The police officer who oversees the ticketing of motor vehicles in the city has refuted claims that the Vancouver Police Department is targeting cyclists.
“I have been in the traffic section for about two and a half years now, and if you look at our tickets, I’m not sure that you can say that we’ve been cracking down on cyclists,” Insp. Ted Schinbein told the Straight by phone. “As a matter of fact, some of our numbers have actually decreased.”
According to Schinbein, police issued 3,461 tickets in 2008 to cyclists not wearing helmets, and 3,324 in 2009.
“We have always been concerned about cyclists,” Schinbein said. “They are vulnerable road users, as are pedestrians and as are motorcyclists.”
Last week, the Straight reported that cyclist Randi Gurholt-Seary planned to fight a $167 ticket police issued her on June 16 because she failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign at Nanaimo and Adanac streets.
“My experience with them at that time was that they were out to punish the cyclists to make an example and to hit them hard,” Gurholt-Seary told the Straight at the time.
Rob Wynen, vice chair of the city’s bicycle advisory committee, then told the Straight that he received several e-mails in the middle of the month from cyclists who had been ticketed at the intersection of Main Street and East 10th Avenue and other locations.
On the matter of rolling stops, Schinbein said, “The issue it becomes is that there is a law there. Whether you like the law or not, or whether you disagree with the law or not, it’s the law. The officers have the ability to enforce the law.”
Schinbein said there are “ways to lobby governments” for changes to the Motor Vehicle Act.
That’s something Vision Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs has looked into.
On June 22, Meggs introduced a motion, which passed unanimously, calling for a review of the Motor Vehicle Act.
“I’m not sure how well it can be tweaked,” Meggs told the Straight that day. “It’s early days, but at least we should talk about it. My proposal was that there should be a lot more consistent application if possible across municipalities of signage and bike routes and that sort of thing.”
Schinbein said that, back in 1991, he was one of the first eight bike cops in the city.
“And I didn’t have any issue stopping at a stop sign and starting again,” he added.