Here's what NYC bike law expert Steve Vaccaro had to say regarding criminal summons issued to bicyclists for routine traffic violations:
"If you want to apply a tougher interpretation of traffic laws to bicyclists than is usually applied to motorists, then you could argue that a bicyclists riding counterflow, depending on the circumstances, might be engaged in disorderly conduct or perhaps even reckless endandgerment. Some within the NYPD recognized this double standard issue, however, and recently Deputy Inspector Jessica Corey of the Central Park precinct voided criminal summons issued to cyclists for traffic violations in the park."
Regrading the appearance date error, don't assume the ticket will be thrown out, as there may be a different date entered elsewhere in the system, and ignoring the summons could result in a warrant for your arrest. You should bring the error to the attention of the criminal court indicated on the rear of the summons (NYC criminal courts generally have an information window open to the public during regular operating hours).
Good luck and ride safe!
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The Hudson River Greenway is the busiest greenway in the country. While the trail-hog bikers might be taking up more than their fair share of lane, they might also be riding closer to the center to avoid pedestrians and joggers at the edges of the lane. So with so many users all sharing the same path, it's in everyone's best interest to play it safe — give folks on foot a wide berth and wait until any oncoming traffic has cleared before attempting to pass a slower moving user.
With time, you'll build confidence in safe riding and passing. Until then, err on the side of caution and everyone on the greenway will be safer.
It's great that you're being considerate of other road users, but don't let that deter you from being seen — get some bright bike lights and use them.
That said, there are two simple things you can do to avoid annoying others. First, angle your lights slighty down so they're not pointed in others' eyes. Second, while flashy lights are fine and help you stay seen, avoid using rapidly flashing strobe-style lights (those will not make you any friends).
Visit the BikeNYC store to pick up a pair of front/rear lights for a cool five bucks. Or become a Transportation Alternatives member to get a free pair of blinky lights, along with exclusive discounts at bike shops across the city and help support safer streets in all five boroughs.
(Name aside, Knog's rechargeable Blinder 4 lights are also a great way to stay seen.)
That's pretty harsh! While it's your responsiblity as a bicyclist to obey all traffic signals, charging $1750 in fines at one encounter seems excessively punitive and arbitrary.
One could argue that the cop watched you run three consecutive red lights because he deemed the behavior harmless, and given that, the offense doesn't constitute such exorbitant fines. (Would the same lax enforcement attitude been acceptable if it was a red-light-running car in question?) On that account, there could be a chance of knocking out the third consecutive summons (which goes for $900).
Further, the stated purpose of the "recidivism feature" — the legal code by which fines multiply on each subsequent red light infraction over an 18 month period to discourage repeat offenders — is nullified by serving all three tickets at once.
Regarding your court date, you could request a postponement or a lawyer could represent in court on your behalf (you might want to get legal counsel regardless, given the seriousness of the fines).
Good luck and ride safe!
According to Transportation Alternatives' Brooklyn Organizer Luke Ohlson, the project has been approved by community boards on both sides of the bridge and slated to start for eight months, but the contractor's bid has been tied up awaiting an assement by the Comptroller before breaking ground.
What can you do? Call Brooklyn DOT Commisioner Keith Bray at 718-222-7259 and urge him to begin the project ASAP. Squeaky wheels are more likely to get greased, so have your friends call in too!
Interested in advocating for a more bikeable Brooklyn? Come to a Transportation Alternatives' Brooklyn Activist Committee meeting and meet up with other bicyclists who are fighting for better, safer streets in their borough.
If the summons is pink and says "complaints/information" across top, it is not a traffic ticket. It is a criminal summons. The only way to handle a criminal summons is to appear on the court date on the bottom of the summons, either personally or by counsel. In most "low-level" cases, defendants are given an alternative to a guilty plea, which will not involve a permanent criminal record. But that will ultimately be determined by the court.
According to Section 4-12(o)(1) of the City of New York's traffic rules,
"Use of the expressways, drives, highways, interstate routes, bridges and thruways set forth in §4-07 subdivision (i) of these rules and to preserve life and limb thereon, the use of such highways by pedestrians, riders of horses and operators of limited use vehicles and bicycles is prohibited, unless signs permit such use."
So if you were in fact riding on a expressway, drive, highway, interstate route, bridge or thruway that wasn't signed as permited for cyclist use, then you were breaking the law, and there's not much to contest. But if you were riding on a road signed for cyclists, then make sure to come to court with supporting documentation to support a not guilty plea (pics, maps, etc.).
Good luck and ride safe!