The NYPD’s crackdown on cyclist riding illegally is no secret, with 2011 beginning as a record year for tickets — 1,400 in a two week span and 230 in Central Park alone by March. But that doesn’t mean the reality isn’t shocking every time when it comes to seeing the severity of the punishment for offenses that might have previously seemed on par with jaywalking. The message the city’s police are sending is that, no, you won’t have to get a license, but if local government is going to spend money and goodwill on bikes lanes, riders will have to act like cars, no matter how inconvenient. That means no speeding, no sidewalk riding (unless you’re Robin Williams) and no jokes about sidewalk riding. This morning in the East Village, a contributor to the local blog EV Grieve was fined $270 for running a red light. See the whole, horrible ticket after the jump.
In the comments section, there’s a lively discussion going on about whether the penalty is fair. Anyone who has ever transported themselves on something with two wheels and no motor seems to say no way — and we’re totally with them (as a fellow rider) — while the pro-NYPD responses range from complaining about the severity of the price tag to the harsher “ticket them to high hell!” camp.
“That sucks, it kinda defeats the purpose of riding a bike if you have to stop at every light. We were always taught to treat it as a yellow as a kid,” writes one anonymous commenter. That’s in line with our thinking, but it’s also important to acknowledge that most people — even cyclists — are selfish morons, which can put other people in danger. The middle ground here seems to be lowering the price of an infraction, but based on the eagerness of the NYPD to crack down, it doesn’t seem likely. Instead, cyclists are just going to have to split their attention more than it already is while riding; that is to say, keep one eye out for cops.
Here’s the reality check: