Nassau County new law to impound bicycles from reckless cyclists

 Part 2 of two articles on the new Nassau County bike laws

A new bike (includes scooters, skateboards) law “to authorize the impoundment of bicycles that are operated in a dangerous manner in controvention of the rules of road” went into effect October 23rd.  

County Executive Laura Curran signed “reckless cycling” into law on October 23rd, writing in the Approval Memorandum, “It is important that bicyclists ride in a responsible manner so as not to endanger themselves pedestrian’s motorists or other riders. This law will provide an appropriate penalty when a person operates a bicycle in a reckless or uncontrollable way. It will further allow the County and other local police departments to impound bicycles to help prevent and discourage this dangerous behavior and protect public safety.”

County Executive Laura Curran signed “reckless cycling” into law on October 23rd, writing in the Approval Memorandum, “It is important that bicyclists ride in a responsible manner so as not to endanger themselves pedestrian’s motorists or other riders. This law will provide an appropriate penalty when a person operates a bicycle in a reckless or uncontrollable way. It will further allow the County and other local police departments to impound bicycles to help prevent and discourage this dangerous behavior and protect public safety.”

The intent of what we refer to as the “Reckless Cycling” bill, introduced by Legislator John R. Ferrretti, Jr and Legislator Thomas McKevitt, is to empower the Nassau County Police Department to impound the bicycles of riders that operate their bikes in a manner that present a danger to both themselves and the public.

The new law prohibits riding without regards for other roads users, violations including:

  • cycling between road lanes or in-between vehicles;

  • while performing tricks and stunts within two feet of an automobile or pedestrian;

  • weaving or swerving into roads or sidewalks with the intent to distract or disturb other road users.

Cyclists banned from riding 2 feet away from others is a slap on the face considering we are passed by reckless drivers trying to intimidate with their speeding monster SUVs or trucks with half a foot and no penalties given because there is no defined distance in the states Safe Passing law. Do you know how many Safe Passing tickets County police wrote in the past 5 years? None.

The original bill included a ban on riding while “operating cellular phones, cameras or other electronic devices,” but it was struck out on Sept 16th thanks to people who called and emailed the County Executives office after we posted a quick “call to action” on Long Island Streets social media pages- THANK YOU for making those contacts!

Cycling hooligans over the age of 12-years shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $100. In addition, the bicycle (skateboard, scooter) may be impounded and given back after full payment of penalties.

While we are concerned that police may unjustly target groups, the County Executive doesn’t share those concerns, writing in the approved Memorandum: “ I am confident that the appropriate officials will adhere to all due process procedures and protections prior to seizing anyone’s bicycle for violating this law.” That somehow does not comfort us- none of this does.

Similar to the new helmet law, also introduced by Legislators Ferretti, Jr and McKevitt, this is lazy legislation checking a box and has nothing to do with safety. These laws distract people from meaningful policy that can protect people on bicycles, skateboards or scooters; laws that hold drivers accountable and policies that create safe access to streets.