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Old 10-14-06, 09:40 AM   #1
oboeguy
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Cops don't know the law

Long story short: yesterday, riding downhill into Englewood, NJ, taking the lane. Unmarked cop flashes lights, boxes me into the parking lane. Old timer, distinguished looking, like a police chief, tells me that I need to say as far right as possible. I opened my big mouth and told him he doesn't know the law and that it's as far right as practical. He wants nothing of that and tells me that I could cause an accident, never mind that 1) he boxed me into a dangerous spot and 2) had to go over the speed limit to do it (I was going downhill, remember) and 3) at my speed taking the lane is well within the interpretation of the actual law. WTF is it with these idiots?

The law, BTW:

Quote:
Every person riding a bicycle on a roadway shall ride as near to the right roadside as practicable exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.
Edit: two lanes each way, to boot!
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Old 10-14-06, 10:11 AM   #2
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I know it is totally irrelevant to the situation and the law, but I am curious if you were traveling close to the speed limit when this happened.
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Old 10-14-06, 10:16 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oboeguy
Long story short: yesterday, riding downhill into Englewood, NJ, taking the lane. Unmarked cop flashes lights, boxes me into the parking lane. Old timer, distinguished looking, like a police chief, tells me that I need to say as far right as possible. I opened my big mouth and told him he doesn't know the law and that it's as far right as practical. He wants nothing of that and tells me that I could cause an accident, never mind that 1) he boxed me into a dangerous spot and 2) had to go over the speed limit to do it (I was going downhill, remember) and 3) at my speed taking the lane is well within the interpretation of the actual law. WTF is it with these idiots?

The law, BTW:



Edit: two lanes each way, to boot!
Idiot?

He doesnt Understand the Law= ingnorant
Or possibly he was in a bad mood = Leo looking for someone take out his frustration on.

You stand on the street and argue with cop that is in a bad mood = ?

This is the kind of thing I wont let slide.

If an LEO tells me I am in violation of the law, and I disagree, I would find out for sure.
And I dont mean read the book and make my own interpretation.
Then if I could prove that I was right, I would insure that the LEO in question was corrected.

You have every right and some obligation to follow up on this.

I personaly read possible and practible the same.

It isnt possible for me to ride any farther to the right with out cars trying to pass me unsafley.
Or
It isnt practible for me to ride any farther to the right with out cars trying to pass me unsafley.

For some reason I like "possible" better.
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Old 10-14-06, 10:29 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
I know it is totally irrelevant to the situation and the law, but I am curious if you were traveling close to the speed limit when this happened.
Al
Indeed, I was.

Quote:
Originally Posted by R-Wells
Idiot?

He doesnt Understand the Law= ingnorant
Or possibly he was in a bad mood = Leo looking for someone take out his frustration on.
Idiot, yes. Claims I'm in complete violation of the law, but does two additional stupid things himself. One alone, maybe not idiot. I was pissy (feel bad for my ride partner that day) for a while but eventually let it go. Thought about it again today and figured it was post-worthy. I suppose I could have taken the guy's badge number, etc but I was so taken aback by the self-righteousness that after my fruitless attempt at retort, I shifted meekly into "yessir" and "nosir".
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Old 10-14-06, 10:33 AM   #5
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I know of other cyclists who have had a problems in Englewood, NJ. Some of the cops there don't know the law. I know of one cyclist who was pulled over for being in the left hand lane of Palisade Ave to make a left hand. 2 lanes in both directions. Was not holding up traffic. I know of another who was yelled at for taking the lane on Engle St/Grand Ave which is also 2 lanes one way. He was in the right lane travelling 22 mph and at points the lane is narrow with cars are parked on the right. The cop pulled up to him and yelled at him to get over further. When he said he was trying to avoid being doored, the cop yelled at him again "move over or get a summons".

I bicycle up Palisade Ave frequently. Was this the road you were going down?

I myself was pulled over by an unmarked car going down a hill in a town not far away.
http://75.126.17.35/showthread.php?t=104611
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Old 10-14-06, 10:35 AM   #6
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Yes, indeed, Pallisade it was. Thanks for the vindication.
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Old 10-14-06, 11:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oboeguy
Indeed, I was.



Idiot, yes. Claims I'm in complete violation of the law, but does two additional stupid things himself. One alone, maybe not idiot. I was pissy (feel bad for my ride partner that day) for a while but eventually let it go. Thought about it again today and figured it was post-worthy. I suppose I could have taken the guy's badge number, etc but I was so taken aback by the self-righteousness that after my fruitless attempt at retort, I shifted meekly into "yessir" and "nosir".

It is very post worthy.
And you dont need to have a badge # to follow up.

If you were indeed not violating a law I would not let it slide.

It would not take much time for you to visit a local LEO office and discuss the matter with someone.

The Cheif of Police in my town wants to know if any of his officers are being knuckleheads.
I will say he doesnt like it when I come in calling them all Idiots,but he does apreciate it when a concerned citizen takes the time to follow up on questionable behaviour of his officers.
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Old 10-14-06, 11:34 AM   #8
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I have usually been able to talk my way out of a cycling ticket, but I wonder if this is one instance where you should have insisted that a ticket be written... so you would have not only the badge number, but the time and location and code for the incident.

Then you take it up with a judge...
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Old 10-14-06, 11:51 AM   #9
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Obeying the immediate command of a cop is pretty much always the right thing to do, even when the cop is being an idiot. Then, call and ask to meet with a supervisor. That would take less time than fighting a summons the next time the cop sees you riding in the appropriate spot.
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Old 10-14-06, 11:55 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daily Commute
Obeying the immediate command of a cop is pretty much always the right thing to do, even when the cop is being an idiot. Then, call and ask to meet with a supervisor. That would take less time than fighting a summons the next time the cop sees you riding in the appropriate spot.
Yeah, I realized that after the guy insisted he was right, so I gave up arguing.
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Old 10-14-06, 01:10 PM   #11
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I had the same thing happen to me. Two lanes in my direction, I was on my road bike and attempting to go fast. I was going aboput the same speed as traffic, since in three blocks, only one car had passed me on the left. Cop gets on his bullhorn "Move to the right". I keep riding in the middle of the lane and wave him up to me.

We get into it. I tell him to get out the statute book and read to me where it says I have to ride to the right. He only quotes the first part of the statute about "as far to the right as practicable" but doesn't read the part about being able to take the lane if a car and a bike can't safely occupy the lane at the same time. I ask to him read the whole statute and he grudgingly agrees that that is what the statute says, but tells me I still have to ride to the right. I tell him "Then give me a ticket". He hems and haws and says something about not wanting to waste his time.

So even cops, who are supposed to know the law, are part of the "bikes shouldn't be on the road" attitude that most have towards bicyclists.

Don't expect cops to help you or be on your side.
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Old 10-14-06, 01:24 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by San Rensho

Don't expect cops to help you or be on your side.
I know to many "cops" to fall for this one.
There is damn sure some doofuses wearing badges,and there is some really good people wearing badges.
Dont expect all cops to know all the laws about everything.

I do Expect cops to help me and to be on my side if Im in the right.

If you guys keep letting them of the hook, they will continue their questionable behaviour.

Take the time to follow up, its not that hard to do.
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Old 10-14-06, 01:25 PM   #13
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Cops are motorists first, bicyclists never, usually.
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Old 10-14-06, 01:31 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R-Wells
If you guys keep letting them of the hook, they will continue their questionable behaviour.

Take the time to follow up, its not that hard to do.
Excellent point, one which I will keep in mind.
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Old 10-14-06, 01:35 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randya
Cops are motorists first, bicyclists never, usually.
I get all my info on Texas cycling laws from a Texas state Trooper who is an avid cyclist.

I thought cops on bicycles was getting pretty common?
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Old 10-14-06, 01:41 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R-Wells
I know to many "cops" to fall for this one.
There is damn sure some doofuses wearing badges,and there is some really good people wearing badges.
Dont expect all cops to know all the laws about everything. . . .
I agree. Folks, look around your office/workplace. I'd bet that most of the people are basically decent, but there are a few "doofuses" and power-hungry jerks. Cops are the same.
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Old 10-14-06, 01:41 PM   #17
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In San Diego County, we occasionally have similar issues with certain law enforcement officers, although the situation APPEARS to me to be improving steadily.
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Old 10-14-06, 01:42 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R-Wells
I personaly read possible and practible the same.

It isnt possible for me to ride any farther to the right with out cars trying to pass me unsafley.
Or
It isnt practible for me to ride any farther to the right with out cars trying to pass me unsafley.

For some reason I like "possible" better.
They're not. Possible makes no provisions for feasibility or effectiveness, while practicable does. For example, it may be possible for me to ride 1mm from the curb, but it's not feasible or effective.
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Old 10-14-06, 01:45 PM   #19
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"Practicable" is indeed the term used in most states, and it is the word we want, as opposed to "possible," or even "practical."
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Old 10-14-06, 01:48 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lyeinyoureye
They're not. Possible makes no provisions for feasibility or effectiveness, while practicable does. For example, it may be possible for me to ride 1mm from the curb, but it's not feasible or effective.
This is the official position of the city prosecutor in Ann Arbor, which the LAB laughably considers a "Bicycle Friendly" city. Here's what Assistant City Attorney Kristen D. Larcom said:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kristen D. Larcom, Ass't City Attorney, Ann Arbor, an LAB "Bicycle Friendly City"
. . . according to court decisions and to traffic law experts, the word practicable is defined as possible with the available means, a law that therefore requires a cyclist to ride as far right as possible without having to carry a shovel to fill in the potholes at the edge of the roadway. That’s what’s stated in the book.
Source, LAB Reform.

Edit. Here's a quote from a brief Ms. Larcom wrote:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kristen D. Larcom, Ass't City Attorney, Ann Arbor, an LAB "Bicycle Friendly City"
The bike ordinance cannot be interpreted to allow for defendant's (Ken Clark's) safety considerations. Applying the common definitions quoted above [the brief cites dictionary definitions of "near," "practical" and "practicable"] only permits construing the bike ordinance to require operation at the shortest distance from the right side of the road that the rider is physically capable of effecting.
So, a city can remain an LAB sanctioned "bicycle friendly" city even after that city says a cyclist's safety considerations are irrelevant. Even the LAB appears not to care.

More information on Ken Kifer's site.

Last edited by Daily Commute; 10-14-06 at 02:26 PM.
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Old 10-14-06, 02:02 PM   #21
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The lovely thing about this...
Quote:
the word practicable is defined as possible with the available means
Is that the claim of being a poor rider allows for much more space. Just make sure to swerve around cops!
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Old 10-14-06, 02:23 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by lyeinyoureye
They're not. Possible makes no provisions for feasibility or effectiveness, while practicable does. For example, it may be possible for me to ride 1mm from the curb, but it's not feasible or effective.
You are right they are not the same.

And I just meant I dont strugle with the difference.
If an a LEO tells me I need to ride as far to the right as possible, I simply say I am riding as far to the right as posible given the current circumstances.

I would question whether it is possible to ride 1mm from the curb safely?

It is feasable that you could ride 1mm from the curb.
I dont believe it is possible to ride 1mm from the curb safely.
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Old 10-14-06, 02:39 PM   #23
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Sounds to me like a well phrased letter to the editor of the local paper is in order. A call to a local news station asking if they would be interested in the story might be a good move, too.

Make sure your position is concrete before you do this.
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Old 10-14-06, 02:39 PM   #24
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This is what the dictionary says.


practicable. prac·ti·ca·ble 
Pronunciation: 'prak-ti-k&-b&l
Function: adjective
1 : capable of being put into practice or of being done or accomplished : FEASIBLE <a practicable plan>
2 : capable of being used : USABLE <a practicable weapon>
synonym see POSSIBLE
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Old 10-14-06, 02:50 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by San Rensho
I tell him "Then give me a ticket". He hems and haws and says something about not wanting to waste his time.
A police officer intimidating someone to cause alarm and wasting their time without legal purpose is harassment. Get a badge number and report.
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