey traffic signals.

Ms. Neufeld added that the police did not want to stop the riders on Sept. 24, but simply wanted to know their route.

Judge Pauley questioned some aspects of the city's argument.

""It's nothing new, is it?"" he asked, noting that thousands of riders had participated in a mass ride in the summer of 2003.

""We're not aware,"" Ms. Neufeld responded.

""Well, you cite it,"" the judge said, consulting the city's papers. ""At least since July of 2003, at least a thousand people have participated in good weather.""

And after Ms. Neufeld said that leaving a movable object unattended on a sidewalk was against the law, the judge asked, ""How often do the police seize bicycles that are chained to a parking meter or light posts?""

She said they do so occasionally; for example, when a motorcade for a dignitary is scheduled to pass down the street.

When Judge Pauley asked if the police planned to seize more locked bicycles in the future, she said that she could not rule it out. Yesterday, the Police Department issued a warning that it might seize bicycles and arrest riders if they participated in a procession without a permit.


Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
"""Taking the Drive out of Central Park"""

"New York Times, October 31, 2004
Taking the Drive Out of Central Park

Almost four decades ago, city leaders forced the drivers who use the looping Central Park roadway to start sharing it with joggers and cyclists, first on weekends and later during the week as well. Now the joggers and cyclists are getting closer to having the road all to themselves.

Two recent traffic studies show that the number of cars that use the six-mile roadway has been diminishing - by at least 25 percent since 1991 - as the city has blocked entrances to the road and reduced the hours that taxis and cars can use it. One study by the Regional Plan Association has indicated that shutting down the roadway would not significantly increase traffic on major avenues outside the park, as some have ominously predicted.

Discussions are under way among New York City park and transportation officials about a trial starting as early as this spring in which three more vehicular entrances to the park would be blocked off and cars barred entirely between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., except for the four transverses that cross the park. That would give trees a 12-hour break from fumes and add some car-free running time for late-night and early-rising joggers. The plan still requires the approval of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.


Any further closings are sure to anger the city's taxi industry, whose drivers rely on the loop as a shortcut around avenues like Fifth Avenue and Central Park West that are jammed during the rush. A majority of the cars that use the park road are taxis.


Warner Johnston, a spokesman for the parks department, and Tom Cocola, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, issued a statement Friday saying only that ""several options to improve vehicular conditions in the park have been considered and continue to be considered.""

Douglas Blonsky, president of the Central Park Conservancy, the private organization that manages the park under a city contract, said, ""If a study supports that we can have some reduction of vehicular traffic in the park, I think that's terrific.""

The talks among city officials do not touch upon the transverses that cross the park at 65th, 79th, 86th and 97th Streets, which carry significant volumes of cross-town traffic. Rather, they focus on the six-mile serpentine roadway built 150 years ago for carriages and designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux as a way of bringing the gentry in touch with the masses.

By the mid-1960's, pressure from environmentalists and groups representing runners and cyclists closed the park to cars on weekends; in following years, the drive was also closed to cars at certain weekday times. Currently, the park is closed to cars all weekend and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays. A weekday exception is made for the branch of roadway that connects the entrance at Sixth Avenue and Central Park South to the one at East 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue; it remains open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

City officials have resisted shutting the park completely to cars, fearing that congestion on nearby avenues could create more pollution than a car ban would prevent. But in the past two decades, the Department of Parks and Recreation has closed off entrances to the roadway at West 110th Street, West 106th Street and Columbus Circle. Among the gateways now under consideration for closings are those at East 102nd Street, East 90th Street (except for exiting cars), and an exit ramp that runs from West 74th Street to West 72nd Street.

In recent years, joggers and cyclists have each had half a lane to the left of the two traffic lanes, though they have often complained that the strip is too narrow, causing them to bump into one another or stray perilously into the car lanes.

Transportation advocacy groups like the Region"

cycling trips