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Cops Crack Down On Cyclists

by Melinda Tuhus | Oct 24, 2008 12:41 pm

(73) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Hasse222tt.jpgAs the city launches a bike- friendly “Street Smarts” campaign, cops have simul- taneously been ticketing hundreds of cyclists $75 apiece for riding on the sidewalk and breezing through stop signs and red lights.

Lt. Ray Hassett (pictured) said he and two of his officers have handed out almost 300 tickets to cyclists for traffic violations in October — a departure from the police department’s past practice of ignoring cycling violations.

Since he began ticketing cyclists, Hassett said, “I have seen a change in behavior — people stopping at lights, people not riding on sidewalk, riders giving hand signals.”

Bicycling advocates applauded Police Chief James Lewis’s promise to crack down on traffic-law violators — specifically, drivers of cars who exceed 25 miles per hour on city streets, run red lights, and endanger cyclists. Lewis has assigned more officers to traffic duty and put a sergeant in charge of the unit. The number of tickets is up substantially over last year to more than than 10,000 so far in 2008, including 1,202 in September.

Many cyclists also support enforcing traffic laws that apply to themselves as well, especially when violations threaten public safety.

Hassett’s crackdown on cyclists coincided with the city’s feel-good Oct. 19 kick-off of the Safe Streets/Street Smarts campaign. Some cyclists said the cops should have preceded the ticketing campaign with warnings and an education campaign. Yale police, for example, have also been giving out “tickets” to cyclists who ride on the sidewalk or violate other laws, but for the most part they have been warnings without a fine attached.

Some cyclists ticketed by Hassett’s team have been sticker-shocked at the $75 fine for sidewalk riding and even higher fines for other violations.

“I’m not giving warnings,” Hassett said.

“We’ve had a flyer printed up which I present along with the ticket, showing some of the violations and some of the fines,” he added. “I made a lot of informational flyers and gave some out before I started ticketing.”

The ticketing of cyclists is not a police department-wide effort. “This is my project,” Hassett said. “I mentioned it to the chief and he OK’d it, and we went forward.
I’ve always had an interest in bicycles. [Click here for a story on Hassett’s initiation of a police escort for the Critical Mass monthly bike ride.] I think it’s an excellent way of transportation and previous to this it’s been unregulated.

“A lot of people believe they are above the law, that if they are cautious they can ride on the sidewalk.”

Hassett said the majority of tickets to cyclists have been for riding on the sidewalk. He’s also nailed them for riding the wrong way on city streets and for going through red lights and stop signs. “There are so many flagrant violations,” he said.

His district is the Dwight neighborhood, just west of downtown. But many cyclists have been ticketed downtown. “We did wander down a little closer to the center of city,” Hassett said, adding that he tickets whomever he comes across violating the law. “I’m not looking to target anyone in specific.”

justin%20closeup.jpgJustin Elicker (pictured) supports enforcement of traffic laws — even for bicyclists like himself. But he said he wonders if there’s been a disproportionate emphasis lately on enforcing the letter of the law over concerns about safety for all road users.

He was recently handed a $114 traffic ticket for turning right at a red light on College Street, right in front of Hassett’s squad car. In an email message, Elicker wrote, “I stopped and when I checked to see that it was safe to pass the police vehicle, slowly rode around the police car. Knowing that there had been tickets given out lately, I rode especially slowly (2-3 mph), making a right turn in front of the officer’s parked cruiser and literally rolling onto Chapel, feeling that I was in no way violating and in some part wanting to confirm that the police were not unfairly targeting cyclists when they were riding safely, slowly and on the road. A block later I was pulled over. I really support what the city and police are doing regarding traffic, they’ve done a fantastic job so far, that cyclists must obey the law, but at the same time the roads must ultimately be safe for everyone and balance is what is key here — for both cars and cyclists.”

Hassett’s response? “There was no right turn on red.”

He said he has no objection to lowering the fines that are now on the books for cycling violations. “We’re trying to change behavior,” he said, echoing the mantra of Chief Lewis. “If a lesser fine can do the trick, fine.”

Even cyclists who support the enforcement effort called the fines excessive and called for much more emphasis to be placed on stopping the potentially lethal violations by motorists. In that vein, they support strict enforcement against dangerous cycling behavior like riding fast or too close to pedestrians on the sidewalk or riding against traffic in the street.

David Streever is an organizer with the Elm City Cycling activist group. After learning the extent of the ticketing of cyclists, most for sidewalk riding, he said, “I think the best thing to happen now is to hand out Street Smarts brochure to all cyclists who are committing an infraction and let them know they’re not being targeted because they’re bicyclists but because it’s a safety issue. I think it would be best for the tickets to become warnings, except where the cyclist is behaving in a careless, dangerous way.

“You want to encourage people to bike, to incentivize cycling instead of disincentivize it. Cyclists are unaware of the impact they’re having on pedestrians. It’s the same mentality drivers have who drive dangerously. Getting involved with cycling advocacy made me realize the negative impact my behavior had on others and the negative reputation we were creating for cycling in general. Some people would change their behavior without being ticketed, but not others. I would like to see more done to reach people who would get it first, though,” by receiving a warning.

rob%20smuts%20biking.jpgUnfortunately, the 25,000 “Street Smarts!” brochures the city got printed — while including helpful tips for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists — don’t say a word about the sidewalk ban on cycling. City Chief Administrative Officer Rob Smuts (pictured) said the ban came up during planning meetings but was not included because “we couldn’t include everything.” He also said, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Streever said some cyclists at the meetings specifically opposed including it, wanting to keep the tone of the piece positive and not appearing “to tell cyclists what to do.”

Some cyclists are adamantly opposed to the ticketing blitz. One got a $75 ticket for, he said, riding less than a block on the sidewalk as he pulled off the street up to his apartment.

“It’s taken the joy out of riding,” he said, declining to be identified because, he said, he feared being targeted by the police.

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posted by: Edward_H on October 24, 2008  1:06pm

This is the best news I have read in a long time

posted by: anon on October 24, 2008  1:06pm

Good, but in walking two blocks downtown today, I saw at least a half dozen drivers run red lights, some of them traveling at speeds in excess of 40 miles per hour, and others talking on their cell phones (which has been shown to be worse than drunk driving).

Hopefully our state reps will come around and pass legislation to enable red light cameras this year, as many other states have. 

That would free up some police to focus on other things - like cell phone drivers, and drivers and cyclists who don’t yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

Let’s try to focus on the things that are killing and maiming hundreds of our residents every year.

posted by: Bill on October 24, 2008  1:45pm

This is a clear retaliation against cyclists because they have been vocal in wanting enforcement of the traffic laws. If the police did their job and made the city a safe place to walk and ride a bike people wouldn’t have to ride on the sidewalks out of fear.
This is just another reason not to visit New Haven.

posted by: Stodgy on October 24, 2008  1:47pm

I personally have never felt threatened by a bicycle on the sidewalk, in fact, just the opposite. I like seeing the harmonious interactions of a cyclist moving at a reasonable speed together with pedestrian traffic. It gives the indication that we can all get along, like we are a village. It’s an opportunity to ride slowly and interact with friends seen along the way. Try doing that when you have to fear for your life on a narrow one-way road with no bike lane and drivers who are beeping their horn at you from behind. I had a driver beep at me this morning, in fact. Sidewalk riding also allows for a more logical navigation when the one-way streets are unfavorable.  Tickets should only be issued to bicyclists that have accidents with pedestrians, in my opinion. All the hardcore cyclist know that tickets are not issued to the drivers of cars when they accidentally colloid with a bicycle. That’s because the driver will always claim that they never saw the cyclist. To give a cyclist a $75 ticket without even having an accident is unreasonable. In my opinion, the prohibition of bicycles on all sidewalks in New Haven is just stodgy and aseptic and I wish ECC would stop their campaign. Forcing weak riders out onto the street can only result in more angry drivers and more accidents. These accidents will be bloody.

For the “not so strong” cyclist, the beginners, the occasional cyclists, people from foreign countries just trying to get by for a year without buying a car, girls who don’t feel safe riding in the road, older people, I think there should be an option of using the sidewalk.

Where is this T-shirt I heard about “Streever ruined it for everyone”

posted by: Volvo on October 24, 2008  1:55pm

This is really the opposite direction as far as enforcement is concerned.  This city is so bicycle unfriendly that it’s sometimes for your mere survival that a cyclist get a head-start through some of these intersections. 

While I ride to and from work (everyday) auto drivers in this city are fairly reckless, don’t pay attention, wail on the horn, cut me off, run lights, box me in, scream obsenities, etc.  I’ve got a well tuned bike, get myself up to at least 25 on every stretch of road I travel.  On more than one occasion I’ve nearly come to blows with aggressive drivers that scream for me to get on the sidewalk after they had to unfortunately drive the speedlimit up to the red light in front of us. 

While at home, I watch cars blatantly running red lights in front of my house.  Two days ago a car blew through a light right in front of a cop (Squad Car 588) and he did nothing.  It happens like this everyday.

It’s time to educate the drivers of automobiles about the rules of the road considering they’re weilding the 4,000 pound vehicle.  I don’t condone bikes riding in the wrong direction or on sidewalks, but ease up on the right on reds or safely crossing the road with pedestrians.  It’s really the only way we can become visible to most car drivers who are sipping coffee, texting, changing lanes, fiddling with the radio, jerkin it, and not seeing us or giving 2 sh*ts. 

I better see more cars getting pulled over for similar offenses.

posted by: concerned on October 24, 2008  1:56pm

This is disappointing, since obviously it will take some time for streets to be safer for cyclists, yet the police are ticketing the cyclists immediately.  I have been riding my bicycle, mostly on the street in accordance with traffic but there are places where I am on the sidewalk because it is so much safer.  After reading this article, I am sorry to say I will start driving to work again. It shouldn’t come down to choosing between a $75 fine or risking my safety.

posted by: Bill Saunders on October 24, 2008  2:09pm

What about that muslim guy with the motorized wheelchair, who can be seen riding in the street, against traffic, throughout the city—sidewalk or street?????

posted by: Cheri on October 24, 2008  2:19pm

My only concern is that certain people will not get ticketed, like teenage boys from the surrounding areas, who are very often a bit antagonistic towards, well, everyone in their path.  I think some of the bike hoodlums will continue to get away with reckless biking because they don’t have jobs, are mostly under 18, etc. etc. etc.  So, who gets smacked with $75.00 tickets?  People like Mr. Elicker, and those like him who sometime very cautiously hop on sidewalks or turn right on red.  I know it’s wrong to do it.  I’m not defending them.  But some of the real threats/dangers that I’ve witnessed have been with certain folks in the area who will never pay these tickets, if they’re ever ticketed in the first place.

posted by: FairHavenRes on October 24, 2008  2:20pm

Are you kidding me? We had 4 shootings and a murder in Fair Haven this week. The murder was discovered by a person walking by. The cops sent to investigate the shooting did a quick check and left the area. Are you kidding me Chief Lewis?

The shooting are up and people are dying. I dont get the focus on prostitutes and bicyclists when people are dying.

posted by: Josh Smith on October 24, 2008  2:22pm

As a cyclist, motorist, transit user, and pedestrian from New Haven, I think this is great.  I’m not going to open up the sidewalk riding debate here, as it’s been rehashed to death on the ECC board.  I’d just like to voice my strong support for enforcement of laws pertaining to both motorists and cyclists alike.  I’m tired of seeing cyclists blow through red lights while I sit at the light on my bike like I’m supposed to, and I’m also tired of dodging people riding bikes on the sidewalk while I’m walking my bike like I’m supposed to.  I hope this does change behavior, like Lt. Hassett said, and I hope it leads to more cyclists riding the right way instead of just giving up and driving everywhere.

posted by: JP on October 24, 2008  2:26pm

It’s about time. I’m all for bike lanes and everything else to keep bikers safe. Id even be in favor of changing the law to let them on the side walk but for to long bikers have wanted it both ways. I’m glad to hear that the laws will finally be enforced.

posted by: amicahomi on October 24, 2008  2:31pm

When growing up not too far from here, one needed a license to ride a bike on public porperty.  To get the license, you needed at least one light at the front of the bike a bell, and some basic familiarity with road rules.  Bicyclists dismounted and walked bikes through intersections, and on plazas and other public walkways. Also, New Haven actually had a bicycle coordinator in the 80’s to educate everyone on the proper rules of the road for all.

posted by: derekgeneric on October 24, 2008  2:33pm

Until I start seeing Hassett and his squad at the corner of Whitney and Canner where I walk my kids to school stopping and ticketing EVERY SINGLE* driver doing more than 25 on either one of those streets I cannot see this as more than a stunt. Whether it’s vindictive or not, it has that appearance to some of us which can only harm the relations that we’re working so hard to build.

*they’ll need extra ticket pads for this task…

posted by: David Streever on October 24, 2008  3:37pm

Hey all,

As Lt Hassett outlines above, this is a personal agenda of his, due to his concerns about safety. It’s not related to ECC or other advocacy groups.

Anyone who thinks that the NHPD are anti-ECC a. doesn’t come to our meetings b. doesn’t speak with police c. is not involved & is just sitting around stirring a pot.

Talk to your Alderman, attend a Community Management Team Meeting, or take some other (POSITIVE) step.

Those of us who volunteer & are engaged in the civics of New Haven spend 10+ hours a week doing unpaid work. If you aren’t involved but you are going to anonymously whine, then get involved, and do your part.

posted by: William Kurtz on October 24, 2008  3:43pm

Like Josh, I don’t plan to reopen the ride/don’t ride on sidewalks debate.  The police are enforcing the standing laws as they are charged to do.

I do have two questions for the NHPD, though: first, can we get a public commitment that any driver involved in an crash with a cyclist and found to be at fault will receive the appropriate ticket, regardless of whether they claim they “didn’t see” the cyclist? Second, are the traffic laws being enforced proportionally for motorists and cyclists? 

I appreciate the attention paid to traffic by Chief Lewis, Lt. Hassett, and the new traffic unit, but like ‘Anon’ would encourage a more stringent focus on actual dangerous behavior and not low-hanging fruit like Mr. Elicker’s slow-speed right turn.

posted by: derekgeneric on October 24, 2008  3:53pm

David, I applaud the amount of work you and others in ECC have done and I agree that cyclists need to be following the law in order to be taken seriously. I just don’t see this “personal agenda” as being worthy and respectful of this work as far as a response from the Police Department. There are people being killed on our streets by reckless and distracted drivers. That is the bottom line right now.

posted by: muva on October 24, 2008  4:09pm

This is a clear retaliation against cyclists

This is just another reason not to visit New Haven.

After reading this article, I am sorry to say I will start driving to work again

My only concern is that certain people will not get ticketed

...Hate to say, “I told you so”. Not trying to “stir the pot” or anything, but this is exactly the reaction I warned about while active with ECC.

If you aren’t involved but you are going to anonymously whine, then get involved, and do your part.

Some of us were. Like that time <a>I hosted the ECC meeting at my house</a>, where we talked about ECC members going to the police station at the beginning of each shift to tell cops how to do their jobs, er, inform them of laws pertaining to bicycles. Last meeting I ever attended.
There is no doubt that ECC does a great amount of good for New Haven and New Haven’s cyclists. I just feel you’ve barked up the wrong tree here. Yes, I am aware that Lt. Hassett has been receiving complaints from downtown business owners about bicycles on sidewalks, but he’s been getting those complaints for years. I worked on Chapel St. in ‘04 and the complaints were flying then. So why start the enforcement NOW???
The people I know who have been ticketed rode on a sidewalk for less than ten feet in order to dismount their bicycles out of traffic. Little excessive, don’t ya think?

posted by: DingDong on October 24, 2008  7:05pm

William Kurtz,

There are lots of laws on the books. The police don’t have to, indeed, can’t enforce all of them. Lt. Hassett’s impetuous crackdown, while perhaps well-intentioned, is not good for cycling in New Haven. This needs to stop. Cycling on sidewalks is bad but it is often near unavoidable and perfectly safe for short stretches. New Haven is not yet a bike-friendly city.

Once it is, please begin to ticket people for riding on the sidewalk. For now, this blind ticket-issuing flurry (to people who are clearly acting reasonably like Justin) is pointless and will only take people off their bikes and put them in their cars.

posted by: I CANT BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING on October 24, 2008  7:46pm

This is bul… When are these grown up jocks like Hassett going to start ticketing drivers for speeding. I must witness at least 50 speeders a day. Turning right on red - please!! ... I see this at least 10 times a day. And riding on the sidewalk - no one does it better than the NHPD and Yale PD bike cops. This is ridiculous. The people who have the potential to kill (drivers) are not even ticketed in car/bike collisions. This is clearly vindictive. ...

posted by: Paul Garlinghouse on October 25, 2008  6:28am

The law is the law, but this definitely should have been preceded by public education of cyclists rather than these high ticket fines.  This individual officers selection of this method of enforcement shows his true character.  I honestly wonder what I should do tomorrow when my five year old son wants to ride his bicycle down the street to the park.  I do not think it is safe for him to ride in the street yet.

posted by: runmedown on October 25, 2008  9:27am

Mr. Streever, (not to pile on, I know you mean well, but…) I thought I was doing my part, by simply riding my bicycle.  Why is it that now all bicyclists [comrades], have to join the “party”, the ECC - Elm City Communists, as it were, that is, yet another civic group comprised of the usual C.V. boosting Yale coterie?  I have never seen a more highly organized, dysfunctional “community” than New Haven; is everyone in this town a community organizer or advocate?  If more people start trying to save the world we’re all really going to be more screwed and doomed than we already are.  What’s next, mandatory helmets and spandex?  I thought my “protected by Smith and Wesson” and “my other bike is an AR15” t-shirts spoke loudly enough???
Some days rude dangerous drivers get the single finger salute and other days I just blow them a kiss…  As far as the vindictive cop goes (Is he as power hungry as David Streever? the two wheeled tyrant - look in the mirror!) - really, the cop with the 70’s pornstache could park in front of my house and write hundreds of tickets a day - to car drivers who speed, who ignore the “no turn on red” sign, who ignore the pedestrian crossing signal, who ignore the state laws against dark window tints, who ignore the city ordinance against sonic boom sound systems, the dui’s who come from Archie Moore’s, etc…  Those bike lanes sure work well for keeping riders in the (killing) door zone for sure, and bike lanes make excellent right turn lanes - for cars - which seems to indicate that the traffic problem is really a design problem - the DOT rears its hideously ugly head again.  Also, one can’t legislate civility or common sense (whatever that is).  How about doubling traffic fines committed by suburbanites, or vehicles not registered in New Haven?

posted by: ian on October 25, 2008  9:38am

i don’t feel particularly safe, riding in the street on my bicycle downtown.  as someone who has been hit by a car before, i will take my chances with pedestrians because at least there i feel i have a distinct advantage.

posted by: jackie on October 25, 2008  10:07am

so i appreciate the effort toward uniformity of enforcement.

and i like the fact that he says has “seen a change in behavior,” perhaps due to his efforts. that’s great!

but *I* haven’t seen ANY when it comes to automotive red-light runners and right (or) left turns on red when prohibited. so someone’s not working hard enough.

and yeah, don’t forget the bike hoodlums on dwight, edgewood, chapel, whalley and red-light runners everywhere. of course, those kids are likely to give chase. probably not gonna happen with the bike commuter crowd.

For what it’s worth. I don’t bike—but I do drive and walk.

posted by: robn on October 25, 2008  10:44am

Riding through intersections is really dangeerous and should be ticketed. Ticketing for right on red during low traffic times is pretty lame. I agree that the focus should be on dangerous behavior.

I also think that there should be some codified exceptions to the sidewalk rule like…

1) Road conditions are severely deteriorated and dangerous for bicycles…like several stretches of Whitney where the skirt is full of pothholes.

2) Parks….are we or are we not allowed to ride across the green?

3) Small children??? is there an exception for pre-teens?

Will New Haven please step up enforcement on vehicles that can actually kill someone (cars)?

Will New Haven give the one way road system the heave-ho so we can actually get a round town?

posted by: Ryan D on October 25, 2008  2:52pm

As a cyclist, I definitely see both sides of this issue.  It’s very annoying to me as a law-abiding rider to see other cyclists flagrantly riding the wrong way down a one-way street, running red lights, and trying to bike down a busy sidewalk.

But:
I’m incredibly amazed at how bicycle-unfriendly New Haven is.  Where does the city expect cyclists to ride if the actual streets are either absurdly wide and full of reckless drivers (i.e. George St, Church St downtown) or full of so many bumps and potholes (Whitney Ave by Science Hill) that biking even without cars anywhere nearby is downright dangerous?

The only way to solve this problem is to have bike lanes on every road.  The normal street is not suitable for bikes because of dangerous cars and reckless drivers (not to mention how physically devastating a car hitting a cyclist is).  The sidewalk is not suitable for bikes because pedestrians don’t want to get hit either.

Bike lanes, like the one on Orange St, are a great start.  It’s not perfect, because it is not sheltered from car traffic (there really should be a curb) and because I frequently encounter joggers there (they must think they are too fast for the sidewalk, ha).  But it’s a definite step in the right direction.  We need our city to step up and put in lanes on virtually every street.  It’s on so few streets right now that it’s almost useless.

posted by: David Streever on October 25, 2008  6:09pm

You know, I like the police, & I think they mostly do a good job. I’m against side walk riding. I even think it’s OK to ticket people riding on the sidewalk, especially when they are in the way of pedestrians.

Let’s not forget that part of what makes this small city so wonderful is the dense pedestrian traffic and what a nice place it is to walk.

Something has been bothering me, though, & it’s hypocrisy. When I first saw this I said, “Well, it’d be hypocritical to want a “freebie”. If we want motorists to obey the law, so do we.” But, that cuts every which way. I think as soon as the police stop riding on the sidewalk they can start handing out tickets. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a cop on a bike clip someone, almost hit someone, etc, typically riding on York, on the sidewalk, and narrowly taking the right hand turn by the Yale Rep.

I’ve talked to two cops who both told me that they don’t think it’s safe for them to ride in the street.

Sorry, but you can’t protect your own, and meanwhile give out $114 dollar tickets to people who make a safe right on red.

I know that not a single cop on a bike has been given a ticket, & they don’t ride legally for 5 minutes of the day.

posted by: cedarhillresident on October 25, 2008  7:31pm

Justin…Hmmmmm :)

posted by: Chapel South Res on October 25, 2008  8:09pm

Nice to see that there is plenty of things being done about something not life threatening.

posted by: hmm on October 25, 2008  8:32pm

do bike fines go to city while car fines go to state?

posted by: The Truth on October 26, 2008  10:44am

Well done Smuts. Another $22500 in tax from the suckers. What color armoire do you want for your office.

posted by: glassishalfempty on October 26, 2008  11:39am

AMICAHOMI,

What the hell are you talking about? Jesus Christ, if there ever came a day where I had to get a license to ride my bike, I would melt my bike frame down into a nice steel club, go out and buy a Hummer and drive around looking for people like you to beat with that special little club. 

Also, Streever and Company put in 10 hours a week of unpaid work.  boo hoo, whaa whaa.  Think about this…..If the work that you did put in actually had any purpose you might get paid something. I would rather swallow 15 vicadin and chase it with a pint of ammmonia than see you get paid a penny for all of the efforts you are putting forth to make it a nightmare to ride a bike in this city.

posted by: David Streever on October 26, 2008  2:33pm

Again,

my issue is with the uniform lack of education here

MUVA,
Do you honestly believe this is a retaliation against ECC? do you personally know Lt Hassett? No. Some of us do, & we know he is not retaliating against us in anyway.

Hate to shoot down your “I told you so”, and you have a valid theory, which is perhaps why you have a hard time letting it   go.  you also claimed he wouldn’t ticket yale students, & that he told a cyclists this was a retaliation against ECC. I’ve spoken to that cyclist (he said that didn’t happen) & I know how many tickets he’s given out & to who—trust me, EC Scorchers is not his chief target. Right now it looks like Yale Law & Divinity students have received the bulk of tickets. Please verify sources in the future! Otherwise you discredit yourself & the work you have done.

RunMeDown:
I’m sorry you feel I’m so power hungry. Considering I have no political position, no platform, no financing, & no authority, I’d have to disagree. You also describe ECC as being “a yale coterie of C.V. builders”. I think we have 2 board members out of 11 who went to Yale.  I’m not sure because it never comes up, & I can’t think of anyone on the board who is building a C.V. with any of this. Most of the people on the board are established,  independent of Yale, & earn good wages doing meaningful jobs.

Seriously guys, pour on the hate! no one minds that.

I do cringe a little when I read the patently absurd, uninformed, & heavily biased reasons for hate, however.

posted by: anon on October 26, 2008  3:11pm

“I’ve talked to two cops who both told me that they don’t think it’s safe for them to ride in the street.”

That’s because it simply isn’t safe, except perhaps in the minds of a few young men who have some experience riding a bike.  The vast majority of the population is afraid to ride a bike on our streets, for the simple reason that cars are constantly clipping by them at 35+ miles per hour, often giving inches of clearance (potholes also don’t help).  I hate to badmouth anyone’s chosen method of commuting, but just today, 5 different people told me how they think it is crazy that bicyclists even consider riding in the street in our downtown, and pointed to the majority of cyclists who were riding on the sidewalk, which of course isn’t much safer or more appealing.  The safety issue is why New Haven has only a small number of bicycle commuters, of whom the vast, vast majority are male (look at the Census figures if you don’t believe me on that).

If you want people of both genders and all ages to ride in the street in any serious numbers, the way they do in Cambridge, Munich or Boulder, you need to create downtown streets designed for maximum speeds of 15 miles per hour.  And unfortunately, history shows that you can’t accomplish that in the long-term through any level of enforcement—you need serious traffic calming.  We need to prioritize pedestrian safety, not prioritize how we can turn all of downtown into a giant highway cloverleaf (look at Elm Street along the Green! Look at the cars going 70 miles per hour down Whalley!). 

The city will cite statistics showing that New Haven has bike and pedestrian commuters (at 1.8% and 14%, respectively, actually among the highest in the country and very respectable until you compare it to Cambridge or anywhere in Europe), but the only reason it is that high is because New Haven covers such a tiny land area and is home to a major university at its center.  If you look at the metro area, New Haven’s bicycle, pedestrian and transit commuting rates are no higher than the national average.  It’s a really sad state of affairs for an area home to Rosa DeLauro and so many other talented, progressive legislators.

We have a choice to make.  We can create central city neighborhoods and a downtown that people actually want to spend time in, and provide transit alternatives to get them around quickly, efficiently and enjoyably, or we can suffer continuing stagnation as residents pump more and more of their household income into their cars each year.  Given that the economy of the next 60 years will largely be determined by where the most talented industries and people move over the next 10—and the surveys are pretty clear that 2/3rds of households would prefer to live in a “highly walkable” neighborhood—I hope that the city acts quickly to address this issue.

posted by: jack foley on October 26, 2008  5:06pm

as a cyclist,my right to the road has always been linked to obeying the traffic laws.It has saved my sorry butt more times than I can remember.I think we should all grow up a little and realize there are no rights without responsibilities.

posted by: SaferSidewalkiddos on October 26, 2008  6:54pm

Re. WHO can ride on New Haven sidewalks without getting ticketed, ACTUAL ordinances notwithstanding, another NHPD officer just told me that:

A) “We don’t want minors riding in the street and won’t ticket them or their adult escorts for riding on the sidewalk but, as per State Law, helmets are a must.”

B) “Adults must ride in the street and obey ALL traffic laws”...(incl. from No Right on Reds to, reportedly, not even coasting ACROSS a sidewalk let alone traveling along one for any distance; a Rite Aid bike messenger was reportedly recently ticketed for this so, as with other vehicles, dismount before crossing the curb unless you are crossing a sidewalk at a DRIVEWAY.)

Sidewalk wipe outs are rarely LIFE threatening to children but my young sister was permanently maimed after being RUN OVER TWICE after falling on a tame Elm City side street. I spent most of the free time of my NH childhood on bikes—learned strong control/balance skills in the dirt—by 10 was riding solo over 100 miles out & have commuted year round as an adult on bicycles and motorcycles for many years. I have seen my share of road hazards & tend to think that it’s generally safer for pre-teen bikers to keep to the sidewalk* as long as they follow CT laws such as yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians and audibly signaling before overtaking them, are careful and the sidewalk isn’t too crowded. That said, perhaps an all ages sidewalk bike ban could be limited to certain retail/downtown zones—the children can walk their bikes in congested areas.

*My opinion is that minors should be allowed to ride on the sidewalk in most residential areas for at least the following reasons:

1) Limited visibility in street;
Smaller riders on smaller bikes are less likely to be seen by MV operators both on and entering the roadway, moving or stationary (doored)

2) Potentially limited physical skill set;
Many children haven’t yet built up the skills to be steady enough for the street—a typical blacktop imperfection, pothole, branch section, slick leaves etc. can quickly bring them down two feet to the left under the wheels of moving MV’s. Even in a bike lane the car wheels are only about four feet away and if you fall in the road there is often no time for the MV operator(s) to react…and that’s IF they see you. They didn’t see my sister.

3) Potentially limited maturity;
More likely to momentarily get distracted/lose necessary focus etc.—even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that “Children less than 10 years old…are not mature enough to make the decisions necessary to safely ride in the street” and “are better off riding on the sidewalk.”
http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/bike/KidsandBikeSafetyWeb/index.htm

Yes there are accident studies that show that it is safer to ride on the street than the sidewalk but these mostly reflect ADULT riders:
http://www.bikexprt.com/bikepol/facil/sidepath/sidecrash.htm

FYI,  CT bike laws:
http://www.bikeleague.org/action/bikelaws/ct.php

Speaking of maturity, try to lose the hate and look for the common ground : )

posted by: muva on October 26, 2008  8:00pm

“MUVA,
Do you honestly believe this is a retaliation against ECC? do you personally know Lt Hassett? No. Some of us do, & we know he is not retaliating against us in anyway.

While you are correct, I do not know him on a first name basis, but as a resident of New Haven for the past 14 years, I’ve had my share of dealings with our beloved Storm Trooper (although I felt being able to recognize him in Superman was cooler). I don’t believe, as I told you in our private e-mail, that this is a case of Hassett vs. ECC.

“Hate to shoot down your “I told you so”, and you have a valid theory, which is perhaps why you have a hard time letting it go.”
Read the above comments. Talk to someone who isn’t affiliated with ECC, and you’ll see I’m not alone.

“you also claimed he wouldn’t ticket yale students,”
I challenge you to find that. I never said that. When I said, “certain” people, It was my pc way of saying “little lack boys in the hill doing wheelies the wrong way in traffic”.

”& that he told a cyclists this was a retaliation against ECC. I’ve spoken to that cyclist (he said that didn’t happen)”
Yeah, I talked to him again as well. He told me the officer said, “his friends”. At the time the story was relayed to me, the “cyclist” seemed to be implying ECC, and that’s how I took it. My bad.

” & I know how many tickets he’s given out & to who—trust me, EC Scorchers is not his chief target.”
Never really thought “Scorchers” were the target. Only two have received tickets, and it’s because they were dumb enough to stop.

” Right now it looks like Yale Law & Divinity students have received the bulk of tickets.
Yet with no warning. Great way of saying, “Thanks for choosing New Haven for your continued education, now pay up!” Can’t wait ‘til we need even more Yale shuttles cruising around at excessive speeds.

“Please verify sources in the future! Otherwise you discredit yourself & the work you have done.”
Work that I have done? I stopped being “involved” the day y’all moved beyond bike lanes and bike racks—have to wear a helmet to get a cup of coffee at a BTW breakfast?! Puh-lease! (oh, and my source for that are two e-mails from disenfranchised cyclists—one of which I still have and would be more than willing to show you). Or do you mean my “work” of hosting illegal bike races that bring cyclists from other countries to New Haven in order to break traffic laws???

Look, as I told you in our private email, perception is reality. So while I am aware ECC didn’t go out and ask for tickets, that’s how it looks to people. Many people (read above comments) are not fully comfortable riding 100% in the street right now, so what you’re basically telling them is, “Ride in the road or don’t ride at all!”
I respect you, and ECC, and the positive work you all have done. This is not an example of that positive work.
So here I am trying to be a voice for the non-ECC set. As you have said before, let them attend the meetings and voice their opinions. Anyone who might have a dissenting opinion was informed via the listserve two weeks ago that the meetings have a set agenda, and straying off topic is frowned upon—so they can’t do it there. Maybe they could speak out on the listserve. Oh wait, people tried to do that during the non-NHPD Crit. Mass debate and were told they were generating too many posts. Guess there really isn’t any way for them to voice their opinions. If you just stopped to listen to them you’d realize that ECC speaks for a select few.

posted by: muva pt.2 on October 26, 2008  8:28pm

To continue…
As some of you know I have a wine blog. The comments are moderated, and someone used that to send me an “anonymous” message about ECC. Here it is…

(Sorry to comment here but since the moderation feature is on, I think you can prevent this post from being published.) I appreciate your recent comments on the ECC message board. ECC seems intent on taking the fun out of riding a bike. The dominant voices are mostly humorless and David Streever is unbearable. Regardless of the actual laws on the books, one of the greatest joys of riding a bike is that it allows you the freedom to disregard the so-called rules of the road. In other towns (I am new to New Haven) I have always been considerate, but not unaccustomed to riding the wrong way down the street, cautiously running red lights and stop signs and occasionally sidestepping traffic on sidewalks, alleys, and parking lots. Here, on the other hand, I have grown almost self-conscious about not wearing a helmet and failing to signal my turns. Even the free breakfasts downtown for cyclists resemble experiments in social engineering in that they require a helmet to get a [expletive] cup of coffee. The atmosphere is truly oppressive. The last straw was the negotiations with the cops to have a police escort for Critical Mass. More and more I am finding it most pleasurable to ride at night. I never realized the results of bike advocacy would be so lame. As I prefer creeping around in the shadows, I am not signing my name, but I sincerely thank you for your comments on ECC. On the wine front, there was a time when I could distinguish between Thunderbird and Mad Dog 20/20.”

I have more, if anyone from ECC would like to hear from the “others”.

posted by: Citizen on October 26, 2008  8:28pm

Another day, another article in the NHI about cycling.  Good thing there aren’t shootings in this city so we can focus on topics like this!  Oh wait… it was written by a member of New Haven’s cycling advocacy group yet again.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not Alphonse Credenza or whatever his name is.  I’m surprised he hasn’t been in this comment thread yet… he must be conflicted between his hatred of cyclists (haha, they’re getting ticketed) and what they’re getting ticketed for (b-b-b-but I thought they were supposed to be on the sidewalks).  I’m a cyclist in New Haven myself, and honestly, I never had a problem with the state of cycling in this town.  I agree that cyclists should be in the street and not on the sidewalk, but when people are being ticketed for pulling up on the curb to lock up their bike, that’s ridiculous.  What are we expected to do, stop in the middle of the street, dismount, and walk our bikes over to the sidewalk?  Yeah, that sounds safe.

Now that I got that little rant out, I’d like to get back on the point I began with… reading this site, you’d think the biggest issue in New Haven is cycling.  Well I have news for you, maybe in your little neighborhoods in East Rock that’s what is important to you, but there’s an entire city outside of your whitebread section of town where families are experiencing much worse hardships than a $75 ticket for riding on the sidewalk and maybe the content of this “news” site should reflect that rather than a single writer’s personal interest.  Nothing wrong with your cycling articles, it just seems that the percentage of screen real estate taken up by them compared to issues that might be a bit more pressing to much of the community is a little disproportionate.

posted by: Anon on October 26, 2008  10:16pm

I’ll be honest, after reading this story, I decided to just stop riding my bike.

the law is the law and I wouldn’t argue with a ticket, but I do ride on the sidewalk. I poke along. I get even pokier near people, putting one foot on the sidewalk and one on the pedal. (is that still illegal? if one foot is on the ground? worked in boarding school anyway)

The reason I do this is I was run over by a car—head on -  really hard, head on - drunken driver vs pedestrian. I am really lucky I lived through it. I am scared to ride with traffic on a bike because I know how dangerous it is.

Alas, what to do.

posted by: http://bikenewhaven.wordpress.com on October 26, 2008  11:02pm

Hi Everybody -

Well, you made me do it. This debate has gotten so interesting I actually went out and attempted to do some real reporting for my blog. (Please forgive me Paul, I did say attempted). Regardless, I think the piece came out pretty good. Feel free to check it out.
BIKE NEW HAVEN: “TICKET TIME”

posted by: Drats on October 27, 2008  6:48am

No person shall drive, wheel or draw any…bicycle…upon any sidewalk or footpath in the streets or public squares of said city , except going in or out of driveways.

Sec. 29-10.  Vehicles on sidewalks.
No person shall drive, wheel or draw any coach, cart, handcart, wheelbarrow, bicycle, or other vehicle of burden or pleasure, whether of the same description or not, except children’s hand carriages drawn by hand, or permit any horse under his care to go or stand upon any sidewalk or footpath in the streets or public squares of said city, except going in or out of driveways.
(Code 1928, § 751; Traffic Reg. of 7-7-52, § 10)


How about multi-use zones for less crowded areas?

posted by: Anon on October 27, 2008  7:46am

The truth is that none of these conversations would have been had if the people we pay with our taxes had gotten on the cycling band wagon sooner and were as concerned about making improvements as they are about politics.
New Haven’s Roads are fine to ride on, but the administration has done a poor job with real infrastructure improvements for cyclists.
It’s not the police, drivers or cyclist fault…it’s all city hall.
There’s too many politicians in city hall.

posted by: Bob on October 27, 2008  8:02am

The sudden enforcement of an 80 year old law has essentially forced me to start driving everywhere. (Wasn’t the sudden enforcement of unpopular and previously ignored laws one of the reasons we started a revolution almost two and a half centuries ago?)

Anyways, I can not afford a $75 ticket, and I can not afford to lose my life on the street. Anyone want to buy a bike?

posted by: DingDong on October 27, 2008  9:19am

Has anyone followed up with City Hall? Have they gotten our Storm Trooper to stop his silly campaign or New Haven intent to never become a bicycle-friendly city?

posted by: EastRockR on October 27, 2008  9:20am

Better to be judged by 12 (or $75)
then be carried by 6…if you know what I mean.

I heard a story from a women who was ticketed.

She said -

“I was riding my bike on the side walk on a one way street going in the opposite direction because there is no safe way to go down the street against traffic, and a police car with sirens ablaze came speeding down the street yelling on the loud speaker “stop and pull over the bike”.

-I think that the cop caused more of an unsafe condition than the biker in this case.

Wouldnt some agree.

posted by: DaveisDumb on October 27, 2008  9:33am

“Sorry, but you can’t protect your own, and meanwhile give out $114 dollar tickets to people who make a safe right on red.

I know that not a single cop on a bike has been given a ticket, & they don’t ride legally for 5 minutes of the day.”

David is it really that tough for you to admit when you’re totally wrong instead of deflecting blame back onto the police.  First you are praising the NHPD and their efforts, and now a few days later you’re against them. The term flip flopper seems to describe you perfectly, and your Negative statements will only cause the NHPD to become even more aggressive in their already ridiculous ticketing efforts.

posted by: Bruce on October 27, 2008  9:52am

I am not philisophically opposed to this effort, but I do think enforcement has been extremely unbalanced.  How is it fair for a bicyclist to get a $75 ticket for hopping up on the curb, but a motorist who breaks the law and actually hits and injures a bicyclist gets off with a verbal warning? http://www.newhavenindependent.org/archives/2008/07/is_there_change.php

Bob and others who feel more comfortable on the sidewalk, please take some time to read studies and literature about bicycle safety.  Only 7% of bicycle accidents occur when the rider is riding in the street with the flow of traffic.  The majority happen riding in the street the wrong way and on the sidewalk.  I used to ride all over the place but the more I learned about safety the more I started riding in the street with other vehicles and now I feel very comfortable there.

It seems that there is a lot of opposition from people who enjoy the freedom of breaking the law with their bicycles.  I’m sure there was a similar backlash when police started enforcing drunk driving laws.

posted by: Ben on October 27, 2008  10:38am

Bob,
Bruce is right. Ride with traffic and ride in the street in New Haven and people will drive safely near you almost 99 percent of the time.
Stop at stop lights with traffic and drivers won’t feel the need to cut close to you, accelerate behind you, cut you off or even beep at you.
I ride everyday and get beeped at once a month if that in New Haven.
Take your bike to Middletown ave in North Haven however and no matter how safely you ride on a road that is marked “cycling route” all bets are off. 
Follow the laws and you will get respect and be safer.
Please don’t get rid of the bike…we like the company.

posted by: nfjanette on October 27, 2008  11:00am

I applaud the police department’s new efforts to enforce traffic laws for all motor vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians.  I look forward to seeing many, many surprised pedestrians downtown holding tickets for all of the jay walking and dangerous middle of the block crossings - and I know I’ll have to clean up some of my own behavior in this regard.  I’ve already seen several cars pulled over in a line from a police traffic enforcement “setup” - that’s a new sight in this city, and a welcome one indeed.

Still, like other folks have written, it might have been better public relations to first start with a warning spree then following with the expensive tickets.

posted by: jack foley on October 27, 2008  11:32am

Wait until they start ticketing for no lights or brakes.Thats the law here in CT. too.It’s gonna be fun.

posted by: Bob on October 27, 2008  12:05pm

Bruce & Ben:

I am not really going to sell my bike, but I will most likely stop riding in New Haven. Until recently I was a member of the ECC listserv, so I am well aware of the statistics. However my commute consists of the super speedway soon to be construction zone of Whalley Ave, and the much too narrow Blake St. I’ll ride in the road on the other streets I need use, but on these two I refuse.

I’ve evaluated alt. routes but they are not any better, and I can not help but feel safer on sidewalks where I rarely encounter a pedestrian and have only a few cross streets to worry about.

For the most part I stand with the crowd who believes the city is working backwards. Give cyclists the ability to ride safely on every street and through every intersection, only then cite those who don’t take advantage of it.

posted by: Alphonse Credenza on October 27, 2008  12:50pm

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not Alphonse Credenza or whatever his name is. I’m surprised he hasn’t been in this comment thread yet…”

I’M FAMOUS!  I’M FAMOUS!

posted by: anon on October 27, 2008  12:56pm

“Give cyclists the ability to ride safely on every street and through every intersection, only then cite those who don’t take advantage of it.”

Amen.

posted by: Alphonse Credenza on October 27, 2008  2:04pm

ANON:

They already ride through intersections.  That’s why they’re going to get a ticket (among other reasons).

posted by: latichever on October 27, 2008  2:10pm

I’d also like to see them crack down on pedestrians. I live in East Rock, and, for example, people feel that Saint Ronan is a pedestrian boulevard. They regularly walk in the middle of the road—sometimes right down the yellow lane divider line, even in the dark. Runners everywhere also take foolish risks in traffic. And Yale students naively believe that if they step into a crosswalk any car will be able and willing to stop for them.

Slap a few tickets on those folks for their own safety.

posted by: anon on October 27, 2008  4:59pm

I disagree, Latichever.  We should prioritize pedestrian convenience and access throughout downtown.  In residential areas, streets should be thought of as front yards or parks where children can gather or play, not thoroughfares designed to allow people to speed through them.  Why should suburban kids be able to play in the streets in front of their homes (as many do), while urban kids can not?

Livable cities which have pedestrian-oriented boulevards and crosswalks every few hundred feet, such as central Cambridge, Munich or Oxford, are the cities that are seeing surges in investment.  Strip-mall-type cities, where auto transport is the priority (Elm Street Superhighway through Downtown New Haven being a prime example), are the ones that are struggling.

We need to change the situation ASAP, before our public health and economy continue to erode.

posted by: LastStraw on October 27, 2008  5:08pm

Sec. 29-10. Vehicles on sidewalks.
No person shall drive, wheel or draw any coach, cart, handcart, wheelbarrow, bicycle…
(Code 1928, § 751; Traffic Reg. of 7-7-52, § 10)

So…
How long before some over-zealous cop realizes that this ordinance makes walking your bicycle on the sidewalk illegal as well?
Since the use of handtrucks is also banned, maybe you enlist the help of the Teamsters or other such union representing delivery drivers to get the law changed.

posted by: tom gogola on October 27, 2008  5:14pm

Beyond all the sniping and fussing over metrics and statistics lies one simple unacknowledged FACT: It creates a far less safe road environment for EVERYONE when you force bicyclists to adhere to the rules of the road as they apply to automobiles.

I’m not blowing red lights on my bike to make a political point about how cool I am, or to celebrate ‘bike culture,’ or even to flip the anti-law bird to the upset likes self-appointed cycling cuckholds stuck at the light with the masses and the ‘law’ on their side and getting cranky at me for leaving them in the dust. You must hate my freedom! The law is on your side, and you can have it.

Bottom line: I’m blowing red lights so that large and daunting car doesn’t clip me with his rear-view as he’s yammering on his cellphone while driving like a methed-up maniac on Whitney avenue. Common sense dictates that i avoid that person and his death machine. Hey, I’m hopping the sidewalk for a half-block just to let that city bus pass me—and that’s the way it ought to be. Once more with feelikng: Common sense dictates that you get ... out of the ,,, way of the stupid ...g bus. ohhhhhhh mr. offficer, he’s riding on the sidewalk! stop him! stop him before he invades Iran!

posted by: Anon on October 27, 2008  9:11pm

The OTHER municipal code:

Sec. 29-10. Vehicles on sidewalks.
No person shall drive, wheel or draw any coach, cart, handcart, wheelbarrow, bicycle, or other vehicle of burden or pleasure, whether of the same description or not, except children’s hand carriages drawn by hand, or permit any horse under his care to go or stand upon any sidewalk or footpath in the streets or public squares of said city, except going in or out of driveways.
(Code 1928, § 751; Traffic Reg. of 7-7-52, § 10)

Definitions: For the purposes of this ordinance, his mayor principis John DeStefano is not a “person.” 

(I have witnessed him with my own eyes riding on the sidewalk and personally, didn’t care that he was)

posted by: jackie on October 28, 2008  12:45am

Quote:
A) “We don’t want minors riding in the street and won’t ticket them or their adult escorts for riding on the sidewalk but, as per State Law, helmets are a must.”

Yeah, but the “minors” (fill in the proverbial blank) could stand to get send the message that the cops don’t just target the non-threatening, not packing a firearm, “non-urban” (the euphemism of choice) looking types—-cuz, uh, the law applies to them, too—not just the “yalies” or “Ecc” or whomever, whom everyone apparently loves to hate for their civic engagement.

Better send that message now and not later.

That’s one of the reasons, let’s face it, that so many people in this town are so on edge most of the time, and “traffic calming” is just an instantiation of many people’s frustration with the impression total lawlessness that seems to run amok here, especially (but hardly exclusively) outside of downtown.

posted by: Bill Saunders on October 28, 2008  2:31am

Oh No, Anon,

Doesn’t sound like the Segways are allowed on the sidewalk, either!

posted by: Ali on October 28, 2008  10:07am

There are so many things about this that seem wrong. Is this the thing the the police need to focus on? All summer long ATVS and illegal motorcycles race around the city and we can’t stop them - but there is time and resources to ticket cyclists?? I find it ironic that there is another article on the NHI about a woman caught in the cross-fire of “a gang of kids on bikes with guns”.  I just wonder if the focus here is in the wrong place.

Drivers take a test before they are allowed to drive to insure that there is a standard of knowledge and behavior.  How many people are even aware that there are rules about cycling? And where does that information come from?  Once a child learns to ride a bike (on the sidewalk) does anyone take them out on their 13th birthday to instruct them on how they need to ride in the street and follow the rules because the city ordinances say so?  How about some educating before punishing.

I will really start to wonder about priorities in the city if I ever geta ticket for something so ridiculous as failing to signal a turn on my bike.

posted by: Ali on October 28, 2008  10:07am

There are so many things about this that seem wrong. Is this the thing the the police need to focus on? All summer long ATVS and illegal motorcycles race around the city and we can’t stop them - but there is time and resources to ticket cyclists?? I find it ironic that there is another article on the NHI about a woman caught in the cross-fire of “a gang of kids on bikes with guns”.  I just wonder if the focus here is in the wrong place.

Drivers take a test before they are allowed to drive to insure that there is a standard of knowledge and behavior.  How many people are even aware that there are rules about cycling? And where does that information come from?  Once a child learns to ride a bike (on the sidewalk) does anyone take them out on their 13th birthday to instruct them on how they need to ride in the street and follow the rules because the city ordinances say so?  How about some educating before punishing.

I will really start to wonder about priorities in the city if I ever geta ticket for something so ridiculous as failing to signal a turn on my bike.

posted by: bikenewhaven on October 28, 2008  10:48am

Last Straw,
You’ve made an excellent point. I didn’t even realize that the ordinance, as is, bans the use of ‘handcarts’ on sidewalks. I was so interested in the bicycle issue. What are professional movers supposed to do, walk in the street? What about Yalies moving in? This law is definitely a bit outdated. How does one go about changing a municipal ordinance?

posted by: Tale of Two Cities on October 28, 2008  1:34pm

Berkeley CA instituted “a program to educate the public regarding the City’s ordinance against riding bikes on the sidewalk. Signs and pavement markings instructing cyclists to walk their bikes on the sidewalk and ride in the street were installed”...“additionally attractive posters were distributed to reinforce the message”...“signage was a strong contributing factor in the observed behavior change among cyclists.”
 
Berkeley’s ordinance specifies conditional sidewalk use for juveniles and peace officers:

Section 14.68.130 Riding bicycles on sidewalk permitted when.
    No person shall ride or operate a bicycle on any sidewalk in the city except:
    A.  Juveniles, exercising the due care and giving the pedestrian the right-of-way, may ride and operate their bicycles upon the sidewalk, except such sidewalks as are in front of schools, stores or buildings used for business purposes;
    B.  Juveniles riding or operating a bicycle on the sidewalk shall do so in single file;
    C.  Peace officers who determine in good faith that riding or operating a bicycle on the sidewalk is necessary to perform official duties. (Ord. 6113-NS ¬ß 1, 1992: Ord. 4957-NS ¬ß 15, 1976)
http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/bmc/berkeley_municipal_code/Title_14/68/index.html
 
Their sidewalk fine once added up to $278!

http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/citycouncil/2006citycouncil/packet/052306/05-23 Item 43 - Municipal Code Amendment - Fine Reduction.pdf
 
Parental accountability may help some young riders behave: Raritan NJ is going to allow up to 14 yr olds to ride on downtown sidewalks…but in NJ a parent can be held responsible for the child’s violation of any traffic law.

http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/bike/regulations.shtm
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2008/10/raritan_may_ban_bikers_over_14.html

posted by: Mariana on October 28, 2008  1:39pm

It’s disappointed that one man’s quixotic endeavor against bicyclist behaviour has turned a perfectly innocuous, although annoying situation into yet another reason for the many sides of our community to focus on what separates us.

City Hall needs to take the initiative to create a livable city for all, not a rogue officer conveniently choosing which parts of a law he is going to selectively enforce.  I hesitate to say that because I think that the tone for interaction and relation needs to come from each of us: we are far more akin to one another than not.  But having a lone cop taking on a “project” will only serve to divide instead of protect. 

So in this situation, the tone has to come from the entity entrusted to protect us:
protect the cop from his own choices, protect the cyclists from the typically-bad drivers, and protect the pedestrian from the fast bikes.  Really, folks, we have all been each of those parties at some point and can empathize with putting yourself and others at risk.  I don’t think, in this declining economy, that the power of an infraction will hold value for long.  Let’s find another way.

By the way, in my experience after living in this fair city for the last 20+ year, it is the police force I have witnessed being the most frequent law breaker: cops on horseback ON THE SIDEWALKS, cops on segways, cops on bikes, cops on their clearly PERSONAL cellphones, cops on illegal parking spots, etc.  Perhaps Lt. Hassett can also make it his personal project to clean up the behavior of his peers. Perhaps if we all started cleaning up at home we may get somewhere?

posted by: latichever on October 28, 2008  3:29pm

To anon | October 27, 2008 5:59 PM,

I agree with you that foot traffic should have priority in urban environments. One of the reasons, my family chooses to live in the city is because of the ability to walk places.

That said, I feel that where there are restrictions on pedestrian behavior—such as walking in the middle of the street or stepping onto a crosswalk in a manner that is dangerous to yourself or others—citations are a reasonable means to modifying behavior.

I don’t want to ruin my day or the life of a pedestrian who delusionally thinks that a right of way for motorists is a good place for walking.

posted by: Bruce on October 28, 2008  4:14pm

Tom Gogola, if you’re going to claim something as a “FACT”, you really should back it up with something other than an opinion.  Didn’t you used to be a journalist?

posted by: SaferSidewalkiddos on October 28, 2008  6:31pm

JACKIE wrote:

...“the “minors” (fill in the proverbial blank) could stand to get send the message that the cops don’t just target the non-threatening, not packing a firearm, “non-urban” (the euphemism of choice) looking types”...

Yup, a NHPD Asst. Chief kindly assured me that they will refocus on the original target which was bicycle shooters / marauders. For some reason Lt. Hassett’s project got “off track.” The old sidewalk ban ordinance and vehicle laws can still be enforced but perhaps some quarter may be given—IE, and because many parents are wondering, elementary school age children (who may not be ready for the street) can commute (responsibly) via sidewalk and adult guardian(s) are allowed to escort them on our bikes without being ticketed—walk the bikes in congested areas though.

posted by: tom gogola on October 28, 2008  11:13pm

I will draw you a picture to demonstrate my fact-based grip on the facts sometime Bruce! Here’s a preview: a car, a bicycle a road. Now separate the car from the bicycle by some certain amount of distance—and most fact-finders in journalism and outside of it will declare, migosh! There is simply no way that this car can collide with this cyclist! That’s a fact, man! I might even have some law of physics on my side on this one as well. Something about bodies resting in motion….In any case, I therefore opined, with that factual scenario playing out in my head—not to mention with fond memories of a bunch of years riding in new york city, where, where you to follow the bonehead laws you so apparently and assiduously support, you would…encounter severe difficulties in keeping your brains in your skull. So, my opinion is based on facts, just not the torrent of acceptable metrics, stats, and blind obedience to the fact of the law that get hurled around on this site by our self appointed league of amateur urban planners, god love em.

posted by: nfjanette on October 29, 2008  11:31am

Tom wrote:

Bottom line: I’m blowing red lights so that large and daunting car doesn’t clip me with his rear-view as he’s yammering on his cellphone while driving like a methed-up maniac on Whitney avenue.

In doing so, you are creating other potentially dangerous situations - just as pedestrians do when they jaywalk into traffic.  It’s one thing to react to a dangerous situation like a bad driver seen approaching so you flee onto the sidewalk - I would also alter my course while driving my car, and have done so many times.  You’ve used a potential scenario to justify a constant behavior, one that is illegal and provocative to some drivers.  That’s not a smart decision, and I welcome law enforcement efforts to dissuade such behavior, just as I welcome efforts to aggressively ticket motor vehicle offenders and pedestrians.

posted by: Breakin' the Law on October 29, 2008  5:13pm

If you’re stopping at red lights with ped xings on all four sides and no peds in sight, you need to stop blindly following the law and grow up. The cops need to focus on cars blowing red lights not bikers. Chances are bikers breaking the law aren’t going to hurt anyone but themselves. Cars kill. This is getting ridiculous.

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