Fargo proposes hiking fines for four bicycle violations

FARGO -- A proposed increase to some bicycle fines was reviewed by city leaders Monday night, Sept. 10, paving the way for a public hearing in a couple of weeks.
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FARGO - A proposed increase to some bicycle fines was reviewed by city leaders Monday night, Sept. 10, paving the way for a public hearing in a couple of weeks.

City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn, who asked city attorneys to draft the legal changes, said he hoped it would increase bicycle safety. He had earlier said such fines should be the same as fines for motorists because $5 fines didn't deter careless bicyclists.

Commissioner John Strand, who said he'd heard from bicyclists, wondered when they would get a chance to weigh in and was told they could take part in the public hearing.

Of the 11 bicycle-related violations mentioned in changes proposed by Assistant City Attorney Nancy Morris and Police Chief David Todd, four would result in higher fines, two would result in lower fines and the rest wouldn't change.

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Here is a list of the proposed changes:

• Bicyclists failing to obey traffic signals or signs would see fines go from $5 to $20.

• Bicyclists failing to yield to pedestrians while riding on sidewalks or who fail to walk their bikes on sidewalks where riding is prohibited would see fines go from $5 to $20.

• Bicyclists riding on roadways must follow the same laws as motorists and violators would be fined $20. There are no specific fines listed now.

• A bicyclist who gets into a crash and fails to stop and give his or her name, age and address to those involved would be fined $20. There are no specific fines listed now.

• Children younger than 12 riding their bicycles in the downtown area would see fines go from $40 to $5. The fine likely would be levied against parents.

• Bicyclists failing to register or license their bicycle would see fines go from $40 to nothing. The law requiring registration was eliminated in 2014 because police hadn't required it for many years. The fines are still on the books, however.

Bicyclists failing to keep to the right side of the road when not turning or riding more than two abreast, those riding too fast for existing conditions, those failing to keep at least one hand on the handlebars while carrying packages, those riding in the dark without lights and reflectors or riding without working brakes, and those with passengers not seated in seats designed for passengers would see fines stay at $5.

The last time the city overhauled its bicycle fines was November 2014, when many of the fines were reduced from $50 to $5.