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Rant - $270 fine for running a red light on a bike, really??? — Brooklynian

Rant - $270 fine for running a red light on a bike, really???

Rant - I just spoke to one of my friends who was just stopped by 3 cops (yes, 3) in Crown Heights for running a red light while on his bike. According to him, no cars where in sight. The fine for this violation was $270. Conversely, a red light camera ticket for an automobile is $50. I realize a camera cannot identify the driver, but seriously which can potentially cause more damage - a speeding car or a bicyclist.

During the last six months, a number of my friends have been given a variety of bike related tickets - from no helmet, to walking their bikes on the sidewalk into a building. Although, I appreciate the NYC police department's concern for the public's well being, to be honest they should know better. I cannot believe that the police does not have anything better to do in Crown Heights. Perhaps go after the guys who are doing wheelies on their dirt bikes on Eastern Parkway, or the 4-wheel ATVs that speed down Lincoln Place. How about the drug deals that take place in the open on Franklin Ave and Nostrand or the teenagers that smoke pot and drink 40s out in the open. Do we not have any more significant quality of life crimes to go after?



  • sounds like your friend has had other red light tickets. the fee goes up after the first red light ticket, and again after the second one. live and learn.

    and alas, what ever you do there will always be a worse offense. its pretty facile to complain that all the other offenses should be enforced before they enforce the thing you do.

    i feel your pain. im no angel on my bike. the cops enforce what is easiest to enforce so tell your friend to watch the lights and be aware of his surroundings. really, he ran a light in front of three cops?

  • I asked the same question about whether he had other outstanding tickets and he is new to NY so no other tickets. I guess I am just frustrated...

  • I don't believe you need prior tickets to get hit with the $270 fine.

    This article seems to agree:

  • Sadly yes, a cyclist can get fined the same as a car for running a red light. I'm not going to start the debate whether or not bikes should run red lights.

    I've been saying this for a while on this board but the NYPD doesn't give a shit about anything that isn't a gun crime or isn't an easy way to make their quota. It seems their deathly afraid of doing anything that could be mistaken for actual police work.

    I don't get why their going after bikes though. The last time I cyclist killed someone other than themselves was 2006. So yes the NYPD's actions are infuriating.

    Were all the tickets written by the 77th precinct? I wasn't aware the 77th was taking part in the city wide totally spontaneous and no way planed out ticketing blitz. What intersections were the tickets issued at?

  • Obviously there was at least another car there -- a police car.

    Watch out for those.

  • They're going after bikes because of high-level directives to calm the bicycling culture, which until the early naughts was relatively small in numbers and totally unrestrained by law and decorum.

    Bloomberg's policies, bolstered by social trends around the country, have greatly increased the presence of bicyclists in the city, as well as the amenities available to them. The other side of this is the aggressive policing, which is aimed to make cyclists think twice before running red lights or riding on sidewalks.

    Even as a bicyclist who has personally been ticketed in seemingly absurd ways, I have to say it's effective at changing people's behaviors and I see the rationale behind it.

  • Eastbloc-

    When such fines are posted all over the web, they may be effective in not only changing the behavior of the individual biker, but all of those who read it.

    Times Up.

  • There's no law as far as I know for riding with or without a helmet. I think it's recommended or there might be a law for those under under 14. Also no one over the age of 14 should be riding on a sidewalk.

    I'll only make this point and I have been a bike rider in NYC (four boroughs) for over 45 years. You asked for bike lanes. You got them and of course they do make it safer for bike riders but somebody has to pay for them and they're taking it out of the pockets of bike riders. I don't agree with this but that's what I think.

  • Youbetcha-

    Bike lanes are not funded by tickets from bikers breaking the laws. It is a federal program.

    Program Funding:

    The BND project is financed through the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) program. This federal program provides funding for the planning, design, and development of bikeways as a means of:

    Improving air quality,

    Reducing congestion on existing roadways,

    Helping to provide for lower overall transportation costs.

    And, now here are some PDFs for everyone:

  • The truth is that every licensed driver has had to at least familiarize themselves with local traffic laws as part of the process of getting licensed. The expectation is that they are aware of all of the commonly cited laws, and a couple of the not-so-common.

    Bikers have requested that they be given greater access and protection on the streets, but there is no attempt by the city to require a commiserate level of education for bikers. Therefore, people rely on what they believe is "right" or "makes sense" rather than complying with the law.

    I only bike recreation-ally, but I know that it is against the law to run red lights, ride on the sidewalk, change lanes in front of other vehicles without signaling, ride against traffic, etc. That doesn't stop me from doing some of those things, but I wouldn't complain about it if I got caught because the reality is I know I'm in the wrong.

    Also, a red light camera ticket is $50 but getting pinched by a cop for running a red light in a car is also $270. Bikers won't get the camera tickets, because there isn't any way to identify them from the camera shots (no license plate).

  • I'm not some anti-cyclist douche, but I will say that I wish I had $270 for every time I've nearly been hit by someone on a bike running a red light.

  • I'm not above occasionally treating a red light at a lonesome intersection like a stop sign.

    However, if you don't have enough situational awareness to know whether there's a cop around, you probably don't have enough situational awareness to safely run a red light.

    Neither walking a bike down the sidewalk (not riding it) nor riding without a helmet is a violation of any law. If anyone you know has gotten a ticket for that, they should publicize it and talk to an advocacy organization like Transportation Alternatives.

  • I, too, was stopped by three cops, in my case for not having a light on my bike. I thought that using so many officers for a simply traffic offense was wasteful, but then I considered the possibility (and the fact that these officers looked fresh out of high school) that it was a training exercise, of sorts (not to mention another example of El Bloombito's relentless pursuit of revenue). I still run red lights all the time, but now make sure I do a quick check at the intersection before breaking the law.

  • Jack, were you stopped between dusk and dawn? Did you get a ticket? When did this happen?

    I've submitted this thread as a tip to STREETSBLOG. Hopefully we can bring this shameful, heavy handed and wasteful use of desperately needed police resources to light.

    Homeowner a car followed me while honking for about a quarter of a block when I took the lane due to illegally double parked cars this morning. Obviously many drivers don't know or care about the law.

  • Everyone already knows about this use of police resources, and as whynot pointed out above, at least half the point of the policy is to get people to think twice. So by posting about it, you're doing exactly what they want you to do. Go for it!

  • Breaking laws, as well as random and selective enforcement of laws, certainly isn't a rare phenomena.

    Imagine how many bikes could be stopped if the police really wanted to enforce the laws applicable to bikes!

    Look at all these laws:

  • Here's what I sent them.


    I've been a long time reader and I wanted to bring a recent crackdown on cyclists in Crown Heights to your attention. The police have been giving out tickets for running red lights. As well as issuing citations for doing legal things such as not wearing a helmet and walking a bike on a sidewalk. It appears that three officers approach a cyclist and then issue a citation.

    I'd like to point out that Crown Heights is still troubled by violent crime such as gun violence and drug dealing as well as the occasional homicide. I find it abhorrent that the NYPD has decided to focus much needed law enforcement resources in such a completely wasteful and unhelpful manner. Furthermore I'd like to point out that cars routinely speed and drive in an aggressive manor and are rarely ticketed. The NYPD allows cars to drive in such a manner that the mere act of crossing Eastern Parkway seems to be a mortally dangerous act.

    I'd like to bring this thread on the neighborhood forum Brooklynian to your attention. In it residents of Crown Heights, myself included, discuss and debate this crackdown.

    I sincerely thank you for your time,


    I know this is routinely done. But frankly when police resources are so thin in a neighborhood that has crime issues I think someone needs to call them out on it.

  • Someday, the NYPD is going to arrest a murderer and some reporter is going to ask him what he thinks.

    The murder will respond, "I don't know why the police spent all this effort hunt me down for killing my 4 year old when there are way worse people out there".

    ...and upon hearing it, I am going to smile.

  • whynot_31 said:

    Someday, the NYPD is going to arrest a murderer and some reporter is going to ask him what he thinks.

    The murder will respond, "I don't know why the police spent all this effort hunt me down for killing my 4 year old when there are way worse people out there".

    ...and upon hearing it, I am going to smile.

    Yes beacuse running a red light on a bike equals doesn't equal killing a kid. Doing so in a car very well might. I've said it before and I'll say it again if your killed it doesn't matter how your just as dead. It's high time the NPYD realizes this and prioritizes resources appropriately. May I ask wouldn't these officers who are spending their time writing tickets be better off trying to solve this?

  • The person who gets a ticket for littering makes a similar speech.

    I smile at them too.

  • Bottom line is that it's the police job to enforce the law. The OP broke the law. He got pinched for it. Yes, there are people that are doing worse things than what he did, but he was as they say in the old country "low hanging fruit". And according to Rudy Giuliani and his broken window theories, you go after the low hanging fruit first as a way to send a message that other worse crimes won't be tolerated.

    The cops aren't going to be receptive to the "But he was doing it too" defense, especially when bikers admit to breaking the law.

  • After a certain point there are "negative returns to scale" to everything. It seems the NYPD have concluded that assigning too many cops to investigating murders is a bad idea, and that some resources are best used addressing other matters.

    It makes sense.

    Hopefully the person who go the ticket (the OP's friend) will continue to tell everyone s/he knows about the incident, so less violations of this kind will occur and the police force can be downsized.

  • May I ask wouldn't these officers who are spending their time writing tickets be better off trying to solve this?

    Since you've asked, the answer is "no."

  • Newguy, I was cycling through Bushwick and it was in April. I'll be the first to admit that I was in the wrong - I just found it odd that three officers, including on in a patrol car, were required for such a minor offense. That's why I thought it might be an exercise, where the newer cop addresses the matter while the more experienced ones observ and then provide feedback after I left. Also, I guess they have no idea who I am until they run a check

    I paid the ticket via mail ($90) and installed lights on my bike, so I guess they taught me that much. Now I slow down at corners and do a quick spot check before blowing red lights and also veer towards lower-crime areas, as there is a smaller police presence there and, hence, a slimmer chance of getting caught again. A few times I've blown red lights or ridden on the sidewalk in full view of cop cars and they've done nothing, so enforcement is definitely uneven.

  • Uh oh. Now you can get a ticket for running yellow lights and being too chatty!

  • ribbons said:

    Uh oh. Now you can get a ticket for running yellow lights and being too chatty!

    The NYPD is literately making this shit up at this point.

  • A spokesman for the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles confirmed that the fine indicated on a red-light ticket includes $80 in surcharges and fees that do not apply to bikes. Cyclists should pay only $190.

    Also see regarding the laws in question.

  • Heads up bikers:

    The NYPD states they will be focusing on bikers breaking laws over the next two weeks. It might get expensive
  • Great to see #mynypd is focusing on making our streets safer from the real dangers! Ok, it would be nice if they did something about the salmon and sidewalk cyclists. For what it's worth it appears the 77th has decided not to be bothered again. I watched a 77th cruiser roll by a guy cycling on the sidewalk and a guy going the wrong way on Nostrand. 

    I really wished they would ticket you know the delivery van that completely cut me off when I walked into the intersection with the light. Or the gypsy cab that honked at me for not running full speed across the intersection so it could turn faster. Or what about all the people who use the cycling lane as parking or turn lanes.