April 26, 2017 By Christian Murray
Following the death and injury of two bicyclists in Sunnyside earlier this month, the 108 Police Precinct has stepped up its enforcement of law-breaking cyclists.
The precinct, which covers Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City, issued 147 summonses to cyclists for the 28-day period ending April 23, compared to just 14 for the same period in 2016.
Captain Ralph Forgione, the commander of the precinct, said at the Community Council Meeting in Sunnyside last night that his officers have increased their traffic enforcement and have been ticketing both bicyclists and motorists for going through red lights, failing to yield and a multitude of other traffic-related offenses.
Forgione said that the death of Gelacio Reyes, a bicyclist who was struck and killed by a drunk driver at 43rd Avenue and 39th Street on April 1, was a catalyst for enforcement. He said that Reyes had gone through a red light at the time of the tragedy, which played a role in his death.
Just 10 days later, David Nunez was critically injured at the same 39th Street location when a box truck that was turning plowed into him—a further indicator that enforcement was needed, Forgione said.
Officers were out ticketing drivers and bicyclists at that intersection on April 12, a day after Nunez was hit.
Angela Stach, a Jackson Heights resident who is a member of Transportation Alternatives, said that the ticket blitz sent the wrong message to cyclists. “By ticketing cyclists, the day after the cyclist was maimed gave the signal that we were at fault. It was disrespectful.”
Forgione responded by saying that the precinct was just enforcing the laws.
Stach said that bicyclists must contend with cars that double park–blocking bike lanes– speed, as well as go through red lights. She said that 43rd Avenue is an area that the precinct needs to pay attention to in terms of double parking.
Forgione said that the precinct has also increased its ticketing of motorists. The precinct issued 1,076 tickets for moving violations for the 28-day period ending April 23, up 13 percent from the same period a year ago.
Several residents at the Community Council Meeting were critical of cyclists.
Carol Terrano, who lives in Maspeth, complained to Forgione about wayward bicyclists.
“I recently had a bicyclist crash into my car while I was stopped at a light,” she said. “I had $2,500 worth of damage and the person didn’t have penny so I had to eat it.”
Terrano said that cyclists “should have to pay their way, by having insurance, being licensed and being mandated to wear safety equipment. The person who rode into my car didn’t have safety equipment.”
She called for legislation that would require bicyclists to wear helmets.