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  1. #1
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    Ticketed in NYC for failure to use a bike lane

    Last night I was pulled over by the NYPD and given a ticket on my bike. The offense was failure to use a bike lane, which is insane for several reasons:

    1. If I had seen the bike lane, why on earth wouldn’t I have used the bike lane?

    2. It was totally impractical to get to the bike lane since (a) it was raining and the markings were invisible under the rain-slicked streets (b) the bike lane had just begun on that block, perhaps ten yards earlier, and (c) the left side of the road on the previous block was unsafe to bike, since it is the Port Authority Bus Terminal. So I would have had to see the bike lane in the rain and immediately dart across five lanes of Times Square traffic to get there.

    3. From what I can tell, failure to use a bike lane is not actually illegal in NYC. Both in general and in particular when doing so would be dangerous.

    The cops had set up specifically at that location, and were pulling over all the cyclists who rode past. Below are photos of the cops and the street.

    Cops.jpgAttachment 221337Road.jpg
    It's better to regret something you have done than something you haven't.

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    I don't believe in Bike Lanes.

    What is the fine $?
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  3. #3
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    That's the odd thing. The "ticket" is actually a summons to appear in criminal court. I guess I find out there what the deal is.
    It's better to regret something you have done than something you haven't.

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    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    Reminds me of the days of the small town speed traps, the only thing needed is a billboard on the side of the street for the LEO to hide behind.

  5. #5
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    This is what happens when one marks a segregated area of the roadway for bicyclists in an environment where police and cyclists have an adversarial relationship and the police haven't been trained in the law or in best/defensive bicycle driving practices.

    In other communities, cyclist advocacy groups, transportation engineers, planners, and police have worked together to provide training programs and enforcement policies that help prevent this type of abuse. See this page for examples: http://humantransport.org/ncbikeed/?page_id=57

  6. #6
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nycbianchi View Post
    That's the odd thing. The "ticket" is actually a summons to appear in criminal court. I guess I find out there what the deal is.
    Take some good pics of the area for when you go to court.
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  7. #7
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    You stopped?

  8. #8
    Calamari to go cc_rider's Avatar
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    This is from the quick handout of rules that I picked up at the NY Century
    http://bikingrules.org/rules/rulesoftheroad

    RCNY § 4-12 (p) Bicyclists should ride in usable bike lanes, unless they are blocked or unsafe for any reason.

    Don't know if there are other rules relative to NYC.

    When I get on a NY street with a left hand bike lane, if the street is wide enough I try to stay right. I hate those left hand lanes.

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  10. #10
    incazzare. lostarchitect's Avatar
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    If there is a bike lane available it is technically an offense not to use it, unless it's blocked or you're making a turn. However, given that you said it only started 10 yards back, and you hadn't even seen it yet, it sounds like you got caught in an end-of-the-month summons trap. Bummer.

    My advice is document that the lane only started 10 yards from where you got the ticket, and argue that you were moving over towards the lane SAFELY (meaning NOT cutting off traffic) and that it was impossible for you to get there safely any quicker than you did.

    Good luck.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cc_rider View Post
    RCNY § 4-12 (p) Bicyclists should ride in usable bike lanes, unless they are blocked or unsafe for any reason.
    Not that I know anything about the laws of NY or NYC, and assuming this is the wording of the actual law ...

    ... is "should" strong enough of word when written in a law to ticket/arrest when people don't do it? This sounds like a suggestion, not a requirement.

    Either way, based on the information given, it sounds like the OP should photograph everything and make charts of where things are and such and then fight the ticket in court.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    The downside to bike paths, bike lanes, and the like is that they lead expectation and belief that bicycles should be restricted to them. That this gets codified into law is the worst possible outcome. Having bicycle advocacy groups lobbying for bike paths and bike lanes is like having black rights activists in the '60s lobbying for separate entrances, drinking fountains and restrooms.

  13. #13
    Calamari to go cc_rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
    Not that I know anything about the laws of NY or NYC, and assuming this is the wording of the actual law ...

    ... is "should" strong enough of word when written in a law to ticket/arrest when people don't do it? This sounds like a suggestion, not a requirement.

    Either way, based on the information given, it sounds like the OP should photograph everything and make charts of where things are and such and then fight the ticket in court.
    The "should" in the bike guide booklet. I looked up the actual language of the law and does require bikes to use bike paths or bike lanes.

  14. #14
    Senior Member No Whey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nycbianchi View Post
    1. If I had seen the bike lane, why on earth wouldn’t I have used the bike lane?
    Because you had a reason to not use it, such as preparing for a turn, or to avoid a hazard.
    It can also be argued that you should not have been riding in the rainy dark at all when you couldn't even see the lane markings. That's possibly reckless, no?


    Quote Originally Posted by nycbianchi View Post
    2. It was totally impractical to get to the bike lane since (a) it was raining and the markings were invisible under the rain-slicked streets (b) the bike lane had just begun on that block, perhaps ten yards earlier, and (c) the left side of the road on the previous block was unsafe to bike, since it is the Port Authority Bus Terminal. So I would have had to see the bike lane in the rain and immediately dart across five lanes of Times Square traffic to get there.
    Looks like you have an out:
    (ii) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, motor vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians,pushcarts, animals, surface hazards) that make it unsafe to continue within such bicycle path or lane.
    Quote Originally Posted by nycbianchi View Post
    3. From what I can tell, failure to use a bike lane is not actually illegal in NYC.
    Both in general and in particular when doing so would be dangerous.
    Yup. At least I think so. But you'll have to convince a judge.
    I Am Not A Lawyer.

    RCNY § 4-12 (p) Bicyclists may ride on either side of one-way roadways that are at least 40 feet wide.

    RCNY § 4-12 (p) Bicyclists should ride in usable bike lanes, unless they are blocked or unsafe for any reason.

    Should is not SHALL.

    I bet it is wide enough to cycle legally on either side.
    Get measurements and photos.
    Any signage notifying users of a bike lane?
    Zoom in on Google Maps, print it out and draw in your own and the police locations.


    Quote Originally Posted by nycbianchi View Post
    The cops had set up specifically at that location, and were pulling over all the cyclists who rode past. Below are photos of the cops and the street.
    Yep. Like a speed trap. Good design for writing citations, not so good for moving bicycle traffic through the city.
    And a poorly staged trap, because I'd bet most of these tickets will be dismissed.
    I Am Not A Lawyer.

    http://transportationnation.org/2011...-in-bike-lane/
    That was back in March, I think. So maybe the police have reassurance that their trap is legal.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by No Whey View Post
    RCNY § 4-12 (p) Bicyclists should ride in usable bike lanes, unless they are blocked or unsafe for any reason.
    [/I]
    Should is not SHALL.
    True, but the wording of the actual rule (http://24.97.137.100/nyc/RCNY/Title34_4-12.asp) has the word "shall" and not "should"

    RCNY 4-12
    Bicycles. (1) Bicycle riders to use bicycle lanes. Whenever a usable path or lane for bicycles has been provided, bicycle riders shall use such path or lane only except under any of the following situations:
    (i) When preparing for a turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
    (ii) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, motor vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, pushcarts, animals, surface hazards) that make it unsafe to continue within such bicycle path or lane.



    Nevertheless, I agree that the OP has a good case for contesting the citation based on the location since cyclists should not be expected to instantly cross over multiple lanes of moving traffic in order to get into the bike lane.

  16. #16
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cc_rider View Post
    This is from the quick handout of rules that I picked up at the NY Century
    http://bikingrules.org/rules/rulesoftheroad

    RCNY § 4-12 (p) Bicyclists should ride in usable bike lanes, unless they are blocked or unsafe for any reason.

    Don't know if there are other rules relative to NYC.

    When I get on a NY street with a left hand bike lane, if the street is wide enough I try to stay right. I hate those left hand lanes.
    While I have not lived in NY(Ithaca) since the early 1970's, I can already think of a reason not to be in the bike lane...getting 'doored'. The NYPD is fooling themselves, thinking the bike lanes in there present position, are safe.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Brennan's Avatar
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    Total shakedown. What a disgrace.

    Quote Originally Posted by nycbianchi View Post
    That's the odd thing. The "ticket" is actually a summons to appear in criminal court. I guess I find out there what the deal is.
    That's usually what a ticket is, a court summons. They are likely to send you a "convenience" form in the mail in the next few days. Basically, it is a chance to give up your constitutional right to be heard in court, admit guilt, and pay the fine. This is what they want you to do; to just hand over the money without putting up a fight. It is the easiest and least expensive way for them to get their hands on your money. Thus the "convenience" is really more for their benefit. I don't recommend this course of action.

    I do recommend you take it to court and argue your case. I don't know about New York, but here in CA, the issuing officer has to show up and testify. If (s)he does not, the case is automatically dismissed. Even if the officer does show up, I think you have a pretty good case. "I didn't see it," is generally not a successful defense, but the fact that it would have necessitated you to immediately cross several lanes of traffic is a pretty good argument, and a reasonable judge will hopefully agree. If not, at least you made them work for your money. But I think you have a pretty good chance. Be calm and respectful, state your case clearly and concisely. Good luck.
    Last edited by Brennan; 10-04-11 at 06:37 PM.

  18. #18
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    I don't believe in Bike Lanes.

    What is the fine $?
    +10000

  19. #19
    incazzare. lostarchitect's Avatar
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    Here's a good trick for this kind of trap:

    DO take it to court. However, be aware that the many people they pulled over that day will all be scheduled to go to court on the same day. This makes it easy for the cops to be there. So...

    DO postphone your court date--as many times as they will let you. There is a pretty good chance the cops won't show up when you actually get your day in court, and as such your charges will be dismissed.

    I've done this twice with speed traps (cars, not bikes) and both times the cops didn't show.
    1964 JRJ (Bob Jackson), 1973 Wes Mason, 2000ish Colian (Colin Laing), 2013 Velo Orange Pass Hunter

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by lostarchitect View Post
    Here's a good trick for this kind of trap:

    DO take it to court. However, be aware that the many people they pulled over that day will all be scheduled to go to court on the same day. This makes it easy for the cops to be there. So...

    DO postphone your court date--as many times as they will let you. There is a pretty good chance the cops won't show up when you actually get your day in court, and as such your charges will be dismissed.

    I've done this twice with speed traps (cars, not bikes) and both times the cops didn't show.
    Agree 100%. Also we don't know if this was a routing sting or just some jackass over-exercising his/her petty authority. In any case it's worth fighting if you feel it's unfair. To some extent the most disappointing situation is if the pig doesn't show up to be made a fool of.

  21. #21
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by No Whey View Post
    Because you had a reason to not use it, such as preparing for a turn, or to avoid a hazard.
    It can also be argued that you should not have been riding in the rainy dark at all when you couldn't even see the lane markings. That's possibly reckless, no?
    Bicycle and rider = 200 pounds and rarely injure anyone, Motorist 3,000 + pounds that kill 40,000 people each year. And you are claiming it is reckless to cycle in the rain.
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  22. #22
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    where exactly were you? Looks like Times Square. What cross street and avenue- was it on Broadway?

  23. #23
    prying open my third eye kageones's Avatar
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    I had the same thing happen in the same area 42&8th over the summer, the cops actually told me it was a safety check. I also got a disorderly conduct summons because I did not stop for the cops, they chased me down with a van. Anyhow long story short just go back at 2ish in the afternoon and take pictures of all the trucks parked and double parked in the bike lane (including cop cars). When you appear in court be prepared with the pictures and it will be dismissed, don't argue law (unless you are a lawyer) don't say you didn't see it just show the evidence that it was blocked and unsafe. Pretty much every guy there said the same thing after me and they were all dismissed, what a waste of everybody's time!
    Last edited by kageones; 10-04-11 at 09:11 PM.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member No Whey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
    Bicycle and rider = 200 pounds and rarely injure anyone, Motorist 3,000 + pounds that kill 40,000 people each year. And you are claiming it is reckless to cycle in the rain.
    Suggesting (note, merely a suggestion) it is possible to be considered reckless (primarily to the cyclist) , particularly by a judge or police officer if one cycles when you can't see roadway markings.

    There are plenty of other ways to cycle recklessly, most don't threaten anybody but the cyclist.
    Your claim that I'm saying it is reckless to cycle in the rain is quite an exaggeration.
    No suggestions whatsoever about driving a car when you cannot see, as that is not relevant to the OP's query (OT).
    Last edited by No Whey; 10-04-11 at 09:41 PM.

  25. #25
    Senior Member No Whey's Avatar
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    Thanks, prathman, I knew I should have looked it up and not trusted a cyclist advocacy site to get it right.

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