New York police have been issuing cyclists an increasing amount of traffic summonses while certain motorists seem to have been completely ignored.
Recently, a 30-year-old woman suffered from serious injuries due to the reckless driving of a fellow motorist. However, that other driver never received a summons or a suspension of his driver’s license because the NYPD chose not to investigate the crash.
Although the NYPD has consistently said that it lacks the resources to investigate serious crashes, it looks as though (at least according to StreetsBlog) it has been putting a serious amount of police resources toward doling out bike tickets instead of toward car-related crimes.
Instead of issuing summonses to drivers who cause car crashes, the NYPD is issuing cyclists “reckless biking” tickets but writing them on summonses returnable only in criminal court. The major problem with this is that a bike ticket only warrants a civil penalty! [See NY Admin. Code 19-176(b).]
Just by using this type of summons, police officers are forcing cyclists to go into criminal court to enter a plea and often come again if they originally pled not guilty.
Moreover, there is a substantial risk that a cyclist mistakenly “convicted” in criminal court would end up with a criminal record! Rather than being able to simply pay a fine by mail (like a driver who commits a traffic violation with a motor vehicle), cyclists issued criminal summons for reckless bicycling face missing work, the possibility of a criminal “conviction,” and potentially high legal fees if they want to plead not guilty.
Essentially, it is simply easier for the NYPD to issue these types of summonses to bicyclists, and many of the cyclists are none the wiser.
Unfortunately, it seems as though the NYPD is focusing its efforts more on the criminality of bicyclists than on those who are actually causing car crashes.