NYC DMV Judge Says She Doesn't Have to Provide Justification for Her Ruling (Bicycle Lane Ticket)

Posted on May 14, 2014

Here's the letter of the law:

(1) Bicycle riders to use bicycle lanes.
Whenever a usable path or lane for bicycles has been provided, bicycle riders shall use such path or lane only except under any of the following situations:
(i) When preparing for a turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
(ii) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, motor vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, pushcarts, animals, surface hazards) that make it unsafe to continue within such bicycle path or lane.

I know this law pretty damned well.

The NYPD police officer who ticketed me testified that there was an obstruction in the bicycle lane and that I had to exit the lane to pass the vehicle (why didn't he ticket that vehicle that was illegally parked in the lane? who knows.) He said that I was in violation of leaving the lane because I did not return to the bicycle lane.

I testified that I did not return to the lane because I was preparing for a left turn to cross the Williamsburg bridge to Brooklyn. If I am turning I am permitted to be out of the bike lane. It says so in the law.

I testified that I read the law to the officer at the time of my detainment. He testified that this was true.

I thought it was a open-and-shut case.

So here I am appealing again. The non-refundable cost for the mandatory transcript is $50. The cost of the appeal is $10. And I am required to pay the $50 fine regardless of whether I am appealing otherwise they suspend my license to drive (I wasn't driving a car, mind you). If I am found not-guilty by appeal I am refunded the $50 fine but am still out $60 plus postage plus the whole goddamned day I spent dealing with this and not working. If I don't pay the $50 fine for my bike ticket they say they'll suspend my license to drive. Why? I wasn't driving.

This is my second ticket like this.

And this, my friends, is why I do not trust governments.

You can listen to my recording of the hearing here.

I believe the justification for the ruling was the officer testimony that there was a "bicycle turn lane" provided (but I do not know because they did not disclose the justification.) The bicycle turn lane is 100% covered by traffic and invisible. Plus the law says that if I have to be in the bike lane *unless I am preparing for a turn*.

Now a lawyer acquaintance of mine read the law and said to me "The law doesn't specifically say that you can disregard a lane specifically designed to cope with the process of turning, but there is an ambiguity that leaves it open for that sort of interpretation."

Only a lawyer could read the law that way.

Another acquaintance of mine suggested I send the transcript to the NY Attorney General. I plan on doing that. To me the idea of a judge that doesn't have to interpret that law is reprehensible and a complete contradiction. How will people know what they did wrong if she doesn't provide her rationale!?

The city is using bicycle lanes to strip cyclists of their rights. This is just an absurd abuse of otherwise useful infrastructure. They keep putting in more bike lanes making it harder and hard to find the streets that I can take to avoid them. The take away here is that cyclists are guilty until proven innocent.

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