About a year ago I was coming home from a 30 mile ride and I was bicycling down Gorge Rd. which is a long hill that cuts down the palisades from Cliffside Park to Edgewater, NJ. I was going about 35 mph (5 mph over the speed limit) and there was a lot of debris on the side of the road and also some dangerous sewer grates so I took up the middle of the lane for the steep descent. I noticed a white car behind me in the Third Eye mirror I have attached to my helmet, but I was going fast enough that I did not think much of it and I was only about 8 car lengths behind a car in front of me. At the speed I was going I would have been to the bottom in another 15 or 20 seconds in any case, but the driver of the car behind me started beeping his horn and then started yelling on a loudspeaker for me to get to the side of the road. I assumed it was some rude kid and I instinctively gave him the finger. A siren and flashing red lights went on and I realized it was a cop in an unmarked car.
I pulled over to a safe part of the road at the bottom of the hill and an Edgewater cop jumped out and started screaming at me. He pointed his finger at me and said, “how dare you give a cop the finger”. I had trouble calming him down. I apologized for giving him the finger and I told him that I wouldn’t have given him the finger had I known he was a cop. He said I should not give anyone the finger. I told him I agreed with that, but I told him I often get harassed by kids in cars, or truck drivers, and other rude drivers and that occasionally I stick out my finger (I really flip the bird often, but I lied). I apologized over and over. He then said that I had no right to be in the middle of the road, that I should be as far to the right as possible. I told him that I know my rights and that I have a right to be out in the road to avoid debris and sewer grates on the side of the road. I told him that I was going over the speed limit and was not hindering traffic, but this only made him angrier. He asked me for my identification and got angrier still when I told him I did not have any. I was absolutely shocked by his display of anger, but he finally calmed down enough to let me go on my way. I realized later that I had given the Edgewater cop the finger on the stretch of road that was in the town of Cliffside Park. He actually pulled me over in Edgewater, but I’m not sure he had any cause to pull me over any way.
Is it illegal to give the finger? Can the police pull you over for an infraction that actually occurred in a town outside their jurisdiction?