What’s Up With Cops Ticketing Jaywalkers at McGuinness?

Beware of the pink summons! © Zachary A. Martz

 

We’ve gotten a lot of emails from Greenpointers who are being issued warnings for jaywalking across McGuinness and Nassau over the last few weeks, so we figured we’d do a little investigating.

The local precinct confirmed that they have been stationing there “because it’s an accident prone location,” especially given the recent tragic death of 32-year-old Nicole Detweiler, who was struck by a vehicle while crossing at the intersection in December.

However the reaction to the accident from the police department, almost 2 months after Detweiler was killed, has been inefficient at best and completely illogical at worst. 

Sonia Deepak was walking home last week around 7pm, when she crossed the first 2 lanes of the intersection while no cars were in sight. When she and another woman reached the other side of the street, they were stopped by uniformed police, who, as Deepak writes, “explained that a young lady had been hit and killed while jaywalking across the intersection and that what we did was illegal.  They said that in the next couple of weeks they were going to start giving $50 summons to everyone who jaywalked at the intersection.”

The women were given warnings, but their ID’s and information were recorded.  ”I feel badly for the young lady who died, but I was very aggravated by this.” Sonia told us, “In the 8+ years I’ve lived here I’ve seen a number of memorials, a ghost bike and a live accident happen at this intersection. I’m frustrated that city’s reaction is to blame residents and not consider that it is the intersection itself is dangerous… Their intentions might be good but if they’re trying to save lives, they’re going about it the wrong way.”

We couldn’t agree more.

The same thing happened to Lorraine Kenny when she was walking home with her daughter around the same time in the evening…except she received a warning before even attempting to cross the street.  The light was red, and as the women were waiting to cross the street, a cop handed them (and everyone else on the corner) a piece of paper that said:

Attention! You just VIOLATED TRAFFIC RULES governing pedestrians, for which a pedestrian may receive a summons (provided the pedestrian has identification. Otherwise the pedestrian will be taken to the station house for processing.) We hope that you will start obeying the laws governing pedestrians, and issuing a summons to you will not be necessary.

The logical solution to stoping speeding is to…well, crack down on speeding. So why are the police ticketing pedestrians instead of speeding vehicles?  The precinct said that this is not a new initiative and that they have always given warnings for jaywalking, but surely there has been a new level of concentration and resources placed on McGuinness. The officer that I spoke to, who declined to give his name, said that their intention is to make people “aware of the intersection.”

But now the warnings have turned into actual court summons.  This past Friday (2/28), Zach Zamartz sent us the above photo of the pink court summons he received for jaywalking on the same intersection.  ”In New York City, where Jaywalking is artform and a way of life, I was flabbergasted at the very notion this occurrence was even cosmically possible,” Zach wrote on his blog.

The police responded to  Zach’s confusion by telling him that they had already warned Greenpoint residents at the intersection about elevated enforcement and therefore had a right to summons him. However, Zach not personally been warned and was completely caught off guard.

“After all was said and done, I asked the officers if it would be possible to post signs or have more effective ways of educating the community of the elevated enforcement… I was offered a canned answer and directed to call the precinct,” he said.

Jaywalking fines can range anywhere from $50 to $250 and as Zach explained, if he doesn’t show up for this court date, there will be a warrant out for his arrest.

“This has been one of the most stressful situations to research and process,” said Zach. “There is hardly any information on this misdemeanor available online and there is no easy way to reconcile the issue. I would prefer to get this out of the way and save myself, the court, the officers, and the state a sizable amount of time and money; but apparently there is no standard amount to charge, nor a 21st century way to pay a “Pink Summons”.’

The logical explanation is that this policy is part of de Blasio’s new Vision Zero policy to eliminate pedestrian deaths in the city. However, the NYPD did not answer my requests for information. Neither did the Department of Transportation, the Mayor’s Office, or Council Member Levin. Each department directed me to a different email address with no response– oh, bureaucracy.

Although this warning/summons method is well…far, far removed from the logical realm of justice, I suppose that the police do have good intensions (even if they are going about it the wrong way).  We may never get to the bottom of where this policy is coming from. But when all is said and done, it’s really not worth it to jaywalk on McGuinness. Do it anywhere else in Manhattan or in the neighborhood on side streets and empty intersections, but not there. In case you haven’t heard, North Brooklyn had the most traffic-related deaths in all of NYC in 2013. 

If you think about it, waiting an extra 5 minutes at the corner could save your life. Or at the very least, save you from having to spend the day in Court.  Is it really worth the risk?

32 Comments

  1. John d says:

    so hipsters are upset because they are being ticketed for breaking an actual law???

    Its ok to ticket drivers but not pedestians?? If we all Learn the rules of the road, we all make it to where we need to go.

    Kudos to the 94th. Hipsters should abide by the rules or pay the consequence .

    Reply
    • Ben Kintisch says:

      Did the article say that those who received summonses were hipsters?

      I have to say that while jay walking is not smart, the real crime here is rampant speeding.

      The 94th precinct should focus scarce police resources on ticketing rampant speeding motorists. That would actually make a difference and could save a life.

      Reply
    • AnoNYC says:

      It’s safe to say that the problem here is that reckless automobile drivers are killing pedestrians due to speeding or inattention on their part in most situations, citywide.

      Jaywalking is a reaction to streets inappropriately designed to handle high pedestrian density/activity.

      Reply
    • Ryan says:

      No, as a resident who lives just a few blocks from McGuiness, what upsets me is that the police are putting so much effort into this, but are doing nothing to enforce the problem motorists have with the most basic of traffic signals, the stop sign, in the surrounding area. Spend 15 minutes at the four way stop at Engert and Graham and watch how many cars blow through without even attempting to pump their brakes, nevermind come to a complete stop as required by law. Yesterday while walking my dog, we were nearly hit for foolishly thinking an approaching car would stop at the sign, and then watched four cars behind it follow without a single brake light illuminating. One car even had the nerve to honk at us, as if we were doing something wrong by expecting a licensed motorist to understand what is literally the first rule of the road. This happens to my girlfriend and I on an almost daily basis walking down Engert to and from the subway. I’m at my wits end.

      I agree with you, though, John. Everyone does need to obey the rules of the road in order to maintain a safe neighborhood. Making the selfish choice to breaks laws, even the little ones, as it seems convenient hurts us all.

      Reply
  2. JC says:

    I see nothing wrong with giving pedestrians tickets, when they endanger themselves, and their actions cause property damage to people’s vehicles.

    There should be some discretion; like when it is apparent that no vehicles are coming down the street.

    Bicyclist’s should also be ticketed for going through red lights, stop signs, plowing though crowds crossing the street, and stopping their bikes in the pedestrian crossings.

    Bicyclists are a menace on the roads and sidewalks, because they flout the law, and have no common courtesy. Though I hate the reach of government; it’s about time that bicyclists, be required to carry insurance, mandatory safety classes, and have registration plates.

    Reply
    • facts are annoying says:

      “Bicyclists are a menace”

      How many people have bicyclists killed in NYC in the last 5 years?

      How many people have drivers killed in NYC in the last 5 years?

      Reply
    • Ben Kintisch says:

      I agree with you that some bicyclists need to improve their behavior, as do some pedestrians.

      The author of the article is absolutely correct that the dangerous intersection needs to be re-engineered for safety.
      Also, the speeding motorists here are endangering people’s lives, and therefore should be targeted more than people on foot.

      Reply
    • AnoNYC says:

      Bicycles a menace? While it’s true that most bicyclist flaunt rules such as coming to a stop at red lights or stop signs, to label them a menace is nothing more than an exaggeration.

      Bicyclist pose a miniscule threat to pedestrians and drivers alike. It’s been years since a pedestrian was struck and killed by a bicyclist, a rare event. Nor are pedestrians likely to be seriously injured.

      At the same time, those on bicycles are relieving congestion on roads and rails with minimal environmental impact. Which is why it should be encouraged rather than discouraged with such silly policies.

      As for jaywalkers, the vast majority due so when the street is clear of obstructions, hence the lack of collisions in comparison to the proliferation of jaywalking.

      You’re just looking for someone to hate.

      Reply
  3. Maria says:

    Why is everyone so upset over a “warning” about something that is illegal anyway? Everyone should be happy that the cops are concerned. People want more done but don’t bother me about it or get in my way attitude is not helping. Damned if you do damned if you don’t. Please explain how cops “are going about it the wrong way”. I take a chance if I jaywalk and would NEVER consider that it was the drivers fault if it was my mistake. How many times have I seen pedestrians walk with their heads down and not once look up as cars are coming? Many if you ask me.

    Reply
    • AnoNYC says:

      This is about allocation of limited resources. Target reckless and inattentive drivers, not pedestrians.

      BTW, the NYPD warned of a coming ticketing blitz and yes someone was fined as stated above.

      Reply
  4. Lilly says:

    They should also give bike rider tickets as well for not stopping at stop signs or red lights

    Reply
    • Ben Kintisch says:

      I agree with you that more cyclists need to stop at red lights and behave in a manner that is safe and courteous.

      When cyclists commit infractions like those you mention, they might hurt themselves or bump into a person.
      When a motorist chooses to speed, they might just kill somebody.
      Since the potential to harm others is far greater when driving, drivers must be the most cautious of all road users.

      Reply
  5. JL says:

    The cops sometimes sit at the bottom of the Pulaski and basically pull a car a minute over because everyone flies over the bridge. I still don’t understand why they don’t station cops a little farther down near Norman or Nassau, cars fly through there every day, with no end in sight.

    Reply
    • Ben Kintisch says:

      Since recent traffic studies have consistently named McGuinness BLVD as one of the deadliest in all of NYC, I certainly support continued ticketing of speeding motorists.

      Reply
  6. Rodrigo Toscano says:

    Behavior-Based “safety” has been debunked as thoroughly as has Just Say No (to drugs) and the Pull Out Method of Birth Control. DOT Safety and OSHA are both built on precisely identifying hazards and controlling them.

    What is the Hazard? The Cars – whizzing by at tremendous speeds in an residential corridor. So the question becomes how is the Hazard to be controlled? By procedures? By warning systems? By mitigation? Or substitution? Or maybe Elimination of the Hazard (re-engineering the whole terrain).

    This is not to say that individuals shouldn’t take as best care of themselves as possible; but to institutionalize – if only for a few months – a behavior-based model of “fixing’ the problem – what does that do? It trains people to dance around the Hazard. NTSB, we note, does not make plane crash investigation recommendations based on better behavior.

    Ticketing won’t work. Let’s go for the fix.

    Reply
    • Ben Kintisch says:

      Great points all around. Let’s hope that the dangerous McGuinness corridor is re-engineered for safety. As this part of Greenpoint continues to be built up with more residential construction, we need to increase safety for all to avoid future tragedies.

      Reply
    • Josh says:

      Completely agree Rodrigo. It doesn’t fix the problem. Just continues to tolerate it. I have a proposal into GCEF for a study regarding truck traffic. If we can reduce that, we’ll be going in the right direction.

      Reply
  7. mozee says:

    “We may never get to the bottom of where this policy is coming from”
    Um, how about that people routinely saunter across the street against the light? Enforcement of the law is a double edged sword.
    Some accidents can be the fault of the pedestrians.

    Reply
    • Ben Kintisch says:

      It’s true that sometimes pedestrians do foolish things.
      Jaywalking is a foolish and dangerous thing to do.
      However, making a foolish choice should not be punishable by death.

      When we prioritize the safe passage of walkers and cyclists (our most vulnerable road users) then we can all get where we’re going safely – whether we drive, walk, or bike.

      Reply
  8. maria says:

    I almost got hit today driver taking right on red at McGuiness and Driggs. I had the light. The jerk laughed when how startled i was. Cars and trucks speed through our neighborhood and it needs to stop.

    Reply
  9. Darren says:

    This is a good thing. This is the way it should be not what Lentol and Stephen Levin want to do, which is to which is lower the speed limit on a major throughway to 20mph because the pedestrians can’t wait for the green light to safely cross the street. Please don’t ride a bike on this road if you value your life it’s just too tight. I saw a guy all smashed up doing just that.

    Reply
  10. stan c says:

    I completely agree with the fact that law enforcement should be targeting TRAFFIC on McGuinmess Blvd, —-and NOT the victims, not the pedestrians.
    If or new Commissioner Bratton wants to target “quality of life issues” by harassing pedestrians- then he should be instructed that it’s not just a quality of “life” issue here- but it’s a matter of “LIFE AND DEATH” with these out of control motorists. Perhaps he’s in love with cars now, since he spent so much time in L.A. before returning to New York.
    It is a common sight to see cars, SUVS, motorcycles, and huge trucks BARRELING down McGuinmess Blvd- well past the speed limit- and nothing is ever done about that. Nothing at all.
    It goes on year after year, and people die.
    So now we ticket the people? RIDICULOUS!
    I myself was nearly hit on the corner of McGuinness and Greenpoint Ave. I had the complete right of way, with the light …but a speeding SUV making a turn onto McGuinness did not give a damn and stopped barely an inch before striking me.
    Likewise , my friends have been struck and severely injured and crippled in a similar fashion on Manhattan Ave.
    This is our community. These creeps come speeding thru the area as if it was their personal racetrack. Stop the charade. Stop harassing pedestrians. The police are here to serve US. The police should do their job PROPERLY and target the MOTORISTS who make McGuiness Blvd. the dangerous crossing that it is!
    If they won’t do that —then our elected Assemblyman, State Senator, and Councilman need to act on our behalf. Now.

    Reply
  11. John says:

    It is a tragedy that people are being killed or hit by cars but just blaming it on speeding or jay walking it goes deeper then that with these idiots walking and texting there is no txt message or phone call that cant wait till you are safely on the side walk and as far as it goes for the ghost bikes again a tragedy but 70% of these people are either riding against traffic going thru stop signs and red lights follow the law you nit wits and stay alive

    Reply
  12. Tyson White says:

    There are over 200,000 car crashes in NYC each year, and they think pedestrians are the problem?

    They traffic laws are barely enforced by NYPD. I see motorists speeding and using mobile devices like it is 100% legal. Why are we wasting limited resources cracking down on the victims.

    Reply
  13. AnoNYC says:

    This is absolutely ridiculous. Jay walking is an attempt at playing a hand in an unfair game. Our streets are not appropriately designed for pedestrian activity, despite the fact that most of us do not drive. To penalize us for trying to equal the playing field is bad policy. Reduce crossing distances and speed limits, create mid block crosswalks, all-way delayed reds, speed humps, chicanes, and increase crosswalk timing and you might bring some equality to our streets.

    Reply
  14. gpointer says:

    Just email the captain at the 94th precinct. Hes kna bike/ped advocate, so he should know better. Stefan.komar@nypd.org

    Reply
  15. Shmelke says:

    Those reckless bike riders who blow stop signs and lights deserve the tickets, not jaywalking hipsters.

    Reply
  16. M says:

    Each of us is responsible for our own safety, whether we are driving in a car or walking along a street. There HAS to be accountability on both sides. It is a fact that J-walking is against the law. If a car is going 50 or 30, getting hit by it can be fatal. The speeding along McGuinness is an issue but so is the way people try to beat the lights or cross when they should not. In a civil society, we all must follow the rules to maintain safety of everyone. The police are doing what they can right away – issuing warnings and/or tickets to pedestrians and motorists. This is also the same campaign in Manhattan and other boroughs. Pedestrian deaths are on the rise. We all need to look both ways before crossing the street, and cars making a right on a red need to STOP fully and proceed if it is safe to do so. We all need to see this as a common cause and work together to improve the safety of the streets. It is not just a speeding problem or just a pedestrian problem.

    Reply
  17. CrooklynDodger says:

    The fact that the police never enforced jaywalking led to people blindly thinking it’s their God-given right. Let’s agree on this, it is not your right. Jaywalking is illegal in this state. They have every right to start enforcing jaywalking.

    Too many people here seem to want to play the game of deflection, “go after the drivers; they are the ones killing people. MURDERERS!!!!!”

    Can we also agree that there are a fair number of drivers who will go over the speed limit repeatedly, and/or they’ll frequently run a red light, and/or they drive aggressively? Those people need to be ticketed, too.

    However, the dynamics of driving means that you are more likely to make a mistake than a pedestrian. Why? You have a lot more variables when driving. Not making an excuse, just stating a fact. A pedestrian has one responsibility, wait for the light to turn RED and the WHITE WALK signal to appear, then GO. Therefore, if you do that one thing wrong then you can be putting yourself at serious risk if a driver also makes a mistake, and thereby compounding the problem. For example, when you jaywalk on a busy street with a lot of car traffic then any one of the following things can happen: the driver takes his eyes off the road for a second and doesn’t see the person jaywalking, the driver starts to speed after the light changes over to yellow, or the driver thinks you won’t be that batshit crazy and get in the way of an oncoming vehicle. Yet people jaywalk anyway, myself included. I’m a huge repeat offender, but that doesn’t mean I’m the one they should not go after.
    The lowest hanging fruit for the drivers and pedestrians to coexist peacefully are the pedestrians, get them to stop jaywalking and obey the one traffic law they are required to obey, and then go after the drivers. The idea here is to reduce fatalities caused by pedestrians first. I don’t see this as that complicated but it seems like people have a sense of entitlement with regard to which laws they can break. They are going after the drivers, too, but it’s going to take time to get all parties to modify their behavior (pedestrians and drivers alike). But if you get the people that are going to be easier to control, in this case the pedestrians, then you can start working on the other part of the problem.
    And this statement is quite illogical: “I’m frustrated that city’s reaction is to blame residents and not consider that it is the intersection itself is dangerous… Their intentions might be good but if they’re trying to save lives, they’re going about it the wrong way.”
    There will always be intersections that are more dangerous than others, you just can’t redesign the intersection – the amount of manpower required would be insane. Has this person ever tried to walk across Queens Blvd? Even when I have the walk signal I don’t feel safe. Unfortunately, when you live in a city with this many people then there will have to be dangerous intersections. A fact of life. And if anyone here has ever been to a city like Tokyo, a city with a higher population density than us, then they’ll see how automobile drivers and pedestrians should behave.

    Reply
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