Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cycling Fines In Copenhagen Are Increased to Help Discourage Breaking Traffic Laws

Some of the biggest dangers to cyclists occur when they are riding improperly or breaking traffic laws. On any given day, it is difficult to not come accross a rider that is riding against flow of traffic, jumping curbs, and running stop lights/signs. If the US would adopt some of the new fines being implemented in Copenhagen, maybe it would start to detour these dangerous actions, make the streets safer for riders, and create a better perseption of riders from motorists. Mind you that I have converted the fines to US dollars, and that these infractions would be occurring on Copenhagen's protected bike paths.

Beginning in the new year, riding no-handed, cycling through a red light, or forgetting to signal a turn will cost bicyclists dearly in Copenhagen. The traffic law changes will result in fines for a variety of bicycling infractions jumping from $85-$100, and in some cases to $175. It is the first increase in biking fines in 12 years.

Cycling on the pavement, riding without lights, and cycling through a pedestrian crossing are among the acts that will net a $100+ fine, while cycling against the traffic, running a red light and using a mobile phone will result in a $175 fine.

According to a Konservative MP, Tom Behnke, the fine increases are meant to discourage cyclists from breaking traffic laws.

“A $175 fine will hurt more, so that most people will think: ‘Oh, that sucked,'” Behnke told Politiken newspaper.

But a 100 percent jump in the cost of cycling infractions overshoots the mark, argued the cyclists’ union, Cyklistforbundet.

“Parliament is using a bazooka to shoot a butterfly in this case,” the union’s head, Jens Loft Rasmussen, said in a statement. “It cannot be right that it should cost [the equivalent of] one fourth of the cost of a bicycle to talk on a mobile phone while on a deserted bicycle path.”
Rasmussen, however, was not against the notion of fining cyclists.

“We don’t think cyclists should have free rein,” he told Politiken. “But we know that it is primarily motorists who cause the serious accidents - it’s not cyclists who kill others. Cyclists can be irritating, but I believe that smaller fines would be more appropriate.”
A Copenhagen Police spokesperson, John Sckaletz, told Politiken that while he hoped the fines would help to decrease traffic chaos, he questioned the higher fines’ preventative effect.

The traffic laws not only affect cyclists, but motorists as well. Registered traffic infractions that used to cost between $85 and $200 will after January 1 cost $335, while speeding tickets will increase by between $100-$200.

Biking fines, effective Jan 1
  • Cycling without lights in the dark: $115
  • Using a hand-held mobile phone while biking: $170
  • Missing or defective brakes or reflectors: $115
  • Cycling through a red light: $170
  • Cycling against traffic: $170
  • Cycling across a pedestrian crossing: $115
  • Cycling on the cycle path on the left side of the street: $115
  • Not respecting traffic signs or arrows: $115
  • Violating the right of way: $170
  • Failure to signal a turn or stop:$115
  • Cycling no-handed: $115
  • Cycling on the pavement: $115
  • Holding onto a vehicle: $115
  • Having two or more people on a regular bicycle: $115 per person
  • Wrong position while/before turning: $115
  • Non-functioning bell: Warning

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