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  1. #1
    Climb on my trusty steed BeTheChange's Avatar
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    Teaching the police the bicycle laws

    Most cops who have hassled me or who I have just had a conversation with just don't seem to know the bicycle laws. They don't know that we can take the lane, they don't know that you can't ride the opposite way of traffic, they just don't seem to know much. And this sucks when crap happens and the cops are involved because they automatically take the driver's side because they have no idea we have the same rights as the motorists. I'm thinking we should start our advocacy by having a meeting with the police departments in our areas so they know what the laws are. I know it is their job to know those laws, but it's the skweaky wheel that gets the oil. Good idea?
    "You must be the change you want to see in the world."
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  2. #2
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    I think it's a good idea to meet with the police to share your concerns, but certainly be more diplomatic than that. Maybe ask to meet with a few representatives first about some concerns that you have, and see where that takes you. If you have a copy of the code, and can cite specific examples where it seems that officers did not know it, that would help.

    Probably lamajo25, the police officer who posted on the "Pulled over for riding vehicularly" thread, would have some thoughts on this. I'd be interested in hearing them...
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
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    Its not just bike laws, cops at large are woefully ignorant of the bulk of laws they donít' deal with on a weekly basis (which are usually speeding/accident related). If you look at the amount of training they receive, not to mention the quality of that training you would understand why.

    I work as a Private Investigator and find myself teaching the copís laws pertaining to my job at least once a week, especially trespassing laws.

    If a COP is wrong and giving you a hard time then get his badge # and the number for his Citizen Review Board, or equivalent. This usually shuts them up, if not then call the # and get the useless donut freak fired.

    Its our job as citizens to police our Police, and for them to be ignorant of laws then take the next step and try to instruct you to do something thatís actually against the law is something that needs to be addressed or that officer needs to be removed from duty.

    COPís are like any other profession in that you have good ones and bad ones. The problem with COPís is that a bad one can cause you far more problems due to the authority they have.
    Lance Boggs
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    "The man who can most truly be accounted brave is he who best knows the meaning of what is sweet in life and what is terrible, and then goes out undeterred to meet what is to come."

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  4. #4
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Send your police department a letter referencing this link: http://www.massbike.org/police

    It's a very good source of educational materials developed in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for training police officers in bicycles and traffic laws.

    It's worth a look, even if you're not a cop.

  5. #5
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    The cops' woeful ignorance of the law is readily apparent when they try to make you 'ride by rule' on Critical Mass...they've got the motorcycle maneuvers down, but not the law...

  6. #6
    Senior Member skydive69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeTheChange
    Most cops who have hassled me or who I have just had a conversation with just don't seem to know the bicycle laws. They don't know that we can take the lane, they don't know that you can't ride the opposite way of traffic, they just don't seem to know much. And this sucks when crap happens and the cops are involved because they automatically take the driver's side because they have no idea we have the same rights as the motorists. I'm thinking we should start our advocacy by having a meeting with the police departments in our areas so they know what the laws are. I know it is their job to know those laws, but it's the skweaky wheel that gets the oil. Good idea?
    Apparently you have different laws in your state then we do in Florida. We can't take the lane, and must ride as far to the right of the roadway as practical except on a one-way road, where one can choose to ride on the far left. We cannot ride the opposite way of traffic on the roadway. The other day, I almost hit another rider as I was cranking down the road at 30 mph when this dumbass appeared suddenly in front of me going against traffic. I had to swerve into traffic from a designated bike lane to avoid taking us both out. Oh, and yes, there was a bike lane on the other side of the road also, where this alleged rider belonged.
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    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skydive69
    Apparently you have different laws in your state then we do in Florida.
    FWIW: http://www.dot.state.fl.us/Safety/pe...LEGuide-04.pdf

    It can be found at the Florida DOT Web site:
    http://www.dot.state.fl.us/Safety/pe...es_bicycle.htm

  8. #8
    Senior Member CPcyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skydive69
    We can't take the lane, and must ride as far to the right of the roadway as practical except on a one-way road, where one can choose to ride on the far left. We cannot ride the opposite way of traffic on the roadway.

    Part of it is in the interpritation
    Practical
    Pronunciation: 'prak-ti-k&l
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin practicus, from Greek praktikos, from prassein to pass over, fare, do; akin to Greek peran to pass through -- more at FARE

    1 a : of, relating to, or manifested in practice or action : not theoretical or ideal <a practical question> <for all practical purposes> b : being such in practice or effect : VIRTUAL <a practical failure>

    Most of the time it is not Practical to ride right on the edge of the road. For your own saftey take some of the lane it is the only practical way to ride on the road with cars. Note: I am not advocating taking the whole lane all the time just when needed for your practical safty.

  9. #9
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skydive69
    Apparently you have different laws in your state then we do in Florida. We can't take the lane, and must ride as far to the right of the roadway as practical except on a one-way road, where one can choose to ride on the far left.
    The hell we can't. The law says as far right as practicable which means as far right as to avoid any road side hazards. If we are going at the speed limit in a section we have every right to take the lane.
    Quote Originally Posted by skydive69
    We cannot ride the opposite way of traffic on the roadway. The other day, I almost hit another rider as I was cranking down the road at 30 mph when this dumbass appeared suddenly in front of me going against traffic. I had to swerve into traffic from a designated bike lane to avoid taking us both out. Oh, and yes, there was a bike lane on the other side of the road also, where this alleged rider belonged.
    While that's unfortunate you weren't responsible for his actions.

  10. #10
    Senior Member skydive69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raiyn
    The hell we can't. The law says as far right as practicable which means as far right as to avoid any road side hazards. If we are going at the speed limit in a section we have every right to take the lane. While that's unfortunate you weren't responsible for his actions.
    All that being said, and being totally in love with cycling, if I run into some ahole taking up the whole road, he will have guaranteed himself a pissing contest - my two bicyling stickers on my rear window notwithstanding. It's people like that that have so many drivers pissed off at us here in St. Pete.
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  11. #11
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skydive69
    All that being said, and being totally in love with cycling, if I run into some ahole taking up the whole road, he will have guaranteed himself a pissing contest - my two bicycling stickers on my rear window notwithstanding. It's people like that that have so many drivers pissed off at us here in St. Pete.
    An example, the speed limit in downtown St. Pete (right down Central) is 15 mph. On this stretch if I'm doing 15 mph+ I'm taking the lane to hell with what anybody says. You pass me you're breaking the law. I have every right to the lane. I also use 16th St as a connector. I don't take the lane there but I damn sure take the room that I need. There's an entire other lane in which cars can safely pass. I've noticed that if I ride within the right 1/3 of the lane cars give me a safe berth when they pass, as opposed to if I ride closer to the curb, say the right 1/4. I also give myself enough room on streets where parallel parking is allowed to keep myself out of the door zone.

  12. #12
    Senior Member CPcyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skydive69
    We can't take the lane, and must ride as far to the right of the roadway as practical except on a one-way road, where one can choose to ride on the far left. We cannot ride the opposite way of traffic on the roadway.

    Part of it is in the interpritation
    Practical
    Pronunciation: 'prak-ti-k&l
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin practicus, from Greek praktikos, from prassein to pass over, fare, do; akin to Greek peran to pass through -- more at FARE

    1 a : of, relating to, or manifested in practice or action : not theoretical or ideal <a practical question> <for all practical purposes> b : being such in practice or effect : VIRTUAL <a practical failure>

    Most of the time it is not Practical to ride right on the edge of the road. For your own saftey take some of the lane it is the only practical way to ride on the road with cars. Note: I am not advocating taking the whole lane all the time just when needed for your practical safety.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by skydive69
    ...in Florida. We can't take the lane, and must ride as far to the right of the roadway as practical except on a one-way road...
    Quote Originally Posted by tippy
    http://www.dot.state.fl.us/Safety/pe..._bikeLaws2.htm
    Roadway position (Section 316.2065, F.S.) ---- A bicyclist who is traveling at less than the normal speed of other traffic must generally ride as close as practicable (safe) to the right hand curb or edge of roadway. (However, a cyclist going straight at an intersection should ride in a through lane, not in an exclusive right-turn lane. Section 316.074 requires the driver of any vehicle to obey all official traffic control devices, which include lane-use markings and signage.)

    A bicyclist may leave the right-most portion of the roadway in any of the following situations: *when passing, *when preparing to make a left turn, *when necessary to avoid any hazardous condition, including, but not limited to, a parked or moving vehicle, pedestrian, animal, or surface hazard, *where a lane is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side

    A bicyclist operating on a one-way street with two or more traffic lanes may ride as close to the left hand edge of the roadway as practicable.
    Who better to determine the practicable (safeness) of the right side than the rider of the bike! Unfortunately, a few Cops like to make that decision for you.

    The last bullet states that you "may leave the right-most..." where the lane is to narrow to share ...

    The one way street that you ride on has to have two or more lanes before you have the option of riding on the far left of the left most lane. Still required to ride right on single lane one-way streets.

    d.tipton

  14. #14
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CPcyclist
    Part of it is in the interpritation
    Practical
    Pronunciation: 'prak-ti-k&l
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin practicus, from Greek praktikos, from prassein to pass over, fare, do; akin to Greek peran to pass through -- more at FARE

    1 a : of, relating to, or manifested in practice or action : not theoretical or ideal <a practical question> <for all practical purposes> b : being such in practice or effect : VIRTUAL <a practical failure>....
    Practicable not practical.
    Florida traffic code uses the word PRACTICABLE followed by (safe).
    Practicable: Capable of being effected, done, or executed; feasible.
    So it's interpretation should be:
    Capable of being effected ... safely
    Capable of being done ... safely
    Capable of being executed ... safely
    Feasibly ... safe.

    You, the rider of the bike, may interpret the road conditions to be unpracticable and/or unsafe. Unfortunately that COP may "feel" that's it perfectly safe to ride a bike there. Uneducated in the law AND uneducated in the practice. That's a hard hill to climb.

    d.tipton

  16. #16
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tippy
    You, the rider of the bike, may interpret the road conditions to be unpracticable and/or unsafe. Unfortunately that COP may "feel" that's it perfectly safe to ride a bike there. Uneducated in the law AND uneducated in the practice. That's a hard hill to climb.

    d.tipton
    I'd take the ticket and go to traffic court with it with a copy of the law and photo's of the area in question.

  17. #17
    Senior Member skydive69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raiyn
    An example, the speed limit in downtown St. Pete (right down Central) is 15 mph. On this stretch if I'm doing 15 mph+ I'm taking the lane to hell with what anybody says. You pass me you're breaking the law. I have every right to the lane. I also use 16th St as a connector. I don't take the lane there but I damn sure take the room that I need. There's an entire other lane in which cars can safely pass. I've noticed that if I ride within the right 1/3 of the lane cars give me a safe berth when they pass, as opposed to if I ride closer to the curb, say the right 1/4. I also give myself enough room on streets where parallel parking is allowed to keep myself out of the door zone.
    I certainly have no issue with any of that, but I find that Central Avenue is probably not the safest riding venue, and I rarely see anyone obeying the 15 mph limit. I either avoid it, or use it briefly only to get to Florida Bicycle Sport.
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  18. #18
    Climb on my trusty steed BeTheChange's Avatar
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    I'm not saying taking the whole lane all of the time. Just when it is necessary. I'm mostly talking about staying out of the door zone and stuff like that. It's just frustrating to have to explain to a cop what the laws are since it is their job to know (especially traffic laws).

    I used to think it was just a few bad cops that gave the rest a bad name. I'm not so sure anymore. What type of training to they get? Shoudn't a college degree be the least amount of education for people who are to inforce the law? Do they need a college education? I'd be interested to know what it takes to be a cop.
    "You must be the change you want to see in the world."
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    Senior Member skydive69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeTheChange
    I'm not saying taking the whole lane all of the time. Just when it is necessary. I'm mostly talking about staying out of the door zone and stuff like that. It's just frustrating to have to explain to a cop what the laws are since it is their job to know (especially traffic laws).

    I used to think it was just a few bad cops that gave the rest a bad name. I'm not so sure anymore. What type of training to they get? Shoudn't a college degree be the least amount of education for people who are to inforce the law? Do they need a college education? I'd be interested to know what it takes to be a cop.
    You would be surprised at how many police officers do have college degrees. Having said that, with the crap pay, crap hours, having to put up with an "interesting" element, how can you require a college degree?

    I was a police officer for 5 years, and was going to law school, when the opportunity to become an airline pilot arose. In the area in which I was a police officer, the San Francisco peninsula, officers tend to be highly educated and qualified. I can't speak for the state of NC.
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  20. #20
    1.9lb/in pseudobrit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raiyn
    I'd take the ticket and go to traffic court with it with a copy of the law and photo's of the area in question.
    And in most parts of the country you'd lose because a JP's traffic court is an organised racket.

    In most cases, the ticket is a guilty verdict; the judge a rubber stamp.

  21. #21
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Justice of the Peace

  22. #22
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    I don't think this has anything to do with how educated the police may or may not be vis a vis college. IMO it has more to do with police culture and their value system. In Portland most cops live in the suburbs and they're pretty much living and enforcing the motorist lifestyle. In that frame of reference bikes and bicyclists are a mere annoyance and they probably see no reason to see things from a bicyclist's perspective, or truly learn the law as it applies to bicyclists. It's not a college education they need, it's more on the job training.

  23. #23
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pseudobrit
    And in most parts of the country you'd lose because a JP's traffic court is an organised racket.

    In most cases, the ticket is a guilty verdict; the judge a rubber stamp.
    Not hardly.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek
    Thanks Mark for the proper response . So often we see the Law Enforcement people taking a bad rap for doing there job. How often have we seen cyclists run stopsigns or change lanes improperly or ride out in the lane of traffic for no reason and then say that they are being singled out.
    Gal. 2:20

  25. #25
    Senior Member Bruce Rosar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    I don't think this has anything to do with how educated the police may or may not be vis a vis college. IMO it has more to do with police culture and their value system.
    IMHO the police are just a reflection of the majority point of view. Most folks feel that Human Powered Vehicle (HPV) traffic can't be safely integrated with Motor Vehicle (MV) traffic.

    FYI: My attempts to educate adults about driving HPVs in MV traffic have collided with the strong inhibition that most people feel about integrating the two types. In case you haven't already read them, here are links to two articles on that subject

    Bruce Rosar
    "The beginning of wisdom is to call things by the right names." - Chinese Proverb

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