If you bike in a city, you have run a red light. If you tend to bike down streets that aren’t particularly well trafficked, you have probably run a few in a row. It’s pretty normal cycling behavior. But it is also illegal, and one cyclist in New York City got caught on the wrong end of a traffic violation citing him for running three red lights and wearing headphones.
When he went to pay it, he got stuck with one of the most expensive traffic tickets I’ve ever heard of (including tickets levied on people in cars). The penalties for the four charges added up to a whopping $1,555.
Fifty bucks for wearing headphones on both ears when only one is allowed. $190 for running the first light. $375 for the next one. $940 for that third red light.
Really, he’s lucky the cop caught him. If he’d run any more lights he’d probably owe his firstborn to the NYPD.
The cyclist, who’s remaining anonymous, told Gothamist:
He began asking me what I thought I was doing and we discussed what had just happened, he asked for my opinion on what I thought certain bike laws should be but quickly dismissed my answers as wrong …
I was guilty for sure of going through the lights and wearing headphones so naively I pleaded guilty and sent in the tickets.
The enmity between cyclists and cops in New York has been well documented, but this encounter doesn’t sound as contentious as it could have been. Still, $1,555 is way, way more than drivers end up paying for, say, driving really, really fast on streets where children live.
According an attorney that Gothamist talked to, the cops could let drivers screw themselves in this same way. But they don’t:
Vaccaro says that while cops can follow motorists and cyclists for as long as they like, racking up numerous infractions, “this kind of following almost never happens with motorists, but happens surprisingly often with cyclists.”
What a shock.