Cycling and bicycle discussion forums. 
   Click here to join our community Log in to access your Control Panel  


Go Back   > >

Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

User Tag List

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 05-04-05, 08:25 PM   #1
trekets
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Bikes:
Posts: 109
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Pulled over for giving cop the finger

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?
trekets is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 08:37 PM   #2
Roody
Sophomoric Member
 
Roody's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Dancing in Lansing
Bikes:
Posts: 23,521
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 118 Post(s)
Stupid and disrespectful, yes; illegal, no. It's called freedom of speech. Also, police are authorized to enforce the law in the entire state, not just the local jurisdiction. Of course this cop was not enforcing the law. He was engaged in a private vendetta.
Roody is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 08:39 PM   #3
twahl
Tom (ex)Builder
 
twahl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Manassas, VA
Bikes: Specialized Allez
Posts: 2,814
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Whether he had cause to pull you over or not depends on local laws, but juristiction isn't what people think it is. Usually any peace officer in the same state can detain you. They may not be able to arrest you or cite you, but he can detain you and call the local juristiction to come and take over the scene.
__________________
Tom

"It hurts so good..."
twahl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 08:39 PM   #4
trekets
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Bikes:
Posts: 109
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
But some towns do have obsenity laws. Could I legally walk around town cursing at people in these towns? And wouldn't giving the finger fall into the same category?
trekets is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 08:39 PM   #5
Allister
Devilmaycare Cycling Fool
 
Allister's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Wynnum, Australia
Bikes: 1998 Cannondale F700
Posts: 3,819
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
A cop that gets angry that easily shouldn't be dealing with the public in any way. I'd be complaining to his superiors.
Allister is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 08:42 PM   #6
trekets
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Bikes:
Posts: 109
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Allister
A cop that gets angry that easily shouldn't be dealing with the public in any way. I'd be complaining to his superiors.
I was tempted to file a complaint, but I bicycle through this town frequently and I did not want to put myself in a situation in which I would be targeted.
trekets is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 08:46 PM   #7
twahl
Tom (ex)Builder
 
twahl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Manassas, VA
Bikes: Specialized Allez
Posts: 2,814
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by trekets
But some towns do have obsenity laws. Could I legally walk around town cursing at people in these towns? And wouldn't giving the finger fall into the same category?
Yes, it very well could fall into the same catagory. It's not assault, since assault is defined as a threat, but obsenity or vulgarity laws are a different matter. And Freedom of Speech doesn't apply in all circumstances. My freedom stops when it infringes on yours. Do you have the right to not be verbally abused? Applying a freedom of speech arguement suggests that you have the freedom to say whatever you want, and the person that you are verbally abusing has no right to not hear it.
__________________
Tom

"It hurts so good..."
twahl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 08:52 PM   #8
trekets
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Bikes:
Posts: 109
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by twahl
Yes, it very well could fall into the same catagory. It's not assault, since assault is defined as a threat, but obsenity or vulgarity laws are a different matter. And Freedom of Speech doesn't apply in all circumstances. My freedom stops when it infringes on yours. Do you have the right to not be verbally abused? Applying a freedom of speech arguement suggests that you have the freedom to say whatever you want, and the person that you are verbally abusing has no right to not hear it.

But do I have the right to meet a perceived threat or aggressive behavior (i.e. someone beeping at me and yelling at me over a loudspeaker) with an obsenity?
trekets is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 08:59 PM   #9
twahl
Tom (ex)Builder
 
twahl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Manassas, VA
Bikes: Specialized Allez
Posts: 2,814
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Dude was wrong, no doubt about that, but he still could have made life a little miserable for it. Perceived threat? People honk their horns all the time expressing their displeasure over something. Not sure how that constitutes a perceived threat. Loudspeaker? I'd have checked the car out real carefully at that point, not many people have loudspeakers installed in their cars...except for cop cars.

Situation was bad. Sometimes you only make it worse by escelating it. I had an 18-wheeler come up behind me a couple of weeks ago, and hit the horn well out (like 150 yards or more) behind me. 4 lane road, so first thought is "he can go around" but check of the mirror shows that he's in the front of a big bunch of traffic that's covering both lanes. I had the right to the lane, but it was also safe for me to move over and let the bunch of traffic go by, leaving me with clear road once they were gone. I could have held the lane, but it was reasonable for me to move over and let them go, making both my life and theirs easier.
__________________
Tom

"It hurts so good..."
twahl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 09:06 PM   #10
trekets
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Bikes:
Posts: 109
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by twahl
Dude was wrong, no doubt about that, but he still could have made life a little miserable for it. Perceived threat? People honk their horns all the time expressing their displeasure over something. Not sure how that constitutes a perceived threat. Loudspeaker? I'd have checked the car out real carefully at that point, not many people have loudspeakers installed in their cars...except for cop cars.

Situation was bad. Sometimes you only make it worse by escelating it. I had an 18-wheeler come up behind me a couple of weeks ago, and hit the horn well out (like 150 yards or more) behind me. 4 lane road, so first thought is "he can go around" but check of the mirror shows that he's in the front of a big bunch of traffic that's covering both lanes. I had the right to the lane, but it was also safe for me to move over and let the bunch of traffic go by, leaving me with clear road once they were gone. I could have held the lane, but it was reasonable for me to move over and let them go, making both my life and theirs easier.

I probably would have done the same thing in the situation you describe, but what made the situation I was in different was that the road I was on was narrow, I was travelling at I high rate of speed down a fairly steep, curvy, dangerous hill and the side of this road was covered with debris from nearby construction. In the same time that I would have had to slow down and safely get to the side I would have made it to the bottom which is the course I chose to take. Shouldn't the cop have understood this?
trekets is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 09:11 PM   #11
twahl
Tom (ex)Builder
 
twahl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Manassas, VA
Bikes: Specialized Allez
Posts: 2,814
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
He should have, but apparently didn't. I'm just suggesting that if he'd pulled you over for something, it wouldn't have held up, but your reaction might have given the judge an excuse to find otherwise.
__________________
Tom

"It hurts so good..."
twahl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 09:12 PM   #12
Dchiefransom
Senior Member
 
Dchiefransom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Newark, CA. San Francisco Bay Area
Bikes:
Posts: 6,201
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
The cop doesn't ride a bike, so he would not know how dangerous it is to ride close to the edge at that speed on a descent. Even if the right side was smooth and clean, you should be taking up the lane at 40mph.
Dchiefransom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 09:14 PM   #13
ultra-g
Retired Member
 
ultra-g's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Queens New York
Bikes: Bianchi Pisa, LeMond Poprad
Posts: 1,181
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Well, I don't know about NJ laws, but I picked up a NYC Bicycle Safety manual and the Police precinct in my neighborhood recently and it says clearly that Bicyclists must ride on the Right Side of the road.

Those critical mass people should pick up that brochure next time they complain that they're rights were violated. The NYPD can ticket you for way too many things.





Quote:
Originally Posted by trekets
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?
ultra-g is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 09:18 PM   #14
Dchiefransom
Senior Member
 
Dchiefransom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Newark, CA. San Francisco Bay Area
Bikes:
Posts: 6,201
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
On a fast descent, it's too dangerous to ride on the right side, and if there's no bike lane, he should be out in the lane at the speed limit.
Dchiefransom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 09:19 PM   #15
Allister
Devilmaycare Cycling Fool
 
Allister's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Wynnum, Australia
Bikes: 1998 Cannondale F700
Posts: 3,819
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by trekets
I was tempted to file a complaint, but I bicycle through this town frequently and I did not want to put myself in a situation in which I would be targeted.
So make another complaint. Eventually someone in charge will get the message and put the guy behind a desk, or better yet, looking for a new job. You shouldn't have to put up with that from anyone, let alone a cop.
Allister is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 09:19 PM   #16
trekets
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Bikes:
Posts: 109
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dchiefransom
The cop doesn't ride a bike, so he would not know how dangerous it is to ride close to the edge at that speed on a descent. Even if the right side was smooth and clean, you should be taking up the lane at 40mph.
I agree that I should be taking up the lane at that speed, but the law in this state (NJ) does not specifically allow for that. I believe it simply says something to the effect that bicyclists should stay as far to the right as possible. I know the law in some states says that you can take up the lane if you are traveling the same rate of speed as the traffic in the lane.
trekets is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 09:19 PM   #17
mooncricket
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Bikes:
Posts: 290
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
yelling cops, lecturing cops

yawn....

gimme a ticket or don't gimme a ticket, but please don't be an overbearing imbecile
mooncricket is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 09:20 PM   #18
Allister
Devilmaycare Cycling Fool
 
Allister's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Wynnum, Australia
Bikes: 1998 Cannondale F700
Posts: 3,819
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by ultra-g
Well, I don't know about NJ laws, but I picked up a NYC Bicycle Safety manual and the Police precinct in my neighborhood recently and it says clearly that Bicyclists must ride on the Right Side of the road.

Check the actual legislation. I'd guess it says something more like 'as far right as practicable', which is exactly where he was riding.
Allister is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 09:20 PM   #19
twahl
Tom (ex)Builder
 
twahl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Manassas, VA
Bikes: Specialized Allez
Posts: 2,814
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Aye, but he stated that his speed was 5 over the speed limit. The argument could easily be made that it was unsafe for him to ride to the right because he was exceeding the speed limit, ie: too fast for conditions.
__________________
Tom

"It hurts so good..."
twahl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 09:23 PM   #20
trekets
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Bikes:
Posts: 109
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by mooncricket
yelling cops, lecturing cops

yawn....

gimme a ticket or don't gimme a ticket, but please don't be an overbearing imbecile

That would have been a great reply to this cop, but I think he would have manufactured some excuse to take me in had I replied that way.
trekets is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 09:30 PM   #21
zonatandem
Senior Member
 
zonatandem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Tucson, AZ
Bikes: Custom Zona c/f tandem + Scott Plasma single
Posts: 10,858
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 28 Post(s)
SHARE (not hog) the road!
zonatandem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 09:32 PM   #22
trekets
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Bikes:
Posts: 109
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Allister
Check the actual legislation. I'd guess it says something more like 'as far right as practicable', which is exactly where he was riding.

You are right. I just checked the NJ Bicycle Law.

39:4-14.2, 39:4-10.11 Operating Regulations. Every person riding a bicycle, skateboarding, roller or inline skating should keep as near to the right of the roadway as practicable and may move left under any of the following situations: 1. To make a left turn from a left turn lane or pocket; 2. To avoid debris, drains or other hazardous conditions on the right; 3. To pass a slower moving vehicle; 4. To occupy any available lane when traveling at the same speed as other traffic; 5. To travel no more than two abreast when traffic is not impeded, but otherwise ride in single file. Every person riding a bicycle, skateboarding, roller or inline skating should stay in the same direction as vehicular traffic.

And I was surprised by #4. To occupy any available lane when traveling at the same speed as other traffic. But I wonder, does that mean I have to stay to the right of the lane I am travelling in or can I take up the lane if I am travelling at the same speed as other traffic?
trekets is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 09:36 PM   #23
Dchiefransom
Senior Member
 
Dchiefransom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Newark, CA. San Francisco Bay Area
Bikes:
Posts: 6,201
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
You can take up the entire lane.
Dchiefransom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 09:39 PM   #24
trekets
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Bikes:
Posts: 109
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by zonatandem
SHARE (not hog) the road!

What does that mean? Don't you have something more intelligent to add to the discussion?

I always try to stay to the right when possible, but am I hogging the road if I am travelling the speed limit or over the speed limit and avoiding debris?

If the speed limit is 30 mph and I am going 35 mph and car in front of me is only going 25 mph, should I consider him to be hogging the road?

Can a car towing a trailer is going 20 mph in a 40 mph zone be ticketed by the cops? Why should a bicyclist travelling 20 mph be treated any differently?
trekets is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-05, 09:51 PM   #25
AverageCommuter
..
 
Join Date: May 2005
Bikes:
Posts: 349
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Where I live there isn't a single road anywhere that is wide enough for a car and a bike to safely be in at the same time. I have no choice but to take the lane everywhere I go.
AverageCommuter is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:50 AM.