Since Citi Bike launched its bike share system on May 27, there has been no shortage of criticism for the program–from eliminating curbside parking to predominately serving higher income areas. Now, to add to the litany of complaints is the substantial rise in bike tickets issued in Manhattan and Brooklyn. According to the Gothamist, bike citations are now up 81 percent in Brooklyn and 7 percent in Manhattan since last year. The statistics compare the period from May 27–the launch of Citi Bike–to June 27.
There seems to be a strong correlation between the number of citations issued and the location of Citi Bike stations. According to the Daily News, whereas police doled out 282 bike tickets last year in the four Brooklyn precincts with Citi Bike stations and their three surrounding precincts, this year police issued 510 tickets in the same seven precincts. Hence, the 81 percent rise in citations in Brooklyn.
Roadway offenders have been issued tickets for violating basic rules of biking etiquette: running a red light, riding in unmarked lanes, riding on the sidewalk or riding against the flow of traffic. While New Yorkers have been issued tickets before the launch of Citi Bike mostly for egregious violations, now some are asking why there has been such a crackdown on bike violations since May 27th.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly attributed the significant rise in bike tickets in Brooklyn and Manhattan to increased ridership: “I think it’s fair to say that complaints have gone up, but we believe it’s a result of the increased volume.”
While congested bike lanes may fuel more reckless biking behaviors, others say that the police have abused the bike share program as a way to satisfy mandatory ticket quotas. The Gothamist reported that a tipster saw a police officer round up almost twenty cyclists and administer tickets all at once as the entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge.
To add to the blow, the tickets come at no small price. In fact, the prices can be pretty hefty, from anywhere between $50 for riding on the sidewalk and up to $275 for running a red light. While many bikers–especially those fined–may see the tickets as an unwarranted fine, police officers may point towards the “rules of the road” sign labeled on every Citi Bike as a reason to not pardon traffic violators.