Hi Rich, not all sidewalk citations are prosecuted as misdemeanors, but unlike most other bike citations, tickets issued to bicyclists riding on the sidewalk all result in court summons. The distinction is defined in N.Y. ADC. LAW § 19-176:
"A person who (rides on a sidewalk) in a manner that endangers any other person or property shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars or imprisonment for not more than twenty days or both such fine and imprisonment. Such person shall also be liable for a civil penalty of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than three hundred dollars..."
Most offenses result in a penalty of $100 or less. But when pedestrians are endangered by sidewalk cyclers it becomes a serious matter for the court. So unless the sidewalk has been marked for riding, stay on the street or designated lane.
Ride on, but for the safety of your fellow New Yorkers, stay off the sidewalk!
Hi Alice, good question! Transportation Alternatives advoctes for the expansion of Citi Bike and will be raising the call for more resources in 2014.
Before bike share in New York City can grow to include Upper Manhattan, the South Bronx, Western Queens and other outer borough neighborhoods, it needs additional funding. You can help Transportation Alternatives gain support for Citi Bike's expansion by contacting your local elected official and pledging your support for bike share in your district. (Find out how to contact your local council person here.)
Hi Igor, we've heard that it can take a few weeks for tickets to come up in the DMV's system; we've also heard it can be tough to make sure you're $88 surcharge is subtracted from the bike ticket online. So we'd advise doing it the old fashioned way: make your plea on the back of the ticket, and if you choose to plead guilty, enclose payment for the amount of the ticket minus the $88 surcharge. As long as it's postmarked before the 15 day deadline, you'll be in the clear.
Hi John, that's a good question (also the subject of a pretty hilarious parody by filmmaker Casey Neistat). Rule of the City of New York § 4-12 states:
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.
To sum it up, you're legally entitled to leave the bike lane for any reason that would make it unsafe to stay in the bike lane; a deliberately broad definition that should work in any bicyclist's favor.
The bad news: this fact hasn't stopped law enforcement from issuing tickets (usually on dubious legal grounds).
The good news that beats the bad news: Since the letter of the law is in your favor — and ultimately you, the cyclist, should decide what makes a lane "unsafe" — contesting a "riding outside the lane" citation in court will likely lead to the citation being tossed out.
Amongst loads of other useful info for NYC bicyclists, T.A.'s free Biking Rules Handbook has legal codes pertaining to cycling. If you're pulled over and you have the handy booklet on hand -- and if you're so inclined -- you could show the relevant legal code to the officer and hope that they'd have the humility to let you ride off scot free. If no, document lane obstructions on the scene and contest the citation in court. With solid documentation, the citation will likely be thrown out.
Ride safe, ride in the lane whenever you can and good luck staying citation-free!
Hi, you are not required to pay the $88 surcharge. It doesn't apply to citations issued to bicyclists, so you can subtract it from the total ($275 in your case).
To answer your second question, trying to dodge the ticket will most likely bite you in the ass. We'd recommend you either: a.) bite the bullet and pay the fine (minus the surcharge); or b.) plead not guilty and contest the citation. Good luck!
Hi Nadia, Transportation Alternatives is working across the five boroughs to reclaim streets for people. The Complete Streets redesigns that T.A. advocates for not only make the streetscape more pleasant for everyone, but have also been proven to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities.
Cyclists and pedestrians alike use the major corridors in their borough because they're often the most efficient and direct route. Since less than half of New Yorkers own cars, these folks need access to these streets as well. Smaller streets are great for commuting around the neighborhood, but to really get where you're going these arterial streets are often the best routes and should be safe and open to all users.