Tuesday, June 6

Red Light tix

Hey folks. Perhaps a rant, perhaps a p*ss off to the cops. A few weeks ago, I believe it was "ride to work day," I was pedaling my usual commute: Los Feliz to Santa Monica. Rolling down Olympic to Crescent Heights, I was held up at a red light. With no traffic crossing against me, i rolled through. Not a block later, sirens are on and sounds of "pull over to your right," are haunting my stride. The fine folks of LAPD had arrived, handing me my first ever ticket for running a red light - on my bike no less. I haven't heard a word since, but the officer mentioned my charges would be the same as a motor vehicle. I plan on contesting simply the "I'm not a motor vehicle" case, and I will post the results. Now, on my commute I see cars run red lights, cars speed past me double the speed limit, UPS trucks run my bikin butt up the curb and into the gutter, and other obvious signs of life-threatening law breaking motorists. Yet the biker gets the fine. Was I an easy target? Were they trying to meet a quota? And why this on bike to work day? Rhetorical questions, just beware and ride safe. Cheers.


Will said...

Sorry to hear it and ride on. I'll be interested to see what happens with your proposed defense. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I hate to be that guy that throws the wrench in your spokes, but today I am. It seems that every day I hear people complaining that they don't get respect for cars. You said it yourself in this post. I demand my right to the road and fight against cars, trucks, and UPS vans just like you do every day. I can't make the argument to those cars that I have a right to the road and then tell a cop not to give me a ticket for running a light cause I don't have to follow the same rules that cars do. I just hope that no cop sees me when I roll through the stop sign or past the red light. Good luck with the fight though.

Anonymous said...

I got one too, 330 bucks down the hatch, which is equivalent to 33 hours of community service plus the 40 dollars in fees.

On the bright side I'm now a stoplight track stand champ.

krets said...

I have to agree with anonymous. Demanding respect requires responsibility. Still, it is unfortunate that the many unsafe indiscretions of motorist go unseen by law enforcement agents.
Nothing irks me more than to have someone pass dangerously close only to slip into Micky D's or on a mobile phone and unaware of the risk they placed on me.
It's unfortunate to get a ticket, because it's likely we've all try to slip under the radar and roll through stops, but such is the risk.

Anonymous said...

Would you consider it okay for a car to slip through the red because there was no traffic crossing against it? Given that cars frequently don't notice bicycles or consider them part of traffic?

Anonymous said...

The california vehicle code (21200) that allows us to use an entire lane when it is not safe to share it with a car, also requires us to stop and stop lights.
Because I have been popped in the past, I always look around for cops before running the light!

Anonymous said...

oh man... sorry bout the ticket... best of luck with the fight...

i couldnt begin to tell you how many times ive been track standing(ish) next to cops as cars have shot over cross walks and blown yellows shot our of driveways into bikelanes... i always point it out to them and they usually just give me dirty looks and watch for me to do something wrong... i dont give them the satisfaction... only once have i seen a cop pull someone over for cutting me off with a right turn... i coulda kissed the guy.

Anonymous said...

I could devote a whole blog to misadventures riding in traffic. I was on a LaGrange ride with thirty dudes who all got it from a certain Officer on Memorial Day. He said he would haul us all in. Another club ride in Agoura Hills gets tickets all the time if they aren't careful. I've even had a gun pulled on me too, I'm not kidding. We have to watch our own backs and stay out of idiot's way because we're in the minority.

Alexkenefick said...

OK. Here's what you do:

DO NOT PLEAD 'NOT GUILTY.' Because, hey, you totally are. I've gotten two running a red light tix in the past. One (Culver City PD) I was able to get down to ½ off, the other (LAPD) I was able to reduce to ZERO.

It looks like you are already planning to do that. The officer will not be at court unless you plead not guilty (which you shouldn’t do).

Most of them will be trying to say ‘yo, I was late for a court appearance and my mother has diabetes.’ Surprisingly, you will notice that the judge will be reducing people’s fines, even in spite of their poor arguments. You may notice that your judge is ‘a cool dood,’ and wants people to like him/her. You will be shocked that people who don’t understand the primary rule everyone needs to follow at this hearing:

You are not here to argue a case. This is more like an arraignment—they just want to hear your plea so they don’t have to dump everyone who shows up into court into a full trial.

If you plead ‘guilty,’ the judge will asses a penalty, and hopefully it’ll be lower than 330.

If you plead ‘not guilty,’ the judge will not be as friendly—you will have forced him/her to re-explain that you actually are guilty, because you did it—do you see how that could be kind of annoying if you were the judge. If you continue to plead not guilty, the judge will set a date for the court appearance where you can ‘argue your case.’ You will loose at the court appearance and pay the full charge.

If you plead no contest, you will appear crazy, because you basically are saying maybe I did it, maybe I didn’t. The only people who have any reason to plead no contest are businesspersons and politicians (please seek actual legal advice, instead of my legal advice, I am not a lawyer).

I recommend that you plead GUILTY with extenuating circumstances. The judge has to listen to your extenuating circumstances before he/she makes a decision, but he/she doesn’t have to listen to them right away. Be prepared to wait until all the other people who are pleading are done. Then the judge will call you up to explain your extenuating circumstances. This is when you can employ some strategies:
A. Lie: “a motorist was terrorizing me and I was trying to get away from him, I know it’s illegal, but I was scared. I know that what I did was illegal, and I’m sorry”
B. Embellish: “I did one of those things where you turn down the cross street and take an immediate U-turn and then resume travel in the same direction, I didn’t think it was illegal, and now that I know it is—I’m sorry.”
C. Be honest and straight forward, but throw in a little lie at the end: “Dood, I ran that light because I thought I could get away with it. I had no idea it was so important, and now I understand. I am pleading guilty because I did it. My extenuating circumstances are that I’d like to avoid the hardship of this ticket. (here’s the lie) I promise I’ll never do it again.”

D. Be really honest, but spare the details. “I am requesting to have the penalty for this ticket waived”

Since my experiences, I do stop for lights more often, and I definitely don’t blatantly run them in front of cops any more. You know what? It’s better exercise to stop and go. Also, if I am going to demand respect from motorists and allow myself to fly into fits of self-righteous road-rage occasionally (which I cherish), I might as well be arguing from a bullet-proof platform (AKA: I obey traffic laws so you should too).

Good luck, and please post your experiences later.

Anonymous said...

well, as a cyclist in NYC, and being relatively new to the whole thing, I have to say, riding my first Critial Mass in NYC wasn't the best experience, as, even with a helmet on, lights, bells, whatever... and IN a designated bike lane, the small group of people that was still riding in that direction (maybe about 6 of us), had 13 or 14 officers on those little scooter things, and an unmarked SUV full of cops , riding at our pace, staring our bikes down looking for someone breaking some obscure law. It turns out, right as we decided to quit for the night, three blocks away people were getting arrested. Why? Because we choose to ride our bikes. It's great! You'd think the cops would have something better to do than to harrass people who are trying to do something harmless... During the "Critical Mess" when the Republican National Convention was in NYC, people I knew got arrested, for standing around, mind you, and it was really messy... I wasn't riding back then so I didn't really understand, but now it really hits home and I think it's really pathetic where our tax money goes.

Anonymous said...

i just got pulled over coming into work on tuesday morning for running a red near venice high school on venice blvd. the motorcycle cop said he wasnt looking to write me a ticket and just giving me a warning. I was getting tired of track standing every intersection and it was clear to go so I did…he said..“ I know you’ve got your system; but, you still have to follow the same law cars do…”… well the motorcycle cop totally overlooked the huge truck double parked in the bike lane just seconds before he turned on the siren…I notice that motorcycle cops and motorcyclists in general make more negative comments about cyclists and how we don’t follow the laws….but I;ve had to share the bike lanes with motorcycles more that a few times this year :S

Anonymous said...

As to pleading "I am not a car," YOU ARE A CAR!! And, even though I also blow through stop signs and red turn signals that don't change for me, I have had some motorists rightfully get upset with me for not waiting at a stop sign, and on some critical mass rides there always a few cyclists who insist on taking up the only remaining left lane cars can drive in, there by pissing them off. This does not help our relationship with motorists. And, I've gotten tickets in my car rolling through stop signs.
I'm a huge critic of cops, but I have to say they pass right by me daily with my head phones blatently adhered to my ears, which too is against the law.

jimmy said...

Just a got a ticket last night from a moto cop on my way to catch a ferry. There is some good advice on this blog. I plan to plead guilty and hope the "this is my first and I promise never to do it again defense"