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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Onslaught Of Biking Tickets Causes Complaints

Some bicyclists around USC were treated to biking tickets from LAPD for reportedly not obeying traffic signals or biking on the wrong side of the street. ATVN's Stassy Olmos investigated.

Many USC students biking to class Monday morning were not very happy. Those rolling through stop signs half asleep were soon awakened by loud police sirens.

As many as four LAPD motorcycle officers were giving out tickets to students who weren’t stopping at stop signs.

Zach Genduso was on his way to class on his bike when he was pulled over, "Just happened ya know… I guess you violate traffic and you get a ticket, what are you gonna do?"

When students asked the officers how much the tickets were, their answers were unclear.

"He says $25," Genduso said, but it wasn't the USC student's first time receiving a ticket for biking through a stop sign. "The first time was a lot more than that… Like $100 or $200, something like that." 

But an official at the Metropolitan Courthouse today says it's a $490 dollar fine for a person who rolls through a stop sign on a bike -- the same as it would be for a driver.

Some students feel the fine is doesn't match the violation.

"It's such a minor offense that's really affecting nobody, and there's so many greater crimes happening in this area," Danny Conner said.

As students went by on their way to class and saw the officers giving out tickets, they shouted things at them like, "Go find some real criminals to give tickets to." However, one officer said the tickets were actually precautionary measures and are meant to encourage students to be more safe in the future.

Cameron Quon, a USC student, agreed with the LAPD's motives. "I understand the importance of having safety concerns… especially to make an example so others can see that they should be following the rules," said Quon.

The USC Department of Public Safety says there were 71 reported bicycle-vehicle collisions in their response area in 2013. Since the ticket enforcement, that number has been reduced to 55 collisions in the last year.

Officers aren't only targeting peopling running stop signs; they even got students for talking on their phones while riding. According to California law, the same rules apply to bikers as they do drivers. 

USC students biking to and from campus can avoid collisions and hefty ticket fines by making complete stops at stop signs and using a headset when talking on the phone.


Many of the officers also lied to students by telling them that the tickets were only "$25" or "$30" when in reality the tickets would range from $234 to a little less than $500.

LAPD had been staking out before 8 am near the USC campus from Menlo St down to Gate 5 on Monday, 9th, as well as around 11 am on Thursday February 12th. LAPD has stated that "the head of USC Security is the one calling us to give out tickets" to USC student bikers on the Northeast side of campus. Apparently, not only is there an approximate $234 fine for an incomplete stop at a stop sign, students also potentially could lose a Driver's License point for this violation, which means that their auto insurance can be increased from 3 to 10 years. For an infraction on a bicycle, it hardly seems right to be punished to this degree especially since many students improve around the lack of stop signs at dangerous intersections, a lack of entrances to campus, and closed streets to find a way to school. The USC administration had not alerted students of bike laws or advise how or what bike path students should be taking which would have made students more aware of what laws they should be following. This onslaught of bike tickets to students who do not have $200 to $500 to spare in addition to their auto record tarnished for up to 10 years seems like too much of a heavy punishment when USC had not taken steps to educate their students. People do not need licenses to ride bicycles and it hardly seems to fair that a lack of awareness of bike laws would affect students for years to come. Other campus like UC Berkeley and UC Davis have laws that protect bikers from having a penalty on their auto record but apparently USC does not.

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