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December 21, 2010 10:00 AM Bicycle Violations: Rent Seeking at Berkeley?

By Daniel Luzer

Bike2.jpg

Campus police at the University of California, Berkeley have apparently become really interested in issuing hefty citations for minor bicycle violations. According to a piece by Lee Romney in the Los Angeles Times:

UC Berkeley students — already squeezed by steep tuition increases — are banding together to protest campus citations for bike infractions that run $220 apiece and exceed many vehicle violations.
UC Berkeley police say they have issued 103 bike citations from August to November, a 41 percent increase over the same period last year, nabbing students for riding through designated “dismount zones” and locking their bikes to railings instead of often-overfilled racks.

So Berkeley students have created one of those Facebook-based groups to support students who’ve been hit by the fines.

Generating sympathy has proven a little difficult, however. As David Reed wrote on the Facebook page:

Rules are rules and laws are laws so follow them, simple. I see so many bikers who violate vehicular laws and cause near accidents because they feel as if they have more rights to the roadways than virtually anyone, including pedestrians. It’s time bikers pay their fair share.

Students, after all, are breaking the rules. Why shouldn’t they be severely punished?

Well maybe, but are students breaking the rules 41 percent more often than last year? Or has cash-strapped Berkeley merely found a new way to raise revenue on campus?

What is the school doing with the profits from all of these citations? It might consider buying more bike racks. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer