New York City Against Motorcycles in HOV
New York City Transportation Department Thumbs Nose at
AMA press release edited by webBikeWorld.com
March 5, 2008 - In one of the most outrageous acts the American
Motorcyclist Association has seen in years, the New York City
Transportation Department defiantly refuses to change its rules
so that they comply with federal law to allow motorcycles to
use high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes.
The department states that it won't change its rules to comply
with federal law because the New York City Police Department
opposes the change. But transportation officials refuse to explain
the police opposition despite numerous attempts by the American
Motorcyclist Association to get an explanation.
The Police Department opposition was supposed to have been
recorded, but wasn't, in a public forum--a city Transportation
Department hearing that was held Sept. 12, 2007 to change department
rules related to motorcycle use of HOV lanes to comply with
federal law. The rule change was to go into effect within 60
days of that hearing.
"New York City's public servants are intentionally ignoring
a law passed by the American people's elected representatives
in the U.S. Congress," says Imre Szauter, AMA legislative
affairs specialist, who has been trying to get answers from
New York City transportation officials on the HOV-motorcycle
"Because the New York City Transportation Department
refuses to change its rules, every American motorcyclist faces
tickets and fines when riding in New York City HOV lanes,"
"This is outrageous and totally unacceptable. Karen
Perrine of Staten Island, New York, suffered through a two-and-a-half-year
nightmare because of a ticket she got on Oct. 26, 2005 while
riding her Yamaha FZ1 motorcycle in a New York City HOV lane."
The New York Department of Motor Vehicles Appeals Board,
in a letter dated February 15, 2008, agreed that Perrine was
within her rights to use the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway HOV
lane when she was pulled over and ticketed for an HOV lane violation.
The board reversed her conviction and removed it from her driving
Perrine, however, is afraid to use the HOV lane again.
"When I opened the envelope from the Appeals Board I
felt some satisfaction in having the conviction reversed, but
it's been extremely unfair to me that I have had to sit for
over a year and a half with the points from this ticket on my
driver's license, while I waited for a decision from the Appeals
Board," Perrine says. "I was not breaking the law.
"In the last year and a half, those points have made
me eligible for a new $300 New York Drivers Assessment Fee and
led to the cancellation of my auto insurance policy. The total
cost of this ticket including the appeal, the Drivers Assessment
Fee and the replacement auto insurance policy has been $1,270,"
"When I attended a public hearing at the New York City
Department of Transportation in September 2007, and read a statement
about my ticket and traffic court hassles, I thought that I
was helping to change the local traffic laws and prevent other
bikers from suffering as I have," she says. "The New
York City Department of Transportation had drafted an amendment
that would make local traffic rules comply with the U.S. Code,
finally. The new rules were to take effect by this spring."
In recent years, motorcyclists in Phoenix and Pittsburgh
also were ticketed for riding in HOV lanes. But those tickets
were dismissed when the ticketed motorcyclists and the American
Motorcyclist Association pointed out that federal law allows
motorcycles in HOV lanes.
In fact, Pittsburgh even put up signs allowing motorcycles
in HOV lanes after officials there were informed of the federal
The U.S. Code governing HOV lanes (see note below) states
agencies that govern HOV lanes must allow motorcycles to use
the lanes unless they prove motorcycles pose a safety hazard
on the lanes, and that proof is accepted by the U.S. Transportation
Secretary following a Federal Register notice and public comment
period on the ban.
NOTE: The AMA lists Title 23, Section 166 (23
USC 166 Note: Opens as a .pdf file) as the governing law,
but apparently the correct citation governing motorcycle use
in HOV lanes is Title 23, Section 102,
see this document.
It states, in part:
"Sec. 102. Program efficiencies
(a) HOV Passenger
Requirements.- A State highway department shall establish the
occupancy requirements of vehicles operating in high occupancy
vehicle lanes; except that no fewer than 2 occupants per vehicle
may be required and, subject to section 163 of the Surface Transportation
Assistance Act of 1982, motorcycles and bicycles shall not be
considered single occupant vehicles."
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