During Parking and Transportation Services’ annual “Bike to UT Day” on Thursday morning, APD issued 47 tickets to cyclists heading to the University as part of a “special assignment bike initiative,” according to APD officer Will Harvey.
Harvey said APD did not purposely schedule the initiative to coincide with the event.
“I predetermined all of the dates back in January,” Harvey said. “We had no way of knowing. It just happened to fall that way.”
APD officers wrote one of the tickets for going the wrong way on a one-way street and issued the rest for running stop signs, according to Harvey.
“We get a large number of complaints on a regular basis,” Harvey said. “If you’re out in West Campus or North Campus, it’s just getting more and more populated and congested. When that happens, complaints go up, and we felt we needed to get out and do something.”
Harvey said the initiative began in February and focuses not only on enforcing bike safety but also on pedestrian and driving violations in the West Campus and North Campus areas.
“Thus far for this operation, from February till now, we have written a total of 175 warnings and 128 tickets to bicyclists,” Harvey said.
Kent Kasischke, a visiting psychology student researcher, received a ticket while biking to campus this morning near the intersection of 29th Street and Speedway.
“Five or six other cops were just south of the intersection, and they were just picking off people left and right,” Kasischke said. “They were hiding behind the bridge. It was very off.”
Kasischke said although he did not disagree with the police’s decision to ticket him, he thought the officers could have been more lenient.
“Writing a ticket for running a stop sign, I totally understand,” Kasischke said. “I definitely didn’t come to a full stop. It was kind of the demeanor in which they did it: They kind of jumped up in the middle of the road and forced you to stop, otherwise you would hit them. There was no dialogue, they were just writing tickets [and] then letting people go.”
Kasischke thought police could have used the opportunity to educate bicyclists about the importance of following traffic laws.
“These police were just pulling people left and right and writing tickets and not educating anybody,” Kasischke said. “When he pulled me over, he asked me why I thought I was pulled over, and I’ve been riding a bike for years — I knew it was for going through the stop sign. But, with the girl next to me, there was no effort to explain it to her.”
Kasischke thought it was a “strange coincidence” that APD officers conducted the initiative on Bike to UT Day.
UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey said campus police were not aware of the APD operation.