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August 14 2014 by Dominique S. Legal Question

Hi Dominique,

While you should always ride with traffic — both for your own safety and others' — there are definitely a couple problems with this citation which would merit contesting it.

First, you should never incur points against your driver's license for a moving violation you got on a bike. Second, bicyclists don't have to pay the $88 motorists' surcharge on moving violations. Third, you were obviously not driving.

According to bike crash lawyer Steve Vaccaro, when a ticket is contested at DMV hearings, issuing officers must recite certain facts from memory or written notes (they are not allowed to read from the ticket when reciting). If the recitation does not match the ticket, the judge may “move to dismiss for facial insufficiency." 

So when you go to contest the citation — which you should definitely do to ensure you get a fair shake — there's a solid chance the citation will be thrown out due to discrepancies between the officer's verbal and/or written account and the info given on the citation. 

Good luck and ride safe!

September 7 2014 by JT

Hi JT,

You've spotted one of NYC's newest bike boxes. What's a bike box, you ask? Here's StreetsWiki's two-cents: 

Bike boxes work best at intersections with a high volume of bicyclists. They improve cyclists' visibility. They reduce delay for cyclists by providing space for "jumping the queue" of waiting vehicles. They allow a left-turning bicyclist to reach a better position for making a safe turn. They allow bicyclists to reduce exposure to vehicle tailpipe emissions, and are also thought to elevate the "status" of bicyclists relative to motor vehicles.

Bike boxes are one of a number of street design elements that help to improve street accessibility and safety for bicyclists. Here at T.A. we refer to well-designed streets with dedicated space for all road users as "Complete Streets."

Take action today to support better streets along Manhattan's 5th and 6th Avenues — the borough's core transit corridors — by taking a quick minute to sign our petition!


July 8 2014 by Chad Legal Question

Hi Chad,

That's a tough one.

If it was a genuine misunderstanding, you could plead not guilty and hope that the judge showed sympathy, though generally speaking, courts side with law enforcement when it comes down to one party's word versus another's.

Good luck!

August 25 2014 by Jake B. Legal Question

Hi Jake,

According to a joint report on bicycle safety published by multiple NYC agencies, dangerous driver behavior was the primary or contributing cause in at least half of all fatal bike crashes. This number is likely skewed in the driver's favor, since often times the driver's account is the only one available following a fatal collision.

While some precincts take street safety more seriously than others — Brooklyn's 78th Precinct is exemplary — Transportation Alternatives continues to advocate for intelligent enforcement by all precincts. 

"Our basic sense is that 20 percent of every street user is kind of acting like a jerk at any given time," said Caroline Samponaro, Transportation Alternatives' Senior Director of Campaigns and Organizing. "That is a part of NYC transportation street culture that we hope will change, with a policy like Vision Zero, that we all will look to one another and acknowledge that we all need to make some small changes."

But, she said, "the stakes are much higher when you're doing something wrong and you’re in a car."

Enforcement priorities should follow that reality.

September 3 2014 by Talya Legal Question

Hi Talya,

Failure to yield can be a tricky concept to define. One way of thinking about it is that if a vehicle causes a pedestrian to slow down, stop or change their course, that vehicle has failed to yield the right of way. By law, a bicycle is treated as a vehicle and has most of the same rights and responsibilities as a motor vehicle. 

Regardless of the letter of the law, you should abide by the golden rule of the road when riding. Just as you'd expect a car to yield to a bike — regardless of who's technically in the right — you should always yield to pedestrians. Especially if you both have the green light.

That said, the fact that you were riding with the green when ticketed for failure to yield constitutes somewhat of a legal grey area, so you may be able to get the ticket thrown out on that technicality were you to plead not guilty.

Fines can vary depending on the specifics of the violation, but similar tickets run in the neighborhood of $138. If you plead guilty, you can pay the applicable fine less the $88 motorist-only surcharge. But don’t pay online, pay by mail. If you pay online, the DMV computer will (unlawfully) insist that you pay the $88 surcharge, and apply points to your driver’s license too!



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