Urban Velo

NYC Prepares to Increase Sidewalk Bicycle Fines

New York City already has some of the most harsh sidewalk laws around—I’ve heard more firsthand stories of giant fines for simply hopping onto a deserted sidewalk to lock-up than I can count, with many resulting in an actual summons rather than a mail in fine. New York City already disproportionately targets bicycles for tickets and fines, and now they’re looking for more specifically aimed at delivery drivers often seen on the sidewalk according to the New York Daily News. I’m not saying people should speed along on the sidewalk or that there aren’t a lot of clueless delivery drivers in the city, just that there seem to be more important traffic problems to deal with than even more tickets for cyclists.

Not sold that bicycles are being targeted unfairly? In 2011 the NYPD issued 34,813 criminal court summons and 13,743 moving violations to cyclists in NYC while commercial truck drivers received a mere 10,415 criminal court summons and 14,962 moving violations according to Transportation Nation. Anyone who has been to NYC can attest to the number of trucks running red lights at speed, double parking, etc and common sense is clear on whether a bike or truck running a red light is more dangerous to the community. In 2011 only 8500 drunk driving arrests were made, meaning the four times as many cyclists had to go to court for traffic transgressions than people were picked up for driving drunk in all of New York City.

According to the city’s own traffic safety press release, traffic deaths happen at the hands of cars, not bikes.

As of December 27th, there were 237 traffic fatalities in 2011, 40 percent fewer than in 2001. Included in the 2011 numbers were 134 pedestrian fatalities in crashes with vehicles, an all-time record-low and a 31 percent reduction since 2001; 47 senior pedestrian fatalities, a 27 percent reduction since 2001; and a record low of only three child pedestrian fatalities. Bicycle fatalities have held within the same range over the last decade, despite bike ridership quadrupling during that time period.

Share your stories of getting ticketed in New York City, or your take on this in the comments below.


  1. AnneMay 30, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Is it going to take a delivery man crashing into a baby carriage for cyclists to wake up? Bringing up other traffic violations doesn’t take away from the fact that regular pedestrians such as myself – are CONSTANTLY being “surprised” by random cyclists (usually but not only) delivery men speeding right past you, usually the wrong way on a one-way street. We should not have to live like that. They need to be held accountable, along with their companies. The other points you bring up may be valid, but they are just that: other points. They are besides the point: that pedestrians should not be in danger by careless cyclists breaking all kinds of laws. period.

  2. AustinMay 30, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Dear Anne,

    What about ticketing careless pedestrians who cross bike lanes on a red light without even looking to the sides? I’ve never heard of such tickets being issued… The point in the article is exactly that cyclists are issued tickets DISPROPORTIONALLY more often than others.


  3. Michael OrellanoMay 30, 2012 at 11:16 am

    the article is more about the outrageous sidewalk citations. My friend got one for hoping onto the sidewalk right in front of his house, with no one on the block super late at night. Citations over blowing lights because your flying on a fixed gear go ahead, thats not participation in traffic in my eyes. It’s those citations over bs just to make numbers that suck AND the fact that it isnt a ticket to pay its a court summons. My broke ass is on a bike I cant afford to take a day off for court, I know that isnt everyone but you can understand how its a demographic.

    p.s. anne. those delivery guys will never learn, they just have no idea, they think there being safe. I have an older friend who isn’t a commuting cyclist who does this and she refuses to ride any other way because thats how her parents taught her.

  4. AbeMay 30, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Agreed Ausitn. I can’t count the number of times I have to yell to get the attention of a pedestrian standing in the bike lane because they think they are “not in a motor-vehicle lane” and therefore safe from oncoming traffic or my favorite when they chose to just come popping out into the street from in between two parked cars instead of using the designated crosswalk 10 feet down and this is Pittsburgh, I can’t imagine NYC. Let’s see some increased pedestrian accountability. Let’s increase jaywalking ticketing. The street is dangerous, you should never let your guard down even when you think you can.

  5. Randal PutnamMay 30, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Problem might be that bicyclists are cuter and less surly than truckers and drunk drivers. Police just prefer our company (to our detriment). Maybe we should bathe less, drink lots more beer and then check the stats next year.

  6. GreggMay 30, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    As a daily bike Commuter and two-footed pavement user by choice there is no shortage of dangers to both ways that I travel.This crack down on bikes is really a nationwide event,the heat just gets turned up more in some areas. There are the reports we don’t see or hear.

    This is a message,in my opinion on how so called elected officials really feel about alternative transportaion.Seriously they are all the same.

    Conform or pay,and, shut up.

    Want to better yourself with alternative transportation little human hmm? “Great,then pay up,shut up and obey to the laws we make for you!”

  7. JuniorMay 31, 2012 at 9:00 am

    I’ve been ticketed twice for riding on the sidewalk. The first time was because for a fire and two firetrucks were in the road putting it out in South Williamsburg. It was a utter surprise when I turned the corner, so I just got on to the sidewalk to go around the trucks. That’s when there were two cops on the other side of the firetrucks waiting to give me a summons.

    The second time I was going down Sands St. in Downtown Brooklyn. Ironically, there was construction for the bike lanes that were installed there and the road was all torn up. I saw a bunch of bikers on the corner of Sands and Navy and I was appalled to see a van full of cops issuing summons to them. There was no way they could ride in the road, so naturally when they came off of the bridge, they hopped up onto the walk.

    Citing bikes riding on the sidewalk is a waste of resources in my opinion. Sure, in the city where there is high foot traffic, ticketing is acceptable to me. However, when you have obstacles in the road like firetrucks or squad cars, a cyclist sometimes has to hop on the walk.

  8. Enaz!May 31, 2012 at 11:47 am

    I recently got a summons for sidewalk riding in Red Hook. I was going slow and looking to hop down and across the street to the right side of the street. I got caught, I went to court, it took an hour. The “30 minute class” was 7 minutes, where a young lady told us not to drink, urinate, or play loud music in public and not to ride on the sidewalk, then we signed out. I get it, and for the most part agree with ticketing cyclists who are riding dangerously, but I think that intent and circumstance needs to have some impact on the situation.
    However, I have had many more problems with reckless pedestrians walking through reds, jumping in front of me, running in the bike lane, walking strollers in the bike lane… not to mention all the vehicles that park, swerve, or turn across the bike lane without looking or signaling. Or in a shared lane just laying on the horn for you to get out of the street.
    Ticket, but ticket fairly and evenly – across the board, and New York can and will be a safer place for everyone.

  9. BluesCatMay 31, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    It would be really humorous to see a New York cop transplanted to Phoenix, Arizona, and have him try to give ME a citation for riding the sidewalk!

    You see, not only is it permissible to ride the sidewalk in Phoenix, sometimes it is the LAW: Sidewalk Salmoning: It’s the Law.

  10. DrewJune 2, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    I actually got a ticket for riding on a completely empty sidewalk in Brooklyn about 3 weeks ago. Meanwhile, I’m in the process moving out of state, but because this isn’t just a ticket I can mail in, I actually have to appear in court on August 7th, thereby delaying my move a month and a half.

    I totally admit and accept that I broke a law by riding my bike on the sidewalk, but what purpose does it serve to have me actually appear in court? If I had been in a car and speeding, wouldn’t I have been just able to pay the ticket over the phone or via mail?

  11. Grumpy Urban CyclocommuterJune 4, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Unless you are a child or you are lawfully allowed to ride on a sidewalk according to local traffic patterns and bike lane routing, dismount!

    If the entire road is blocked and you are forced to go around, get off your saddle and walk your bike until your way is clear to ride again. If you are rolling to a stop as you arrive at your destination, get off your bike at the curb, not on it. To do otherwise potentially makes one as selfish or ignorant as any motorist or pedestrian who fails to be aware of the traffic around them.

    There are grey areas, of course, and ticketing cyclists indiscriminately in every situation can be unfair when so much other illegal and/or dangerous traffic behavior goes unpunished. A warning should suffice to a cyclist riding on an completely empty sidewalk, or who quickly dismounted after rolling up on one. I also think that cyclists should be allowed to treat red lights as stop or yield signs when crossing a completely clear intersection. However, because cyclists so easily and quickly demonized and so many are unfortunately deserving of negative scrutiny, I believe the rest of us should do our best to follow the laws of the road and set a good example.

    Let’s distinguish ourselves from jerks who dangerously flout rules and hopefully encourage tolerance (and perhaps, positive changes to traffic laws) for what I hope is the majority of cyclists who try to ride carefully with consideration for others.

  12. LisaOctober 14, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    My boyfriend was ARRESTED yesterday for riding his bike on the sidewalk in Brooklyn. They took him into the precinct, and has now been held for 28 hours, waiting to see a judge. I understand that it’s illegal, and he should have to play a fine, but this is ridiculous.

  13. MichaelDecember 13, 2012 at 10:35 am

    There are many grey areas. The article speaks for itself. Drive a truck in many illegal and dangerous ways and you’ll get fewer tickets. The bike lanes are more dangerous than the streets. No consideration is given to the conditions of a cyclist on a sidewalk. There’s a huge difference between motorized delivery bicycles and conscious commuters avoiding tractor trailers on city streets. last night in Central park while I rode in the bike lane a NYC street cleaning truck came at me from the wrong way. NY and most of the US is unfriendly to cyclists. 3 term king bloomberg & kelly cater to gas consumers 7 wall st. no surprises here.

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