The Daily News reports that the City of New York is looking to increase the number of enforcement agents and raise the current $100 fine on commercial cyclists who illegally ride on sidewalks.
Legislation being hammered out in the City Council would allow a new cadre of Department of Transportation enforcement officers to ticket transgressors — an army of agents to work alongside the NYPD.
The law could also lead to fines for the bikers’ bosses, which in many cases would be restaurant operators and messenger services, officials said.
“A lot of the problem has to do with commercial sector,” Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan testified before the Council Tuesday. “Everyone wants their food delivered really fast and they don’t want to wait 10 minutes more for it.”
The city has been running a “Don’t be a Jerk” campaign for months, which includes television ads imploring bicyclists to follow the rules, like traveling in the right direction in bike lanes and staying off sidewalks.
Sadik-Khan said the city also plans to reach out to businesses that employ commercial bicyclists and educate them on the rules of the road.
City Councilman James Vacca (D-East Bronx) said we “always need education.”
“But when it comes to the crisis, and it is a crisis, of people’s safety, pedestrians’ safety, that many of the commercial bicyclists do not have regard for, then this city has a legal obligation to protect the law-abiding citizens, who only want to cross a street.
“Commercial bicyclists treat it as the Wild Wild West,” added Vacca, chairman of the Council’s Transportation Committee. “That has to stop.”
He demanded “civil and criminal penalties” — though how harsh remains unclear.
Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) said an elderly woman in his district told him her husband’s hip was broken when he was run over by a bicyclist riding on the sidewalk.
“Obviously, except for kids, we don’t want folks riding on the sidewalks,” Greenfield said. “What more can be done because it seems like something happening all across the city?”
Sadik-Khan, a lightning rod in city government over a proliferation of bike lanes on her watch, said the city was not pursuing criminal penalties.
The NYPD kicked off a major campaign last January to put a lock on bikes that broke the rules, fining riders for running lights, going the wrong way and riding on sidewalks.
$100: Maximum fine for bicycling on the sidewalk
13,743 Moving violations issued to bicyclists by the NYPD last year
32,813 Court summonses issued to bicyclists last year