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NYPD Cracking Down On Motorists Who Drive, Park In Bike Lanes

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The NYPD is launching a new traffic initiative aimed at protecting cyclists.

The NYPD will begin cracking down on drivers who obstruct bike lanes and fail to yield to cyclists.

But as CBS2's Scott Rapoport reported, some drivers and pedestrians are asking what's being done to keep them safe from aggressive bikers.

"Vehicles are parking in the bike lanes, obstructing the bike lanes, and causing bicyclists to actually go into the roadway," Chief Thomas Chan, of the NYPD's Transportation Bureau, said.

The crackdown will ensure bicyclists have safe passage and can utilize bike lanes in a safe manner, Chan said.

"That's great. It's fantastic," one cyclist said.

All this week, 1,500 traffic officers from all 77 precincts will take part in the effort, which began last week with Department of Transportation street teams on a mission to educate drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

"We believe in protecting everyone on our streets," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "This targeted initiative will make sure New Yorkers on bikes have clear bike lanes and safe conditions as more and more people take to the streets."

The traffic cops are now directed to focus their attention on enforcement against drivers committing violations putting bikers in danger, like blatantly riding in bike lanes, crossing over them, and squeezing into them to avoid traffic.

"This week's 'Bicycle Safe Passage' initiative will help protect New Yorkers biking on all our city's streets," said NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. "We are focusing on violations that can endanger our city's cyclists, and making sure New Yorkers can safely travel on bike lanes in all five boroughs."

"I think what works is when we combine bold and robust engineering with bold and robust enforcement," said Kim Wiley-Schwartz, assistant commissioner of Education and Outreach for the DOT.

The city now has 40 miles of protected bike lanes.

The DOT will add an additional 15 this year as the number of people cycling in the city grows dramatically. The city has seen a 320 percent surge in daily cycling between 1990 and 2014, from 100,000 riders to 420,000, according to a recent DOT report.

The "Bicycle Safe Passage" enforcement effort ends Friday.

Bicyclists welcome the initiative.

"I think everyone should figure out the best way to make it safe for bicyclists," cyclist Greg Emmanuel told CBS2's Scott Rapoport.

"You see trucks, buses, cones, everything. The bike lanes are a hazard," a cyclist on the Brooklyn Bridge told 1010 WINS' Sonia Rincon.

But some drivers said it's the bicyclists themselves who are often reckless and something should be done about them. Drivers said some cyclists ride in the middle of the street, riding in the wrong direction in the bike lanes, all while on their phones.

"Going too fast, sometimes they're almost knocking people over, running people over, sometimes they're not even in the bike lanes," Harlem resident Roger Adamson said.

Flatbush resident Shawn Lee said, "They just cut you right off. They don't care about the bike lane. They just swerve out of the bike lane and come right back in front of you. I think the bikers should get tickets too."

When asked if the NYPD plans to add extra enforcement for cyclists, Chan said, "Last year we issued close to 12,000 summonses to bicyclists...bicyclists, our motorists and our pedestrians are just as important -- they are all important to us."

Police say with the warmer weather, more people are getting around on two wheels.

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