Last friday I was riding back home from boardgame night at a friends. I had had 6 drinks over the past 4 hours so I was buzzed. (6'1" 175lb male) I was traveling down a 35mph divided road with two 11' lanes in either direction with a parking lane on the outside and a sidewalk beyond that. Lights are about every 3 blocks. Heading uptown on N. Rampart St in front of Louis Armstong Park for New Orleanians.
There's a wicked crack running along the right lane for a quarter mile, right at the edge of the door zone where I'd normally be riding so I was in the right wheel track of the right lane. I was going 20+-2mph and there was fairly heavy traffic. A red pickup had just buzzed me with <6" to spare when I head someone with a megaphone say "*unintelligible*road*unintelligible". Lo and behold its a squad car that pulls next to me and I say "what did you say?" He thought I was being a smart alec but I responded "No really, I didn't hear you" He wasn't happy and flashed the lights and siren. I found a clear spot in the parking lane and we had a chat. I'll try and recreate the conversation accurately.
Me:I couldn't hear you because of the wind, what did you say?
Cop:I said get outta the road. You're gonna get killed. You nearly got hit by that pick-up.
Me:Why didn't you go arrest him for an illegal pass instead of pulling me over? [gesturing angrily]
Cop:You shouldn't be riding in the road.
Me:It is illegal for me to ride to ride on the sidewalk within the city. I'm supposed to ride in the street.
Cop:Well...you should have a light.
Me:I have a light. [show him my still blinking SuperFlash]
Cop:Well I'm just worried about your safety.
Me:Where am I supposed to ride? [repeated three times]
Cop:I don't know! You know what, have a nice night. [drives off]
I was shocked that he was so reasonable but I was still pretty upset about it. A pedestrian who had seen the whole thing came up and asked if it was true that bikes aren't allowed on the sidewalk. He didn't believe it but he saw how vehement I was and how the cop hadn't been able to argue. I explained that bikes count as vehicles and aren't allowed on the sidewalk but are legally required to be ridden in the street as far right as possible. I said that bikes were like other slow moving vehicles like tractors, construction equipment or Mardi Gras floats in that respect. I was still upset so I went on about how the laws are never enforced because most people here ride their bikes very slowly as pedestrians so it's rare that someone actually follows the law. I said that it's understandable for someone going 5mph to be on the sidewalk for safety but I was going 20mph so it'd be really dangerous for me to ride there. I tried to make it seem reasonable that the cop wouldn't know the law since it's never followed.
Whew, I had to vent. Thanks for reading my rant.