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: law enforcement and bicycle safety
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: warning or citation?
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FHWA bicycle safety education resource center




Warning or Citation?

There is a place for a verbal or written warning in traffic law enforcement. Where officers are engaged in new or different enforcement activities (and the public finds this unexpected), warnings are a great way to get the word out. Officers should try to give the first warnings through the news media to let people know!

Citations are clearly appropriate in many circumstances. Where a driver's actions place a bicyclist in obvious danger, or a crash is narrowly avoided, or a crash occurs. Deliberate or reckless violations should also dictate formal enforcement action.

Always keep in mind that minor incidents may escalate out of proportion. Avoid allowing an emotional driver or cyclist to bait you into actions that are unwise. An unpleasant cyclist with no-ID may be a legitimate target for a physical arrest, but a wiser action may be a verbal warning and release. Always keep in mind the final goal, improved safety.