A while ago, New York City police apparently cracked down on cyclists by issuing a bunch of tickets for failing to use the bike lane. In response, there was that funny YouTube video about staying in the bike lane at all costs. As that video was going viral, someone e-mailed Eugene Bicyclist Central wondering if cyclists in Eugene got ticketed much for failing to use a bike lane.
I responded — way back on July 26 — that, no, that didn’t seem to be the case. There were two citations issued for failing to use a bike lane in the 13 months from May 2010 to May 2011. (If you were one of those, you are in rare company. Please e-mail me immediately.)
But this question got me wondering: Do cyclists in Eugene get cited much? And if so, what for? So I asked the police for some statistics and then made this fancy little bar graph.
Most of those citations are self-explanatory, I think. But here are a couple notes of explanation:
- Oregon’s bicycle helmet law applies to people younger than 16.
- Careless driving, I’m told, is often some kind of maneuver that results in a crash — but doesn’t rise to the level of reckless driving.
- It seems to me “improper use of lane” and “failure to drive on the right” also reflect — if not a technical violation of the law that says you have to stay in the bike lane — the same basic tenet of society: more or less, “bikes should stay the hell out of the way — roads are for cars.”
- What I have categorized as citations for not having lights, involved some educated guessing, with the help of EPD information officer Jenna B. McCulley. A ticket for a lighting violation could come under several different laws. We assumed that citations for an “unlawfully equipped bike” meant not having adequate lights. While I think that is likely to be true in most cases, I suppose a few of those might actually be something else — not having handlebars or something. Who knows what people try to do out there from time to time? And did you know, there’s a specific law saying you must have a seat on your bike? I rest easier knowing the Legislature was on top of that one.
- If you are interested, you can see the raw data Eugene Police sent me in this PDF.
By way of comparison, I also asked EPD for some rudimentary data on motorist citations in Eugene. Although the time frame doesn’t match exactly, here is a comparison of cyclist citations (for the 12 months June 2010 through May 2011) with a few of the more common motorist citations (for the calendar year 2010).
I don’t think we can say the number of citations issued necessarily corresponds to the frequency of the violation. But it may say something about the police department’s priorities. So I’m happy to see drunken driving near the top of the list. I don’t know about you, but it was alarming to me, how many people seem to be out there driving while suspended.
Anyway, if you’ve ever gotten a ticket on your bike, tell us about it in a comment.