It's no more Mr. Nice Guy for campus bicyclists who flout the rules.
While they would rather not, University of Illinois police recently announced that they've decided to crack down on bicyclists who don't pay attention to the rules of the road. This stepped-up enforcement follows an apparently unsuccessful attempt to educate bicyclists through a warning ticket process.
That means expensive traffic citations will be coming the way of those who break the law where police can see them. While a crackdown on marauding bicyclists may appear to be a little over-the-top and $100-plus fines excessive, the decision to step up enforcement is an understandable response to safety issues. Besides, nothing so concentrates people's minds as the possibility of having to pay a fine.
UI Deputy Police Chief Skip Frost said the tougher enforcement started this week. When he spoke Tuesday to The News-Gazette, Frost said police had issued just two citations to bicyclists.
"But there will be more," he said. "I can virtually guarantee it."
Bicyclists need to know that they operate under the same restraints — respect for the rules — as other people. Frost said among the more egregious violations that occur regularly are bicyclists who go the wrong way on a one-way street and ignore stop signs. Another violation, bicycling on the sidewalk in a business district, leads to "all kinds of conflicts between bicycles and pedestrians."
There is no question that the mostly young people who ride bicycles feel immortal and that many of them believe it's the motorists who need to look out for them. But that's not what the state vehicle code says, and that's what UI police will be enforcing.
Urbana recently stepped up enforcement of the law on bicyclists downtown. Police in both cities would do well to follow the UI's example.