Bike-related infractions just got less expensive in the city of Davis. But police hope the result will be a boost in bicycle safety.
With a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the Davis City Council passed a resolution lowering the city’s previous fine for most bike-related violations — just over $200 once court costs are factored in — to a tiered rate ranging from $50 for the first infraction resulting in a conviction to $250 for three or more occurring within a year’s time, with no court costs added.
Davis police Lt. Glenn Glasgow said the new fines cover most of the city’s bicycling offenses, including stop sign and right-of-way violations, as well as biking at night without a light — three of the most common infractions that also present a safety hazard not only to cyclists but also to motorists and pedestrians.
Although the city has had the ability to adopt a local bike-fine schedule since a 1993 amendment to the California Vehicle Code — legislation that was sponsored by the city of Davis, which sought to challenge the theory that steep penalties were more likely to encourage compliance with the law — the higher fines remained intact.
Over time, “we heard that the community was upset over the cost of a bike ticket, especially when you take into account the student population that we deal with,” Glasgow said. For some students, he noted, the $200 fine could be spent on textbooks or a week or two’s worth of food.
The Police Department also found that its enforcement of biking offenses fell by the wayside, “which we believe to be a direct result of our officers feeling bad (about the cost),” Glasgow said.
With studies showing a correlation between enforcement and reduced accident rates, Davis police plan to embark on a public outreach effort to educate local cyclists about biking safety.
“What we’re hoping for is when we move from the educational component to the enforcement component, that we do see a decrease in bicycle accidents,” Glasgow said.
The new rates are effective immediately.
More serious offenses, such as bicycling under the influence, a misdemeanor, will not be affected by the new fine schedule, Glasgow said.
— Reach Lauren Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene