Hell's Kitchen Cops and Community Begin Crackdown on Delivery Bikes

By Mathew Katz on July 12, 2012 8:46pm 

Issues with cyclists are the No. 1 complaint to cops in Hell's Kitchen, according to the Midtown North Precinct.
Issues with cyclists are the No. 1 complaint to cops in Hell's Kitchen, according to the Midtown North Precinct.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

HELL'S KITCHEN — The restaurant boom on Ninth Avenue has brought an array of new food options to Hell's Kitchen — but it has also brought an influx of bicycle-riding deliverymen, who have drawn complaints from residents for riding the wrong way on one-way streets, biking on sidewalks and ignoring traffic lights.

To address these concerns, the NYPD's Midtown North Precinct teamed up with CHEKPEDS, a Hell's Kitchen pedestrian group, to launch a new education program this week. The officers and activists visited restaurants in the neighborhood on Wednesday and handed them pamphlets filled with the little-known rules of the road, along with a detailed list of equipment every delivery cyclist needs.

The pamphlets also came with a warning from cops, who plan to ramp up their enforcement against law-breaking bikers.

"We're going to start issuing summonses for things like not having a helmet, not having an ID," Midtown North's Mike Dugan said.

"That's our No. 1 complaint in the community: the bicyclists. Nothing about the crime, just the bicyclists."

Separately, the city Department of Transportation is set to announce a new citywide education initiative Friday morning that will target delivery cyclists and crack down on rule-breakers, officials said.

In the month leading up to June 19, the Midtown North Precinct issued 23 summonses against bicyclists, according to Inspector Timothy Beaudette, Midtown North's commanding officer. The precinct also confiscated illegal motorized bikes from several restaurants over the past few months.

According to city law, delivery cyclists need to wear a helmet and a vest or shirt identifying their restaurant, along with lights, reflectors, bells and working brakes. Failure to have any of them can result in up to a $275 fine and 15 days in jail.

CHEKPEDS put together pamphlets for both restaurant owners and the delivery workers, with information in English, Spanish and Chinese, along with a picture-filled guide of the do's and don'ts of dropping off a meal.

"More and more, you're going to see delivery bicyclists around here," said Christine Berthet, who leads the group. "We educate, then we enforce."

The CHEKPEDS guide includes a list of where to buy all the required equipment, which totals about $60 per rider. The group also offered to print identification cards for deliverymen — provided they take a pledge to follow the rules of the road.

"A lot of these guys, they come from a different country where they have it a different way, so they just don't know," Berthet said. "We want to save them money."

Many restaurant owners were taken aback by all the rules. Some thought it was alright for their deliverers to bike the wrong way down one-way streets, while another thought there were different rules for cyclists on the East Side.

"They need to follow the same rules as a car," Dugan told one staffer at Kiran Indian Restaurant.

Harry Sim, the owner of MEE Noodle Shop at 795 Ninth Ave., said that he tries to follow the rules — all of his cyclists have vests and reflectors — but he only has so much control over his deliverymen.

"They don't listen to you," he said with a sigh. "Once they're out there, it's like they're free."

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