According to the Daily News, the number of NY traffic tickets issued to bicyclists for breaking the rules of the road has shot up since the May 27 launch of Citi Bike, a new bike rental program in New York City. In the 12 Manhattan precincts with Citi Bike stations, police officers gave out 484 tickets to cyclists thus far. That is a 7% increase from just last year. In the four Brooklyn precincts with Citi Bike stations (in addition to 3 neighboring precincts), the amount of tickets issued skyrocketed from 282 to 510—an 81% increase! Streetblog.com also reported that there where more tickets given out for riding on sidewalk then speeding on local streets.
Recently, a cyclist ran a red light while riding toward the Williamsburg Bridge. He found himself helmet-to-helmet with a police officer also on a bicycle. The man admitted, “I blew right through it … I made a left turn and he was right there. He got two of us.” He was slapped with a fine of $190, which is what more than most folks pay for their bike .The majority of issued tickets have been for violations like running red lights, riding in the wrong direction, or being on the sidewalk. Thus far, the fine traditionally ranges from as low as $25 to as high as $190.
One anonymous police official remarked that officers are simply observing more infractions because there are so many more people riding bikes. Nick Jaric, who works at a nearby bike shop, explained that police corral riders going the wrong way on South Fifth St. near Bedford Ave. in Williamsburg at least twice a week. He said, “They’ll stop 10 to 15 of them, make a group, and then give them tickets one by one.” Jason Potvin, a bike messenger told news reporters, “I’ve seen people do the dumbest things … Going the wrong way on a one-way street, riding in a crosswalk full of pedestrians, riding on the sidewalk.”
According to the most recent data from NYC Bike Share, Citi Bike cyclists have already taken 528,000 trips and pedaled approximately 1.28 million miles. Despite the increased enforcement, a poll released Thursday shows overwhelming support for the bike-share program. A Quinnipiac poll found that 50% of registered voters support the program, 20% oppose it and 27% have not heard enough about it to say.
Make no mistake, receiving a bike ticket in New York can be just as serious as getting a traffic ticket in a car, and, depending on the offense you are charged with, points can be put on your driver’s license. If you recently received a bike ticket, be sure to contact an experienced NY traffic ticket attorney.