BicycleLaw.com Updates for August 31, 2010

News:

City: Cyclists continue to improve Asheville's bike access
Asheville Citizen-Times: City: Cyclists continue to improve Asheville's bike access

STAFF REPORTS • A...
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St. Petersburg police ticket 16 bicyclists as safety campaign be
The St. Petersburg Times: St. Petersburg police ticket 16 bicyclists as safety campaign begins By Andy Boyle, Ti...
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Cycling: Help needed to spur bicycle service on trains
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Cycling: Help needed to spur bicycle service on trains

Saturday, August 28, 2010 B...
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One year later, cyclist killed in confrontation remembered
The Toronto Star: One year later, cyclist killed in confrontation remembered

Published On Sun Aug 29 2010 Je...
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Road Rights:

Road Rights- Keep Your Cool
How to handle an encounter when you’re unjustly pulled over

By Bob Mionske Most people don’t fol...
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Road Rights- The Messages We Send
If you ride near pedestrians, you may be doing the rest of us a disservice. By Bob Mionske I was returning ...
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Road Rights- Listen Up
Can you legally wear headphones while riding? The answer might surprise you.

By Bob Mionske One of the more ...
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Comments (Comment Moderation is enabled. Your comment will not appear until approved.)
I strongly disagree with your assertion "your only recourse will be to ask the officer to cite you" in Road Rights - Keep Your Cool. We (a cycling advocacy org) have had a lot of success in writing to the Chief of Police and getting officers understanding of the law corrected.
# Posted By Barry Childress | 8/31/10 12:16 PM
Barry, that's a good point, and I would urge you to make that point on the Bicycling Magazine responses to the column as well.

That said, what we were specifically addressing is the question of what to do when you know the officer is wrong on the law, and at that moment, the officer is giving you an order that you know to be wrong. (Note, however, that many states empower officers to direct traffic contrary to what traffic law requires when traffic safety or traffic control necessitates the officer's orders; for example, an officer may direct traffic to proceed through a red light. Be careful not to run afoul of an officer's traffic safety authority when challenging an officer's interpretation of the law).

Talking with the Chief of Police is something you can do to rectify the situation later, but at that moment, your only options are to convince the officer that s/he is wrong on the law, obey the officer's order, or ask to be cited (if the officer insists that you are wrong and if you don't want to obey an order that you know to be wrong).

Yes, later you can discuss the problem with police brass, but at that moment, you have a limited set of options. What we are saying is that instead of obeying an order you know to be wrong, and instead of getting into an argument you will lose, a third option for cyclists is to accept a citation and fight it later, in court,.
# Posted By Rick Bernardi | 8/31/10 1:41 PM
Rick, Nice comment but even if cited you still have to obey an order you know to be wrong.

Talking to your local advocacy group or filling a complaint later are better options then going to court, IMHO.
# Posted By Barry Childress | 8/31/10 3:40 PM
The question here is what do you do at that moment when the officer is telling you to get off the road (or whatever it is the officer is saying)? Talking to your advocacy group doesn't address the officer's order. At that moment, you must either comply with the officer's order, or refuse to comply. We are saying that asking for a ticket is better than getting into an argument that you cannot win.

Re, obeying an order, we've had a lot of controversy over this one in the past (see Bob's article "When The Cop Says Stop"). We are not suggesting that cyclists disregard orders, even unlawful orders (which by the way, are not enforceable). What we are suggesting is that accepting a citation rather than comply with an unlawful order is one way to refuse to comply with an unlawful order. Certainly, later you can register the appropriate complaints, but at that moment, on the roadside, you have to decide how far you are willing to go to stand up for your rights. If you do not want to comply with an order that you believe is wrong (and you really have to know the law well to take this stance), it is better to ask for a citation than to let the disagreement escalate into a confrontation that the officer is guaranteed to win.

Of course, a cyclist could also just comply, and later register the appropriate complaints. By no means are we urging cyclists to ask for tickets in stead of complying at that moment and then complaining later. Instead, we are just urging cyclists to keep within the parameters of what the law allows-- either change the officer's mind (if you can), comply, or contest it later in court (and as you add, make the appropriate complaints later), but under no circumstances should cyclists escalate a disagreement with the officer's interpretation of the law into an argumentative conflict with the officer, because that has the potential to turn out very badly for the cyclist.
# Posted By Rick Bernardi | 8/31/10 4:07 PM
Example: Let's say that I'm riding on a street that has cars parked at the curb, and the lane is just wide enough outside of the door zone for one motor vehicle. My choice is to ride in the door zone and "share the lane," or to take the lane. Knowing the dangers of the door zone, and knowing that the law requires me to ride only as far to the right as is safe, I choose to take the lane. An officer stops me and tells me to ride "as far to the right as possible." I tell the officer "That is not what the law says; the law says I don't have to ride to the right when it is hazardous to do so." The officer says if I don't ride as far to the right as possible, he will ticket me.

At that moment, my best options are to leave the lane (either by riding in the door zone, or moving to the sidewalk), or to accept a ticket.

This is what we are getting at in the article
# Posted By Rick Bernardi | 8/31/10 4:27 PM
I could NOT believe my eyes when I read Bob Mionske's article on ear bud wearing (page 34 of the October issue). You have GOT to be kidding me. On every ride, training or orgainzed, my life is put in danger by someone wearing ear buds and listening to anything but what's going on around them. "On your left" is the LAST thing they hear never mind approaching cars etc. You can NOT hear what is going on around you wearing ear buds no matter what Bob thinks. No, it's not illegal... it's STUPID and DANGEROUS.
If Bicycling has any integrity, Bob will print a retraction to that outragous article. Where did you find this whack job writer!!!
# Posted By Earl | 10/3/10 3:02 PM