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Suffolk County Lawmakers Approves Bill For Safer Bike Riding

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The Suffolk County Legislature has approved a bill that could penalize reckless bicyclists. The measure targets riding while under the influence, having one or more wheels off the ground at a time and trick biking.

Republican Legis. Rudy Sunderman sponsored the measure. He said some bicyclists endanger other vehicles, pedestrians and themselves.

After more than an hour of debate, lawmakers passed the bill by a vote of 13-4, with Democratic Legis. Kara Hahn abstaining. Hahn had a separate bill on the table to address reckless biking. There were some legislators who voted "yes" but wanted to revisit some of the language.

Legislators questioned the wording of some sections of the bill. Republican Legis. Robert Trotta asked, “Are you giving the cops the ability to write a parent a ticket for their child?”

“This is going to set us up for a lawsuit,” said Trotta, a former Suffolk County Police detective.

The legislation said the parents of children under 14 not wearing a helmet while riding a bike may be fined $50 per violation. The parents can get rid of the fine by showing proof of purchase of a safety-certified bicycle helmet.

Democratic Legis. Susan Berland said the bill was overreaching.

“I think your unnecessary consequences of this may be people using their bicycles for a means of transportation and are trying to comply with the rules are going to get caught up in this. I just think it is too far reaching,” Berland said. She tried to table the measure to clarify some of the wording, a request that was not approved.

The measure also prohibits the operation of a bicycle if the rider is wearing more than one earphone or headphone connected to any audio device. It also requires at least one hand on the handlebars at all times. Trick riding and weaving in traffic is banned unless it is necessary for the safe operation in compliance with state traffic law.

The legislation defines anyone riding a bike on roads to have the responsibilities of those in a vehicle, and those riding on a sidewalk treated as a pedestrian.