Comm. Ave. crackdown: Bicyclists learn BU campus police can issue tickets

BU Today reports BU Police stopped 152 bicyclists over three days last week and issued ten of them tickets for running red lights or other infractions.



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    C'mon, bike-car discussions are great for increasing web hits, comments, and ad view where ever they take place.

    Hah, if only I could be that devious

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    I guess I'm just lucky that I'm not the only one interested in the, um, intersection of two different modes of transportation, even if my interest is more in watching how the city changes than in going ballistic about people on bikes/in cars/on foot/driving T buses.

    Exactly this! I saw the story

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    Exactly this! I saw the story on and immediately left to come here. That is great brand management.

    I've always thought...

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    ... this could be fabulous new revenue stream for Boston, although I don't understand why the other 142 bikers were stopped. Just to pass the time?

    they probably got verbal warnings

    A verbal warning can do a lot to alter behavior. It puts people on notice that their behavior is illegal and/or dangerous, that someone's watching, and that they might get a ticket next time.

    After all, the object is to get errant cyclists to alter their behavior, right?

    ETA: I don't know if it works any differently for bicycle tickets but IIRC fines from moving violations by drivers of motor vehicles don't go to the town's coffers. Only 10% of the fine goes to the town and 90% goes to the state's general fund. So there's no incentive to run, say, speed traps or other traffic 'stings' for revenue generation in MA the way there is in many other states.

    Towns get NO bike fine money

    The state gives back money to city/town police departments through periodic enforcement programs - weeks here and there focused on DUI or speeding, or bike safety. There are conditions for the state funding officers during these times with a minimum number of highly visible stops per hour. No ticket quotas, just stops.
    (other bike laws in section 11 B)

    More needed to have revenue

    First, "Same Road, Same Rules" needs to apply to penalties. Second, there is no incentive for cyclists to pay a fine. Third, fines need to be able to help offset enforcement costs. Currently, by law, it all goes to bike safety programs. Bike fines are a minimum of $20, maximum of $50. Cambridge wants them higher.
    (more laws in Section 11B)

    Not Enforceable?

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    Wait 10 Yrs and every bike & biker will need to be registered, Taxed and Licensed. The Political Hacks can see it now $$$$$$$$

    Good, needs to happen in more locations

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    Saw them last week at the lights near the Comm Ave./BU Bridge area on the daily commute in. Thankfully, there weren't any idiots running the light at that point in time but they are there and I'm glad to hear that the BUPD are in fact stopping and ticketing cyclists that break the law.

    I think this needs to happen at more locations along BU campus and the city in general. The Bridge area is a good area to begin with and to be honest, you have to be pretty stupid to run a red light in general but it takes a particular brand of stupidity to run reds at the BU Bridge area. I actually see a great deal more red lights being run by cyclists at other intersections along this strip.

    Now we just need to work on educating/ticketing the cars, cabs and trucks that block the bike lanes, right hook cyclists and don't signal for turns and we are on our way to sharing the road safely. Of course, that might require BUPD to begin ticketing their own, as I saw two Fridays ago:


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    There's nothing more annoying than a cyclist who doesn't know they have to obey the rules of the road.

    Except for drivers doing the

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    Except for drivers doing the same idiotic stuff at 5x the speed in vehicles 1000x the weight of a bicycle.

    Swing and a miss

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    If the vehicle is going 5x the speed of the cyclist, then the cyclist does not belong there and is a safety hazard to both parties.

    And a backwards K is posted in the bleachers.

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    Can we apply this logic to the so-called mixed use recreation paths that most of the world calls bike paths? If so, all of the following would be properly identified as safety hazards to the real cyclists (who are typically travelling at speeds greater than 15 mph): all walkers (and especially parents pushing children in strollers and people walking dogs on nearly invisible retractable leashes), in-line skaters, skateboarders, joggers, unleased domesticated animals of all kinds, and anything moving slower than 15 mph.

    No? Well, same thing applies to roads, which contrary to popular belief, are not the exclusive domain of motor vehicles.

    I'll add this: any vehicle that is even doing twice (let alone 5X) my speed while I am cycling (except uphill) is almost certainly speeding, as the speed limit on most city and suburban streets is 30 mph or less. Frankly, I sometimes have to slow down on my bike when riding downhill because otherwise I'd be speeding.

    Who the hell is riding down Comm. Ave at 6 mph?

    I ride at 10 mph on 50 mph

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    I ride at 10 mph on 50 mph roads all the time. It's perfectly safe, because there are shoulders, I keep an eye on traffic, and I ride predictably.


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    Well, I have to hand it to you--if you're going to be wrong, you might as well be breathlessly, spectacularly wrong. Let's go to Massachusetts General Law, shall we? I'll just Google it and dig way in until I find the arcane, nestled language about--

    What's that? The first sentence of the first paragraph of the first section mentioning the word 'bicycle'? Well, look at that:

    Section 11B. Every person operating a bicycle upon a way, as defined in section one of chapter ninety, shall have the right to use all public ways in the commonwealth except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles have been posted, and shall be subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth and the special regulations contained in this section, except that: (...)

    All public ways, notwithstanding your completely incorrect belief that cars are the sole rightful occupants. Just because you want to drive faster than bicycles go doesn't magically it the biker's fault when there's a dangerous passing situation.

    So if a bicyclist is going 5

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    So if a bicyclist is going 5 MPH and a motorist is going 25 MPH then the bicyclist doesn't belong there???

    Sure there is.

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    A cyclist who knows and doesn't care about obeying the rules of the road.

    Not trying to be a pedant, but I think this is the bigger problem of the two.

    how many times do we have to say this?

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    Not a SINGLE DEATH this year was due to a cyclist running a red light!

    Stop focusing enforcement on the most vulnerable user group, particularly when the behavior you're ticketing for has NOTHING TO DO WITH HOW PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY INJURED.

    Raising speed limits from 65 to 70 is safe too

    Recent speed limit increases have not increased fatalities where done (Ohio, 65 to 70). Germany without any speed limits on 2/3 of its Autobahn has a lower fatality rate than US highways (0.7 vs. 1.09 in 2009 per million vehicle miles traveled). So, we shouldn't ticket highway speeding either, give 14 out of 15 a warning, and the rest $20 tickets that people pay only if they want to.

    Holy cow! I agree with you (for once)!

    It's been shown that far more vehicle crashes (as they're technically known) are caused by a disparity in speed than by speeding itself; the majority of vehicle crashes happen within five miles of home at speeds slower than 30 mph.


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    A couple years ago spousal unit slammed on the brakes to avoid a cyclist who went flying through a red light across the intersection we were entering on a green light. We literally came inches from flattening the guy and we were minorly injured from slamming into our seatbelts. And I may lose all credibility for mentioning this, but our cat fell off the back seat and he and his carrier slammed into the floor.

    Granted, this cyclist was fucking STUPID, and most of them don't do this, but I've certainly seen this type of "ride completely wherever the hell I want with no regard for traffic signals" maneuver multiple times from cyclists, and I think I can only remember once that I saw someone in a motor vehicle do this same maneuver. (Both types of operators certainly run yellows, pull out illegally-but-carefully on red, etc.)

    Show me some data that cyclist injuries never occur to cyclists who are violating traffic laws.

    "spousal unit"

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    Is that a type of sex toy?


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    Uh, maybe?

    I'd like to hear about a

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    I'd like to hear about a police chief who has the courage to tell officers to just ticket the *dangerous* violators. But that's not how it works. They either ignore everything, or are told to ticket everyone they can.

    Parking in bike lanes IS a problem

    What is the solution? Have a parking lane with a high number of loading zone, taxi, bus stop, and police/Menino parking spots? Currently, we often only get super wide sidewalk instead. I've tried suggesting that at least make part of the super wide sidewalk a bike track. See Concord Ave near the Cambridge-Belmont line for an example.

    Bike lanes where there needs to be delivery zones and cab stops (as in NYC) is only going to increase animosity between cyclists and drivers. Wide shared curb lanes fixes that with no increase in accidents.

    While plenty of bikers run red lights recklessly

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    if you're in any vehicle and the person behind you refuses to slow down, you either run the red light or get rear-ended. If the vehicle behind you is a lot bigger, you're going to risk running the red rather than dying to make a point.

    A huge problem throughout Boston is right-on-red when pedestrians have the right of way, bikes not slowing down or stopping when a turning vehicle does have the right-of-way, and bikes attacking pedestrians in various settings.

    Another huge problem is bikers not wearing helmets. Why not just put an "I'm dumb and want to die" sign on your bike?

    bikes not slowing down or

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    bikes not slowing down or stopping when a turning vehicle does have the right-of-way

    Technically bikes have the right of way (in a bike lane) even if a car is turning right in MA. The car has to yield to the bike.

    Where can one go right on red?

    A rare find! Anyplace where both pedestrians and cyclists are likely, gets marked no turn on red.

    Yes, turning cars are not supposed to right hook cyclists, but wait. The problem is that there may not be a cyclist, but the driver has to wait 1/4 into a turn for pedestrians to clear, and by that time, a cyclist comes along. The cyclist, instead of waiting, often tries to go around the turning car on the right side of it. The driver is too focused on not wanting to hit vulnerable pedestrians to notice the cyclist sneaking up and around them. That seems to be where most problems arise.

    The law requires drivers to

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    The law requires drivers to merge into the bike lane before turning right. So while they're stopped to wait for pedestrians, it shouldn't be possible for bikes to pass them on the right.

    Whatever roadway there is, a

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    Whatever roadway there is, a car should merge into it to prevent a bike from passing on the right.

    It's about time!

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    Cyclists breaking the law (which means all of them)need to be cracked down on once and for all. I am by far more afraid of being hit by a bike (and have been), than I am about being hit by a car in this city.


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    suck. especially bike messengers and students. sometimes its just that dorky old guy with the goofy helmet and all the reflectors and dental mirrors. sometimes its some crunchy broad with no makeup and no sense of humor. cant they just get cars like the rest of us? are they trying to save the world?

    they really suck around BU. they should write some friggin jaywalking tickets while there at it over there. ive almost killed about 1000 students bombing through there over the years in my SUV. soooo annoying.

    Troll Post?

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    Why because you doesn't agree with him? You my friend are a Troll!

    SUV? Crown Vic!

    You forgot to pair the vehicle with the date of the mindset. So, an enormous land yacht fits: 1970's-90's 400ci V8 Cadillac, Buick, Lincoln Continental, Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Marquis, or Chrysler Imperial. SUV is more often a distracted yuppie, soccer mom etc.

    Eh, the SUV is probably big

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    Eh, the SUV is probably big enough to hold a cordoba in the back.

    "Cordoba - the small Chrysler"

    The final tag line at the end is priceless. A Smart fits in the trunk and the hood looks twice that long. The Small Chrysler, with "rich Corinthian leather!"

    Roscoe P Coltrane

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    BU police should have NO jurisdiction over non-BU property. This includes streets that pass through BU. Like remember Dukes of Hazard when all the Duke boys had to do was cross the county line when being chased and the police car could not set one inch of its body outside its county or else the apocalypse would occur? That is how it should be for BU police. Like you could run into Warren Tower, punch 12 people in the head, then step out on the sidewalk and taunt the BU police safely from outside their jurisdiction.

    Don't tell your lawyer that ...

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    BU (and other campus) police are real police, can carry guns, etc. And like Boston and MBTA police, they can and will pursue you if you, say, punch 12 people in the head in Warren Towers.

    What they can't do is initiate stops off campus if they have no reason to believe the person in question has any connection to BU.

    The Supreme Judicial Court decided this in a 2010 decision involving a couple of BU cops who ran some guy's plate near BU Medical School, found he had a misdemeanor warrant, then chased him onto the Mass. Ave. connector, where they stopped him and found cocaine and heroin in his car. The court tossed the drugs as evidence because the guy was not on BU property and gave no indications he had anything to do with BU.

    I'm going to bet BU could make a pretty strong case that officers have a good reason to assume that people bicycling down a road that's basically in the middle of its campus have a connection to BU.

    BU Doesn't Own Comm Ave, even though they'd like to.

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    Considering Commonwealth Ave's main arterial nature any assumption by BU Police that a passerby has anything to do with BU would be wrong 99% of the time or more. Thus they have no jurisdiction on any bit of pavement on that street.

    Of course if the city would let them, BU would buy Comm Ave and make you show a BU ID at either end to use it. And damn the general public. BU already ruined Kenmore and much of the area and is poised to do even more damage to the area.

    But it ultimately doesn't matter whether its the BU police, MIT police, Boston Police, or State Police. They need to mind their own damn business and leave people on bicycles alone. Anything people do on a bicycle is virtually sacrosanct.

    What more to say on this

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    What more to say on this subject; but this. A couple of months ago did anyone read the article in the NYT defending cyclists for running red lights? The column appeared in the regular Times opinion piece called The Ethicist. The guy who writes the column, also a cyclist, admitted that he runs red lights, rides the wrong way down one-way streets etc. However, he believes (as many cyclists posting here believe) that in doing so he is not doing anything wrong. And inspite of the laws he will keep riding the way he wants to ride. His logic is that most of the cyclist traffic law violations are victimless crimes. That is, if a cyclist comes to some stopped traffic, looks around, and goes thru the red light no one has been harmed. Likewise, if a cyclist rides against the traffic flow on a one way street who is the victim. And because laws against victimless crimes are foolish laws, they need not be obeyed. Rather the law of cycling, he says, should be to do no harm no matter the law. That he says, is a more ethical judgement of cycling behaviour.
    Of course, the same logic could apply to alot of city life. Take littering; when someone discards a cigarette but on city hall plaza who is really victimized by this "crime".

    Poppy's been a little sloppy..

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    I did not see the column, but if what it said was even remotely close to that which you have described, I, as a cyclist and motorist can say this:

    "The Ethicist" is an unethical imbecile who is not long for this world.

    Also, it will not be a "victimless crime" when he does get hit by a motorist who, reasonably, will not see or expect him to be doing this, and who will then have to live with the trauma of having severely injured someone or worse without intending to do so. To put it in his words, he will not have "done no harm".

    It's a victimless crime when

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    It's a victimless crime when you do it safely.

    Of course it's dangerous to run red lights dangerously. It's also dangerous to ride dangerously without running red lights.

    The Issue!

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    This number of commentators and posters would not occur if the matter was not real.

    Very serious problem I need not bore folks with my double near misses with spring-bird peddlers back in May on Comm Ave in Back Bay, no less. Both of these bicyclists were travelling over 35mph and climbing. Sadly, there will be more blood, guts and gore on the streets of Boston and nearby communities till Gawd Knows When

    Sad, sad situation

    BUPD issuing tickets and stopping people ALWAYS a BAD idea!

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    Just wondering where BUPD (a private police department) [and largely considered renegade, hot dog, wannabe, kiddy kops within the Boston law enforcement community], thinks that they have the statutory authority under Massachusetts General Law to issue fines and citations to bicyclists (especially where the City of Boston Police Department doesn't believe that they have it). Truth is: BUPD has NO authority under Massachusetts law to stop bicyclists, motorists, or anyone else for violating the rules of the road on Commonwealth Ave. or anywhere else.

    You do realize that they are

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    You do realize that they are fully deputized police officers, just like any other police department, right? They are just as much police as the Boston Police Department, MBTA Transit Police, and anyone else. If they weren't, they couldn't call themselves "police". Where I went to college, our security was called "Safety and Security", precisely because they weren't deputized police officers; and they only had jurisdiction on college property.

    The whole point of having a state trained and deputized police department like the BU Police is so that they do have the authority to enforce laws around campus; on a campus that is so embedded into an urban environment, it would be fairly difficult for them to do their job if they had no ability to do anything once someone stepped out onto the sidewalk.

    Now, they may be considered kiddie cops by the BPD; but that's not a legal distinction, just a cultural one.

    Not so simple

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    They aren't just like any other police department. They are private college police officers who get their jurisdiction and breadth of authority from a different chapter and section (c22/s63) of the MGL (Mass General Laws) than other law enforcement. In fact, the MBTA Police get their jurisdiction (any city the MBTA has a facility in) from a completely different chapter and section as well that makes them full-fledged cops in over 120 cities and towns of the Commonwealth.

    Officers at private colleges, universities, and hospitals in the state are only given criminal jurisdiction (and only on their property and surrounding streets) as "special state police officers" under the State Police Commissioner. But Chapter 90 offenses (motor vehicle/bicycle citations) are civil infractions putting them outside of their criminal jurisdiction.

    However, BUPD also gets Suffolk AND Norfolk counties to deputize its officers as deputy sheriffs as well. This, then, gives them Chapter 90 jurisdiction letting them write moving violations too.

    So, while BUPD have the same arrest and ticketing abilities as Boston Police, they get their authorities to do so from three different sources (State Police, Norfolk Sheriff, Suffolk Sheriff) and are limited to jurisdiction of the University's property and surrounding roads (c22/s63).

    I'd be so happy

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    if the Cambridge and/or MIT Police started ticketing cyclists on sidewalks. They could make a ton of money and then us pedestrians could take back the sidewalk.

    enforcing rules for cyclists reminds them to ride safely

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    I hope cops ticket cyclists more often so they learn to pay attention. Especially after seeing a cyclist zipping through the Comm. Ave. Mall, non-stop dinging her bell for walkers to get out of her way, ride obliviously into two lanes of traffic at Exeter, who did have the green light. As a side note, and I'm not making this up, she had a yellow 'share the road' bumper sticker adhered below the back of her bike seat.

    Before trolls attack me as being anti-bike, I will say that on this same walk, two cyclists on Beacon stopped for me and the other pedestrians at the crosswalk, thank you! Miracles do happen.

    Furthermore, before trolls go on and on about bikes don't injure pedestrians, cars do. I would absolutely be in favor of cops ticketing cars for running red lights, blowing through stop signs and not stopping for people in crosswalks. Not sure why they aren't out there enforcing traffic laws more often. They'd make a fortune for the city.

    One last comment, and this is a rant: CYCLISTS, GET OFF THE SIDEWALK! The POS who almost smacked into the disabled person getting off The Ride on Boylston yesterday is a POS. Zig-zagging through pedestrian packed sidewalks at rush hour makes you a jackass. Find another source of entertainment.