People Who Had Their Bikes Impounded From Cape May Promenade Fight $100 Fines

Some Cape May City residents outraged their bicycles were among dozens of bikes impounded from the boardwalk promenade won't be paying fines.

Four bike owners, including tourists and a local lifeguard, fought their $100 tickets in court Cape May County Court Thursday.

The fines stemmed from a citywide crackdown on bikes chained up along the beachfront walkway. City workers cut chains on about 30 bikes on Aug. 24.

“They had these huge pliers this big,” said Arina Foggen who was visiting Cape May from Washington, D.C. “They just started snipping the locks off.”

The bikes were then hauled off to the West Cape May police annex.

Branden Smith, a 13-year-old Cape May resident, told NBC10 he locked his bike on the promenade because the street level racks were full. He eventually got his bike back.

Cape May officials said there is a city ordinance which bans bikes from being locked and left on the promenade from May 1 to Oct. 31 except between the hours of 4 to 10 a.m.

Riders who leave their bikes there must pay a $100 summons though they have an opportunity to fight it in court. Residents argue that there are no visible warnings however. While signs on the promenade make it clear that riding bikes is only permissible until 10 a.m. nowhere is it clearly posted that you can’t park or lock your bicycles there.

“It says nothing about not parking your bike on the ramp,” said Mary Lou Comber of Cape May. “It says no bike riding so we don’t ride our bikes.”

On Thursday, four people pleaded guilty to avoid paying the fine and court costs.

Julie Sheehy, who had her bike impounded, wasn't satisfied with the result.

"It's not fair, it's still not fair," said Sheehy. "In a town that relies on tourists you don't appoint signage? It should have been announced. It should have been a warning."

Cape May City Manager Bruce Macleod said some bikes posed a public safety hazard because they were chained to signs and park benches while some handle bars blocked entrance ramps to the promenade. Macleod admits however the ordinance isn’t always enforced.

“When I spotted the bikes attached to the park bench maybe that’s the thing that got my attention,” Macleod said.

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