Developing Procedures to Handle Violators

In addition to having laws and regulations that support safe pedestrian and bicycle activity, agencies should have an appropriate procedure for handling violators, especially young violators. Young pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers are particularly impressionable—a law enforcement campaign with a good set of procedures for handling young law violators can be an ideal opportunity for educating this population and engendering safer behaviors for life. At the same time, studies have shown that giving citations to pedestrians can be counter-productive and can lead to a long-term resentment of enforcement officials, and the community.

The following examples of procedures for handling law violators are described in the FHWA University Course on Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation—Lesson 24: A Comprehensive Approach: Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation:

  • Dallas, TX, operated a youth court for young bicyclists caught violating traffic laws. This court handled young violators in a separate, more age appropriate manner than adult violators.
  • The City of Santa Barbara, CA, a pioneer in bicycle enforcement, developed a campaign that included special tickets for youngsters, a publicity campaign, and a training film for officers.
  • Missoula, MT, has a special warning ticket for youngsters: one copy goes to the violator, one is mailed to the parents, and one is kept at the police station.