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New York Lawyers Fight For Cyclists’ Rights

New York Lawyers Fight For Cyclists’ Rights
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With the rise of bike riders in congested urban zones like New York City has come, inevitably, a rise in altercations with the law. The New York Times reports that the city has (not surprisingly) a “myriad” of regulations about riding that most cyclists simply aren’t aware of (nor are police, necessarily). Aside from the hazards of speeding taxis and car doors opening, riders earlier this year endured a ticketing blitz, not to mention ”stepped-up police enforcement of red-light and other, less-obvious rules, like having adequate lights or not riding with earphones in both ears.”

Other violations that cyclists have been ticketed for include riding without a bell (a bell is required by law in NYC); riding without a helmet (which is not required for adults); riding with a purse over the handlebars. The New York Times does note that, according to the Police Department, officers should not have issued summons in these cases.

Due to all this, New York is seeing a rise in lawyers specializing in the rights of cyclists. The small firm of Rankin & Taylor is preparing a class-action suit against against the city, contending that cyclists are being handed out summons for “phantom violations — bike behavior that it says is not illegal in the city.” Among the knotty legal issues they find themselves addressing are whether a cyclist must ride in a bike lane if there is one:

For example, it is legal to leave the bike lane to make a turn, and cyclists are allowed to prepare to make a turn by getting to the appropriate side of the street. But just where one can move out of the lane — 50 yards away, or two blocks, perhaps — is not specified.

On its website, Rankin & Taylor specifically mentions the NYPD’s “ongoing bicycle crackdown,” noting that, prior to 2004 — when the Republican National Convention was held in the city and a Critical Mass bike ride was seen as a “threat” — the NYPD seemed “generally to ignore traffic violations by cyclists, except in certain neighborhoods.”  

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Photo by Paul Beattie

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29 comments

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2:52PM PDT on Jun 28, 2013

I think it's disgusting how the radio media in MY city (Montreal) practically every day are on the air bashing cyclists and causing motorists to become aggressive against cyclists. In the past few months, two Montreal cyclist (so far) were struck by either cars or trucks that were going in the same direction as the cyclist. The cyclist were in critical condition, and nothing more was reported. I don't know if they died or what. And yet, CJAD keeps on bashing cyclists by calling us "targets" and then laughing, they say "there is a war out there" between motorists and cyclists....WTF are THEY doing?...a war? I think all media should be banned from using such hateful speech on public airwaves. I am an all year cyclist (summer AND winter) and i'm seeing more and more motorists try to hit me with their car. They get really close to me as if they want to ding me to cause me to have an accident. This is really getting DANGEROUS and CJAD thinks they are justified with their hate speeches because cyclist run red lights and stop signs and sometimes use the sidewalks. They invite motorist to KILL us. STOP THIS!!!! Get your friends and family to sign petitions and make more and more petitions against this sort of hatred.

1:03PM PDT on Oct 1, 2011

I live in australia and the most stupid bicycle exist here in regards to bicycle helmets that are compulsory just goes to show you that any idiot can create a law in australia

5:37PM PDT on Sep 14, 2011

Thank you.

10:59PM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

They'd make more money being lawyers for all those crazies that get hurt daily, many by their own stupidity. If they run into carriage horses, how does a cyclist stand a chance!

10:31PM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

some of the "phantom" offenses were probably hopes on the police officers side to collect the fine for the city with no questions asked.

7:29PM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

IN MY CITY WE HAVE SEPARATE LANES FOR BIKES. HOWEVER I THINK IF EVERYONE OBEY THE RULES MAYBE IT WAS NOT SO DANGEROUS IF THERE AREN'T SEPARATE.

6:49PM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

Bikes forever!

6:46PM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

Thanks for the info.

1:26PM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

I have ZERO problems with cyclists. AS LONG AS THEY OBEY THE RULES OF THE ROAD. I am so SICK of almost hitting idiotic ADULT cyclists who run stop signs and red lights, who don't signal to turn and who basically do whatever the heck they want IN THE ROAD and expect auto's to make way for them. For the cyclists who actually OBEY the rules of the road, well, I don't see enough of them.

Same road, same rights, SAME RULES. GAH!!!

1:15PM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

I guess I need to figure these out. I'm considering a move from Manhattan to Staten Island and am considering getting a bike to get to the train each day. If this is going on, then maybe I'll want to consider something different.

And maybe I want to watch the video of the guy crashing into all the things in the bike lanes of NYC streets to prove his point.

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