Over the weekend, a driver struck and killed a cyclist in the bike lane on Grand Street in Williamsburg, then fled the scene of what police believe was an intentional crash. Naturally, the NYPD’s response to this tragedy has been to issue more tickets to cyclists.
Matthew Van Ohlen, 35, was pronounced dead in a hospital after being struck by a driver in a Camaro who, according to police, intentionally moved into the lane, knocked Van Ohlen off his bike, and ran over his body, dragging him 20 to 30 feet.
In response, WPIX reported at the time, police were “out conducting enforcement, catching cyclists running red lights and handing out tickets.” According to a handful of cyclists on Twitter, that practice is continuing this morning, as at least one cop writes tickets to riders who aren’t equipped with bells on the Manhattan Bridge—something I’ve personally never before seen in my several years as a semi-regular bike bridge commuter—and in the East Village.
Wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. #myNYPD in Interceptor ticketing cyclists in Manhattan Bridge. Just crazy.— Brooklyn Spoke (@BrooklynSpoke) July 6, 2016
Perhaps if the fatal crash were caused by some erratic behavior on Van Ohlen’s part—if he’d swerved into oncoming traffic—the ticket blitz would make sense. It would at least be in line with the NYPD’s mentality of attempting to increase safety through enforcement of minor infractions. But it’s hard to imagine how making cyclists pay for riding without a bell is protecting them from the likes of the dangerous, apparently vindictive driver who took Van Ohlen’s life.
As of this morning, by the way, that driver has not yet been caught or identified.