More cyclists means more ticketing, increased enforcement

Categories: Environment

bike commuter photo.jpg
Editor's note: This is the third in a series of reports about biking and bike safety in Denver and beyond.

There are a lot more cyclists on the road in Denver -- and apparently a lot more police officers looking to give them tickets. As the interest in biking grows with residents and city officials alike, this is one of the growing pains.

As we noted in an earlier post, ridership has increased dramatically, and the city has helped push that trend froward by greatly expanding its spending on bike infrastructure.

One problem cyclists have encountered is a rapid increase in bike thefts. And another problem -- at least from the vantage point of some cyclists -- is a rapid increase in ticketing and enforcement.

Based on stats provided by the Denver Police Department, it's clear that more cyclists are getting citations -- which cover a wide range of violations, from breaking traffic laws to lacking proper reflectors.

In 2002, there were a total of 138 citation violations involving cyclists. Last year, that total was 1,114, which is more than eight times as many eight years prior. The first big jump appears to have been in 2008, when the number went to 478, followed by 656 citations in 2009 and 1,165 in 2010.

In 2012, from January through June 18, 275 citations have already been given out -- more than the annual totals for all years prior to 2006.

For some cycling advocates, this isn't actually bad news.

"Enforcement is being stepped up and rightly so," says Piep van Heuven, executive director of BikeDenver. "Police enforcement is very effective in reminding people on bikes that they have to obey traffic laws."

Emily Snyder, a senior city planner with Denver's Department of Public Works who oversees bicycle and pedestrian matters, says that when the city adds more bike facilities -- like new lanes or sharrows (which mark shared roads) -- cyclists generally tend to use those roads more. But the growth in the bike network should in theory also help cut down on some citations, by giving cyclists a clear and safe place to ride legally.

Page down to see more statistics about bike citations.

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