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Old 04-21-08, 10:21 PM   #1
tdister
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Plain clothes bike cop + Moto to curb road rage

In my area, and in my experience, more than a few drivers show road rage tendencies toward cyclists.

It is mostly just intimidation but I have been hit with mirrors on 2 occasions and I'm 99% sure it was on purpose. This goes with throwing cans and who knows what else, threats, honks, people getting out of cars to approach cyclists threateningly... It may or may not have to do with riding style, lane position or whatever, but I am hoping to keep the conversation away from these aspects.

My proposal: Have police in plain clothes and on "regular" bikes riding streets being shadowed by either patrol cars or motorcycles a street over or something. Cyclist officer is on a 40/45 mph multilane road, I suggest this as it seems to be were most incidents occur (in some instances these are the slowest/least traveled roads available) among other reasons. Cyclist officer could radio to motorized cop to pull over and ticket/arrest any offenders. This would hopefully be more as a campaign on this exact subject of road rage against cyclists rather than looking for expired tags and what not, but not sure how that would work out.

Put the story on the news and papers along with some quick education of cyclist right to roads and lanes. Do you think it would help curb such behavior? Anyone know of any areas that are or have tried this? I am considering this as a serious local proposal, so help me out. Thanks.

Last edited by tdister; 04-21-08 at 11:32 PM.
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Old 04-21-08, 10:40 PM   #2
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My proposal: Have police in plain clothes and on "regular" bikes riding streets being shadowed by either patrol cars or motorcycles a street over or something.

I actuially hope that gilded ponies would descend from the heavens to clear my paths.

Hoping on cops is equally foolish.
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Old 04-21-08, 10:45 PM   #3
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It may or may not have to do with riding style, lane position or whatever but I am hoping to keep the conversation away from these aspects.
Location: Austin
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Old 04-21-08, 10:51 PM   #4
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My proposal: Have police in plain clothes and on "regular" bikes riding streets being shadowed by either patrol cars or motorcycles a street over or something. Cyclist officer is on a 40/45 mph multilane road, I suggest this as it seems to be were most incidents occur (in some instances these are the slowest/least traveled roads available) among other reasons. Cyclist officer could radio to motorized cop to pull over any offenders. This would hopefully be more as a campaign on this exact subject of road rage against cyclists rather than looking for expired tags and what not, but not sure how that would work out.
So today we want the police on our side. What a refreshing change.
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Old 04-21-08, 10:57 PM   #5
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I want the cops on the side of public safety. Other than being of little to no direct help, I haven't had any issues with them.

DevilsGT2 Yes, I am in Austin (actually just very near, so it would not actually be Austin police). What of it? And it's not that the quoted subjects aren't valid, but they have been beaten to death and was hoping for maybe a change of conversation.

Does anyone have anything productive to add?

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Old 04-21-08, 11:02 PM   #6
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could make for an interesting sting operation. the officers would need to ride their bikes to the letter of the law to obtain good results.
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Old 04-21-08, 11:03 PM   #7
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I've often thought that bike cops only patrolling bike paths was kind of a wasted opportunity. I think it's a good idea, to be honest, but good luck getting the cops to agree.
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Old 04-21-08, 11:18 PM   #8
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Yes, actually getting cops on the street will be the hard part. That and making sure they are interpreting the laws accurately.

I have already implemented a less than perfect campaign to hopefully help, but I need a better understanding of how the system works. We need reporting of incidents which, from talking with groups of cyclists, basically never happens. They might report once, but the lack of any attempt at help stops any future effort.

Squeaky wheels get grease. Mayor or direct to the police? Council meetings? (rhetorical at this stage) I am going to speak with a family friend who ran for mayor and is a lawyer and cyclist (though I think he sticks to shoulders of HWY's mostly) for some pointers.
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Old 04-22-08, 05:18 AM   #9
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This seems to be an excellent idea. Possibly more effective to present the concept as a way to tag reckless and aggressive drivers in general. Plain clothes motorcyclist would work, too, probably tagging the same jerks.

I know there's lots of emphasis on educating the public and on educating cyclists. Educating the police would be possibly more effective in the long run.
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Old 04-22-08, 05:22 AM   #10
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My personal experience is that cops don't like cyclists, and wouldn't really be willing to help. Their idea of cyclists safety is keeping your bike on a trail, or better yet, in the garage, or better yet, in the garBage.

Of 3 close calls in the last 3 years, 2 were with the same police lt. from my own city, and at least one was on purpose.
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Old 04-22-08, 05:34 AM   #11
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My personal experience is that cops don't like cyclists, and wouldn't really be willing to help. Their idea of cyclists safety is keeping your bike on a trail, or better yet, in the garage, or better yet, in the garBage.

Of 3 close calls in the last 3 years, 2 were with the same police lt. from my own city, and at least one was on purpose.
I would say my experience is not that cops don't like cyclists, many just don't know the law as it concerns bicycles.
Most cops I contact about dangerous drivers first questions are always about what was I doing wrong. Where was I riding, was I in the (non-existant) bike lane, etc. Just for the record in Wisconsin we have a 3 foot passing law for bikes and it doesn't matter where you are in the lane, the passing car is supposed to give you at least 3 feet. It's almost never enforced, even with video evidence of an usafe pass.
My first goal is to get the police to understand the bicycle related laws, then I can start hoping for sting operations.

But there are good cops out there. I just finished taping a segment for a local police department's cable show about the 3 foot passing law we have in Wisconsin. I also have other projects in the works with this department, so there's always hope.
Good luck with your idea and keep us up to date
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Old 04-22-08, 06:08 AM   #12
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My personal experience is that cops don't like cyclists, and wouldn't really be willing to help. Their idea of cyclists safety is keeping your bike on a trail, or better yet, in the garage, or better yet, in the garBage.

Of 3 close calls in the last 3 years, 2 were with the same police lt. from my own city, and at least one was on purpose.

Sure it was.
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Old 04-22-08, 06:32 AM   #13
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maddyfish, you have a violence-prone police lieutenant in your town trying to hurt you?
it would be safest to move elsewhere if that's the case as it's not worth the risk.
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Old 04-22-08, 08:21 AM   #14
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My personal experience is that cops don't like cyclists, and wouldn't really be willing to help. Their idea of cyclists safety is keeping your bike on a trail, or better yet, in the garage, or better yet, in the garBage.

Of 3 close calls in the last 3 years, 2 were with the same police lt. from my own city, and at least one was on purpose.
My personal experience is that cops are just mindless thugs, not to be trusted at all.
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Old 04-22-08, 08:45 AM   #15
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My personal experience is that cops are just mindless thugs, not to be trusted at all.
Lots of people think that, until they need one.

I have a lot of respect for the police, if only because they can make my life miserable if I don't They do a tough, thankless job, for very little money, and while not perfect, in my experience, manage to maintain a fairly professional demeanour in the face of some pretty severe provocation. (YMMV, natch). I think we should cut them a little slack, and maybe they'll do the same for us.
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Old 04-22-08, 09:13 AM   #16
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In most important ways, your average police officer is very similar to the average poster here.

Tdister's suggestion, and variations thereof, could not only make a positive difference for cycling safety and advocacy, but also provide cops with a little fun and exercise.
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Old 04-22-08, 09:18 AM   #17
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Lots of people think that, until they need one.

I have a lot of respect for the police, if only because they can make my life miserable if I don't They do a tough, thankless job, for very little money, and while not perfect, in my experience, manage to maintain a fairly professional demeanour in the face of some pretty severe provocation. (YMMV, natch). I think we should cut them a little slack, and maybe they'll do the same for us.
Ditto. Frankly every time I have ever been stopped, it has been a very professional situation, and indeed I was clearly in the wrong.

However apparently things are not always so positive with some situations... as exemplified by the events in this thread... Student arrested during Minneapolis CM found Not Guilty

So I am not exactly ready to brand every cop as "good," but certainly it is a tough job.
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Old 04-22-08, 10:07 AM   #18
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You might consider something to educate the police, cyclists, and motorists. The League of Illinois Bicyclists is getting good police participation in a program to train officers on bicycling issues. http://bikelib.org/enforcement/index.htm

The program includes Traffic Violation Warnings officers give to both cyclists and motorists. http://bikelib.org/enforcement/polic...mphlet2007.pdf

Austin has several active advocacy groups that might be able to work with police on a similar program.
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Old 04-22-08, 10:22 AM   #19
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It seems like a good idea.

I would prefer an unmarked car as the backup, and on the same street, close enough to render assistance if needed. I don't favor the idea of pulling an aggressive driver over when he's a mile down the road. The overall impression on the bad actors (and witnesses in other cars) will be strongest if the traffic stop happens almost immediately.

Also, it'd be preferable to keep the cyclist officer out of the stop. Let him ride on, and have the officer in the unmarked car issue the tickets and address the infraction. The officer on the bike will be vulnerable enough as it is! Why expose him to future retribution from the worst of the offenders?
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Old 04-22-08, 10:38 AM   #20
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It's a great idea, but LE will not go for it as the only way to enforce an ordinance or ticket someone is to actually pull them over. Noone will voluntarily stop for an unmarked bike cop.

The best way is for marked LE on bikes to actually pull over motorists and issue tracked warnings for close calls and tickets for accidents.

On another note, I thought Austin was bike friendly?
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Old 04-22-08, 10:42 AM   #21
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I've often thought that bike cops only patrolling bike paths was kind of a wasted opportunity. I think it's a good idea, to be honest, but good luck getting the cops to agree.
We've got them all over our Downtown, here. (Here being Columbus, Ohio.) As well as a group from Parks and Recreation policing the MUPs, and people from the Chamber of Commerce, all on bikes.
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Old 04-22-08, 10:53 AM   #22
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I thought Austin was bike friendly?
All the times I've cycled there it seemed so. Drivers overall were much more laid back then anywhere else I've spent time - speed limits were generally followed (in city, rural is different). It did seem though that many cyclists still ride on the sidewalk and some of the sidewalks were in terrible condition. In my many trips up/down Lamar I never once encountered another cyclist on the road.

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Old 04-22-08, 11:23 AM   #23
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It's a great idea, but LE will not go for it as the only way to enforce an ordinance or ticket someone is to actually pull them over. Noone will voluntarily stop for an unmarked bike cop.

The best way is for marked LE on bikes to actually pull over motorists and issue tracked warnings for close calls and tickets for accidents.

On another note, I thought Austin was bike friendly?
Didn't read the OP did you... the idea is for unmarked cops on bikes as decoys; marked cops on motorcycles do the actual "pulling over."

Austin is supposed to be generally bike friendly, the area just outside of Austin may not be quite as friendly... even Lance had run-ins with locals who tend to feel if you ain't in a pickup truck and wearing levis, you ain't *****. Texas attitude... I was raised in Texas, I know the attitude.
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Old 04-22-08, 11:34 AM   #24
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Entrapment.
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Old 04-22-08, 11:40 AM   #25
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I think that using an undercover bike cop is overkill and, frankly, not really necessary. All you need is: (1) an unmarked patrol car to cruise appropriate areas at appropriate times; (2) a media campaign to inform drivers that biker harassment is wrong and to encourage bikers to report it by cell phone (with license number and car description); and (3) a policy of following up on cell phone reports ASAP). I'm not even really concerned with the number of tickets issued - pulling someone over and giving them a warning (at least for a first offense) would be a decent deterrent.

And this could be done as part of a larger anti-road rage campaign, even.
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