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Fargo commissioner calls $5 bike fines ‘ridiculous,’ proposes increase

Charlie Dawson rides his bike on the 500 block of NP Avenue on Tuesday, May 31, 2016, in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO — A Fargo city commissioner is proposing the city increase its fines for bicycle violations from $5 to $20, saying traffic infractions committed on a bike should be treated the same as those committed in a motor vehicle.

Commissioner Dave Piepkorn called the current $5 fine “ridiculous,” during the City Commission meeting on Monday, Aug. 27.

“I think there’s no surprise that a lot of bicyclists don’t really follow the traffic laws like I wish they would,” he said. “And now that you know that they have $5 fines, why would you?”

Assistant City Attorney Nancy Morris said North Dakota law allows for bicycle fines to be similar to other traffic violations. However, it is prohibited under state law for a bicyclist to lose points on their driver’s license for committing a violation on a bicycle, Morris said.

Police Chief David Todd said Piepkorn brought the proposal to his attention to gauge what the interest was in addressing the bicycle fines. Todd suggested there would be certain cases when a $20 fine would be appropriate and other times when it wouldn’t be.

“If it was a kid giving another kid a ride on his bicycle, I don’t want to give him a $20 fine,” Todd said. “Maybe we could leave that at a $5 level, but going through the stop signs and things like that would be more appropriate for a $20 fine.”

At Piepkorn’s request, Morris said she’ll meet with Todd to consider the proposed changes to current ordinances regarding bicycle fines.

Piepkorn’s proposal is not the first time he’s taken a vocal stance on bicycles. In 2012, a reconstruction of 10th Street North called for adding designated bike lanes on both 10th Street and North University Drive between 12th and 19th avenues. Piepkorn condemned the proposal and called it “outrageous,” citing safety concerns.

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