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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Bicycle Ticket That Won't Go Away (or, the Social Production of Indifference)

Posted by on Tue, Apr 3, 2012 at 2:50 PM

I assume most of you have had an experience like this: Back in 2010, I got a ticket from a police officer who said I didn't slow down enough before turning at a small intersection in the International District—tiny intersection, four-way stop, no cars anywhere in sight, he was parked on his motorcycle on the sidewalk looking for someone to pop, blah blah blah. Absurd, yes, but there you go. The ticket was for $103. One hundred and three damned dollars for not slowing down enough (according to one guy) to make a bicycle turn at an intersection with no stoplights and no cars anywhere in sight.

Obviously, this ticket chapped my hide. (I mean, come on.) But I did the good-citizen thing, wrote my check, mailed it in, and paid it. Done.

Flash-forward two years. A couple of weeks ago, I got a letter from a collections agency, saying I owed the municipal court $52 plus a $13 fee for something to do with the "rights and duties of [bike] riders." It was the first thing I'd heard about this, so I called my bank to make sure I'd paid the ticket. (I thought it might be some kind of new scam or something.) I had. Then I called the collections agency, which told me to call one court office, which told me to call another court office, etc.

As expected, nobody seemed to give a shit (except for one pleasant lady who seemed sympathetic but confused). They were just punting my picayune issue from phone-bank operator to phone-bank operator. Hours later (not exaggerating), I got a person willing to explain the problem.

She said the extra $52 was for not paying the ticket on time.

But the date on the check was around two weeks after I'd gotten the ticket, within the allotted time I had to pay the fee. "It was not timely," she said indifferently. The court, it turns out, goes by when it gets the check.

The upshot is that I paid the stupid ticket in a timely fashion, but between the postal service and the court, my payment wasn't processed in a timely fashion, hence I have a late fee from two years ago and my first-ever relationship with a collections agency. All because some guy thought I was going too fast on a bicycle through an empty intersection. Seriously: Come on.

Last month, according to the lady on the phone, the municipal court system began a "database cleanup" to hustle all of its outstanding debts to collections agencies. (Without, of course, giving the people who owe the debts any notice that they owe the city anything.) I pay my tickets when I get them and would have paid the late fee, had I known I'd incurred one.

But times are tough, governments are broke, and this is one way to put a drop in the empty bucket of desperately needed revenue. That's my frustrated-good-citizen rationale.

So I'll hold my nose and pay the dubious late fee bundled onto on the dubious $103 bicycle ticket. I'm going to close my eyes and fantasize that the money is going to basic social services—my own private citizen-bureaucracy porn.

For what it's worth, the anthropologist Michael Herzfeld wrote about these kinds of experiences years ago in an ethnography called The Social Production of Indifference: Exploring the Symbolic Roots of Western Bureaucracy. It's about why bureaucracies, supposedly established to help liberal-democratic governments efficiently go about the business of protecting individual liberty, seem so opposed to efficiency, individuals, and liberty.

The first sentence is: "Why do some people apparently become humorless automatons as soon as they are placed behind a desk?" And the summary from the publisher, the University of Chicago Press, goes like this:

Herzfeld argues that "modern" bureaucratically regulated societies are no more "rational" or less "symbolic" than the societies traditionally studied by anthropologists. He suggests that we cannot understand national bureaucracies divorced from local-level ideas about chance, personal character, social relationships and responsibility.

If you're curious, you can buy a copy here. I read it years ago, but it always gives me comfort in moments like these—the seeming arbitrariness isn't really arbitrary. It has deep cultural roots.


Comments (76) RSS

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kitschnsync 1
Uh, if it was a 4-way stop, you should have come to a full stop. You broke the law and paid the ticket late.

I don't need the read any ethnographies to understand the implications and consequences of your actions. It is curious that you don't seem to think traffic laws apply to you.

"What? I slowed down for that stop sign!"
Posted by kitschnsync on April 3, 2012 at 2:59 PM · Report this
What you did is run a stop sign. Nothing to do with not slowing down "enough." Either you stopped or you didn't, and you admit you didn't.
Posted by bigyaz on April 3, 2012 at 3:02 PM · Report this
The bureaucracy and late fees do indeed suck, but I'm still stuck on the second paragraph where you describe running a stop sign and then not being happy about being ticketed for it. Be it good or bad, bikes are considered vehicles as far as I remember. If I had run through it in my car I would expect a ticket, so quit running stop signs on your bike.
Posted by Grrrwlr on April 3, 2012 at 3:02 PM · Report this
kitschnsync 4
I get the feeling Brendan put this post up for the inevitable debate about stop signs for cyclists, the general assholery of many Seattle cyclists, and the accompanying page hits.

You're smarter than this, Brendan. Stop it.
Posted by kitschnsync on April 3, 2012 at 3:05 PM · Report this
Agree w/the other posters. Wish more cops gave out tickets to folks like you.

The bureaucratic mix up afterwards is the silly part. Not your being ticketed.
Posted by Moloko101 on April 3, 2012 at 3:07 PM · Report this
Westlake, son! 6
Are you going to whine about a $103 parking ticket next? You know the rules (just like everyone speeding on the highway) and you got caught. Suck it up.

And next time do a quick look around before you break the law.
Posted by Westlake, son! on April 3, 2012 at 3:13 PM · Report this
Fnarf 7
This is what people mean when they talk about cyclists who want to ride in the street, where they belong, but don't think the rules of the road apply to them. You failed to stop at a stop sign. That sign is there for you as much as any motorist.

And, really, are you SURE there were no pedestrians about to dart into that intersection assuming you were about to stop? You have no idea. You can think you were sure, but the fact is, motorists and bicyclists both (and pedestrians too) fail to see crossing peds (or motorists or bicyclists) all the freaking time. "I didn't see him"; "she didn't see me"; these lines are said every day.

You are not a victim here.
Posted by Fnarf on April 3, 2012 at 3:14 PM · Report this
You must respond to a ticket within 15 days.

The date on the check was "around two weeks" after you'd gotten the ticket... You claim it was within the allotted time, but resort to weaselly imprecise language about when the check was written and don't mention when you actually sent it. Sounds to me like you knew you were getting close to late payment.

So instead of taking your lumps for behaving like a dumb kid (first for not stopping at the intersection, secondly for not paying or contesting your citation in a timely fashion) you bring your whinging to the bully pulpit of Slog.

sounds like we're not having it.
Posted by JAT on April 3, 2012 at 3:15 PM · Report this
On the other hand, when I went to renew my tabs a couple years ago, after diligently (or so I thought) paying all my parking tickets, turned out I had an outstanding ticket. It would have pissed me off a lot less if a) I hadn't asked a judge MERE MONTHS before if I still had any outstanding tickets while in her chambers b) I hadn't been broke as hell while in the middle of a divorce and c) Alliance One had actually informed me EVEN ONCE in those prior years. The 'bureaucrats' I spoke with that day told me just how much they hated Alliance One. Alliance One seem to have no requirements to inform their 'clients' on even an annual basis, so they just get to sit on their asses, accruing fines until there you are, stuck downtown seething in impotent rage.
Posted by jt on April 3, 2012 at 3:16 PM · Report this
Wait, this wasn't about me and my hateful relationship with Alliance One? Sorry guys.
Posted by jt on April 3, 2012 at 3:17 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 11
UW Bothell decided last year to send a bunch of parking tickets I'd gotten when I worked there (like five years ago) to collections. The thing is I'd gotten them waved, but they have no record of that and of course I tossed my paperwork about it because it was all cleared up.

Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on April 3, 2012 at 3:17 PM · Report this
Clearly, you all are much smarter, more responsible citizens than I am. Rejoice!
Posted by Brendan Kiley on April 3, 2012 at 3:23 PM · Report this
Are you assholes saying that you wouldn't be bummed if a lardo cop gave you a ticket for a california stop? I am willing to be that the percentage of cyclists that come to a full stop at stop signs in seattle is much greater than drivers who come to a full stop at stop signs in seattle. If you are defaulting to saying the police are right, maybe you should check your head. Everyone knows that cops are dicks.

PS. I ride a bike, I don't wear a helmet, I run stoplights, don't stop at stopsigns, ride the wrong way down one ways, and if you get too close to me I'll slap your window and you'll get angry. I'll ride off smiling. You wish you were as fast as me and had my freedom and you are upset and fat. Suck it.
Posted by seattlewashington on April 3, 2012 at 3:26 PM · Report this
@12 either that or we've learned from similar mistakes.
Posted by JAT on April 3, 2012 at 3:26 PM · Report this
@12 and @13
apparently not all of us...
Posted by JAT on April 3, 2012 at 3:28 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 16
They should have seized your bike and sold it at auction to Jeff Bezos, who would use the money he hasn't been paying in taxes to create a new Private Art Paid For By Public Taxes sculpture entitled "Biking Noobs Must Stop But Billionaires Breeze Buy".

Which would then win the award for Bestest Sculpture Ever In The History Of The World, sponsored by his private foundation.
Posted by Will in Seattle on April 3, 2012 at 3:29 PM · Report this
Bro -- this EXACT same thing happened to me in 2000.

Only it involved a car traffic ticket. Like you, I paid it. Like you it was not processed or received on time and so went to late status -- without me ever being notified.

However, unlike you my story went, while I was driving in BFE (somewhere on the peninsula) I passed someone legally but because of the high volume of traffic, I was pulled over for "unsafe passing" (yeah, right, I'm still alive).

Then...when the officer comes back, he says how I had this "unpaid fine" that was over due and hence my license was suspended! So, he takes my license, punches a hole in it, and gives it back to me, which means that I can't drive my car...which means, that I have to have it towed into the nearest town which is 30 miles away, and it's 6pm on a Saturday.

Ok, so then, when the tow truck comes to take my car, I have beg him for a ride into town because there are no more cars on the road and it's late and there's no transit.

So after begging he takes me into town, where he puts my car away until I can become a driver again...the next day I have to take a bus back and it of course takes like 4 hours.

I come back for my court case (by bus) to regain my license and put my details before the judge (in the court, everyone else is a drunk driver many with weapons possession charges...all orange jumpsuited) and he immediately throws the case out of court!

However, this is only after I am out several hundred dollars for court fees, towing fees, buses, cabs, ...

Oh, and the reason I was trying to get where I was going was to make a date with this girl who was giving me "one last chance" to prove I wasn't a loser and guess what -- I made here wait for 3 hours in the rain when I didn't show up. Guess how it ended. Yah.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on April 3, 2012 at 3:31 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 18
@ 12, I cruise through intersections and stop signs on my bike like most cyclists; I do so after slowing down and taking a quick, but good look. I have excellent vision, even at 41, so I am sure that no one is there when I do this. And if I ever get a ticket for it, I will never, ever bitch about it.

I don't know what you expected, but if it's sympathy, you weren't being realistic.
Posted by Matt from Denver on April 3, 2012 at 3:31 PM · Report this
balderdash 19
Your ticket and your late fee both went to help, fractionally, minutely, to pay the salaries of all those apathetic drones who wouldn't help you figure out what was up with your ticket and late fee. You were, in essence, aggressively panhandled. By a bureaucracy.

Enjoy your day!
Posted by balderdash on April 3, 2012 at 3:32 PM · Report this
I fell while skateboarding once, so I quit.
Posted by seattlewashington on April 3, 2012 at 3:33 PM · Report this
TVDinner 21
Oh, those bastards tried to nail me on a ticket I'd paid off EIGHT YEARS beforehand. I protested the charge through the credit agencies and it was expunged from my record.

Regarding running a stop sign on a bike: get a grip, you sanctimonious drivers. Streets are engineered for cars, not bicyclists. It doesn't make sense and it does nothing to improve safety to insist on that old vehicular cycling canard that cyclists should blindly follow the same laws that drivers do. Every single one of you would have a run a stop sign in the same circumstances, only you don't ride bikes. It's a lot more comfortable for you to sit in judgment of cyclists than to get out more than once or twice a year on the Burke Gilman and then think you're experts on how people who really ride should ride.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on April 3, 2012 at 3:34 PM · Report this
chinaski 22
@13 you're full of shit. You wear a helmet.
Posted by chinaski on April 3, 2012 at 3:34 PM · Report this
Hee hee! A bench warrant I accumulated in my misspent youth disappeared during a "database cleanup" just like this. Sorry yours cut the other way and that you weren't notified back then.

I never thought to chalk it up to "deep cultural roots, just life in a big city.
Posted by gloomy gus on April 3, 2012 at 3:35 PM · Report this
*small-to-medium* city.
Posted by gloomy gus on April 3, 2012 at 3:36 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 25
@ 21, like many things legal, the point isn't whether it makes sense, but whether it's legal or illegal, and whether it's widely known or not.

I happen to think bikes following the same laws as cars makes more sense than not, though.
Posted by Matt from Denver on April 3, 2012 at 3:38 PM · Report this
ItsAllOverNow 26
It is bullshit that they waited two years to notify you of additional fees and did so through a collections agency.

@7 that horse is extra high today huh?
Posted by ItsAllOverNow on April 3, 2012 at 3:40 PM · Report this
thatsnotright 27
If your check is indeed dated and you can show it was postmarked in time, go to traffic court and have the judge dismiss it. You sit there for a while tell your sad story to the judge and you'll probably be let off. They're actually pretty nice.
Posted by thatsnotright on April 3, 2012 at 3:44 PM · Report this
ItsAllOverNow 28
@25 I agree the law is what it is now but this video about the Idaho Stop Law makes a good case for 4 way stopping policy to be different for cyclists and motorists. The Idaho Stop Law allows cyclists to treat 4 way stop sign (not light controled) intersections as yields if no cars and/or pedestrians are present. Similar laws are being considered in Oregon and Arizona.
Posted by ItsAllOverNow on April 3, 2012 at 3:45 PM · Report this
ItsAllOverNow 29
sorry, link here:
Posted by ItsAllOverNow on April 3, 2012 at 3:46 PM · Report this
Gurldoggie 30
Unlike the majority of Slog posters who are loyal rule-followers and love kissing cop ass, I have total sympathy for your plight. The system is undeniably rigged against bicycles. Traffic laws are for cars and other multi-ton vehicles, and it makes no logical sense to hold bicycles to the same dumb standards.

With that in mind, a hypothetical question - what happens if you simply don't show a cop your ID? Or don't carry one? Bike riders aren't licensed, and I assume they can't trace you through a DNA sample. Will they drag you downtown for running a red light on your bike?
Posted by Gurldoggie on April 3, 2012 at 3:47 PM · Report this
@21 Boo hoo. It's harder to start from a stop on a bike than it is with a car. That's part of the deal of riding a bike.

Can safety be satisfied without making a full stop? Yes, and it usually is, but you couldn't write and enforce a law that required a California rolling stop. You can write - and enforce - a law that requires a full stop, so that's what we have. Get used to it.

The law requires a full stop, so that's what people should do. You can choose to disregard it, but accept the consequence of a ticket every now and then.

Likewise with the 15-day period before the ticket becomes overdue. I think it should be 21 or 30 days, but right now it's 15. So that's what it is. Live with it.
Posted by Charlie Mas on April 3, 2012 at 3:49 PM · Report this
You admit you broke the law when you didn't stop. The law in the state of Washington is that bikes can be treated as motor vehicles when on the road, or as pedestrians when on the sidewalk. That means they have to follow the applicable laws.
So you only will follow the law if you think it's ok to follow that law, when you think it's appropriate to follow that law? What the hell! "I'm in a rush today, and I'm stopped at a red light, and there's no traffic, so I'm just going to blast through it, glancing to make certian there's no traffic coming!" If you saw a car driver exhibiting that sort of arrogance, you would have no sympathy.
As a fellow cycler/pedestrian/bus rider, I have no sympathy for you.

PS - if that $52 truly went to a collections agency, the police department/city will be lucky if they get $15 dollars from it.
Posted by TJ on April 3, 2012 at 3:58 PM · Report this
TVDinner 33
@31: See 28. The Idaho Stop Law might be the only thing of value in the entire state of Idaho.

Except the potatoes. Everyone loves potatoes.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on April 3, 2012 at 3:59 PM · Report this
The majority of cars DO NOT come to full stops at stop signs. Grab a bucket of popcorn and park your butt at the intersection of 22nd AVE NW and 56th St in Ballard. Almost no cars actually stop.
Posted by ScruffyBallardMan on April 3, 2012 at 4:06 PM · Report this
I commuted by bike seven days a week for the best part of a decade. Brendan is completely in the wrong here, and commenter #13 is a positive menace to society. But then, that's my perspective; I've been mocked by passersby for stopping my bike at a stoplight at 3AM in a quiet neighborhood. #18 has much more of the right attitude: if you make the decision to flout the law, do so in a way that maximalizes your safety and - critically - accept the consequences.

My only sympathy for Brendan is that 15 days seems like an unnecessarily and unreasonably short time (what happens if you put the ticket on the pile of bills you pay once a month?), and having the effective time limit precisely match the declared time limit seems like it's just a way to generate late fees; better to give the offenders a couple of days' grace period, or to go by the postmark.
Posted by Warren Terra on April 3, 2012 at 4:08 PM · Report this
emor 36
If you think that it's just cyclists rolling though intersections slowly, you're either a cynical asshole, hopelessly naive, or are predisposed to hate cyclists.

The fact is that everybody does this. Everybody. It's so fucking obvious that this is ultra-common behavior. I see it every goddamn day I go outside. Go sit at an intersection -- say, Aloha and 15th, and watch traffic carefully. People -- be they in a car, on a bike, motorcycle, walking with shoes, skateboarding, whatever the fuck -- only come to a full stop if they have a compelling reason to, usually another vehicle already in the intersection.

So to those who sanctimoniously recite their "Well, if bikes wanted to be treated just like cars they need to follow laws" speech: if what you say is true then 99.9999% of people doing this on bikes should not get a ticket. Also, I am sure almost 100% of drivers cited like Brendan would complain too.

Posted by emor on April 3, 2012 at 4:11 PM · Report this
laterite 37
@TV Dinner, maybe it's not a big deal in and of itself to run a stop sign on a bicycle, but what if someone in an F-350 coming from another direction also decides it's the opportune moment to roll on through? Not hard to see who wins that contest. Yes it's a cliche, but these sorts of laws are in place for protection as much as punishment.
Posted by laterite on April 3, 2012 at 4:15 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 38
@20 Ian you're supposed to be at work.

I think the thing that chaps Brendan's ass is that the cost of the ticket is more than the cost of his bike. Even though the risk of severe injury to others is much lower when he blows through a stop sign than when Comrade Tim Eyman blows through a Red Light in a School Zone.
Posted by Will in Seattle on April 3, 2012 at 4:16 PM · Report this
@23, you'd like to think so, wouldn't you? but just you wait...
Posted by jt on April 3, 2012 at 4:17 PM · Report this
You took the lazy way out. You should have showed up to contest your ticket. They may have not thrown it out, but dollars to donuts they more than likely would have reduced the fine.
Posted by Weekilter on April 3, 2012 at 4:30 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 41
@ 30, you could, you know, write to your representative and senator in Olympia to get that changed, using that Idaho law as a reference point, but something tells me you consider yourself too much of a rebel. That wouldn't be keeping it real, now would it?
Posted by Matt from Denver on April 3, 2012 at 4:33 PM · Report this
More, I Say! 42
@13 everyone who disagrees with me is a fat, jealous loser, right?
Posted by More, I Say! on April 3, 2012 at 4:36 PM · Report this
TVDinner 43
@37: But that's not what I'm suggesting you do. Brendan said there was no one coming in any direction. You can see that so much better on a bike, where your blind spots are measured in millimeters. It's harder to see that in a car where your blind spots are measured in meters. You can bet that I slow down at every stop sign and make damn sure it's safe to go before I do when I'm on my bike. When there are cars present then I proceed according to the rules of the road: whoever got there first goes, unless the driver goes first. Heh.

I slow down at unmarked intersections just the same and look all around as well. It's very much in my interest to do so.
Nodding, waving, smiling...all of these are fair tactics at an intersection when others are present, and I employ all of them. But if no one is there? Hell, I roll right on through, and I do it unapologetically.

I've been doing this for more than two decades, in the suburbs, big cities, small cities, and the developing world. So far I'm still alive, if increasingly cantankerous.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on April 3, 2012 at 4:40 PM · Report this
Jeez, everyone's sure got their panties in a twist about this one! Yeah, he starts out with the backstory that seem to have you all up in arms, but the main point is this stupid processing fee, for which he had no say in. He paid the ticket. The government DID NOT process his check and now, years later, he owes more money because someone didn't do THEIR job in a timely manner. I am going through a similar thing. I got a parking ticket, fine, no problem, I'm the one who didn't read the sign. I payed the ticket, no qualms. I even paid the ticket the week it was issued. Now I get a letter saying I owe $3.50 for it. Sounds awefully like Brendan's scenario. $3.50 will not break the bank, but I paid my dues. If anyone should get fined for not doing what they are supposed to do, it should be the person who didn't process my check on time. Have YOU ever tried to deal with a collection agency? It's a royal pain in the ass. Thanks WSDOT.
Posted by kk826 on April 3, 2012 at 4:48 PM · Report this
You know what would be interesting...

How much of that money will go to the city and how much does the debt collector get to keep?
Posted by SeattleSeven on April 3, 2012 at 4:59 PM · Report this
@ 6, 7, 18, 32 and others. For the record, lest any of you think I'm a bigger idiot than I actually am: I would never come to Slog for sympathy. (Are you fucking kidding me? I *work* here. I know how this shit operates.)

I just come to share items of interest to me, items that may be of interest to you, and to watch people get twitchy in comments. In this case, I've scored a hat trick.
Posted by Brendan Kiley on April 3, 2012 at 4:59 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 47
@ 44, he buried his point with his repeated bitching about the ticket, and I'm confident he did it purposely to generate these kinds of comments. Also, someone pointed out that he had 15 days to respond to the ticket.
Posted by Matt from Denver on April 3, 2012 at 5:01 PM · Report this
If you weren't a bed wetting nanny state liberal, your anger would be justified. As it is, go fuck yourself.
Posted by Fuckwad on 2 wheels on April 3, 2012 at 5:04 PM · Report this
How long has it been since a hipster killed themselves on a fixie in Seattle?
Posted by Way too long.... on April 3, 2012 at 5:11 PM · Report this
TVDinner 50
And another thing, Mister Kiley! That damn book is a hundred bucks! I'm gonna have to get it from the - harumph! - LIBRARY.

Thanks for nothing!
Posted by TVDinner http:// on April 3, 2012 at 5:12 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 51
does the ticket say it must be postmarked or received by the date specified? it probably says one way or the other.

my ROT when it comes to any citations: write & mail the check the next damn day at the latest - they can & will arrest you for it. look at the poor bastard in the supreme court decision on monday.
Posted by Max Solomon on April 3, 2012 at 5:41 PM · Report this
ScienceNerd 52
I didn't read all the comments because I'm so angry I can't see straight.

Something similar happened to me, and it really messed up my credit. I was young and trying to make it on my own, I ended up having to ask my parents for help... help never comes without guilt.
Posted by ScienceNerd on April 3, 2012 at 6:10 PM · Report this
@ 50. Wow! I didn't look at the price. When I bought it 10 years (or so) ago, it was usual paperback cost. Must've gone out of print.

@ 51. You have a sound method. I intend to adopt it. I didn't know a city would sit on a late fee for a bike ticket for two years and send it to collections without notifying the delinquent offender (who didn't even know he was delinquent). But knowing is half the battle.
Posted by Brendan Kiley on April 3, 2012 at 6:15 PM · Report this
Just Jeff 54
Quit your fucking whining, dumbass. OF COURSE the date the payment is DUE is WHEN THEY GET IT - not when you wrote the check. Jeebus, are you really this stupid?
Posted by Just Jeff on April 3, 2012 at 6:43 PM · Report this
I, like, TOTALLY paused!
Posted by UNPAID COMMENTER on April 3, 2012 at 6:49 PM · Report this
Brendan, the collections agency will sit on the citation for ANYTHING for years without informing you. As far as I know, they have no legal responsibility to make an attempt to contact you even annually, and that's something that really screws over people who don't have a lot of money. That's all I want to see - the city/county informing people when they turn over the ticket, then Alliance One (and any other of those horrible debt collectors) required to make an annual attempt to collect or at least inform. I mean, they've got your damn address already, how hard would it be?
Posted by jt on April 3, 2012 at 7:44 PM · Report this
@#50, #53 The book is available through Abebooks from various vendors for $12.50 (used, one copy) or $20-$25 (new, or a couple used)
Posted by Warren Terra on April 3, 2012 at 8:08 PM · Report this
You are a whiny bitch.

Follow the rules and if caught, either fight in court or pay your fine on time.

All courts these days are nailing people with ridiculous fees and service charges. Maybe you could write about that.

Posted by Richard Cranium on April 3, 2012 at 8:28 PM · Report this
Shorter Brendan: Bigger government is great except when it targets ME for revenue enhancement.

Somebody has to pay for all those wonderful city services you absolutely need, like chronic inebriate housing.

Shut up and pay your fine, bitch.
Posted by delbert on April 3, 2012 at 8:49 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 60
I knew the law-and-order brownshirts would come out in force on this thread, but I didn't expect Fnarf to be one of them.
Posted by Free Lunch on April 3, 2012 at 8:55 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 61
Brendan, what I think is bullshit is that you want to label everybody else in the system as indifferent but you yourself were too indifferent to fight the ticket. Even though you believed the cop was wrong. And then, you were to indifferent to fight a late fee that you also thought was wrong.

You just mindlessly mailed off checks like an automaton. And then looked up a cute quote about how it's the bureaucrats who are such humorless automatons. I bet the bureaucrats could see the humor in you. Given the chance.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on April 3, 2012 at 10:40 PM · Report this
If I could charge a ticket to every biker who plowed through pedestrians at controlled intersections because they were only watching for cars, I could start a small business in providing preemptive strike armaments to pedestrians. Late fees = extra ammo.
Posted by K3 on April 3, 2012 at 11:08 PM · Report this
I got a bike ticket in 2009, which is a story of it's own. I decided to mitigate the ticket rather than pay the full $105 dollars. The judge was cool about it and lowered it to $65 and I paid it at the courthouse before leaving. Best advice i can give is to just mitigate it. The judge will appreciate you taking the time to come in by reducing the ticket and it's over in 5 min.
Posted by apres_moi on April 4, 2012 at 12:39 AM · Report this
A Magnolia Heron 64
Dude, you paid it late. Waiting two weeks is too long. The postal service is not responsible for making sure it gets there when it should, you are responsible for getting it to the postal service with enough time for them to get it there. And, dont go arguing there is something wrong with the postal service because everyone fucking knows there is something wrong with the postal service. If you wanted that shit there on time you would use FedEx or UPS expedited. \
Posted by A Magnolia Heron on April 4, 2012 at 6:56 AM · Report this
Brendan, for what it's worth I think your posting was more about bureaucracies and less about cycling. And what's interesting is bureaucracy is generally associated with big government, and it so happens that big vs small government is an issue that comes up from time to time in politics. I'll check out the book. And keep on rolling safely through stop signs. Non-cyclists have a tough time understanding this one.
Posted by David from Chicago on April 4, 2012 at 8:27 AM · Report this
$99!!?!! That's a bit steep for a casual read. Maybe the library has a copy.
Posted by David from Chicago on April 4, 2012 at 8:35 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 67
@12: Wow, what a puerile comment about people who are rightfully calling you on your bullshit. You broke a law, were fined, a mistake was made, and instead of trying to make it right, you paid the additional fine and are now whining about it.

No one is responsible for your actions but yourself. How old are you?

Posted by Theodore Gorath on April 4, 2012 at 8:49 AM · Report this
Bureaucratic rigidity is due to lack of intelligence. There are many people who perform their job not because they understand the job, but because the learned to mimic the movements needed to obtain money. Ever seen a person take copious notes on how to work a computer program task? These people do not understand what they are doing and so must ensure that they do the exact same thing every time no matter what. It takes a brain to diverge from the rigidity and many of us just don't have that! (not trying to slam anyone - I think this is just a fact)
Posted by subwlf on April 4, 2012 at 10:39 AM · Report this
Also, I don't mean the person is entirely low IQ... Just that there is no intelligence for that particular type of job (they might be great in some other job)
Posted by subwlf on April 4, 2012 at 10:41 AM · Report this
long-time reader 70
Ugh, I think Oregon's doing the same thing. Some collection agency in Texas just sent me a demand for payment on a broken tail-light ticket I was issued in 2003(!) that I thought was already cleared up. Of course, I no longer have any of my records that would exculpate me. Fuckin' kafkaesque...
Posted by long-time reader on April 4, 2012 at 12:03 PM · Report this
wilbur@work 71
you get the same sympathy from me that I'll give the random biker, smacked with a 2x4, by me, at the intersection of Troll Ave and Canal St. (aka, Every Biker's Favorite Stop Sign to Ignore), at some point in the future TBD.

That's to say: none. Pay up, sucker.
Posted by wilbur@work on April 4, 2012 at 1:55 PM · Report this
wilbur@work 72
TVDinner - you may be an Awesome Person, but you're also an asshat.

Repeat after me, "I AM NOT A UNIQUE SNOWFLAKE"
Posted by wilbur@work on April 4, 2012 at 2:03 PM · Report this
I am sympathetic to the late fee. Governments are really bad a processing things in a timely manner, but that doesn't matter to them. You still pay the consequences.

(which remindes me that I have to renew my car registration this week...)

I'm not sympathetic to the original ticket, however. I'm all for sharing the road with cyclists, but they need to obey traffic laws. I nearly hit a guy on a bike last night after he ran a red light that had been red for a while. Thank god I wasn't going fast and could stop in time.
Posted by Sheryl on April 4, 2012 at 2:42 PM · Report this
ooooh wilbur@work, you're a real tough guy -- on the internet.
Posted by avocado on April 4, 2012 at 9:22 PM · Report this
Oh, you think THAT'S bad. I got a speeding ticket. I deserved it. I paid it.

2 *YEARS* later, I get a letter saying that, because of my failure to pay the ticket, my license has been suspended for the past 18 or so months. Actually, I didn't get that letter, my mom did. She freaked out, paid the ticket, and yelled at me. I showed her that I paid the ticket. So we frantically started calling everyone to get her payment cancelled and find out where my payment disappeared off to. Finally, we're told to contact the court for the county I was ticketed in.

The county I was ticketed in informed me that they were having "some computer issues" that were preventing the processing of fine payments. I told them my ticket was from 2 years ago, have they been having computer problems for 2 years? No. And if it was preventing the processing of payments, how did my check get cashed? It must have been processed. Okey dokey. Fax in the bank statement and cancelled check. Call back every. single. week. 6 WEEKS LATER. They tell me they can't locate a record of my payment, and there's no way to tie my CANCELLED CHECK AND BANK STATEMENT to the ticket payment without that record, so they'll just keep my mom's payment.

Aw, hell no. Lawyers are called, banks are called. The lawyers claim they really, really can't prove that my payment was connected to the ticket (it could have been fraudulently cashed by someone else! who happened to have access to the court's stamp! and use the same bank as the court! and...well...) without auditing the county, which I, of course, could not afford for them to do over a $150 ticket and $50 late fee. Bank says they won't reverse the check without proof the payment was in error (i.e., the county would have to fess up that they were dousing me for twice my fine plus additional costs). County says they will consider the ticket unpaid if we make effort to recover my mom's money. So I suck it up and write my mom a $200 check (since I was in college, that check was 38 hours of pre-tax wages, or more than one entire paycheck).

But it's not over yet, folks. I spent that summer working in the State Senate, which required me to have a driver's license. This all went down a few months months before I was supposed to start that job. You know how I got my license reinstated? 14 weeks - nearly 4 months - after the ticket payment was processed the SECOND time, a State Senator contacted the head of the county court and demanded that my license be reinstated. It took them 3 more weeks to reinstate my license after that call...
Posted by Ms. D on April 5, 2012 at 11:08 AM · Report this
Also, I'll bet you were going slower than half the people who blow through the 4-way stop on my corner every morning. If there's not a car actively sitting at that stop sign, they just keep on moving full speed (I often have to wait for a couple people to blow the stop sign to either walk across the street or exit my block if I happen to be driving, as a car *approaching* the stop sign is insufficient to make them stop, the first car to get to the stop sign after you do obvs has the right-of-way, and pedestrians are just pre-road-kill, so they're going to keep going).

But we'll have the last laugh. We live on the corner. We planted a large bush that will, eventually, prevent commuters (they're the only people who actually drive the path I'm referring to) from seeing on-coming traffic from one direction until that traffic is almost at the stop sign. People in the neighborhood know about the commuter issue, so they stop at that sign, but I bet a few "out of nowhere" cars will scare the commuters something good. Or not and nothing will change until we suck the last drop of oil out of the ground.
Posted by Ms. D on April 5, 2012 at 11:16 AM · Report this

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