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Old 09-10-07, 04:56 PM   #1
AEO
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Bicycle Police are useless!

Short Version:
So this morning on my commute I was nearly side swiped by a car, which there were a lot of witnesses including a bicycle police. I obviously sped up to catch this fellow because it seriously freaked me out and gave her a few choice words of my opinion, bicycle police catches up but just brushes it off like nothing. Says "use the bicycle lane", WTF! I'm apparently only allowed to use the bicycle lane, no matter what obstacle I encounter in it.

Long Version:
This place has bicycle lanes on both sides of the road. I was overtaking a few other cyclists who were using that lane. I was pretty much dead center in the right lane because I didn't want to freak out other cyclists as I was passing. At this point I was already ahead of the biker police. Now all of a sudden this car comes within inches of hitting me on her overtake.

Now before getting up to this point, let me illustrate how useless this so called 'police' is. He's stopped at a red, about 8 other folks on bikes run the red, what does he do? nothing, not even a "Stop! don't run that red."

I sprint up to catch her, she's stuck at the red. It's easy to catch people on this road with a bike because it's not well designed for traffic flow. I stop in front of her and start yelling at her that she nearly killed me. I tell her she came within inches (hand gesture for inches) of hitting me. Now I'm not any specialist in traffic laws, but aren't we supposed to pass within a safe margin, like 3 feet or 1 meter? She says "Get in the bicycle lane". This comment infuriated me so much that I kicked her bumper. (Don't really regret doing it either, no dent or even a scratch) If she was paying attention, she would have noticed that I was overtaking a few other people and that there was no room in the bicycle lane.
I'm basically stalling for time to have the bike cop catch up so he can deal with her.
So he notices the commotion, and catches up, pulls up along her driver side. I tell him she nearly killed me and asked if he witnessed it. He says "yeah, I saw it, you should have been in the bicycle lane". Now this comment REALLY irked me. I told him that as a cyclist I am allowed to use the vehicle lane if there are obstacles in my path that would make it unsafe to be in the bicycle lane, and that she's not supposed to pass that close. His retort? "Move along". Jaw dropping unbelievable. I've never been so appalled at the police. Police never even gave her a word of warning.
The part that really annoyed me was that Law enforcement, who is supposed to uphold the law, and you know, generally caution people about reckless behavior, did jack squat. A few buzzings I can deal with, Police not doing their job, what the heck am I paying taxes for?

Now obviously me yelling through out this whole ordeal didn't help the situation, but I was pretty annoyed for the entire week about people buzzing me and tail gating me that I exploded.
Ok, that's the end of my rant.
The only thing I regret not doing? Making a huge scene out of this. Getting the driver's license plate and officer's badge number. It was morning, I'm not a very morning person.

* I retract my statement that police in TO are any good, they suck, useless, utterly useless.
** I now understand the whole idea of "out with bicycle dedicated lanes".


Here is where it happend. These are not from today, I took these a while ago.


Driver overtakes me here...


And I catch up to her here.
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Last edited by AEO; 09-10-07 at 05:03 PM.
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Old 09-10-07, 04:58 PM   #2
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Seriously man eff the lanes!!!
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Old 09-10-07, 05:52 PM   #3
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In any encounter such as this, you should politely ask for the officer's name and badge number. Armed with these, you can then report their butt to their superiors. Depending on the department, they'll either blow you off, or the officer will have their attitude adjusted.
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Old 09-10-07, 06:09 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by AEO View Post
This comment infuriated me so much that I kicked her bumper. [snip]
The part that really annoyed me was that Law enforcement, who is supposed to uphold the law, and you know, generally caution people about reckless behavior, did jack squat.
So are you saying he should have issued you a ticket?

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A few buzzings I can deal with
If you're going to ride, expect that.

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In any encounter such as this, you should politely ask for the officer's name and badge number. Armed with these, you can then report their butt to their superiors. Depending on the department, they'll either blow you off, or the officer will have their attitude adjusted.
You've never actually done that, have you? In my own personal experience, the cop will write you a ticket for the previously unacknowledged infraction. Miss Motorist may or may not have copped a ticket for her actions, but it's highly likely that Mr. Hothead would have as well.

Expect motorists to disrespect your rights, out of ignorance. It's not going to change any time soon. If I kicked every car that cut me off on my motorcycle, I'd need a new pair of boots every month.
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Old 09-10-07, 06:16 PM   #5
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^ & there it is, the vox of reason.
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Old 09-10-07, 06:34 PM   #6
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You've never actually done that, have you?.
Yes, I have. However, I don't go around kicking other people's bumpers when they were wrong.
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Old 09-10-07, 06:37 PM   #7
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Well no matter what you do, you're not likely to get anywhere or get much sympathy from any police if you take off like a madman in road rage to catch up with the driver who made the mistake.
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Old 09-10-07, 06:49 PM   #8
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So are you saying he should have issued you a ticket?

Expect motorists to disrespect your rights, out of ignorance. It's not going to change any time soon. If I kicked every car that cut me off on my motorcycle, I'd need a new pair of boots every month.

Well, ticket or not, I honestly wouldn't have minded her and I getting a ticket, as long as it shows that you can't drive like an ass and expect to get away with it all the time. Filing a complaint with police doesn't seem to work here, you have to get media involved, shame really.
Thanks for you input, I feel a lot better now. It's really the first time I've ever confronted a motorist with some violence, usually I just yell at them for being a ******. But this one I was expecting the police to do something about it, because he clearly saw it happen. Obviously I was wrong to think that.
Well, there's always next time. I'll be sure to pocket my notepad and pen. Usually I do, but I forgot it today.
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Old 09-10-07, 07:00 PM   #9
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I'm not saying that you're not right to be angry. But that cop probably pulls at least a 4 hour shift on his bike, and has seen it enough (probably experienced it as well) that he can't even be bothered.

I hate to say it, but if you're in and out of the bike lane, you may be making a hazard of yourself. Having the right of way means very little when you get hit. Exercise your right to the road, but temper it with caution.
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Old 09-10-07, 07:09 PM   #10
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One question - did you check behind that no cars were approaching before you swung out of the bike lane? Clearly the driver didn't follow the 'no overtaking unless it's safe to do so' rule, but did you?
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Old 09-10-07, 07:10 PM   #11
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You made a pass outside of a bike lane and were nearly hit by a car. If you had known how far the car was behind, that pass would not have been made. However, you did not know how far the car was behind and made the pass even though it was risky.

Here's what to do next time.

Buy a Take A Look mirror and attach it to your glasses. Lean to use it and whenever you intend to make a pass on the outside of a bike lane, (placing you in the traffic lane) look in the mirror and see if there is traffic close behind. Don't make the assumption they will give you an inch so slow down, hold your position behind the slower cyclist. Once the traffic clears (determined by using the mirror) pass the cyclist by riding in the traffic lane.

All of this could have been avoided if you used a Take A Look Mirror. Now that you know where you stand with the law, don't become a statistic.

Regards.
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Old 09-10-07, 07:39 PM   #12
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use the bike lane. they are there for a reason. doesn't matter that you were slowed down and
wanted to leave the lane and pass other cyclists. you chose a bad time to do so.

your fault.

you are lucky to have bike lanes 99% of us don't have that luxury.

fail
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Old 09-10-07, 07:51 PM   #13
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In short...."technically, everyone is right". It's easy to make someone else wrong, it's easy to brand an entire group of people as "useless" because one person had one bad experience. It's easy to rant and gain other's empathy. It's hard to just say to yourself "well that person was a jerk!" and get on with what is really important, like your own life, family, friends and your ride. It's over, done, kaput. Stop driving with your rear-view mirror and get on with it.
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Old 09-10-07, 08:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AEO View Post


And I catch up to her here.
Is that the driver in the bike lane? That bike lane is useless when there are cars using them.
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Old 09-10-07, 08:12 PM   #15
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use the bike lane. they are there for a reason. doesn't matter that you were slowed down and
wanted to leave the lane and pass other cyclists. you chose a bad time to do so.

your fault.

you are lucky to have bike lanes 99% of us don't have that luxury.

fai
l
That particular bike lane is not a luxury. It's a death trap. It's in the door zone, a dangerous area for cyclists. It also appears to go to the right of a right turn lane, an even more dangerous area to be riding in.

That said, I agree that the OP probably made an illegal pass. The law requires the vehicle that's entering another lane to yield the right-of-way to other vehicles that are already in that lane. The burden of responsibility is always on the driver or cyclist who is changing lanes. I think the OP could have been ticketed for failure to yield, and the motorist probably did a good job of driving to avoid hitting him.
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Old 09-11-07, 06:28 AM   #16
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That said, I agree that the OP probably made an illegal pass. The law requires the vehicle that's entering another lane to yield the right-of-way to other vehicles that are already in that lane. The burden of responsibility is always on the driver or cyclist who is changing lanes. I think the OP could have been ticketed for failure to yield, and the motorist probably did a good job of driving to avoid hitting him.
I don't see anything he wrote that implies that he violated the right of way of another driver when moving out of the bike lane. I can easily imagine myself taking the lane to pass some cyclists 10 or more seconds before overtaking traffic would arrive, but not clearing the cyclists before the overtaking driver caught up to me. In fact, this has happened a few times on my commutes.

Cyclists are allowed to overtake other cyclists. They are also allowed to travel slower than the prevailing speed in a leftward lane as long as they are passing drivers in the rightward lane.

That said, I think it's quite possible that the police officer didn't see enough of the incident to instantly and justifiably conclude that the car driver's actions warranted intervention. Maybe the cyclist cut it a little close, and so did the driver, and the officer decided no harm, no foul. But certainly the officer was incorrect to point out the bike lane as the only place where the cyclist must be; this is exactly the type of marginalization that bike lane striping/stenciling opponents are concerned about.

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Old 09-11-07, 06:51 AM   #17
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I don't think the officer told him to get into the bike lane.
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Old 09-11-07, 06:58 AM   #18
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I don't see anything he wrote that implies that he violated the right of way of another driver when moving out of the bike lane. I can easily imagine myself taking the lane to pass some cyclists 10 or more seconds before overtaking traffic would arrive, but not clearing the cyclists before the overtaking driver caught up to me. In fact, this has happened a few times on my commutes.

Cyclists are allowed to overtake other cyclists. They are also allowed to travel slower than the prevailing speed in a leftward lane as long as they are passing drivers in the rightward lane.

That said, I think it's quite possible that the police officer didn't see enough of the incident to instantly and justifiably conclude that the car driver's actions warranted intervention. Maybe the cyclist cut it a little close, and so did the driver, and the officer decided no harm, no foul. But certainly the officer was incorrect to point out the bike lane as the only place where the cyclist must be; this is exactly the type of marginalization that bike lane striping/stenciling opponents are concerned about.
I was thinking the same thing. It's very possible there was plenty of clearance when the cyclist took the lane to pass the slower bikes. Then the impatient motorist came upon the cyclist and decided to pass, leaving insufficient clearance. Whether they intentionally went too close (to teach the cyclist a lesson) or were just sloppy, will never be known. Either way, since the the officer saw the pass they should have at least talked to the driver about it. And, if there are laws requiring a minimum passing clearance, as there are in NC, should have ticketed to reinforce the concept of safe driving.
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Old 09-11-07, 07:13 AM   #19
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.... I told him that as a cyclist I am allowed to use the vehicle lane if there are obstacles in my path that would make it unsafe to be in the bicycle lane, and that she's not supposed to pass that close. His retort? "Move along". ....
I think this is the mistake you are making. If there is an 'obstacle' in your way (other cyclists in this case, from the sounds of it...) you have no right to just swerve into the other lane of traffic to get around it; you must wait until it is safe to do so. When driving a motor vehicle, I can't just jump into the passing lane on an interstate for example, simply because someone in front slows down. I might add that at no point do you suggest that you SIGNALED your turn into the vehicle lane. My suspicion is you just dashed your butt into the lane of traffic. My sympathy for you is quite limited, and if you had been bumped, the cop would have given ya a good lesson in getting what you deserved.


People don't take lane changes seriously enough.

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Old 09-11-07, 07:34 AM   #20
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I don't think the officer told him to get into the bike lane.
The OP wrote:
Quote:
He says "yeah, I saw it, you should have been in the bicycle lane".
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Old 09-11-07, 07:38 AM   #21
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He didn't tell him to get into the bike lane. He told him that he should have been in the bike lane. There's a difference. Seems to me that the officer is pointing out that had he been in the bike lane, he would not have been buzzed by the motorist.
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Old 09-11-07, 07:39 AM   #22
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Soooo many of Toronto's BLs are in the doorzone, hateful things.
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Old 09-11-07, 07:50 AM   #23
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He didn't tell him to get into the bike lane. He told him that he should have been in the bike lane. There's a difference. Seems to me that the officer is pointing out that had he been in the bike lane, he would not have been buzzed by the motorist.
Seems to me that if the police enforced safe passing laws and educated the public about cyclists' road rights, rather than blaming the victims, the OP would not as likely have been buzzed by the motorist.

This of course assumes that the cyclist made a safe movement into the travel lane in the first place. But I'm willing to give the OP the benefit of the doubt for the sake of the discussion. If the police officer was unsure who was at fault, he should not have said anything.

This all goes back to the taboo about cyclists causing motorists to slow down. As long as violation of this taboo is seen as justification for the unlawful endangerment of cyclists, rather than addressing the unlawful endangerment, cyclists will remain marginalized, second class road users.
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Old 09-11-07, 08:04 AM   #24
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This of course assumes that the cyclist made a safe movement into the travel lane in the first place. But I'm willing to give the OP the benefit of the doubt for the sake of the discussion. If the police officer was unsure who was at fault, he should not have said anything.

And I am not. Before switching lanes one should (1) make sure that no other vehicles are rapidly approaching in that lane. (2) Signal to indicate that a lane change is imminent. I don't see any reference to this in the discussion. Why? because it didn't happen. (95% sure). My suspicion (and it is only that, but I am perfectly at liberty to make inferences based upon limited data, as the cop is also), is that the cyclist yahoo-ed his way into the left lane and got brushed back by someone who had the right of way.

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Old 09-11-07, 08:12 AM   #25
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And I am not. Before switching lanes one should (1) make sure that no other vehicles are rapidly approaching in that lane. (2) Signal to indicate that a lane change is imminent. I don't see any reference to this in the discussion. Why? because it didn't happen. (95% sure). My suspicion (and it is only that, but I am perfectly at liberty to make inferences based upon limited data, as the cop is also), is that the cyclist yahoo-ed his way into the left lane and got brushed back by someone who had the right of way.

It's good that we've cleared up our different assumptions.

I agree that a lateral movement should not be made when a driver is approaching too close to be able to slow down safely and reliably.

What we don't know at this point is whether this was a case where a driver did not have adequate opportunity to slow, or had plenty of opportunity, but chose not to. Hopefully the OP can chime in to give us some more information.

When I went cycling with my 13yo niece this summer, I had to tell her to get back into a bike lane to allow drivers to pass. She had safely left the bike lane because of debris and because we had been descending a hill at near the speed limit. As we started to climb, we slowed down a lot, and the bike lane became a lot cleaner, but she did not move over, and a driver slowed to follow behind us. After she moved back into the bike lane I explained that staying outside the bike lane was not dangerous or illegal, but could be considered rude if there was no valid operational reason not to use it to make overtaking easier.

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