The next time you are thinking about riding your bicycle on the sidewalk
- think twice (or at least make sure there aren't any police officers
around)! Indeed, you might be surprised to learn that it is illegal in
New York City to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk, but it is. Specifically,
it is a violation of the
New York City Administrative Code (Section 19-176). The charge is normally a non-criminal violation punishable by up to a
$100 civil penalty, and the violator would typically receive a summons.
However, it can also be a misdemeanor punishable by up to 20 days in jail
where the police officer alleges that the conduct was so reckless as to
endanger the property or lives of other people on the sidewalk. In these
latter more serious cases, it is not unheard of for a violator to get
a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) or be outright arrested. Notably, a misdemeanor
conviction can give someone a criminal record, whereas a violation cannot.
There are other potential penalties as well: repeat offenders are subject
to double-fines and violators of the misdemeanor version of this offense
can have their bicycles impounded. Fortunately, there are a variety of
defenses to these charges as well. Certainly, in the misdemeanor cases,
it can be very helpful to retain the services of a defense attorney to
present those defenses.
If you or a loved one have been issued a summons or arrested for a violation
of this provision, you should consider contacting the experienced criminal
defense attorneys at
Galluzzo & Arnone LLP. Our attorneys include former several Manhattan Assistant District Attorneys
and avid cyclists.
The relevant text of the statute:
§ 19-176 Bicycle operation on sidewalks prohibited.
a. For purposes of this section:
(1) The term “bicycle” shall mean a two or three wheeled device
upon which a person or persons may ride, propelled by human power through
a belt, a chain or gears, with such wheels in a tandem or tricycle, except
that it shall not include such a device having solid tires and intended
for use only on a sidewalk by a child.
(2) The term “sidewalk” shall mean that portion of the street,
whether paved or unpaved, between the curb lines or the lateral lines
of a roadway and the adjacent property lines, intended for the use of
pedestrians. Where it is not clear which section is intended for the use
of pedestrians the sidewalk will be deemed to be that portion of the street
between the building line and the curb.
(3) The term “child” shall mean a person less than fourteen
years of age.
b. No person shall ride a bicycle upon any sidewalk unless permitted by
an official sign. A person who violates this subdivision may be issued
a notice of violation and shall be liable for a civil penalty of not more
than one hundred dollars which may be recovered in a proceeding before
the environmental control board.
c. A person who violates subdivision b of this section in a manner that
endangers any other person or property shall be guilty of a misdemeanor,
punishable by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars or imprisonment
for not more than twenty days or both such fine and imprisonment. Such
person shall also be liable for a civil penalty of not less than one hundred
dollars nor more than three hundred dollars, except where a hearing officer
has determined that where there was physical contact between the rider
and another person, an additional civil penalty of not less than one hundred
dollars nor more than two hundred dollars may be imposed. Such civil penalties
may be recovered in a proceeding before the environmental control board.
Enforcement agents shall indicate on the summons or notice of violation
issued pursuant to this subdivision whether physical contact was made
between the rider and another person. Any person who violates any provision
of this subdivision more than once within any six month period shall be
subject to the imposition of civil penalties in an amount that is double
what would otherwise have been imposed for the commission of a first violation.
It shall be an affirmative defense that physical contact between a rider
and another person was in no way the fault of the rider.
d. Where a summons or notice of violation is issued for a violation of
subdivision c of this section, the bicycle may be seized and impounded.
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