At a recent AARP defensive driving course, the instructor said if you challenge a red light camera ticket and lose, the violation converts to a moving violation. She also said that you could be ticketed if you enter an intersection while the light is yellow but are still there when the light turns red. True?
-- Terry Feldman, Central Islip
Both statements are false.
Red light camera tickets do not move into the dreaded category of moving violations that are laden with higher fines, points on licenses and the potential for higher insurance premiums. To quote a section of the state red light camera law. (Forgive the legalese; we thought it best to go to the source.)
"An imposition of liability ... shall not be deemed a conviction as an operator and shall not be made part of the operating record of the person ... nor shall it be used for insurance purposes in the provision of motor vehicle insurance."
Here's the translation from John Marks, executive director of Nassau County's Traffic and Parking Violations Agency: A red light camera notice of violation does not convert into a moving violation. No points.
The second question is addressed on Suffolk County's red light camera website:
"If I am already in the intersection when a light turns red, will I get a citation? No ... Citations are only issued when a vehicle enters the intersection AFTER the light has turned red."
Statements made at a course offered at the Deer Park Library last month "are not part of the AARP Defensive Driving syllabus at all," said David Irwin, manager of communications for AARP New York.
"Based on your call, we're going to have a conversation with state driver safety coordinators," he said, and AARP will "issue a training update to all volunteers [instructors] on this topic, specifically to make sure everybody has a clear understanding of what it does and doesn't mean."
AARP has more than 580 such volunteers in New York, he said; they teach 3,500 defensive driving courses a year. With luck, only one offered the incorrect information.
Last week we mentioned a turnstile intended to keep bicycles out of Tobay Beach.
Readers didn't wait long to say we had missed the bigger picture: The turnstile, at the end of a new section of bike path along Ocean Parkway, also denies access to people with disabilities.
"I am an avid roller blader and use the path frequently," Barbara Becker of Hauppauge wrote in an email Sunday. The path itself is "wheelchair and handicapped bicycle friendly," she wrote, but "people in wheelchairs cannot access the path from Tobay Beach nor can a person in a wheelchair or handicapped bicycle leave the path to use the restrooms at Tobay."
Andrew Hager, a bicyclist who lives in Bellmore who rides the path often, told us he reached the fence at Tobay one day to find a disabled rider on a bike equipped with hand pedals. "He said, 'I can't believe I'm locked out again,'" Hager said. "And it dawns on me: He can't get in to the bathroom.
"That's where you missed the story."
Indeed, we did.
Did Oyster Bay give consideration to accessible entry when the fence and turnstile were installed last summer?
Last week the town said the turnstile will be replaced.
It was not intended to be permanent, town spokesman Brian Devine said in an email, and added: "We felt it best to leave this more extensive maintenance work to the winter as this would typically be the 'off-season' for cyclists who frequent the path."
The new gate will be accessible to all, he said.
As fall turned to winter, we began to hear about traffic backups on Route 110 in Melville near the Northern State Parkway.
It's a route we take often but hadn't considered that something more than ongoing roadwork and holiday shopping traffic was at play.
But Dennis Fassman thought something was amiss.
"There's a series of three or four lights where there is absolutely no synchronization," said Fassman, who lives in Huntington Town. Driving north on Route 110, he said, "you stop at one light and wait. Then you go a few feet and stop and wait again."
We told the state Department of Transportation of his concern that traffic signals were out of sync.
"NYSDOT engineers looked into this immediately and determined that the recent unusual traffic delays on NY Route 110 northbound, north of the Northern State Parkway, were caused by a combination of excessive holiday traffic and traffic signal coordination that was not working properly," spokeswoman Eileen Peters said in an email on New Year's Eve. "The signal coordination was modified and should now be working properly."
Fassman said he will keep us posted if it's not.
The work on Route 110 began more than two years ago after a year of work on a new parkway bridge. Fassman conceded that "overall, it's been a great job. There haven't been a lot of delays."
The work is scheduled for completion in mid-May. Four months and counting.