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  1. #1
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    Hadley, Mass. poised to settle federal case with bicycle advocate; agrees to pay...

    HADLEY — Town officials have hammered out a settlement with a bicyclist who challenged the Hadley Police Department in court over bicyclists’ rights on the road.

    The agreement, which the Select Board is scheduled to review in a closed session Wednesday, averts a federal trial that was scheduled to begin next week involving alleged police harassment of Eli Damon, a bicycle advocate who lives in Easthampton. It also comes three months after a U.S. magistrate ruled on right-to-the-road questions Damon had raised in his 2011 lawsuit against police.

    According to the terms, the town has agreed to pay $27,500 to cover Damon’s lawyer’s fees. The pact, which town officials must still sign, settles complaints of malicious prosecution, illegal seizure of property and civil rights violations that were scheduled to be heard during a jury trial beginning Monday.

    Rest of story here: http://www.gazettenet.com/home/96434...o-pay-27500-in

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    Senior Member RPK79's Avatar
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    One thing is certain. The lawyer came out ahead.

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    Not quite there yet Matariki's Avatar
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    Is he the guy that was in a video posted here a few months ago?
    Any information, no matter how good, will always under-represent reality.
    -paraphrasing J a r o n L a n i e r

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    Senior Member howsteepisit's Avatar
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    Interesting decision and agreement, a federal magistrate has upheld that a cyclist in MA must move to the right to allow cars to pass when its objectively safe to do so. So its a bit of a blow against vehicular cycling, and creates a huge gray area of the meaning of objectively safe. I am sure there is lots to discuss here.
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    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
    One thing is certain. The lawyer came out ahead.
    They always do, no matter who wins.

  6. #6
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by howsteepisit View Post
    Interesting decision and agreement, a federal magistrate has upheld that a cyclist in MA must move to the right to allow cars to pass when its objectively safe to do so. So its a bit of a blow against vehicular cycling, and creates a huge gray area of the meaning of objectively safe. I am sure there is lots to discuss here.
    You seem to not understand VC then. In lanes 14 feet wide or more, VC includes sharing the lane. On roads with only one lane in each direction, VC follows the slow moving vehicle laws which require the slow vehicles to move onto a turn out when there are 5 or more vehicles behind. On roads with 2 or more lanes in each direction, VC says use the right lane unless making a left turn, passing or avoiding a hazard. VC says cyclist are not required to give up their safety for motorist convenience.

    So unless the judge is saying cyclist must move off the road on a 4 lane road, which does not appear to be the case, then there is no conflict with VC.

    Too bad for the VC doomsday wishers.
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    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    They always do, no matter who wins.
    This was a civil case on continency. So if the cyclist lost, the lawyer did not get paid.

    Plus the cyclist was not looking for cash in his pocket, just his civil rights restored.
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    Quote Originally Posted by howsteepisit View Post
    Interesting decision and agreement, a federal magistrate has upheld that a cyclist in MA must move to the right to allow cars to pass when its objectively safe to do so. So its a bit of a blow against vehicular cycling, and creates a huge gray area of the meaning of objectively safe. I am sure there is lots to discuss here.
    It's also ambiguous about what moving to the right requires. Do you have to move over to the shoulder or merely move right within the lane?

    I've been searching to try and find the actual settlement text or details but I haven't succeeded.

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    I don't see anything wrong with pulling off the roadway if a line of cars is behind me. Having said that, it's only happened twice in my cycling career, spanning over 35 years. And one of those times was because a police car was behind us and people were afraid to cross the yellow line because of that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by howsteepisit View Post
    Interesting decision and agreement, a federal magistrate has upheld that a cyclist in MA must move to the right to allow cars to pass when its objectively safe to do so. So its a bit of a blow against vehicular cycling, and creates a huge gray area of the meaning of objectively safe. I am sure there is lots to discuss here.
    I have read the ruling. While it does not explicitly express the engineering facts, it implies them to any person with knowledge of those facts. It reads that the cyclist must pull to the right to allow motorists to overtake when that is a safe movement. It is not a question of whether the cyclist can move right without endangering himself, say by running over a dangerous grate, but the question of whether the overtaking movement is safe. With lanes 12 feet wide or narrower (and 12 feet is the standard freeway lane width), even if the cyclist moves right there is still insufficient width for a motorist to safely overtake within that lane. The motorist can overtake safely only by using the adjacent lane, and he is prohibited from using any of that lane unless that lane is clear of traffic. Therefore, the motorist's ability to safely overtake even a bicycle depends not at all on the lateral position of the bicycle but on the traffic in the adjacent lane.

  11. #11
    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    They always do, no matter who wins.
    Utter nonsense. Tell me how a lawyer comes out ahead is he/she loses a contingency case.

    And, I bet the guy who took this case and got his client the settlement he wanted wrote-off a good deal of his time.
    Last edited by FrenchFit; 12-05-13 at 09:40 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    They always do, no matter who wins.
    You think lawyers should work for free?

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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Forester View Post
    I have read the ruling. While it does not explicitly express the engineering facts, it implies them to any person with knowledge of those facts.
    I assume that what "engineering facts" might imply to self proclaimed knowledgeable people carries little or no legal weight when those "engineering facts" are considered relevant only by people who claim to have this special knowledge, and no reference to these "engineering facts" are expressed in the ruling.

  14. #14
    Senior Member howsteepisit's Avatar
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    PArdon my confusion. What I read in the news release was that cyclists must move right to allow traffic to pass, when objectively safe to do so. none of the comment correcting me have addressed what objectively safe means, and I can certainly envision that means in the eyes of a motorist, police or the cyclist. I don't know.

    John are you saying that if a lane is less than 12 feet a cyclist need never pull off to the right?
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  15. #15
    Transportation Cyclist turbo1889's Avatar
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    It is my understanding that the cyclist in question lives in a state where the FRAP law does not explicitly include an exception for a lane too narrow for a cyclist and automobile to travel side by side within the same lane safely. At least that is what it said when I saw the actual text of the law in a 60+ page initial ruling brief that a link was posted for on this forum that I actually read all the way from front to back myself.

    I would note that in a state where the FRAP law does include that specific exception (lane too narrow for a cyclist and automobile to travel side by side within the same lane safely) which does include my state and where the state law does not specifically define how wide that is but leaves it openly worded which also includes my state then there are very official and authoritative federal guidelines that specifically and very clearly identify any lane narrower then 14 feet width to not be safely shared between a cyclist and an automobile and give both vehicles proper safe clearance both within the same lane and does clearly state that a lane of 14 feet or wider usually is safely share-able side by side but not always depending on the width of the specific vehicles.

    I have successfully used this fact with appropriate documentation of same (you can easily find it yourself with internet searches on appropriate Federal web-sites, it will be good for you to learn how to do such homework; the whole give a man a fish vs. teach a man to fish thing) both to keep from being issued a ticket while "taking the lane" where the lane is narrower then 14 feet in my state (that would be like 99+% of all roads up here) and also to win fights against such tickets in court when I have been given them anyway because the officer didn't care what the law said or in one specific case specifically told me to shut up and save it for the judge - which I did.

    Please do not construe this to mean that I go around always "taking the lane" and always riding in the lane no matter what except for those few cases where I actually run across a road with lanes that wide. Quite the contrary I've shared lanes narrow then that with cars and shared some really narrow lanes that were barely 8' wide with motorcycles on occasion because seeing them come up in my rear view mirror I saw I could safely let them pass within the same lane so I moved over to the right tire track and then pointed at the left tire track and made the "pass me motion" a couple of them took the invitation and a couple chose to wait till the oncoming lane was clear and pass in it. Don't get to do that very often though because I'm overtaken by a lot more cars and trucks then motorbikes. Do the same thing when overtaken by another bicycle but that is even more rare but it does happen. Usually though if there is a decent shoulder edge on a road and its a high speed road then I'll gladly ride on it, something I'm more then happy to do and my preference compared to riding in the main lane(s) on high speed roads. I only take the lane on a high speed road when I have too because I've got to be in the lane because their ain't no shoulder edge or it ain't ride-able. On low speed roads where the speed limit is 25-mph or less where I can actually keep up pretty well is the only place I religiously take the lane and prefer to do so compared to shoulder edge riding and even then if I'm climbing a hill and get slowed down if I can be courteous to other road users by getting over without jeopardizing my own safety or ability to effectively and efficiently travel then I am more then happy to do so.


    Long story short, choosing not to "take the lane" and ride FRAP shouldn't be something you do because your forced to do it and risk your own neck by some crazy law that treats cyclists like second class people. Rather it is something that you should do whenever you are going significantly slower then both the speed limit and other road users as a basic civilized courtesy to them when you can do so without jeopardizing your own safety or right to travel effectively and efficiently on the public right of way.

    If only the FRAP laws were written just like that specifically that cyclists have the right to make use of a full lane width just like other vehicles but at the same time as the exception to the primary point of the law (that cyclist have a right to "take the lane") that cyclist are expected too and are responsible to show a very basic level of civilized courtesy to other legally significantly faster road users by getting over to the right to allow them to pass more easily when such can be done safely while still allowing the cyclist to continue to travel effectively and efficiently and they aren't allowed to just be (insert explicit(s) of your choice) for the sake of being a (again insert) then we wouldn't have all these problems like this and all these needless hostility and tensions and harassment and court cases.

    The FRAP laws are written backwards, just reverse the way they are written and instead of having them say "Pedal-Cycles Are Required To Ride FRAP ~ followed by a list of unclear exceptions" write them instead as "Pedal-Cycles May Use Full Lane, And When They Are Doing So Overtaking Vehicles Are Required To Change Lanes to Pass Safely ~ Followed by the exception that significantly slower speed cycles when possible to do so safely and still continue to travel effectively and efficiently shall ride far enough to the right to allow an overtaking vehicle to pass without changing lanes and in such cases the overtaking vehicle is only required to move as far as possible to the left within the lane provided that doing so allows a minimum safe clearance."


    At least in most states with half way good list of exceptions to their existing FRAP laws that is basically how it works so why not write the law that way and cut through all this kind of junk. I strongly prefer that compared to total repeal of FRAP laws since I agree that when you really are going a whole lot slower then other vehicles moving at a legal speed for the road and road conditions do allow you to safely, effectively, and efficiently ride FRAP and let them pass easily then not doing so is you just being a (insert explicit of your choice) and what you are doing ain't about safety its about being an annoyance. That said, what some cyclists who are religious FRAPers and curb and white line huggers think is safe passing conditions I do believe is completely abhor-able. Unless the speed differential between me and the passing car is really low and they are just barely going faster then me 3-feet is absolute minimum as far as I am concerned and in many cases it isn't enough especially with a very high speed differential.

  16. #16
    Transportation Cyclist turbo1889's Avatar
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    Long story short, Foster is incorrect at least for my state which does not have a specific width listed and you use the Federal standard.

    And he is wrong in the opposite direction some of you think he is. The width is actually more then his 12' and is a full 14' width that is the bare minimum for the lane to be considered officially safely share-able between most (not all) automobiles and most (not all) bicycles both within the same lane side-by-side.


    Not that I in any way would go so far as to violate your rights of free will choice to share a narrower lane side by side with a car if you want too. Your funeral and it don't hurt me any so its your free will choice. Just lets be clear you have no business trying to infringe on my rights to stay safe and control the lane on anything narrower then 14' if I feel its necessary for my ability to to safely, effectively, and efficiently travel and even to take a lane that wide or wider in a few situations were because of either me riding a wider then normal bike (or more commonly pulling a wide trailer) or a wider then normal automobile overtaking me that makes even that width not safely share-able side by side.

    And, yes, as I've stated sometimes even I will share a lane narrower then that in a side by side configuration and be safe doing so, or even ride on a shoulder edge that is a little sketchy. But lets be clear about it, that's my choice and I do that because I try to be a nice guy as much as I can without sacrificing my own safety or road rights. It's not something I'm under any requirement to do.

    And for some out there (a very rare few) that want to just always take a full lane width no matter what and are deliberately trying to be a (insert explicit of your choice) then in some cases it might be good to still have a better worded FRAP law on the books where it is still possible for people who are really being (again insert) when there is no safety or effective and efficient travel issue. I do realize that there are some people out there that would try to "take the full lane" even if the lane was 100 feet wide, a very tiny minority I do believe, but I don't deny they do exist and there might be some situations where they could be legitimately charged under the FRAP law so I just suggest correcting the way it is written so it isn't backwards anymore.
    Last edited by turbo1889; 12-05-13 at 08:20 AM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member howsteepisit's Avatar
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    All those words, including a left handed back slap of learn to use the internet and no clarification of what objectively safe in the context of the the referenced decision.
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    Quote Originally Posted by howsteepisit View Post
    PArdon my confusion. What I read in the news release was that cyclists must move right to allow traffic to pass, when objectively safe to do so. none of the comment correcting me have addressed what objectively safe means, and I can certainly envision that means in the eyes of a motorist, police or the cyclist. I don't know.
    "pull off to the right" means pull off of the roadway. The roadway is the pavement between the fog lines. This is not the same as FRAP. I have always taken "objectively safe" as meaning that there is a pullout, which for a bicycle might be a wide shoulder. Riding on the fog line is not "pulling out to the right." Riding into the ditch and crashing is not "objectively safe." In Pennsylvania, any vehicle or pedalcycle going less than the predominant speed that has 5 vehicles behind it is required to pull out to the right if it is objectively safe. I don't see this as a VC issue at all.

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    Senior Member howsteepisit's Avatar
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    Thanks Unterhausen, if the Magistrate has the same definition of Objectively Safe as you, it makes sense, and would be no threat to VC. I was/am trying to understand that term as used in the ruling. Really though, its an academic interest, as I don't ride in nor care to ride in the Boston area now or in the future.
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    Transportation Cyclist turbo1889's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by howsteepisit View Post
    All those words, including a left handed back slap of learn to use the internet and no clarification of what objectively safe in the context of the the referenced decision.
    Yes, I make long posts.

    Was not meant to be left handed back slap, just truly believe that if you intend to actually go into court and argue your side you have to know how to do your homework (not just internet). I once lost a case I could have won if I had done my homework.

    I did note that the law of the state in question does not give the "lane too narrow to share side-by-side" exception so it isn't a valid exception in that state so it really don't matter how wide the lane is in that state. It does in my state (and a lot of others) that do have that exception.

    What is objectively safe in this case seems to be continued in ambiguous, I have my suspicions on why and how it will be used to continue to suppress and harass cyclists in the future. But they are only suspicions I have no proof.

    Hope that was short enough post for you.
    Last edited by turbo1889; 12-05-13 at 09:14 AM.

  21. #21
    Senior Member howsteepisit's Avatar
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    Nothing in my post about going to court. And by the way, I have 25 years of experience doing research for and preparing environmental documents and supporting environmental litigation cases. Think I know how to do research when its worth my while to spend my time doing so. To presume that any internet users needs your sanctimonious education is presumptuous and arrogant. I accept your apologies that I am sure that you will offer.
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    Transportation Cyclist turbo1889's Avatar
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    As to my interest in this case, in priority order
    ----- Advocacy interest
    ----- Academic interest
    ----- If I ever visit to this state I will probably ride there, at least take along a folder to not have to rent car.

    On that last one, Same goes for every state and a couple I know their laws are so bad for bikes that I might consider not riding because I would be force to choose between traveling by bike on the public roads safely, effectively, and efficiently or following their laws and on a state that's not my home turf I'm not going to be the one that does the test case that is taken all the way to the top to get the law interpreted by the courts differently and establish precedent, get the law changed, or get it struck down completely and yes of course the non-court option of get it changed or repealed by the legislature. My own turf, all possibilities I would consider and I will support those doing so in their own turf (as is this case in my opinion) just ain't going to work that hard myself when it isn't my own turf.

  23. #23
    Transportation Cyclist turbo1889's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by howsteepisit View Post
    Nothing in my post about going to court. And by the way, I have 25 years of experience doing research for and preparing environmental documents and supporting environmental litigation cases. Think I know how to do research when its worth my while to spend my time doing so. To presume that any internet users needs your sanctimonious education is presumptuous and arrogant. I accept your apologies that I am sure that you will offer.
    Agreed, if its not worth your (or anyone elses) time to do the homework then you certainly don't have to. I try not to presume that people even read my posts especially the longer ones.

    My education is certainly lacking in some areas and I agree it would be arrogant to presume that everyone needs to know all the same things.

    As to a specific apology, what I specifically said was:

    . . . (you can easily find it yourself with internet searches on appropriate Federal web-sites, it will be good for you to learn how to do such homework; the whole give a man a fish vs. teach a man to fish thing) . . .
    I can see how that could be interpreted as a slap in the face and perhaps I should have been more diplomatic in how I worded it and I will apologize for not doing so. Basically what I was saying was if you don't believe me then look it up and its good to learn how to look stuff like this up because if you have a disagreement of interpretation with an officer if you can't back up your position you loose by automatic default and someone just giving you what you need won't help you the next time it comes up with a different issue.

    Obviously with a law that requires FRAP except for some exceptions if your going to use those exceptions and you know people in uniforms are going to go after you for doing so (a situation that appears to be the case for the cyclist that is the subject of this case) then you had better be able to back up your interpretation of them. It's that if you know your going into a fight then you best be sure you go in prepared thing.

    Not apologizing for what I said, but I will apologize for how I said it. You are correct that I could have been more diplomatic about it.

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    This case had nothing to do with lane width.
    Damon LOST his case about refusing to give way in the shoulder deemed to be perfectly SAFE by the judge.
    He is a LAB hack and purposely baited the law. Bigtime FAIL. Too bad the town folk have to suffer.
    Damon's irrational phobia of not being seen and right hooks just doesn't hold water.

  25. #25
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by turbo1889 View Post
    ...I might consider not riding because I would be force to choose between traveling by bike on the public roads safely, effectively, and efficiently or following their laws
    Why whatever do you mean, by the buzz words cycling "effectively and efficiently", or following the law? Are those code words too like "engineering facts" that have special (but no legal) meaning to those who think they are in the know.

    Please explain without a Wall of Words, if possible.

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