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Old 08-05-05, 07:04 AM   #1
nick burns
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Interesting experience with police officer

On my commute home yesterday I was approaching a four-way stop sign traveling north in a very quiet neighborhood. I rarely ever encounter any traffic at this intersection, in fact I really can't understand why it warranted a four-way stop. Anyway, as I'm approaching, a police car arrives at the intersection from the west. He gets to the stop sign well before me and we make eye contact. I slow down and come to a stop and the officer still hasn't proceeded through the intersection. I'm track-standing obviously waiting for him to go & he finally gives me a wave and goes through. I gave him a wave back, but I got the distinct impression he was expecting me to ride through the stop sign in front of him as if it didn't apply to cyclists. I was certainly slowing down enough to make it obvious that I was planning to stop. I'm probably reading way too much into it, but the experience left me with a kind of strange feeling and I felt the need to share it with fellow cyclists.
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Old 08-05-05, 07:08 AM   #2
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He was seeing how long you could trackstand.....checkin yo skillz....
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Old 08-05-05, 07:34 AM   #3
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Or he was waiting for you to fall over and laugh...
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Old 08-05-05, 07:50 AM   #4
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I've always believed that putting a foot down was a clear signal to motorists that I am stopped and intend to stay that way. Maybe with your feet on the pedals the officer was confused and wasn't sure you really were stopped.
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Old 08-05-05, 08:10 AM   #5
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I ride fixed, and thus cannot coast- and I think it drives motorists nuts, since they often think I'm blowing a stop sign (as I back pedal while slowing)... and of course track standing is much easier...
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Old 08-05-05, 08:19 AM   #6
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it might have been a trap- I came up to a roundabout once a few years back in my car and there was a cop on a motorbike stopped/or rolling very slowly at the far side of the roundabout (on a small car park). As soon as I started off round the roundabout the sly **** accellerated round the roundabout at maximum speed. It was obvious that he was trying to use the superior acceleration of the bike to make out as though I failed to give way to him on the roundabout so he could hand out a fine. Luckily I smelled a rat and jammed on the brakes as soon as he started rolling onto the roundabout. He just shot round the roundabout past me and back onto the car-park to wait for another victim.
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Old 08-05-05, 10:24 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by filtersweep
I ride fixed, and thus cannot coast- and I think it drives motorists nuts, since they often think I'm blowing a stop sign (as I back pedal while slowing)... and of course track standing is much easier...
I ride fixed too. Franky I don't think drivers pay attention to pedaling speed, that is watch your spin rate or direction.

But I do unclip and put my foot down when a stop is required, especially if a car is present. Sure I can trackstand, but for me communication with other drivers is more important than the convienience of not unclipping. It send as clear message that you are stopping and waiting. A trackstand looks like you are poised to pounce at any second.

(There is a reason it is called a track stand not a road stand )

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Old 08-05-05, 10:28 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by royalflash
it might have been a trap.
There are a lot of good police officers out there. Many just want to make the roads safer and more friendly. I wouldn't be so cynical. I've had officers wave at me, chat, even escort in busy traffic.

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Old 08-05-05, 10:38 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
There are a lot of good police officers out there. Many just want to make the roads safer and more friendly. I wouldn't be so cynical. I've had officers wave at me, chat, even escort in busy traffic.

Al
This is probably a horrible generalization but I have a measure I call the Barney Fife Quotient. The bigger the officers mustache is the more like Barney Fife he is. At least that is my experience . Every nice police officer I have met has not had a mustache for some reason. I think we tend to get a bad impression of police because we tend to remember the jerks a lot more than we remember the nice ones who are in it for the right reason.

I second the foot down thing. Most drivers won't move through a stop sign until they see my foot go down so I just do it evertime now unless there is not a soul around.
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Old 08-05-05, 10:45 AM   #10
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I can see your point. I do the trackstand when on my road bike. For commuting, I ride my commuter, which is heavy, loaded with crap, and not good for trackstands. I'm not sure what the law is here but I always put a foot down at a stop when commuting.

It is unfortunate to say, but there are cops watching for a cyclist to blow a stop. I've seen cyclists blow stop signs and stop lights (without as much as a slowdown!). I guess I usually play it safe. Quick foot down, snap back in, and on my way.

Besides, I did fall over after doing a really long trackstand one day when riding by the Zoo. Must have been a couple hundred people who saw it!

I try to leave the trackstanding to the more coordinated cyclists!
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Old 08-05-05, 11:26 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
I ride fixed too. Franky I don't think drivers pay attention to pedaling speed, that is watch your spin rate or direction.

But I do unclip and put my foot down when a stop is required, especially if a car is present. Sure I can trackstand, but for me communication with other drivers is more important than the convienience of not unclipping. It send as clear message that you are stopping and waiting. A trackstand looks like you are poised to pounce at any second.

(There is a reason it is called a track stand not a road stand )

Al
Tend to agree about the foot down sending a clear message. Back in my motorcycle days I was required to take a course from the CHP... as part of a survey to reduce motorcycle accidents. At any rate, I was informed in the course that police often make judgements as to whether it was a complete stop based on a foot touching the ground.

I like track stands too... but I don't do them if there is another vehicle at a decision point.
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Old 08-05-05, 11:36 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by genec
Tend to agree about the foot down sending a clear message.
...
I like track stands too... but I don't do them if there is another vehicle at a decision point.
I like what Jobst Brand says in the Rec.Bicycles FAQ at the very end of (the also very interesting with good observations) "Bicycling in America" section:

"What to do? Don't fuel the flames. Don't return the rudeness that is
dished out. Take legal action where appropriate (and possible).
Don't posture in traffic drawing attention to some undefined
superiority to people who sit in cars. Don't balance on your bike or
ride in circles in front of cars waiting at a red light. Don't make
moves in traffic that are either discourteous, or at best, awkward but
legal. "


From:
http://draco.acs.uci.edu/rbfaq/FAQ/6.1.html

The point is that often times it is better to go beyond what is minimally required legally and step up and be an overly courteous user of the roadways. Maybe you feel like you are the only one, but even if your goodwill rubs off on 1 of every thousand others, its better than zero or more likely perpetuating negative stereotypes.

Al
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Old 08-05-05, 12:04 PM   #13
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Just to clarify a bit, the officer arrived at the intersection well before I did and had plenty of time to proceed through while I was in the process of slowing down. I have no doubt he saw me slowing down long before I got to the stop sign. I was surprised that he waited as long as he did, which is why I did the trackstand. I fully expected him to just go ahead through before me and then I could have brought myself back up to speed and proceeded through. I wasn't trying to be showy or rude or whatever, he just caught me off guard.

I still think he expected me to ignore the stop sign as if it was meant for cars only. I've read similar posts were people describe how some motorists wave them through or hesitate at intersections as if they think cyclists aren't required to obey stop signs. The fact that it was a police officer is what threw me for a loop.

Who knows, maybe he was trying to set me up, but I kind of doubt it.
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Old 08-05-05, 01:26 PM   #14
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I read your thread regarding your experience with a police officer. I am a serving traffic officer with the Leicestershire Constabulary in the UK. As far as i can see from the details you gave there appeared to be some confusion regarding the right of way at the intersection before the Police officer finally waved you on. Police drivers are encouraged NOT to wave people on or flash them to let them proceed. This has proven to cause confussion and ultimately accidents. Most people including police officers do wave people on as its a perfectly normal response but in your case i think the officer may have been just following procedure.
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Old 08-05-05, 01:45 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by creative546
Nick
I read your thread regarding your experience with a police officer. I am a serving traffic officer with the Leicestershire Constabulary in the UK. As far as i can see from the details you gave there appeared to be some confusion regarding the right of way at the intersection before the Police officer finally waved you on. Police drivers are encouraged NOT to wave people on or flash them to let them proceed. This has proven to cause confussion and ultimately accidents. Most people including police officers do wave people on as its a perfectly normal response but in your case i think the officer may have been just following procedure.
Well, actually he didn't wave me through, it was the kind of "thanks" wave as he went through.

I see your point, though, and you're probably correct. Thank you for your response.
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Old 08-05-05, 02:05 PM   #16
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If one has the right of way and you are not holding up traffic behind you, are you legally required to go? I've seen folks stop at stop signs in quiet neighborhoods with no other cars behind or around and do it for a little break, to sip a coffee, check a map, etc. Just a thought.

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Old 08-05-05, 02:12 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creative546
Nick
I read your thread regarding your experience with a police officer. I am a serving traffic officer with the Leicestershire Constabulary in the UK. As far as i can see from the details you gave there appeared to be some confusion regarding the right of way at the intersection before the Police officer finally waved you on. Police drivers are encouraged NOT to wave people on or flash them to let them proceed. This has proven to cause confussion and ultimately accidents. Most people including police officers do wave people on as its a perfectly normal response but in your case i think the officer may have been just following procedure.
is it also UK police procedure to try and entrap people into traffic offences? it was in the UK that the event I referred to above happened. Nice that you have nothing better to do.
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Old 08-05-05, 08:14 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
I like what Jobst Brand says in the Rec.Bicycles FAQ at the very end of (the also very interesting with good observations) "Bicycling in America" section:

"What to do? Don't fuel the flames. Don't return the rudeness that is
dished out. Take legal action where appropriate (and possible).
Don't posture in traffic drawing attention to some undefined
superiority to people who sit in cars. Don't balance on your bike or
ride in circles in front of cars waiting at a red light. Don't make
moves in traffic that are either discourteous, or at best, awkward but
legal. "


From:
http://draco.acs.uci.edu/rbfaq/FAQ/6.1.html

The point is that often times it is better to go beyond what is minimally required legally and step up and be an overly courteous user of the roadways. Maybe you feel like you are the only one, but even if your goodwill rubs off on 1 of every thousand others, its better than zero or more likely perpetuating negative stereotypes.

Al

I'll agree that it can be advantageous to put a foot down at a stop sign (even though I rarely do), and most of what's quoted above make sense, but but I can't think of any logical reason why I shouldn't track-stand while waiting at a red light.

-Trevor
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Old 08-05-05, 08:25 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by filtersweep
I ride fixed, and thus cannot coast- and I think it drives motorists nuts, since they often think I'm blowing a stop sign (as I back pedal while slowing)... and of course track standing is much easier...
The car equivalent are these spinning hubcabs. Gives you a strong optical illusion that the car is still in motion.
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Old 08-05-05, 08:40 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrevorInSoCal
I'll agree that it can be advantageous to put a foot down at a stop sign (even though I rarely do), and most of what's quoted above make sense, but but I can't think of any logical reason why I shouldn't track-stand while waiting at a red light.

-Trevor
Agree. The problem I find here in DC is that most cyclists will just run through a stop sign right in front of any vehicles waiting their turn. I suspect that most motorists are now conditioned to expect this behavior and don't know what to make of a cyclist moving very slowly or one in a track stand.
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Old 08-06-05, 07:25 AM   #21
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You messed with the cop's head by not puttinga foot down. I've done the same to officers here, much to their confusion, especially the bike cops.
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Old 08-06-05, 08:04 AM   #22
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I would also agree with "noisebeam" and "va cyclist" - why leave anything to chance. If you feel at all as if you were being "set-up"(and I am guessing not), why push the issue ? Life's too short - avoid the "confilct" (unless that is your purpose in life) and get on with the ride.

BTW, my son is a police officer (he also concurs with the policy against "waving" motorists/cyclists on) ..... he doesn't have a moustache. He cycles with me whenever his schedule permits.


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Old 08-06-05, 12:01 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrevorInSoCal
I'll agree that it can be advantageous to put a foot down at a stop sign (even though I rarely do), and most of what's quoted above make sense, but but I can't think of any logical reason why I shouldn't track-stand while waiting at a red light.

-Trevor
Because a foot down commuicates clearly to all drivers, those behind you, those in x-traffic with the green that you are not going to move, you are not about to move, you are solidly in place. This overall reduces driver tension, even if slight, and makes the roads more pleasant and predicatable for all.

I understand that you are not going to move, that you are stable, etc. if trackstanding, but the average person does not understand cycling in traffic, let alone trackstanding. It is even more complicated by the fact that there are unfortunately a few cyclists who do trackstand while waiting for a gap to run a red light.

Al
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Old 08-07-05, 02:42 PM   #24
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I've had this experience many times, though not yet with a police car. Cars who are already stopped at a stop sign, when I'm still 50-75 feet from an intersection, waiting (I assume) to see what I do. Sometimes they seem surprised when I actually stop. I can't say I blame them; from the bicycles I've observed on my commute, very few of their operators pay attention to stop signs or red lights (or even ride on the correct side of the road).
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Old 08-07-05, 10:06 PM   #25
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I get this kind of well-intentioned but misguided courtesy a lot around here. I usually point at the stop sign to make it clear that I am playing by the rules.

Last winter I had a cop try to wave me through a stop sign this way. When I pointed at the stop sign he turned into the street I was on, rolled down his window, and started yelling at me that I should have gone through the stop sign ahead of him, that the cars coming the other way would have stopped for me (how does he know?), etc., etc. I called the local police station to complain because 1), I don't like being yelled at by people in cars, especially when my taxes pay their wages; 2) I think he could get a cyclist hurt or killed with his behavior; 3) I got chewed out by another cop in the same town the previous summer for rolling a stop sign, and I think the local police force ought to try and get together and be a litle more consistent.
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