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Cambridge seeks steeper fine for cyclist and cars running red lights

Posted by Brock Parker  December 6, 2011 11:04 AM

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Cambridge city officials are petitioning the state for the right to hike fines for some bicycling and motor vehicle traffic violations and jaywalking.

The City Council is seeking state legislation that would enable Cambridge to increase the fines from $150 to as much as $250 for cyclists and motorists who run red lights. The same fine would apply to crosswalk violations.

The council approved an order Monday to file a home rule petition asking the state Legislature for permission to hike the fines.

City Councilor Henrietta Davis said fines would also be increased for other bicycle traffic violations from $25 to up to $75 and the fine for jaywalking would jump from $1 for the first three offenses to up to $75.

The jaywalking fine is so low now, that Davis said it can’t be expected to be an effective penalty and the city shouldn’t put police in a position of fining anyone for $1.

“Right now the pedestrian fine is sort of ludicrous really,” Davis said.

The city has stepped up enforcement of bicycle traffic violations in recent months, including a focused round of enforcement in September that racked up hundreds of cycling tickets in several days.

But some city councilors said the way to prevent the bicycle, motorists and pedestrian violations is more enforcement, not increasing the fines.

Councilor Craig Kelley said the city has the tools it needs to make the roads safer for cycling, motorists and pedestrians.

“I think this home rule petition is a bad idea,” he said.

City Manager Robert Healy said police have problems enforcing bicycle violations, in part because when officers stop a bicyclist for a violation, the cyclists will sometimes flaunt the law and say their name is “Donald Duck” rather than giving their true identity.

While drivers have to produce a drivers license to identify themselves, Healy said cyclists don’t have to produce any license so police can confirm their identity.

But Healy said raising the fines “is a start” to stopping the violations.

The council voted 7-1 in favor of filing the home rule petition, with Councilor Tim Toomey casting his vote as “present” and Kelley casting the lone vote in opposition.

--Brock.globe@gmail.com

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