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The Casey Neistat Lesson: Don't Pay That Bike Ticket, Fight It

Have you been fined for biking out of a bike lane?

New York City has been getting a lot of attention for biking lately. Citi Bike Share is set to launch on May 27, the Five Boro Bike Tour took over the city streets earlier this month, and we just learned that bike lanes are a boon to small businesses. This is all good news for people who love cycling, but New York City still sees challenges when it comes to navigating safely around its car-dominated streets. Add to that a set of complicated laws governing cyclists and you've got a challenging landscape.

The most confusing example is with bike lanes, which, in Manhattan are often overcrowded with everything but bikes: double parked cars, delivery trucks, people hailing cabs, potholes, puddles, etc. For many, it's unclear if you will get ticketed if you don't ride in a bike lane while trying to avoid these obstacles. In 2011, filmmaker Casey Neistat received and paid the $50 fine for this very issue. He made the brilliant video below about the experience. But after a bit of research, it turns out he could have fought the ticket by forming an excuse based on the bike lane laws, as defined on NYC government's website:

(1) Bicycle riders to use bicycle lanes.
Whenever a usable path or lane for bicycles has been provided, bicycle riders shall use such path or lane only except under any of the following situations:
(i) When preparing for a turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
(ii) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, motor vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, pushcarts, animals, surface hazards) that make it unsafe to continue within such bicycle path or lane.


What's your experience been biking around urban centers? Have you been fined for biking out of a bike lane?

This post is part of the GOOD community's 50 Building Blocks of Citizenship—weekly steps to being an active, engaged global citizen. Try Biking to Work. Follow along and join the conversation at and on Twitter at #goodcitizen.

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