Bicycle Traffic Tickets Soar in Brooklyn

The number of tickets given out to cyclists has jumped dramatically in Brooklyn since the Citi Bike share program started on May 27, The New York Daily News reported. In the four precincts with stations, as well as three nearby precincts, tickets went from 282 during the same period the year before to 510 — an increase of 81 percent. “Tickets are usually handed out for running red lights, riding in the wrong direction or being on the sidewalk and wind up in the range of $25 to $190,” said the story. Police often ticket riders going the wrong on South 5th Street near Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, according to a worker at the nearby Landmark Bicycles shop.
Tickets for Bike Riders up 7% in Manhattan, 81% in Brooklyn: NYPD [NY Daily News]

90 Comment

  • Finally; police should have started doing this a long time ago. When crossing a road, I find that I have to look out for bicylist more than drivers. The’ve become more dangerous because they don’t abide by any traffic law.

    • if we’re generalizing then you could very well argue that pedestrians “don’t abide by any traffic law.” where are all the jay walking tickets? this is new york. reeeeeeeeelax.

      • I’m pro-bike – own a bike and use it regularly, and am a citibike member – and even I’m sick of all of the bad riding. At then end of the day, someone jaywalking is primarily a danger to themselves. But a bike speeding down a sidewalk or going the wrong way in traffic is a danger to others.

        You could argue that car drivers break the rules frequently, and they do, but at least they are aware that there are laws that apply to them. I really think that a lot of bike riders don’t know there are rules, or simply don’t care.

        • jaywalking can very much be a danger to others. to other bicyclists or drivers… i’m not a fan of flagrant violations of the law either, i’m just asking for perspective. i was threatened with a ticket for riding my bike off the curb after i unlocked it from the stand. gimme a break.

          • This is not a great logic anonlurker. So what you are saying is that the Police shouldn’t bother with dangerous bicyclest because they don’t ticket jaywalkers.
            Using the same logic, if they don’t ticket dangerous bicyclest, then they shouldn’t ticket wrecless drivers.
            You just don’t make sense. They should just ticket everyone that doesn’t abide by the rules.

          • i think my logic is decent actually… i am not saying that police shouldn’t bother with dangerous bicyclists. i said “i’m just asking for perspective.” i don’t think tickets for riding 5 feet on a sidewalk to move the bike onto the road are necessary. i don’t feel these people are “dangerous bicyclists.” many people were receiving these tickets.

        • You’re right. As a biker myself I’m amazed at the number of bikers who cruise along sidewalks and do other dangerous stuff. I’m no choir boy on my own bike, but I stay off the sidewalks and try to be considerate. Some folks just go too far. Not a surprise they’re being ticketed.

        • i generally agree with you but i’m not sure why a biker that simply doesn’t care about the rules is any more of a threat, or any more deserving of a ticket than a car driver who also simply doesn’t care about the rules. i think there are probably fewer dangerous interactions caused by citibikers than there are by delivery bikes, it’s just that the PD has made the calculation that enforcement on citibikers will be more valuable from a financial as well as deterrent perspective.

          • “i’m not sure why a biker that simply doesn’t care about the rules is any more of a threat, or any more deserving of a ticket than a car driver who also simply doesn’t care about the rules.” What? When did I ever say that drivers don’t care about the rules are any less of a threat or deserving of tickets? The point I’m trying to make is that bike riders who simply don’t care about the rules have a sense of entitlement and casualness that even drivers that don’t care about the rules don’t seem to have. For all the bad driving I’ve seen, I’ve yet to see a driver drive the wrong direction on a one-way street.

          • I see cars blow through stop signs at full speed several times every week — sometimes causing pedestrians or cyclists to jump for safety. That’s far more dangerous than a biker going the wrong way. In any case, commuters with 3,000-pound vehicles should be held to higher standards than those with 30-pound vehicles.

          • Wooosh! [That would be the sound of the point going completely over your head]

          • Yes. And now a ticket for a car caught by a red light camera, during school hours, above ten miles per hour, has been capped at $50 with no points. I would say this is hardly a fair penalty when compared to the tickets that cyclists are receiving.

          • ah, ok, to recap, your distinction is: some bikers simply don’t care, some drivers simply don’t care, but the bikers who simply don’t care seem “casual” or “entitled” about it to you. and presumably the car drivers seem…what?

            i’ve seen plenty of drivers reverse almost all the way down my one-way street. but if we’re really talking about danger to others, we also see: cars stopping suddenly in the middle of traffic to look for a parking spot, cars that are double-and triple-parked, cars blowing through stop signs, cars speeding to catch the tail end of the yellow light, cars speeding for the heck of it, cars deliberately cutting off bikers, pedestrians and other drivers, cars u-turning against signals and markings, cars turning left against signals, cars driving on, parking on idling in sidewalks, etc.

          • Also casual and entitled, but marginally less so.

            Let’s put it this way: If a driver gets caught plowing through a stop sign, I imagine that driver not being happy about it, trying to get out of the ticket, arguing that that rolling stop should really count as a stop, etc., but I also imagine that driver ultimately understanding that running a stop sign is wrong and deserves a ticket. Contrast that to neuryorker’s comment below, who seems to think riding on sidewalks is permissible, laws be damned, cause he’s saving the world, don’t you know.

          • If that’s your point, then it did whoosh over my head, like a breeze of hot air.

            No one disputes that there are bikers who disregard key rules and give other bikers a bad name. But for some weird reason there are people (such as you) who get extra agitated about scofflaw bikers as compared to scofflaw drivers, even though the dangers posed by the latter are orders of magnitude greater than those posed by the former.

          • Of course the dangers posed by a car are much greater than by a bike, but for some weird reason there are people (such as you) who use this to downplay the importance of bicyclists following the rules as well.

          • Just did on Court Street between Butler and Degraw. Was obviously an accident, but no less dangerous.

            I have also seen many drivers (including commercial vehicles) a week jumping into the opposite lane on Kenmare to avoid the backup, when turning onto Lafayette on their way to the Holland Tunnel. These vehicles then ride about 20 feet in the bike lane to get onto Broome. These were obviously intentional, and went unenforced.

            Stand at the southeast corner of Kenmare and Lafayette from 3-6pm on a Thursday or Friday to withness the carnage… but not too close, as a semi might end up hopping the curb when cutting that corner.

        • ” I really think that a lot of bike riders don’t know there are rules, or simply don’t care.”


          • cars get away with murder in this city. all too often “no criminality suspected” in cases of pedestrians or cyclists hit by vehicles.

  • The 81% increase probably isn’t as significant as it seems, as bike ridership has also increased a lot between these two periods (though granted, probably not up by 81%).

  • Good. I bike and drive, and cyclists in Brooklyn are insanely wreckless (obviously a fraction of them, but enough to be noticeable)
    And the rise makes sense given more people suddenly riding, and likely less experienced too, doing silly things.
    I suspect the number of ghost bikes will rise. Will Citi allow their bikes painted white and fixed to poles?

  • why these ticketing blitzes? why don’t cops enforce rules consistently all the time? wtf are they doing the rest of the time?

  • Saw my first Bike ticket this Sat. Long overdue.

    With privilege comes great responsibility

  • Well, that’s good. I joined Citibike and have never seriously biked in the city before. While cars and pedestrians can definitely be irritating (do you really have to leave your passenger door wide open when you’re parked?), the scariest situations I’ve gotten into so far have all had to do with other cyclists, mostly going the wrong way on crowded streets (i.e. Dean Street…if you go over ONE BLOCK to Bergen you can go in the opposite direction without taking anyone out).

  • Between this ticketing blitz and my daily incessant yelling at cyclists, we’ll reform the law breaking cyclists, one moron at a time.

  • i love the smell of ny cycle rage in the morning!

  • I’m a biker, driver, and a pedestrian. When I bike, I don’t always follow all the rules. But the one rule I always follow is…. yield to pedestrians. Very often I will “salmon” (usually for at most 1 block) because I do not feel like riding a full circle to reach my destination. And when I do “salmon”, I ride slow and make sure I yield to other bikers going in the “correct” direction and of course all pedestrians. Yes sometimes I ride on the sidewalk too, if the streets are too narrow and busy to have room for bikes and cars, but always at a safe and slow pace.

    My take is this: if bikers were to ride slow and yield to all pedestrians, everyone would be safe and less angry. It seems like every time I go against traffic, there is some person yelling at me even though I am no where near them and no where near any person nor am I going at a faster than jogging speed. I think people generally have bad feelings toward bikers who disobey the “rules” not because they are dangerous but because there are so many other bikers who ride dangerously and inconsiderately.

    • You should NEVER salmon.

    • No offense honestly as I’m not that invested either way, but you’re pleading a special case here, which is what all bikers (and drivers) like to do: Yes, but I’m different when I drive on the sidewlak and the wrong way down the street! I’m better at it than everyone else!
      By biking the wrong way you put pedestrians and others at risk, period, despite your presumably cat-like reflexes, and make it harder to drive in the street safely and so slow traffic.You make it uncomfortable and yes, dangerous, to walk on sidewalks. I know you mean no harm and clearly are well-meaning, but every single person who bikes like an a-hole has precisely your mindset –I’m not like everyone else, I’m safe and conscientious!
      The only way this battle between the sides will get better is if bikers stop riding on the sidewalks, ever, 100%. And stop riding the wrong way on streets, ever, 100%. Go visit any other city in the world that does it right, Amsterdam but most Euro cities anyway, and they don’t tolerate it. I like bikes, wish this was a more bike-friendly city and am a fan of Citibike, but applaud the ticketing (but wish they started with warnings or $25 token tix or whatever).

      • Point taken. As a pedestrian, Ive had to deal with bikers “salmoning” and riding on the sidewalk. But you do get different types of bikers. Those who do it respectfully/safely and those who are a-holes with no regard for anybody else.

    • If it’s less than a block, you can get off your bike and walk it on the sidewalk.

  • Cyclists often have to tread treacherous conditions on the road with pathetic, unsafe cycling infrastructure left by the city. On Clinton Street, for example, a heavily cycled route to the bridges, why doesn’t the city remove the dual-sided parking until Joralemon (where the road narrows), or Henry St going south, where the bike line evaporates after Amity Street. Because for the City, parking spaces are more important than vulnerable cyclists, who risk injury every day. Sometimes you can’t blame someone for taking to the sidewalk when they feel their life is at risk. Cyclists cause zero emissions and ease pressure on the city’s transportation infrastructure. They city needs to make it safer and then cyclists won’t have excuses to deviate from traffic procedures.

    • Ugh. Why can’t some people understand that you can actually be pro-bike, want to see biking infrastructure and Citibike expanded, and still recognize that certain rules of the road need to be adhered to? In fact, proper etiquette becomes even more important the more popular biking becomes. It’s this sense of entitlement – “we contribute zero emissions, therefore we can do whatever we want” — that’s so galling. Maybe the city should improve the biking conditions on Clinton – how does this legitimize riding on sidewalks (Clinton’s sidewalks are narrow and heavy with pedestrians) or salmoning?

      • Pedestrians also “contribute zero emissions”, just saying…..and this pedestrian doesn’t appreciate being almost run over by cyclists on a daily basis because they feel that they don’t have to respect stop lights/signs and traffic direction. I can assure you that I don’t feel the same threat from cars as I do from cyclists when walking.

    • Why, when there is absolutely no safe choice but to retreat to a sidewalk, can’t the cyclist get off and walk his/her bike?

      • Walking your bike is like sitting in your car behind a dump truck.

      • put it this way: if you saw a car barrelling down while you’re driving, head-on, and you have nowhere to turn but, say, the wrong way down a one-way street, what would you do? would you turn off your car, calmly unbuckle yourself, and walk away? or would you, knowing your car to be a much quicker way of *getting away from danger* go ahead and turn the wrong way?
        now multiply that flight instinct by the difference between a bike vs a bus and you will have some idea of why, if it’s a true emergency, you can’t just “get off and walk” your bike.

  • Do you think there are more tickets because with Citibikes there is more ID of the biker? IE, the bike itself is registered, the rider is logged in and the cops can be reasonably sure that ticketing will result in an actual fine. In the case of owner operated bikes, since there is no licensing of any kind, it’s probably easier to squirm out if there isn’t any ID carried by the cyclist.

    Has anyone been cynical enough to see the Citibikes as the city’s best method of getting ID on riders?

    I presume a police officer requests identification in order to write a ticket. How can a cycling ticket proceed if the rider carries no id? Can anyone who’s been ticketed explain the process?

  • I love bikes. They are a great mode of transportation for people in the city as are feet and public transportation. And cars are a necessary evil too. That said, I almost NEVER see cyclists stop at red lights (unless there is a car coming or a pedestrian in front). It kind of baffles me, since it’s the law that cyclists follow vehicular rules. I mean never, regardless of subculture or type or age of cyclist (including parents with kids). In Berlin for example, light turns red, the whole pack of cyclists STOPS til the light changes, just like cars do. It’s to the point where if I’m riding in NYC I feel SILLY stopping at a red light, and am sort of discouraged to do so. I don’t really understand this. Yes i know cars disobey traffic signals too but not nearly as often. If cars disregarded traffic lights the way bikes do it would be instant deadly mayhem (or Cairo).

    • In Berlin, and all of Germany for that matter, people don’t jaywalk either. So your point, in which you are trying to isolate cyclist behavior in NYC as different from pedestrians, is false logic.

      • People jaywalk. They just dont run red lights on bikes.

      • Cyclist discipline in London, Holland, Germany is a completely different animal. Its like city cycling was only discovered here 5 years back (in some ways it was; when was I was biking to law school back in ’95 in the city mainly the only other bikers were delivery and messenger guys). I’d previously lived and biked in London for many years, and back then it was a stark contrast in experience. Plus too many motorists here were complete a-holes when it came to passing me within inches.
        I’m guessing in 5 yrs time or so the dust would have settled here, and a more developed cycling culture will be in place, with more acceptance from drivers of cycling as normal and deserving of space and courtesy, and less jerk behavior by the minority of OMG-I’ve-just-discovered-this-new-religion-cyclists

        • Commuters and other folks have been biking NYC streets way before 1995 obviously. I’ve been biking through the streets my whole life here and had lots of company (that’s more than 40 years).

          I can tell you that some motorists have always been hostile to bikers here. But I do agree there are more bikers in the city than ever, and perhaps that accounts for the rising hostility. The ironic thing is the level of rancor was NEVER as high as it is now back when there were no bike lanes whatsoever.

    • You do realize NYC is, frankly, a lot more like Cairo than Amsterdam or Berlin. Streets in NYC are complete chaos even without bikes. You can see all sorts of non-bike craziness on most streets — double parked cars and trucks, people pushing carts IN THE STREET, horse carriages, skateboards, in-line skaters, jaywalkers coming from all angles, buses stopped in intersections, etc. Then add the bikes in. NYC is a crazy place and I just don’t think bikes are the problem or anybody can expect cyclists to act any differently than the other assholes in the street. It’s just the culture of NYC for better or for worse.

    • When on my bike, I stop at red lights, but don’t always wait for the light to change. If it’s all clear, it often seems safer to me to go ahead cautiously than to wait with the cars until we all get to spring forward together. (I do wait if I see a cop nearby…)

  • I have biked quite a lot in NYC pretty much all of my life, and I have personally never experienced any hostility despite the fact that I don’t always follow all the rules. In any event, I strongly believe that a lot of the bad behavior seen in cyclists, and some of what I observe on an almost daily basis is really quite bad, is due to the aggressive driving that forces cyclists to try to be one step ahead of danger while biking in the city streets. One thing is certain though — – no adult should ever ever ever ride on the sidewalk and cyclists must stop at the red light at busy intersections where pedestrians are crossing. I don’t really care if you run a red light or a stop sign in a residential area once you have assessed nobody is crossing the street. It’s illegal, but whatever. So’s double parking and all the other crap cars get away with that they’re never ticketed for.

  • (fill in the blank) are more aggressive nowadays and completely disregard (fill in the blank). In talking about getting from one place to another in our fair city you can make the same case about stupid, obnoxious and dangerous bikers just as easily as you can about van and livery drivers, pedestrians, truck drivers, buses, you name it. I’ve used a bike as my main form of transportation in New York for about 35 years and at this point I simply will not ride certain streets (Flatbush, Atlantic, 4th Avenue) as it’s impossible to feel safe on them at any speed. Why? Because every commuter, from pedestrian to the fat cat in his limo, feels it’s their right to get where they are going without anyone or anything delaying their trip for even one second and God help the idiot who slows them down. When it comes to bike safety it’s this myopic intolerance that creates these kind of issues out of otherwise meaningless transgressions.

    • I agree with you, except that I always avoided riding on Flatbush, Atlantic, etc. Also in Manhattan anywhere. I never found any enjoyment in riding in and out of traffic, hearing all the horns, breathing in the pollution belched out by trucks, buses, and cars. I always wanted the feeling of freedom and independence while biking, so I’ve always preferred the side streets and taken more heavily trafficked streets only when necessary. I was never a big fan of playing chicken.

  • It may be of interest to note that every cyclist over the age of 14 must obey all traffic laws while riding a bicycle. Who is supposed to train kids on traffic laws? The public schools? It’s a good place to start, so the next generation of New Yorkers help create a better city for all. I think cyclists need to know there are rules and consequences. Oh by the way, I bicycle around Crown Heights, Park Slope, Prospect Heights and Prospect Park. I also drive and walk.

  • Im currently teaching a 5 year old how to cross the street…It is an exhausting process. Here are some of the “rules” we are working on. Always hold daddy”s hand and then…

    When standing on a corner do not stand directly at the curb side- Stand three feet back. Watch out for large trucks that might cut the corners and jump the curb, Wait for the walk sign but do not enter the crosswalk without first registering eye contract with approaching drivers. Hesitate before entering street to allow for cars running yellow lights. Best to allow an adult to enter crosswalk first to test the waters. Do not trust adults as they mostly jaywalk. Identify cars with out of state plates especially NJ as they will almost certainly attempt right turns (rolling) on red. Don’t trust yellow cabs to stop. Don’t trust car service drivers. Don’t trust contractor vans. Don’t trust Access-a-ride van operators. Do not trust signal blinkers. Watch out for people talking to themselves in their cars as they are on the phone. Watch out for bikes running lights from both directions. Watch out for silent but deadly electric bikes operated by delivery men. Watch out for bearded men with funny black hats driving dented station wagons. Watch out for men in their late 40’s pushing jogging strollers. When raining don’t hide under an umbrella while crossing. Pull your hoodie away from your face so it doesn’t block your peripheral vision, Under no circumstances ever stop to tie your shoes or pick up loose change in the cross walk…………………

    This summer she wants to learn how to ride a bike.

  • We all have to follow the rules. I use Citibike and I stop at all stop signs, wait at all red lights and don’t ride in the wrong direction. If people want to be idiots and break the law then those tickets are revenue for the city. Fine by me.

  • Am a bike rider myself and I agree too. Most bikes don’t follow any traffic rules.

  • I agree that cyclists should abide by traffic laws (although I would like to see some modifications to red light rules for cyclists). However, under the law the applicable penalties are supposed to be less because certain fees and surcharges to not apply to bike violations. It does not work out this way in practice. When I was ticketed for going through a red light on my bike (by officers in an unmarked police car, after I had stopped at the light for a full minute), the DMV ended up charging me the full $270 that would have applied if I’d driven through a light in a car. In pleading guilty, I only authorized payment on my credit card of the $190 I should have been charged, but then received a notice to pay the additional $80 or my license would be suspended.