Riding my bike to work last week in New York, I pedaled up a hill, paused at the traffic light and, having spotted no oncoming traffic or pedestrians, turned right into a bike lane. Five seconds later a policeman stepped into the path, stopped me and questioned me about why I had turned right on a red light.
Had it been red? That was news to me -- I was only sure that the coast had been clear of cars and pedestrians.
Still a bit confused, I joined two other cyclists who had been pulled over moments before. Minutes later, we continued on, tickets in hand, and the officers stepped back into the lane to rope up the next set of alleged offenders.
The amount printed on my summons was surprisingly large. When I snapped a photo of it and posted it to Facebook, a friend in Berlin commented that his recent red light cycling fine had cost a fraction of mine.
Was this true? I decided to look into bike tickets around Europe. What can you expect to pay if you get accused of pedaling through a red light?
The answers are sometimes surprising and sometimes ambiguous. Certain cities fine cyclists for actions that are tolerated in others. And most make it difficult to find penalty information in the first place, especially in English, and never on their official tourism Web sites.
Here's what I found when comparing bike violations in six European cities and New York.
Your tickets to ride
If you've received bike tickets in any of these cities (or others around Europe), please tell us about it in the comments section.
FInally, regardless of the relative affordability of bike tickets around Europe, safety should always be the first consideration when cycling. My friend Arthur, who lives in Paris, summed it up best: "It's simply crazy to ignore red lights here. I tell you, it's 'carmageddon' every day."
Visit EuroCheapo.com for more articles on enjoying Europe's most expensive cities on a budget.