Bicyclists could get a break when they’re busted for bad street behavior similar to defensive driving courses for motorists, under bills the City Council will consider Wednesday.
The bills would cover violations of a proposed ban on texting and cycling, as well as rulesagainst sidewalk riding and children biking without a helmet.
The city’s Department of Transportation, meanwhile, would have to create a safety class that bike riders can take to have their fines tossed out. A Council’s transportation committee hearing Wednesday will cover the bills.
“If it happens the first time and it doesn’t lead to injury or damage to property, we want to go the route of advancing education,” said Brooklyn Councilman Mark Treyger, the bill’s sponsor.
Ken Podziba of Bike New York, a nonprofit that runs a bicycle education program, said the proposal counters the belief that tickets are a way to squeeze money for the city.
“The proposed ticket diversion program is proof that this administration does not view summonses merely as moneymakers, but as opportunities to educate and empower the people of New York to do their part to ensure that our streets, greenways, sidewalks, and bike lanes are as safe as they can be,” Podziba said.
A texting bicyclist would get hit with a $50 fine for the first offense under Treyger’s bill, while riding on the sidewalk costs at least $100 under the city’s current code. The legislation does not cover state traffic law violations, like biking through a red light, according to Treyger.
As for the safety course, Treyger said he is leaving it up to the experts to craft one, though he said “it would be hard to imagine a bike safety class that lasts longer than what drivers have to go through.”
When Treyger introduced his ban on texting in November, it was criticized for potentially diverting traffic enforcement on drivers speeding and failing to yield. The NYPD, however, does ticket bicyclists for this kind of distracted riding, issuing more than 420 tickets for using a cellphone on a bike last year from January to November.