NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – On Thursday night, CBS2 shared a story about drivers in Queens who felt they were being forced into a ticket trap, with police standing by to write them up for blocking the box.
In the 24 hours since, more drivers have come forward with the same complaint. So CBS2’s Jessica Layton demanded answers from the NYPD.
The corner was empty of the NYPD traffic enforcement officers Friday, which came as a welcome sign for drivers like Angela Taveras, who said for weeks the agents have been pouncing on people who get caught in the chaotic intersection while doing nothing to help traffic move along.
“Like minions – they kept going out to ticket people,” she told Layton. “It wasn’t fair. I let them know that it wasn’t fair.”
On Friday, a judge agreed after Taveras showed him cellphone video and mentioned CBS2’s story. The judge dismissed her ticket for obstruction the intersection of Metropolitan Avenue and 60th Street in Ridgewood.
As for the $115 back in her pocket, Taveras said, “God knows I needed it.”
Seeing the agents standing on the sidewalk before heading into the street to ticket those stuck blocking the box at a red light struck a nerve with people in the neighborhood.
“This is absolutely ridiculous,” one man said Thursday.
“They’re just making money, stupidly,” another added. “Make it safe.”
The crackdown was part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan to end dangerous driving.
“Absolutely it’s a safety issue,” NYPD Deputy Inspector Richard Avignone told Layton.
She showed him the challenges drivers face in the intersection.
Layton: “You’ve got a congested area already, and then you’ve people trying to make a left who can’t, and things bottle necking.”
She demanded answers about what many are calling a ticket trap.
Layton: “It seems like a little bit of a gotcha game.”
Avignone: “It’s really not.”
Layton: “But instead of writing ticket after ticket in an area that is clearly congested on most days, why not help direct that traffic flow and keep things here safe?”
Avignone: “We put enforcement teams to go to areas in the community that have congestion problems to correct this type of situation through enforcement… The message to drivers is that it’s their responsibility to keep the box clear.”
Layton asked if after seeing the problems at the intersection, the NYPD would consider assigning agents to actually direct traffic. She was told it’s something the department could look into.
Neighbors say they would welcome it.