BY TREVOR HUGHES • TREVORHUGHES@COLORADOAN.COM • JANUARY 6, 2010
Bicyclists caught running red lights or riding on the wrong side of Fort Collins roads face paying a new “traffic calming” surcharge.
The City Council last night approved the plan to add a $35 surcharge to traffic tickets issued to cyclists. The surcharge would apply only to tickets that would be considered a 1-point or more moving violation had they been issued to a motorist.
Motorists already pay the surcharge, which Fort Collins police say pays the salaries for two traffic-enforcement officers. The new surcharge is estimated to generate about $7,000 in additional fines.
The new city law takes effect 10 days from yesterday.
Fort Collins police Lt. Jim Szakmeister, who oversees the department’s traffic unit, said residents this summer were calling regularly to complain that cyclists were not being held to the same traffic laws as motorists. That prompted Szakmeister to send a memo to all patrol officers reminding them of their obligation to enforce traffic laws on any violators – rider or driver.
“They should stop them, just as they do with motorists,” Szakmeister said. “They can warn them, they can ticket them. But don’t just ignore it.”
Szakmeister said more cyclists are taking to the roads, as encouraged by city officials and local riding advocates. He said the department would use the surcharge to help offset the additional costs of enforcing traffic laws on bicyclists.
“With encouraging more biking in the community, with more cyclists being out there… it’s incumbent on everyone to bicycle or operate their motor vehicle in a lawful manner,” he said. “We have all learn to get along.”
Szakmeister said the police department lacks the ability to tally how many bike riders were ticketed for traffic violations last year. And in response to a question, Szakmeister said his summer memo would not necessarily result in police officers stopping or ticketing more bicyclists.