Sunday, May 22, 2011
The Tyranny of the Bicycle Ticket
True story: the 30 pound ticket the bicycle cop apologized for giving me somehow multiplied into a 120 pound ticket, even though I actually paid the 30 pounds.
Yikes! The cop sheepishly stopped me and asked whether I knew I was not suppose to ride on the pavements (sidewalk for those Yanks out there). Yes, I said, but didn't know I could get a ticket for doing so. He apologized in saying that you couldn't, until that day. The city had decided to crack down on pavement-riders and actually give tickets rather than warnings, as people would then tell their friends.
The practice was so "new" that the officer didn't even have a proper ticket - that pictured is for a car.
He said, however, that I wouldn't need to pay immediately, but would receive a bill in the mail.
Nothing came. Until I receive a notice of late payment with another 50ish pounds compounded to the bill. I calmly wrote a letter explaining that this was the first notice I had received, that the office had told me to wait, and enclosed a check for 30 pounds.
The next notice told me that I still needed to pay the outstanding fees. Unless I did or appealed by writing another letter, I would be referred to a collection agency. I wrote an appeal.
The next letter I got, just this week, was a nicely-designed but threatening letter from the collections agency saying they would come with crowbar in hand to break down my door, seize my goods and sell them for the value of the fees still remaining (never mind that they had added another 75 pounds to the bill). Oh, and if they did come to collect my things, another 200 would be added to the bill.
I was outraged. I called, but no one would talk to me about the fact that I had appealed and was still referred to the collection agency. All the court recording and the collections agency officer told me I could do was send another letter. Yet a third letter would not arrive in time to save our shoes (which reside outside of our flat door) from being confiscated.
Oh dear. With a tear in my eye, I resigned myself to paying the fees, all 120 pounds of them (that's nearly $200), but was told I could be reimbursed should the court order the collections agency to do so. The letter will be written and sent tomorrow.
Here's to the tyranny of bicycle tickets. Anyone know a good bicycle ticket lawyer?