Funding the revolution, one bike at a time . . .
—To talk tickets on the FreeWheels Message Board, click here.
—For a list of actual New York City bike laws, click here.
The Freewheels Guide to Critical Mass Tickets
As the City's war against bicycling continues, more and more cyclists are being hit with bogus or petty tickets (or summonses), some for "violations" that are not even real laws.
Here's the lowdown:
- Ticket vs. Summons:
- If you have been given a summons, you have to appear in court
on the date specified. Here is what a summons looks like:
If you have been given a traffic ticket, you have 15 days to get your plea postmarked and mailed.
Mail tickets to:
Traffic Violations Plea Unit
PO Box 2950-ESP
Albany NY 12220-0950
You may also go to a Traffic Violation Bureau Hearing Office. If you are thinking of doing that,
call the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles at (718) 488-5710 and inquire about how to proceed.
If you plead "not guilty" you will be given a hearing date within 15 days. At the hearing, they will be required to present the case against you. You will be able to explain the circumstances that led to your ticketing.
- Types of Tickets:
- 1. Tickets for lights/bells: If you are ticketed for not having a light or a bell, you might be able to get the ticket tossed by bringing proof that you have purchased a light or a bell
(or that your bike already has a light/bell) either to your court date or to the precinct that issued
2. Tickets for riding outside the bike lane, more than two abreast, or on the wrong side of the road:
THESE TICKETS ARE NOT VALID. These “violations” are not actually against any law. Cyclists are not
required to ride in the bike lane and are not required to keep to the right, pursuant to local traffic rules 34 RCNY 4-02 and 34 RCNY 4-12(p).
To read the laws, click here. Have the full text of the law ready to show the judge,
and you should be able to get this ticket dismissed.
3. Tickets for riding on the sidewalk:
These tickets are often given to cyclists who are simply standing on the sidewalk.
Obviously having documentation of this helps. Additionally, these tickets
fall under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Control Board (ECB).
If you are given a ticket or summons that requires you to appear in criminal court instead,
you might be able to get the ticket thrown out for lack of jurisdiction.
4. Tickets for running red lights: These are trickier to fight, because it is actually
against the law to run red lights. You should use your discretion in deciding whether you want to
fight a red light ticket or not.
These are the kinds of tickets that we ordinarily encounter. If you receive something not covered here, please
let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Court Appearances:
- Essentially you go, you explain yourself, bringing as much documentation as you can, and your ticket gets tossed out or it doesn’t.
The process is often as arbitrary as the ticketing, but remember to be polite and respectful
to the judge while bearing in mind that they are pre-disposed to believe the cops.
- Pleading Guilty/Paying the Fine:
- If you end up paying a fine, you don't have to pay the regular surcharge that applies to motorists.
The charge is often checked off on the ticket, or added anyway, and cyclists should be ready
to point to the law which says they don't need to pay it.
New York State VTL article 45/section 1809 (Excerpted)
"Whenever proceedings . . .result in a conviction. . .other than. . .violations by. . . bicyclists. . .there shall be levied a mandatory surcharge. . ."
New York State VTL article 45/section 1809
Mandatory surcharge and crime victim assistance fee required in certain cases. Whenever proceedings in an administrative tribunal or a court of this state result in a conviction for an offense under this chapter or a traffic infraction under this chapter, or a local law, ordinance, rule or regulation adopted pursuant to this chapter, other than a traffic infraction involving standing, stopping, or parking or violations by pedestrians or bicyclists, or other than an adjudication of liability of an owner for a violation of subdivision (d) of section eleven hundred eleven of this chapter in accordance with section eleven hundred eleven-a of this chapter, there shall be levied a mandatory surcharge, in addition to any sentence required or permitted by law, in accordance with the following schedule: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/nycodes/c128/a74.html
- Have You Been Ticketed On Your Bike?
- If you've been ticketed, get your questions answered and
help us document the ticket blitz by contacting Caroline Samponara
646.873.6021, at Transportation Alternatives with the intersection
you were stopped at, the date of the ticket, what you were stopped for, the number of the law listed, and
whether you plan to appeal.
And check out www.cmtickets.com for a visual guide to the ticketing spree, and enter your own info.
For a list of actual New York City bike laws, click here.