You can be arrested for riding your bike

SCPD issues a warning against reckless bicycling

Is a wheelie worth going to jail?

That was the question posed by the Suffolk County Police Department, which issued a warning to bicyclists earlier this summer.

Reckless bicycling is against the law and anyone who rides into oncoming traffic, performs a wheelie, swerves out of the way at the last moment to avoid collision with a vehicle or any other dangerous behavior can be arrested.

The SCPD stated that charges range from disorderly conduct to reckless endangerment with a maximum sentence of between 20 days to one year in jail. Those convicted with a charge will have a criminal record and will have to pay traffic violation fines. The bicycle can also be confiscated as well as any GoPro or action camera used. The footage recorded will also be used as evidence.

SCPD inspector William Silva, commanding officer of the Fifth Precinct, said it’s something the Fifth Precinct is taking very seriously this year. This summer he has already met with mayor of Patchogue Paul Pontieri and mayor of Bellport Ray Fell, to tackle the issue by updating archaic laws and fines.

Fines for impounded bikes, he said, were as little as $10 in the villages and needed to be increased in an effort to help kids and adults take the laws more seriously.

“We need to have as many tools as possible to get the job done,” he said of updating the laws. “It would be nice to say we have to educate the kids, but they know what they are doing is wrong and dangerous, to both them and the motorist.”

Rather, he said, it’s all about enforcement. Officers, he continued, will also be enforcing the need for helmets, horns and reflectors.

“We will send guys out in full force; they are not going to be doing this in the confinements of the Fifth Precinct. If they do, it will cost them their bicycle and fines,” he assured.

Impound fees — according to Patchogue Village attorney Brian Egan — are very minimal. Currently, he and Bellport Village attorney David Moran are working to increase impound charges as well as change their codes to prohibit unsafe bicycling. As of now, bicyclers can only be fined, up to $2,000, for riding on the sidewalks.

After a code amendment is made, Egan said, it would allow public safety and police officers to charge reckless bicyclists for driving in an unsafe manner. He hopes to adopt the code change during the August meeting in Patchogue Village. According to Fell, Bellport Village hopes to adopt their code change this summer as well.

For crimes in progress, call 911 or report ongoing incidents to 631-852-COPS.

“Don’t put yourself in harm’s way. An accident between a motor vehicle and bicyclist can result in serious injury or death to the bicyclist,” reads a flyer sent out by the SCPD.

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