Brookline PD Cracking Down on Jaybikers, and How to Reduce Your Fine to $1

Eric Stratton of the Geekhouse Cyclocross team gets off his bike and jumps over course obstacles.

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.


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4 Responses to Brookline PD Cracking Down on Jaybikers, and How to Reduce Your Fine to $1

  1. William Furr says:

    Ticketing cyclists, especially for minor infractions, is pretty ridiculous. How about “cracking down” on speeding and reckless motorists instead? They’re the ones who are really dangerous.

    I’d much rather this was an education as opposed to enforcement campaign. Too bad, again, most of the people who need educating are not cyclists but are drivers.

    Anyway, thanks for the warning! I’m moving to that area soon, so this is good to know.

  2. Aaron says:

    I know I’m a little behind the times commenting here, but I’ve seen the same police in the Longwood area. I watched as one stood next to his bike as two cars ran the red light and about 25 pedestrians crossed against the light at the intersection. I rolled up to him and asked if he was giving tickets to people who run the light and he said “I’m giving warnings.”

    I asked about the 25 pedestrians who crossed against the light or the cars. He said he couldn’t catch the cars. Clearly the cars, at evening rush-hour, are going about 20 feet down the road. He wouldn’t even need his bike to catch them. His argument was further illogical in that he assumed he could catch a cyclist if they wanted to ignore him.

    This prompted a whole discussion about how it’s frustrating to see police enforce laws for some reason other than the intent of the law (in this case, safety). If people are breaking the law they should face the consequences, but not at the whim of a quota.

  3. Phil Lindsay says:

    Thanks for the heads up we have some Brookline riding on tap this week. Bagging us for jumping the light is pretty lame. As if anyone would if they were watching the cars running the red already as is the case at a number of lights on my commute I refuse to do anything but obey the full letter of the law. On others, we’re with you in using common sense. It reminds me of the recent Bikeyface post about what a driver sees in an intersection compared to a rider…

  4. 3o Years Riding the Streets of the City says:

    I find the complaints of those who are violating the laws of the Commonwealth to be incredibly hypocritical. We advocated for better laws in Massachusetts, for the right to use the road as vehicles as we drive our bicycles, and now we complain when we are cited for violating those laws?

    Motorists and pedestrians complain all the time about the rouge cyclists, making it less safe for the rest of us.

    The police in Brookline are working with the advocacy community to ensure that its safe for all road users.

    It is not possible for the police to catch all violators. So just follow the rules and enjoy being outdoors.

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