I was cycling in Central Park this morning and got a summons for running a red light with my bike. Now what?
If you're a cyclist in New York City, you probably heard of the recent police crackdown on cyclists ignoring traffic rules
. You also probably heard they're issuing tickets to cyclists in Central Park even on weekends, when the Park is closed to vehicular traffic
. I heard about that too. Alas, I ran a red light this morning and guess what - seconds later I had a police cruiser sitting on my rear wheel, telling me to pull over.
I pulled over, got off the bike, and I was approached by a very polite officer who asked me why I didn't stop at the light. I replied that I didn't have an excuse - the light was on an uphill road and I just didn't want to stop and lose momentum. He asked for my driver's license and returned to the cruiser. He was in the cruiser for about 10 minutes, while I waited by the curb and counted at least another 40 cyclists running the same red light I just did, not to mention multitudes of jaywalkers. But I digress.
He returned with a traffic ticket saying that normally he would let me go with a warning(*), but since there were pedestrians at the light that had to actually wait for me to pass so they could safely cross, he would issue this summons. I asked how much it was and he said I had to go to the traffic court within 15 days, in person, and find out there. He said that a bike is not a registered vehicle like a car, so it's not something I can mail in or do online - I have to go there. With that, we said our goodbyes and parted ways.
Now for the question - I am completely unexperienced with this, since this is the first New York ticket I've got in my life. What happens now? I go to this traffic violations court and they tell me how much I have to pay? Will I be given the opportunity to state my case or is this just a formality? I don't think I need to lawyer up or anything, but I don't want to show up there and having people asking me questions that I should have thought about in advance.
(*) Actually if you read the stories about people who were ticketed in Central Park, normally they're NOT let go with a warning, so I guess this may be a recent policy change or he was BSing me.