October 11, 2012

From Jaywalking to Cycling, the New Crackdown

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They say you learn new things everyday. And on a spectacularly golden Friday afternoon, I learned about the existence of “bike tickets,” from a policeman who kindly brought it to my reluctant attention. As is the nature of most affairs that demand monetary compensation, it was, to put it gently, a nasty shock.

I seethed. I complained to my roommate. I kicked my bike. But at the end of day, I broke the rule in the book, and I’m paying for the ticket.

As policeman Mr. Friendly was writing down my ticket, he mentioned that he had been issuing a lot of tickets lately, as part of a recent crackdown to catch offending bicycles for their offensive cycling. Whether the purpose of that crackdown is for the benefit of the cyclers’ well being or for that of the finances of the state is debatable, but I am both an optimist and a pacifist, so I am going to go with the former.

If it is indeed the former and that the crackdown is the result of a recently overlooked surge of cycling accidents, then I ask why the CUPD could not issue a warning on the phenomenon and enumerate the rules that would prevent it. For I genuinely had no idea that some of the rules existed, let alone know their breach entails traffic tickets, let alone know that such tickets even exist.

Maybe it is their responsibility, maybe not. Maybe some good law-abiding citizens carefully look up the minute details of legal bike riding, maybe some don’t. Maybe some of the rules are common sense, maybe some are most probably and definitely not.

I am writing this article as part of a mental health exercise and mainly as a friendly warning to the Cornell cycling community that it is in your best interest to bite the bullet and stick with the rules from now on. The big ones, and yes, the little ones too. I’ll list a few. No earpods good, one earpod okay, two illegal. Wait at the stop signs just like cars. Keep off the sidewalks unless it absolutely mandates your safety, in which you should use your intelligence to gauge whether the level of on-road danger warrants your offensive presence in the sidewalks amongst the pedestrians. Yes, that’s the law: off the pavement until it gets kind of dangerous. Basically, think of your bike as a car and ride it as you would drive a car, except in all the situations where the many un-car like characteristics of the bike require your audaciously riding it like one. Sorry for the bitterness. It’s going to take time.

Rules are for safety, and I genuinely wish to comply with those necessary to the well being of myself and that of the others. It is also my genuine wish that when obscure rules are to be quietly and suddenly and vigorously enforced, expected enforcees be made aware of that vigorous enforcement and reminded of the behavior it mandates.

2011 witnessed an unapologetically unannounced 143 jaywalking ticket debacle. And in 2012, we begin afresh with a cycling crackdown of what seems to be of parallel nature. Thus, my dear fellow bike riders of the Cornell community, I would suggest that you keep your pedals firmly in line, and in the meanwhile, check the state rules on bike riding. For your safety and that of your wallet. I mention the latter if only because it has been my general experience that that is what really hits it home.

Safe riding then.

Patricia Kim is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at pkim@cornellsun.com. Guest Room appears periodically this semester.

Original Author: Patricia Kim