According to several TucsonVelo readers, Tucson Police Department officers have been targeting at least two intersections in Tucson.
You’ll remember the TucsonVelo reader who got a ticket for not stopping at the sign on the north side of the Fourth Avenue underpass and was told officers were targeting that intersection.
Another TucsonVelo reader received a ticket for not coming to a complete stop at Helen and Fremont near the University or Arizona Campus on Monday.
A third TucsonVelo reader warned me officers were at the same intersection Tuesday morning too.
Tucson Police Department Public Information Officer Chuck Ryzdak said he wasn’t aware of any coordinated effort to target cyclists.
Although, he said, “It is not uncommon for us to find areas that have multiple violations or multiple violators and work that area for a little bit to curb that behavior. ”
Erik Ryberg, a local lawyer who represents cyclists and writes the TucsonBikeLawyer.com blog said he would like to see officers enforcing laws that actually result in increased rider safety.
“Why won’t TPD, just once, do the same kind of sting operation on the three-foot rule,” Ryberg asked? “Everyday they are out there ticketing people for the stop-sign violations. It would be nice if once in a while they would also target motorists for the things that make bicycling unsafe.”
Eric Post, who is a member of the Tucson Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee and a lawyer who represents cyclists, analyzed bicycle crash data. He determined only 2-3 percent of accidents resulted from a cyclist running a stop sign, while 28 percent of the accidents happened when cyclists were riding the wrong direction.
“If the objective were bike safety, they would be going after the people who ride their bikes te wrong way down the street, they would be going after reckless sidewalk riders and they would be targeting stop sign violations in places where people have been injured,” Ryberg said.
What to do if you get a ticket
If you get a ticket from a TPD officer, you can take the city’s diversion program. Prosecutors will dismiss the ticket if you have successfully completed the class. Currently, Pima County and the University of Arizona have no such program in place, but the TPCBAC is working with officials to offer a similar program. You can only take the class once per year.
If you can’t take the class, the next best course of action, according to Ryberg, is to try to prevent the judge from forwarding the information onto the Motor Vehicle Department. If the ticket is forwarded to the MVD, your automobile insurance will likely increase. Ryberg said he has been very successful with that. The story is different in Pima County. Ryberg said Pima County judges can’t prevent the MVD notification, but in one instance allowed a cyclists to take the City of Tucson diversion program instead.
Lastly, Ryberg said, if you don’t have car insurance and can’t participate in the diversion program, you can pay the fine or ask for community service if you can’t afford to pay it.