Bicycle Ticket 2, Riding Through A Red Light

###The Scene

###Location: 121st Street and Adam Clayton Powell ###Date: March 14, 2014
I was riding south on Adam Clayton Jr Blvd, and proceeded through 125th street going south. I most likely passed through multiple red lights, slowing each time to check for traffic. After passing the 121st street light a unmarked black Chevrolet Impala police car pulled up behind me and pulled me over.

The Ticket

###The Charge

The charge in this case is New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law 375 24-a. “ § 1111. Traffic-control signal indications. Whenever traffic is controlled by traffic-control signals, other than lane direction control signal indications provided in section eleven hundred sixteen, exhibiting different colored lights, or colored lighted arrows, successively, one at a time or in combination, only the colors green, yellow and red shall be used, and said lights shall indicate and apply to drivers of vehicles and to pedestrians as follows: (d) Red indications:

  1. Traffic, except pedestrians, facing a steady circular red signal, unless to make such other movement as is permitted by other indications shown at the same time, shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, then shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or in the event there is no crosswalk, at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of the approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until an indication to proceed is shown except as provided in paragraph two of this subdivision. “

###The Hearing

I showed up once again at the 125th street Department of Motor Vehicles with lawyer in tow, see earlier post. Wouldn’t you guess, the judge once again was Ms. Martin.

This time my case was not the first to be called, so I was able to see some of the other cases. One of the first was a driver who had been pulled over but didn’t have insurance with him. After some yelling, a translator who was not allowed to translate; his license suspension was lifted when he produced the necessary document. The next up was a driver who requested a new date in order to secure a lawyer. Obviously he had tried this before as the record showed it had been months of stalling. The judge granted the delay once more but made it clear this was the last time.

And finally my case was up. As before Officer Jaeger approached and was sworn in. He then proceeded to recite back the incident, which had happened over a year ago, by simply reading off the yellow ticket ( see above) and adding in from what seemed like the officer’s instructions manual. For example “ I was stopped with a clear line of sight and no obstructions. I observed the traffic light and it was working correctly. I observed the light change from Green to Yellow to Red. The suspect passed in front of my vehicle and proceeded through the clearly marked lines. I proceeded after the suspect etc etc. After writing the ticket, I returned to the scene and observed the traffic light was functioning properly from Green to Yellow to Red. “

The infuriating thing, was that when my Lawyer asked if the Officer could remember anything besides what was on the ticket, the answer was “ I wrote everything down.” But as you can see there is nothing on the ticket besides date, weather, etc.

Once again, I remained silent as is my right.

After a few more back and forths, the Judge upheld the ticket and gave the claimed lowest ticket cost of 110$.

###Biking Through Red Lights: Safety

I ride my bicycle around NYC on average ten miles per day. When I reach a red light, I slow and if there is no traffic, I proceed through the red light. I believe that my low weight and low speed do not make me a danger to others as cars do and that my unobstructed views let me clearly see oncoming traffic. I think that non-motorized traffic should legally have to consider red lights as stop signs. Doing so will make non-polluting and low traffic methods of commuting, such as bicycles, more popular and thereby improve cities by removing cars from the streets and commuters from crowded subways.

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