Monday, June 18, 2018

The Indignity of Getting a Ticket

It was rather a dramatic weekend of velocipeding over here, beginning with the ticket I received on Saturday morning:

(Your's Truley, receiving a ticket.)

The day started out rather auspiciously.  I awoke to perfect weather, and after contemplating my riding options I decided to go for a good old-fashioned standard-issue Fred ride.  First, I donned an entire suit of Rapha clothing.  (Back in 2011, Bicycling magazine invited me to their Editor's Choice testing confab, which they held in Austin that year to coincide with NAHBS.  I requested--and received!--an entire Fredding suit from Rapha on the off-chance I would be photographed for inclusion in the magazine.  I was not photographed for inclusion in the magazine.  However, I still have the Fred threads, which I don from time to time.)  Then I straddled my $10,000 artisanal wooden bicycle complete with push-button shifting and wheels made from high-tech fibre de crabon.  And off I went over the George Washington Bridge and up Route 9W.

I was feeling uncharacteristically sprightly, and leaving early meant I was ahead of the Fredly rush hour that overwhelms this corridor over the course of the weekend.  Just shy of 40 miles later I was almost home, looking forward to preparing a post-ride repast and already emitting a blissful post-ride aura, when I heard the blip of sirens behind me and pulled over.  The officer--courteous to a fault--informed me that he was stopping me for failing to stop for a red signal, and after 10 minutes of standing around I was issued the following:

Now let's imagine for one moment that I did run a red light.  If I did, it's only because the area between the Broadway Bridge and my home is a total shitshow of motor-vehicular mayhem, and anybody negotiating it by bicycle cannot be reasonably expected to opt for adherence to the letter of the law over self-preservation.  Furthermore, as the Internet's foremost authority on cycling ethics, you can be assured I ride scrupulously at all times.  Never would I engage in actions that would put any other road user at risk or violate their right-of-way.  And finally, if I had run the light I had merely made a right turn on red, which is legal in like 99% of the country.

I explained none of this to the officer.  He politely administered my ticket, and I politely accepted it.  I was still in way too good a mood to be bothered by a computer printout, and of all the misfortunes that can befall you out on the roads this one barely registered.

Of course now, two days later, I'm a bit less sanguine about it.  However, given the fair market value of my time, I don't know that I can be bothered to fight it.  (My time is not valuable due to my writing; it's valuable due to my capacity as a childcare provider.)  Then again part of me feels duty-bound to at least make a token effort against it, so we'll see.

Either way, there are some errors with the ticket.  First of all, I was riding an exquisite Renovo made from "Wenge and Figured Maple".  However, the ticket says I was riding a "Tan Tenovo":

I may have to adopt "Tan Tenovo" as a pseudonym.

Additionaly, the ticket says this happened in the Bronx, but it was technically Manhattan:

All of this makes me imagine myself pacing in front of a jury box with the officer in the stand, demanding that he explain how I could have run a light on a Tan Tenovo in the Bronx when in fact I was riding a woodgrain Renovo in Manhattan.

"You can't handle the truth!," I'd conclude, and then lead the courtroom in a rousing chant of "USA!  USA!"

It's also worth noting that, while you may read searing editorials in local newspapers about those evil scofflaw cyclists, when you're actually getting a ticket while riding one the people walking by generally go, "Are you getting a ticket on a bicycle?," and then shake their head in commiseration.

Anyway, the next day I headed down to Central Park ridiculously early to engage in some Fred racing.  All was going well until about halfway through the race when the pack got strung out and suddenly I could no longer hold the wheel in front of me.  While I'm generally as sanguine about getting dropped as I was when I got that ticket, for some reason this one stung.  Maybe it's because it was Father's Day.  Maybe it's because I thought I was feeling good and my success (as defined by me as completing the race) had seemed like a fait accompli.  Or maybe it's because I'd gotten that ticket less than 24 hours earlier and now I felt like a two-time loser.  Whatever the reason, I rode home with my proverbial tail between my literal legs, though spending the rest of the day at the beach with the family more than made up for it.

And while I refuse to say whether or not I ran that light on Saturday morning on the grounds that it may incriminate me, I can assure you that on race day I ran at least 30 of those fuckers on the way to and from the park.

Gotta amortize that fine.


--Tan Tenovo


dop said...

Bronx? Manhattan? You may haver a date in Constantinople, but she's waiting in Istanbul.

That's a nasty corner. Downhill, left across a wide street. Many ways to get hit. Left hook by the guy next to you, or hit by the guys turning right or left from across the way. I like the roll across while theirs time. You've paid for my traffic sins.

bad boy of the south said...

ticket schmicket

Accidental FIRE said...

I would have said "do you realize every vehicle passing us while you've been writing that has been breaking the law" or something snide like that...

N/A said...

Damnit, Tan Tenovo, you are reinforcing the Cagers' notion that all bikecyclisters are scofflaws that always run lights. You are part of the problem!

BikeSnobNYC said...

Accidental FIRE,

I'm already getting a ticket, why prolong the experience?

We're getting a protected bike lane in my neighborhood and my unsubstantiated suspicion is that the local precinct will be under pressure to ticket cyclists in order to appease the vocal minority of cranks who were against the project.

--Tan Tenovo

BikeSnobNYC said...


At this point in my life I've reconciled and embraced the fact that I am indeed a part of what the less enlightened members of society do in fact consider a "problem".

--Tan Tenovo

BamaPhred said...

Dear Tan Tenovo
“race day I ran at least 30 of those fuckers on the way to and from the park.”

NYCHighwheeler said...

Fuck the NYPD!

Of the 6 various violations and crimes I have been accused of while doing bike type stuff in NYC (including "Obstruction of government administration") all were thrown out by the judge for various reasons.

While things like technically being in a different boro, or riding a "Tenova" might seem like inconsequential bullshit, the truth is that is the whole "justice" system is based on inconsequential bullshit. Might was well see if you can get out of the whole thing with a letter to the court clerk.

PS If you had been riding a Penny Farthing, you would have a rock solid legal angle of not technically riding a bicycle, as bicycles are defined as having a "chain or shaft drive". So get a Penney Farthing, and never worry about having to pay tickets again!

livingjetlag said...

Did you order the code red?

The Preacher said...

You know you always have the lord by your side.

N/A said...

The formula for porn names: 1st pet's name + name of street you grew up on.

Formula for bike porn/blog names: Color + make of your bike (misspelling optional)

Red Bianchi. I feel like I would need a big waxed moustache with twirled ends.
Blue Lotus. Needed the money?
Green Trek. Too granola.
Silver Fuji. GILF-y.
Gold Bruce Gordon. Baller, but I don't think I could pull it off. (that's what she said)

None of my other bikes are any better. I'd never make it in the biz.

dnk said...

Dear Tan Tenovo,

I got hit by a car whose driver was egregiously violating the law. I got sentenced to 24 hours in the hospital** (concussion, with extra time to monitor for possible brain bleed). And the motorist got ---- you guessed it ---- no ticket!

This happened last Tuesday morning on Throop in Brooklyn (between Park and Myrtle):

I see an SUV parked in the bike lane ahead of me. I maneuver out of the bike lane to go avoid it, but just as I come alongside, the guy sees a parking space he likes on the opposite side of the street and veers his SUV straight across Throop. I try to turn and brake to avoid him, but there's no option other than to take out his side mirror with my rib cage and go down to the pavement.

I was conscious but dazed due to a blow to the head. So dazed that I was barely aware of the cops who arrived on the scene minutes later. I do remember, as I was getting loaded into an ambulance, hearing the driver complain that I to the cop that I took out his side mirror.

Two days later I went to the 79th Precinct to pick up my bike. A sergeant noticed me and asked how I was doing --- he said he was the responding officer. I couldn't remember him. I asked if the driver got a citation. He said "no".....

**Bonus piece of advice for anyone who has read this far: if you are so unfortunate as to find yourself in an ambulance on the way to an emergency room, stay away from Brooklyn Hospital (on DeKalb next to Ft. Greene Park). It's a hell hole. Too much to summarize here, but the Yelp reviews are instructive and (I believe) accurate -- or at least plausible.

Schisthead said...

If it makes everyone feel better, everyone is a problem to somebody.

The robots hate liars.

Bill Crowder said...

According to the fee schedule on your ticket, endangering school children 🚸 is worth 50 bucks less than endangering road workers. Gotta wonder who did that math?

Anonymous said...

I was pulled over once by an unmarked NYPD car for running a red light in Brooklyn, and somehow I managed to get a warning.

I accepted responsibility, explained my rationale (pointing out a specific threat, a double-parked van blocking the bike lane which would cause me to be competing with cars to get by). When the officer said I could dispute the ticket in court, I said that I wouldn't, it would just be a waste of everybody's time, but asked him nicely if he could not write a ticket. That did the trick... Maybe it was just good luck.

dop said...

Were you by any chance listening to gospel music on the radio while you ran that red light?

HDEB said...

No police officer in NYC can catch me while I'm on a bicycle unless I allow them to! Especially fun was when two motor scooter cops were chasing me, I lost them easily with a tight circle and a low curb hop, a short while later a NYPD helicopter was spotlighting me from above, the helicopter was super easy to lose after I gave them a wave of ackowledgement -- perhaps I am delusional but I swear it happened as explained above. My skin is brown and I am scared of the police. Police cars are cake to get away from on a bicycle. I dream of one day being chased by a bicycle cop who can hammer like mad and has mad bike handling skillz. BSNYC is right about amortizing the cost of law-breaking, the same logic holds true for law-breaking motorists.

dnk -- my father was pronounced dead at Brooklyn Hospital, it sure wasn't their fault but the hospital's insistence on performing an autopsy on an elderly Jewish man after objections from family was emotionally painful, culturally clueless and required a coordinated effort on the part of family and a cardiologist to prevent the autopsy.

This past weekend I rode my bicycle and ate delicious curried goat, it was wonderful.

Spread peace, love and positivity : )

Anonymous said...

Since getting my ticket I sometimes will walk through the intersection - especially if I see the cop. I've taken to getting on the greenway at 158th and riding all the way downtown - even if this adds about 3 miles and 10 or so minutes to my daily commute

BikeSnobNYC said...


You may have a point. The officer thanked me very graciously for stopping. So maybe I was doing it wrong.

--Wildcat Etc.

Some guy from upstate said...

Speaking of getting tickets, the NYS Legislature is in session until maybe Thursday, so there's still time to call your Assembly member or Senator and ask them to support A07791-B (Assembly) or S06029-B (Senate), which amends the Vehicle and Traffic Code to allow operation of "pedal-assist" E-bikes (only goes when you pedal, motor cuts out at 20 mph) on roads in New York State.

This is the same type of E-bike that de Blasio recently announced were legal to ride on the streets of New York City. I'm still confused about New York City not actually being located in New York State, but consistency between these neighboring provinces seems like a good idea.

Serial Retrogrouch said...

dnk... I hope you are on route to full recovery.

It's hard to know what to do when you're full of adrenaline and, as in your case, dazed and confused.

And yes, it seems things have not changed for the better at Brooklyn Hospital. I went for an emergency some 20 years ago, and vowed never to go there ever again in my life.... (I couldn't keep that promise if somehow I would be unconscious or dead in an ambulance though)

leroy said...

My dog asked me to forward his legal advice.

Anonymous said...

Tan Tenovo!? Is that Asian?


BikeSnobNYC said...


Very sorry to hear this, and glad it wasn't worse.

--Tan Tenovo

leroy said...

My dog has advised me in my interactions with the police to play dumb.

I don't mean to brag, but he assures me I'm quite skilled at something called method acting.

I have gotten out of a ticket at rush hour at 58th and Fifth in front of the Plaza where a cop pulled me over for supposedly running a red light. I was unfailing polite, said good morning to his partner giving me the fish eye, went searching for some official ID (which of course I didn't have), and never once mentioned that I hadn't run a light, I had moved from the left side of 58th Street to the right side of 58th Street along the cross walk without entering the intersection and while traffic was stopped.

I mean honestly, no one in their right mind is going to run a red light across Fifth Avenue in mid-town in the middle of rush hour.

As my dog assures me, I'm dumb, not crazy.

Ultimately, I got out of the ticket because I had left my wallet on my desk at work with all of my official public IDs. All I had was private identification, which makes me sound more important then I am.

On a more serious note, one of the benefits of riding a bike in NYC is that it reminds folks like me that there really is such a thing as white privilege. It is pernicious and infects NYer's lives in myriad micro and macro ways daily. If I had appeared less privileged, I suspect no amount of politeness would have prevented the NYPD from picking my pocket that morning.

leroy said...


I too am glad it wasn't worse.

You may want to speak with Vacarro & White. Their contact info is at


dnk said...

HDEB, Serial, BSNYC, et al --- thanks for your well wishes. I'm okay & look forward to getting back on the bike.

(Serial, the ambulance that picked me up was affiliated w/Brooklyn Hospital. I guess I didn't have a choice. I wasn't in any state of mind to really think about it though. I probably would have asked for Methodist on 7th Ave if I had presence of mind & the ability to choose. I've never been there though, just heard it's an ok hospital --- if you have any recommendations in case of this happens again please advise!

HDEB about your dad: wow. Brooklyn Hospital is a teaching facility. I hate to think about what they're teaching...

dnk said...

leroy, thanks. I once hired Steve Vacarro to help with a totally bogus summons (biking = "disturbing the peace"). He was great!

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you didn't use the "Do you know who I am?" gambit to expunge the ticket.

Chazu said...

Contention for physical space, mediated by fallible humans.

Mars looks like it could host some gnarly MTB trails.

Accidental FIRE said...

You make a great point... as sarcastic as you are I admire your self-control.

Being Nostalgic For A Friend said...

Speaking of New York State traffic law and bicycles, when I lived upstate in the late 1980s, it was NOT, in and of it self, against the Law to be drunk while bicycle on a public road. Assuming you were not disturbing the peace or breaking any other law. DWI only applied to motor vehicles. Is that still the case?

BikeSnobNYC said...

Being Nostalgic...,

I believe so.

--Tan Tenovo

Anonymous said...

My lawyer says "You have the right to remain silent, please consider it."

Anonymous said...

If it does not fit, then you must acquit.

Anonymous said...

I think any number of clerical errors is grounds for dismissal, but i also wouldn't discount the cop doing that on purpose.

dancesonpedals said...


You're going to hate me, but I can commiserate with the Bklyn Hosp MD's. I agree it's pointless to get an autopsy on an elderly person with known heart disease, but until that history was known, your father was a stranger who died in the hospital with no known history. For his cardiologist, it's part of the deal to provide that history top a patient in his/her practice. For your family? They're the ones who knew the cardiologist and could connect the pieces. They owed that to your father.

At every step, there is pressure to get the person calling to sign off on the death & cover your ass. When signing the death certificate, clerks will say, "The ME's office won't like that. Change it or you'll have to call." When you call, the ME will say, "If you don't change it, I'll have to do a post." After many years, I learned that the ME's were overworked & didn't really want to do a post mortem on anyone without a bullet of kife in them. I'd say f-u, do a post. Generally, theyt'd sigh and accet my certificate (hoping their supervisors didn't give them hell), but occasionally, they'd have to do a post. Families can intervene at any point (on the medical ward, in the clerk's office, in the ME's office.). My decision was never final, and I had no intention of ever covering an ME's ass.

2 examples: An ER in Hospital A. A 70 you woman is going by ambulance to Hospital B, when her heart stops. Ambulance pulls into Hospital A, where resusitation is unsuccessful. I spoke to her son, who is large, angry & overwrought. We know none of her history. If I tell him she's an ME case, he'll hit me. (I'm a coward). I console him for his loss. I can truthfully say we did everything possible. I ask, "Has she been sick?" Discharged from Hospital B a month ago. Under the guise of commiseration, I obtain a detailed history of diabetes, angina, heart failure and hypertension. I don't mention autopsy & the ME would accept my history. After more commiseration, he stands up, shakes my hand and leaves silently. I then heard an explosion in the waiting room, which was him punching and breaking a heavy glass door. Better the door than me.

Second example...ER in a small catholic hospital. A 60ish Hasidic man is brought in after collapsing in the bathroom of a nearby diner. Resuscitation failed. He's not even cold and his son started yelling at me about the autopsy. I said the hell with it, wrote unknown cause o the and dumped it in the ME's lap. There were many patients waiting to be seen. Take care of the living. Let the family rip the ME another. About an hour later a burial service guy came to lord it over me. "His doctor spoke with the ME's office and they wouldn't think of doing a post" "Don't you ever do this again" "I had no way of knowing"

I don't seek autopsies to be academic, but to help the next patient, or the families of the deceased. Years ago we found RSV virus in a transplant patient. It's was usually associated with children, but when we started screening adults, we found it. And a family who refused autopsy for their son, was surprised to learn that his brain abscess was TB. (This was legally obtained, but it wasn't pretty.)

bad boy of the south said...

dnk,sorry about your "accident" .glad you're going be okay.

bad boy of the south said...

Apparently Tenovo is in Macedonia.or in the Bronx or in Manhattan.

pbateman still waiting on his RB1 to get painted said...

Tan T'o

glad you had on that fully zooted Rapha outfit rather than the normal jean jorts and mismatching brickabrac attire.

hate to see you get hit you with additional fines for "endangering good taste" or something like that.

joking aside i think i'd lose my absolute mind if i got hit with a $190 fine for that. wow.

that is just nuts.

but you ARE saying you DONT have DWI/DUI on bikes up there? that is pretty cool. thats more florida than florida since pretty sure they bust folks here for that somewhat regularly.

Some guy from upstate said...


You made me look. I think this is a grey area. The section on DUI refers only to operating "motor vehicles" which are defined as "propelled by other than human power". However, the section on operating bicycles ("and other play devices", that just pisses me off) has the bit about how traffic laws apply to bicycles. So like many other things in V&T (and other laws), not crystal clear. If the restriction to "motor vehicles" is intentional, you could look at it as an enlightened recognition that penalties should conform to the potential to cause harm, which Snob (pardon me, "Tan") might have an opinion about given the dollar value of that ticket.

By the way, I've never heard this, and I have lived amid NY's bucolic splendor since the days when drunk driving was fodder for comedy.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Dancesonpedals, thanks for sharing those gruesome tales just as I was contemplating dinner.

I find that I've kinda lost my appetite...

Anonymous said...

I know there were extenuating circumstances, but part of me enjoys the notion of someone wearing Rapha, riding a 10k artisanal wooden bike being fined, especially unjustly.

Not saying I'm pleased it happened to you, just that the optics are pleasing.

"Tad Tenova"? Sounds Melanesian — you don't a wear grass skirt to go with your wooden bike, do you?

HDEB said...

Dancesonpedals -- I don't hate you for your comment; I appreciate your taking the time to respond in an intelligent and well thought out fashion that provides insight into the conflicting demands a medical professional faces. I may be crazy but I like to think I'm not unreasonable ; ) For sure, working in a hospital must be very trying and would demand people more professional than myself. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience : ) Hope dnk heals quickly and thoroughly!

Michael said...

Bike tickets are galling because it way out of proportion to the hazard posed by bikes. I got one on Friday (no lights) and I am still shat off a bit. You bring mirth and happiness with your writing and riding so FEEL BETTER.

dancesonpedals said...

Just rode citibike from the 125 MNR station down to work. I think I owe the city $3,800. (Please put it on Tan Tenovo's tab).

dnk feel better. You can't choose where you'll have an accident. I was 'fortunate' to get hit at 165 and Ft Washington Ave, which bought a short trip to Columbia-Presbyterian. (It still sucked)

BamaPhred said...

Snob could be a costumed caped crusader, The Tan Tenovo, complete with mask and tan Lycra with unfortunate crochtal shading, or maybe fortunate shading if you’re into that kind of thing.

Anonymous said...

you've got prima facie evidence to fight the ticket. wrong info therein

Lou Reed said...

"Just rode citibike from the 125 MNR station..."

Next time you make that ride, mind picking up a small package for me, on block over at Lexington 125?

(I'm feeling good, I'm gonna work it on out...)

1904 Cadardi said...


Consider de-badging the Tenovo, then wheel it before the judge and demand a bad law talking thingy, like an objection or something.

Personally, Tenovo Tan sounds like a Kung Fu movie star from the 80s.

pbateman wants a canoe too said...


you have a good point on how far the tables have turned.

year's ago had Tan T. beeng riding by the scene we'd all be chastising the douche in $500 worth (is that too low an estimate?) of Rapha gear riding a $10K bike for being such a newbie fred that doesnt think he has to abide by the red lights (likely because he already pays so much in support to the red light districts).

but now, we're like: what grit sandpaper you running on your wooden douche canoe bro?

full disclosure: i actually am stunned by how much i want a wood douche canoe. thing is kinda hot. i wonder if they have to tone down the hotness so they don't burn down? like, they wont put Campy on them, just ShimaNO to avoid forest fires.

Die free said...

I feel like I'm miss dreading that but apparently running a red light on a bike is more costly then +10mph AND only 18 bucks less them speeding in a school zone. That is messed up

Matthew said...

Sucks to get a ticket. I trust you as a reliable narrator to know that you didn't just blow a light the way so many cars do.
Back in the 80s I worked for the local PD as a 'bike monitor'. I gave out the fewest tickets of any of my fellow bike narcs. In fact, I only gave those for things like no light at night, which could be turned in for free if you brought a light to the station. It was nice to get paid to ride a bike for four hours, except the day I was chasing a red light scofflaw (this guy flew through the light at a busy intersection) and had to lock 'em before hitting a city bus's rear bumper. Verdict: bent frame.
Thanks for the post, BSnob!

Anonymous said...

hmm, if the same Police officer applied these "Tan Tenovo" identification criteria to me, I would now be known as "Black Alan". Profoundly misleading in my case, but it has a ring to it nonetheless..

skippy roo said...

I'm late to the party, but in terms of fines, this is where helmet fines lead to. As soon as you have helmet fines cops chase any semblance of casual riding off the street, the victim blaming goes up several notches, and you tend to be left with only the high-speed variety of cycling. Cycling then becomes seen as only a sport, and a dangerous one at that (both a danger to society, and unto themselves) Riding becomes equated with driving a car, fine equivalence ensues because bikes apparently kill and maim old people and dogs, and you can kiss any hope of riding a bike to the shops being normal ever again. Don't ever let this type of legislation infect your town!

Poopstar said...

and anybody negotiating it by bicycle cannot be reasonably expected to opt for adherence to the letter of the law over self-preservation.

Okay, then get a jury trial and see if the jury agrees that your choice is reasonable.

Frankly, I think your excuse is ass-covering.
Don't do the crime, if you can't stop your whine.
You knew that a ticket was a possibility.

Not that I really care. And that fine is steep!

But hey, your ticket avoidance rate is damn good considering how many times you've run red lights. And considering how much money you save by cycling, it will indeed be amortized by savings in transportation costs, especially with all those freebies you get as a bike blogger.

BikeSnobNYC said...


Where do you live and ride?

--Tan Renovo

Anonymous said...

Did the wrong color bike defense work? My brother got ticketed for running 4 red lights( at the same time!) and the ticket has a the wrong color listed for the bike! court date isn't for another year!

Anonymous said...

Did the wrong color ticket defense work? My brother got a ticket for running 4 red lights(at the same time!) and the ticket has the wrong color listed too. The court date isn't for another year!