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Cops Ticketing Cyclists?

image c/o drunkandincharge

From a tipster

I was riding my bike over the Williamsburg bridge today and I cut across the sidewalk behind continental army plaza to get to the street. I was on the sidewalk for a stretch of about 10 feet and there were no pedestrians in sight. Suddenly, a cop across the street yelled at me to get off my bike and produce identification. He then proceeded to write me not just a ticket, but an actual court summons for riding my bike on the sidewalk. While he was getting my information, two other cops emerged and stopped more cyclists. With the gang activity we often hear about near the bridge, I was confused as to why cops were prioritizing bike infractions at an area that wasn't particularly crowded, and I asked the officer about it. He actually apologized to me for writing the ticket (I didn't even know this was a law), telling me he was just doing his job and that the officers were specifically instructed to target cyclists for several hours. "Everyone in this neighborhood has a bicycle, so we are starting to spend more energy on bicycle infractions. Expect to see more of this in the future and stay off the sidewalks." Whatever. I guess the city is broke, after all. So much for being green, and it seems awfully silly to target cyclists for riding on the sidewalk when they won't even build us bike lanes


I’ve had quite an experience in this great city of ours today. Apparently, the Parks Enforcement officers aren’t spending their time well. Earlier today someone had used some heavy tools to try to steal my bike which was locked up along the hudson river park. The authorities never seemed to notice that, but had plenty of time to stop my friend and me as we exited the Christopher St. Pier slowly coasting back towards the bike path. I was issued a $50 summons and my friend was given “professional courtesy” because he has family in the NYPD. This is clearly discriminatory towards me, an equal citizen in every right. He did not even offer to take a report when I notified him that someone had tried to steal my bike earlier and showed him my mangled lock and rear brake. All he said was, “well you should have found one of us and reported it.”

I think it’s a terrible example of how the focus has shifted from preventing actual crimes to finding petty excuses to fine law-abiding citizens. I have yet to see police issue summonses to vehicles blocking designated bike lanes throughout the city. Quite often the greatest offenders are police cruisers stopping in or actually driving along these designated paths.

I also wanted to add. That I think because of the city's financial crisis the city is trying to bring in money anyway they can. Do you remember back in 2003 when the city was giving all these random citations for taking up two seats on the subway?

I had the same thing happen to me yesterday at the very same spot. But my story is a bit different because they painted these new lines on the road in that area. These lines include a new bike lane/arrows indicating a bike/car shared road. I'm riding on South 4th street heading West, when I reach South 5th place the arrows point directly onto the sidewalk. I thought this was weird because I never ride on the sidewalk but I follow it because I think i'm following the rules. It's very cold out so that whole plaza area is deserted except for some skateboaders. 3/4 down the block I get stopped by cops and they give me ticket.

I'm going to fight this in court. This is ridiculous. I cycle very often. I also don't like it when people go down the wrong way on a street (even though the cop told me it was legal to do that to get on the bridge). I use bike lanes and I don't ride on sidewalks. This one time I believe I'm following the rules and I get slammed with a ticket.

kyle brings up a good do also blow lights/signs, perform bad turns..all the same bikers do..the difference being as a biker blowing through a light/or sign you're definitely putting your on self at my risk than in a car for injury/death. not to mention others. i've been in alley cat races in both philly and nyc.. seen a lot of risky riding...blowing lights/signs only adds to your 'street cred'...but when it comes down to it..if you're going to ride your bike in the streets you should be smart and safe about it. i guess that also faces the argument of what some consider smart and safe on a bike. BECAREFUL!

I hate it when bicyclists ride on the sidewalk, and I don't like walking over the W-burg bridge as much as riding over it because the bikes make me feel vulnerable as a pedestrian.

But almost nobody is realizing that this really is a gray area. There is no non-sidewalk way to get onto the W-burg bridge, and on maps this looks like a clearly defined bicycle route, and it makes sense that you should be able to ride your bike on a bike route.

"just follow the laws like any other vehicle" - if that's the case then bicyclists are doing fine. Cars blow through red lights, pass however they want and stop however they want. Bad argument.

I'm not a cyclist, but I'm a rather avid driver and a pedestrian. I have had bikes run into *my car* when they were speeding through a red light. I do think that the city should be a bit more bike friendly, but I simply wont support cyclists unless they will follow the regular laws - don't run red lights and don't bike on the sidewalk. It seems to me the cycling masses want to be able to do these things all the time while also riding the high horse and playing the victim to things like this. If a cop sees you and wants to give you a ticket for doing something blatantly illegal, no matter how lackadaisically it's enforced - don't bitch about it on a forum. Take your ticket, pay your fine and either stop doing those illegal things or be prepared to pay the fine again.

Dear cyclists:
Do other cyclists in this city a favor and just follow the laws like any other vehicle. Stop at stop signs and stop lights. Don't pass on the left of cars. Don't blow through intersections. Don't yell at pedestrians in your way. Don't ride on the sidewalk.

You broke the law, like any jay walker. Enforcement is arbitrary. I have received two such summons. Both times were upon leaving / entering a bike lane either on a bridge and an overpass over FDR Drive. Below are some points from a cycling advocacy group in NYC ...

Cyclists cited for simply riding on the sidewalk (and not endangering a pedestrian or property thereby, a violation which is treated more harshly) are in violation of NYC Administrative Code §19-176(b) which states the following:

“b. No person shall ride a bicycle upon any sidewalk unless permitted by an official sign. A person who violates this subdivision may be issued a notice of violation and shall be liable for a civil penalty of not more than one hundred dollars which may be recovered in a proceeding before the environmental control board.”

If this citation is issued by a regular NYPD police officer, the ticket will most likely instruct the recipient to report to criminal court for adjudication, rather than the environmental control board. As such, cyclists who receive this summons should be able to obtain a dismissal when appearing before the judge in criminal court, as instructed on the ticket. During proceedings, the cyclist defendant should inform the judge that § 19-176(b) states that civil penalties for violating this provision can only be recovered in proceedings before the ECB, and not the criminal court. You should not plead "not guilty," but rather ask for a pre-trial dismissal for wrong venue. The criminal court judge should then dismiss the case (unfortunately, the judge wont always get it right). The City is extremely unlikely to commence proceedings before the ECB because it would require re-serving the cyclist (in person) with a proper summons. Your mileage may vary.

If there are any mistakes on the ticket (like the cop wrote your name or address wrong or wrote the wrong traffic rule or the wrong streets) the judge should throw out the summons on a technicality. Though, you should have something (like your driver’s license, the correct law or a photo) to prove the cop made a mistake.

In the event that the case isn’t dismissed outright, the judge may offer to reduce the fine if you plead guilty. If you plead not guilty, you will receive a trial date. At trial, the cop will give his testimony and explain what he saw you do. Listen for any missing details or any differences between what he said and what he wrote on the ticket. Then you can ask him questions and dispute any of his claims, citing existing laws.

If you make a reasonable case, mention the danger cyclists face and unequal enforcement, and tell the judge you're a law-abiding cyclist and this was your first ticket (but only if it was-don't lie!), the judge may reduce the fine or drop the charges.

If the cop doesn't show, the judge usually discards the ticket.

bunch of babies. stop crying about your tickets.

Actually - the tipster is pointing out something really important here.

There are no clear instructions or means for going between the bike lanes on either side of the Williamsburg Bridge and the bike path on the Williamsburg Bridge.

There is a grey area between the path on the bridge and the paths it is supposedly connected to.

If you look at the official city cycling map, they make it look as though there is a clear bicycle lane when in fact there is not.

really, what the fuck? i just fill out all the fields. isn't the point of having the url so that we commenters can be held accountable as real people for the shit we say? i didn't link my site to 'generate hits' (i'm not sure what the benefit of hits is) i linked it so you could see who i am. if you click that link, you can find out my real name, where i live, what i call my period.

whatever, i'm just insulted that someone would imply i'm 'trolling' comments as opposed to you know, making comments when i have something to say.

i just came back to mention that i do think it's helpful to let people know that cops are cracking down on this in that spot. just as there are totally times it's safe to speed, there are times it's safe to ride on the sidewalk, so it's good to know where the traps are.

Bike lanes are for pussies. So are sidewalks.

As an long-time cyclist, I couldn't be happier at the ease with which I'm able to bike around this city compared to how it used to be. I'm sick and tired of cyclists who think it's acceptable to bike the wrong way down a one-way street, or worse, bike on the sidewalk without regard for other people. It is not that difficult to follow the applicable road rules, and doing so would make the street a lot safer for all. Furthermore, non-cyclists wouldn't have as many reason to dislike cyclists. Doing stupid things like biking on the sidewalk is the reason that the general public doesn't care about making the city even more bike-friendly. If you are a cyclist, you should want to make your riding safer. Following the rules of the road is just one way to help achieve this. Stop being stupid and deal with your ticket. You earned it.

bikes, as I'm sure you know, are subject to the same rules of the road as cars...and I've gotta agree there are a whole lot more cyclists on the road than there were a couple of years ago, and people ride like dicks, especially in williamsburg...going the wrong way down one ways, flying through intersections without looking, riding on the sidewalk, etc. It's so goddamned annoying and makes all cyclists looks like assholes. I'm glad they're ticketing more, maybe it'll stop the dickery.

al oof your band sucks. Stop trying to troll the comment section of blogs to generate page hits to your website.

I'm fine with ticketing bicyclists as long as they go after fucking insane drivers who are actually a huge danger to everyone. i'd say i witness about a half dozen dangerous drivers on a slow day.

seriously? don't ride on the sidewalk. it's not that complicated. and granted, i will occasionally, but if i got a ticket, i wouldn't complain about it like it was so unfair. and going through an 'empty' intersection? so what if it's empty. it's still illegal. you aren't a pedestrian. get over it. think about how many hundreds of times you've run a red light, one ticket isn't going to kill you.

i don't like bike lanes. it's especially unpleasant when people use them to ride the wrong way. those things aren't wide enough for 2. i much prefer streets without bike lanes. the bike lanes also make the drivers feel like they don't have to watch out for bikes on either side. it doesn't always make sense to ride in a bike lane, because you have to make a turn or something.

this has been happening for years. your supposed to get off your bike and walk it over a sidewalk. there's no conspiracy.

Yeah. I got one for going through a red at an empty intersection. I should have asked him why I was getting a ticket while the pedestrians walking alongside me weren't ticketed for jaywalking.

Keep on keeping those streets safe NY's "finest".


The same thing happened in front of my building. My neighbor was riding his bike on the sidewalk and then hopped off to go open the front door and sure enough, the po-po came out of nowhere and said they were cracking down in williamsburg of people riding on the sidewalks. It is pretty dumb. Not to mention, it took an hour and like four cop cars to write the guy a ticket.

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