Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Interesting Statute of the Month - No Charge for Bikes

I was doing a little research for work today and came across this most interesting New Jersey Statute:
48:12-108. Transportation of bicycles as baggage; penalty for refusal
The holder of a ticket issued by any railroad company entitling him to transportation on its railroad or ferries as a passenger shall have the right in lieu of other baggage, to the transportation as baggage without further charge of one bicycle to and from the place designated in such ticket. Such transportation shall be on the same train or boat with the passenger where facilities for the transportation of baggage then exist on such train or boat.

The passenger shall remove any lantern from such bicycle but not any usual bicycle bell or cyclometer nor need he crate, cover or otherwise protect the bicycle. No railroad company transporting bicycles pursuant to this section shall be liable for damage done to any bell, cyclometer or like attachments.

Any railroad company refusing to accept for transportation or to transport bicycles as baggage as required by this section shall pay to such passenger ten dollars for each offense, to be recovered in an action at law in any court of competent jurisdiction.

The archaic language in the statute makes me believe that it dates back a hundred years or so; back when the League of American Wheelmen (former name of the League of American Bicyclists) and its local chapters were a political force to be reckoned with.

Still, I'm curious. Does this mean that NJ TRANSIT has a statutory responsibility to transport one's bicycle, free of charge at ALL TIMES? Also, does the statute require ferry companies to do the same? Are ferry companies exempt since all that I'm aware of operate services that cross state lines or are they require so long as the service connects to a New Jersey port?

This law, as old as it may be, is still on the books, so it would seem to still have some teeth. I'm sure there is something in the statutes that organized NJ TRANSIT that exempts it from this statute, however other passenger trains services (tourist) and ferry services are probably still on the hook for this. Maybe we all have 10 bucks coming our way!

Are there any legal scholars out there who might know the answer?

3 comments:

cartoongoddess said...

According to NJT's website, collapsible bikes are permitted at all times. Standard-frame bicycles and Segways are permitted according to this advisory:

http://www.njtransit.com/rg/rg_servlet.srv?hdnPageAction=BikeProgramTo

They have ALOT of rules. However, I have never been refused transport (with bike or any other large baggage, huge artworks, scary paintings, etc.) on the NE Corridor line. Too bad, ten bucks would've paid for lunch.

clever-title said...

I think NJ Transit would claim to be exempt because they don't carry baggage for customers, unlike Amtrak

Andy B from Jersey said...

Clever-title,

I agree. The same is probably true for the ferry services too.

Also, the rule that allows folding bikes on NJ TRANSIT is a matter of law and not policy. Seems crazy to me to go through the legislative process for this but that's the way it is.

27:25-5a.
Collapsible bicycles permitted on NJT passenger trains

1. The provisions of any law, rule or regulation to the contrary notwithstanding, the New Jersey Transit Corporation shall not, at any time, prohibit any person transporting a collapsible bicycle from passing or repassing upon any of the corporation's railroads operating rail passenger service. For the purposes of this act, "collapsible bicycle" means any two-wheeled vehicle having a rear drive wheel which is solely human-powered, and has a frame and other constituent parts that can be readily manipulated, folded or placed together into a more compact form.

L.1992,c.185.