Every once in a while police departments in the area ramp up efforts to crack down on the worst menace to society: Bicyclists “running” red lights. This morning I received a note in my inbox from reader and bike commuter Melissa Mattison:
I wondered if you may want to get the word out to fellow cyclists that Brookline appears to have a new campaign to pull over cyclists for seemingly minor instances of not following traffic law perfectly. I live and work in Boston but have to bike through Brookline to get from home to work.
Just this morning (3/8/12) on Longwood Ave just East of Kent, there were 4 Brookline cops pulling over cyclists. I was a group of 3 cyclists pulled over for **stopping at a red light appropriately, BUT starting a split second too soon before our light actually had moved from red to green*** I am all for cyclists being cited for not stopping at red lights and creating dangerous situations, but this seems a bit ridiculous.
This seems to be a part of a broader initiative in Brookline to target cyclists as another Police Officer who I see daily as a crossing guard in Brooline and is friendly with me told me last week that the PD was starting a new push to give violations to bicyclists.
So it looks like if you jump the gun on red lights at Longwood and Kent, you may be in for a surprise pullover from the friendly Brookline Police Department.
Last year, when Cambridge Police were “cracking down” at the intersection of Hampshire and Windsor St., I was ticketed for $20 and was given a free a pamphlet on bike safety by a friendly Cambridge Policeman, but the pedestrians jaywalking on the crosswalk at the same time got away scott free.
The maximum fine for jaywalking in Massachusetts is $1. And unlike drivers, we bicyclists have the ability to transform into a a pedestrian by stepping off our bikes. What do cyclocross racers do when they approach an obstacle? Like Eric of the Geekhouse cyclocross team is doing in the photo above, they get off their bikes and RUN.
Dear readers, I encourage you to wait for the green light and to exercise caution at any intersection you approach on a bike, but I’ll admit it right now: I not only jaywalk, but jaybike all the time around Boston. I’m not ashamed of it, and neither should you. But as the police crack down on bicyclists who “run red lights,” perhaps I’ll consider using my morning commute to train for the next cyclocross season.
P.S. Dear Brookline PD, I look forward to shooting helmet cam video of you writing me up a $1 jaywalking ticket.