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.

Sincerely,

–Tan Tenovo