Thanks much, turbo1889! I'll have to save the links and print them out for later.
Thanks much, turbo1889! I'll have to save the links and print them out for later.
I've been reading this, and I thought my area wasn't particularly friendly to cyclists. Either it is, by comparison, or I've been lucky. I've never been pulled over by an officer. An officer has never told me I shouldn't be in my position except for one time. My friend and I were riding two abreast, and an officer told us we had to ride single file. I started telling him that he was mistaken, and he said we could discuss it at the station house. I relented. I might have been right about the law, but it doesn't pay to argue with an officer. He drove on, and I cooled off, and I'm glad I didn't decide to continue the discussion. The road doesn't seem like a good place to educate an officer. They get a lot of guff from troublemakers. It's probably hard for them to tell the trouble makers from decent people, and even when they try, it must be exhausting. They have an unpleasant job to do, which I would never choose to do, so I don't want to make it any worse for them. I'm going to let them be wrong as long as they don't impede me. If I ever get a wrongful citation, I probably will argue it.
Of course, if it was 2 AM and you did happen to look like a guy just fleeing a liqueur store robbery... well, I stand corrected.
Maybe he was having a bad day and was feeling ornery. Or maybe our riding struck him as unsafe or obstructionist. Some cops do have good motivations and are concerned with our safety. I have to believe that. While I don't think what we did was unsafe, he probably doesn't know much about that, and I don't expect him to.
I once had a cop tell me to ride on the sidewalk around a construction site. I was tempted to tell him that I would be fine on the road, but he was busy directing traffic (on foot), and why should I object to taking detour for a block? Maybe he thought I'd be better off that way. Do I want to give him a hard time after he tried to help me?
I like cops. Always felt like the police in New Castle Co. were a bit overzealous, but then I was a longhaired teenager driving around places like Hockessin in a Subaru station wagon covered in Grateful Dead stickers. It sure wasn't the 86 horespower that was getting me all those speeding tickets....
Cycling was never a problem, though.
The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. Christopher Morley
Being very right wing I am generally very supportive of the police. That said there are of course some especially the young ones with newly found power that give the police a bad name. The thing I dont like is harrassment of the public when the police dont understand the laws as written. Of course here that means the fact the ones that dont understand the rights of cyclist to use roads and hiways.
While I cycle for fun and exercise, a lot of cyclist ride for the fact that they have to. Some, like college students dont have a car maybe because they cant afford one. Some may be poor people that simply cant afford a car. Some may be drivers that have had their license taken away from them and are cycling to work. There can be any number of reasons why a person is legally cycling on streets and roads, and the police need to understand this and accord them the right to do so by local laws.
For me cycling as transportation is only one part of what its all about, namely living a responsible life and actually giving a you know what about other innocent life around me both present and future.
This also is what tempers my riding style and view points somewhat as well. There are some cyclists out there who believe in absolute superiority of cyclists who are more radical then I am and having absolutely zero respect for anyone driving a car. One good examples being some really hard-line VCers who always take the lane no matter what including when its a 60+ mph high speed two lane road with a beautiful condition and respectable width shoulder edge to ride on and have absolutely zero respect for car drivers and absolutely insist on taking and indefinitely holding the lane when the only reason to do so is if your trying to be a jerk. Another good example being those cyclists who deliberately and knowingly run red lights right in front of green light cross traffic forcing people with the green light to slam on their brakes to avoid hitting them and feel absolutely justified in doing so. I've meet both of those two types in person face to face and that is just taking it way too far. I will fully admit I have very little potentially even zero respect for dangerous aggressive drivers (usually automobile but some bike drivers fall into that category as well) mainly because I consider them quite the opposite of "innocent life". But not all automobile drivers are such and you kind of have to give people the benefit of the doubt until you know otherwise. So you do have to show some respect for automobile drivers as a cyclists which includes making it easier for them to pass when you can do so without compromising your own safety or ability to effectively and efficiently travel.
It's one thing to take the lane and hold it riding in this kind of situation:
On a road like that I'm taking and holding the lane, nothing else is safe or responsible and if motorists don't like the inconvenience then they can pay to get the road improved so it looks like the next picture instead:
It's an entirely different thing to take the lane and hold it riding in this kind of situation:
Heck I personally really wish all roads with speed limits higher then 25-mph had nice beautiful shoulder edges like that to ride on, I love those kind of roads for cycling and except for the rare occasion where I need to pass another cyclist or take a left turn or something I am wonderfully happy shoulder edge riding on roads like that and I consider it the only respectful and responsible thing to do to show basic civilized consideration for other (legally) faster road users.
Last edited by turbo1889; 02-16-14 at 11:37 AM.
It's been a little while since I posted here, but I wanted to check in and let everyone know that I successfully defended myself on Tuesday (with the assistance of an expert witness courtesy of BikeDE). The case went mostly to plan and I learned a few things about how to present a good (better) defense. You can read a little about it here: A Busy Tuesday! Cyclist Is Not Guilty. Rumble Strip Fix Test Will Be Completed by 2nd Week of June | Bike Delaware Inc.
Perhaps the biggest thing I learned from this case is that if your state does not have a law on the books allowing passing cyclists or other slow moving traffic by crossing the double yellow line (and DE does not, though PA does), make that your advocacy priority of the year. While the judge ruled in my favor as I was fully compliant with the law, he was not convinced that riding on such narrow roads was safe as motorists had no legal way to pass. How this is necessarily a cyclist's problem (or a safety issue at all) on a lightly traveled road I am not sure. But, it made me aware that those in the courts and law enforcement are willing to use that against cyclists, even after I pointed out Delaware's slow moving vehicle turnout law.
Glad you posted the out come, and glad justice was served.
I agree in principle with what the OP has said about the "may pass bicycle over double line" being a legitimate advocacy issue to "soften" the conflict between motorists and lane taking cyclists.
BUT, it must be done correctly otherwise it becomes a license to pass unsafely. Also, why should such a law be limited to passing cyclists only? Why shouldn't it also apply to also passing other vehicles moving significantly slower as well?
I would propose the following clarifications to such a "may pass over double line as an exception" law:
----- #1 - The pass may be made ONLY if it can be done safely and without interfering with the right of way of either the vehicle being passed or traffic in the lane being used for passing including potential unseen traffic out of the line of sight. Passing driver MUST assume there is traffic just out of sight if sight line is limited and may ONLY pass if the pass can still be made safely and without interfering with the right of way even assuming there is traffic just out of sight in the lane being used to pass. (Oncoming traffic in almost all cases but best not to specify that so the rule also applies to any other conceivable pass where crossing a double line is involved.)
----- #2 - Any driver choosing to make such a pass is 100% responsible for any collision resulting and accepts that responsibility by choosing to make such a pass. (AKA = You had better be extra careful and be extra sure before you try it.)
----- #3 - Such a pass over a double line may ONLY be made around a stalled vehicle, pedestrian walking along the roadway, or a vehicle moving 1/2 or less the speed limit of the road at that point or alternately the maximum safe speed which the road may be traveled at under the conditions present ,whichever is less.
----- #4 - This statute shall not be construed as justification for any dangerous, irresponsible, or otherwise negligent driving. But rather exists to allow safe and reasonable exceptions to be made allowing crossing of a double solid line road marking for the reason of giving safe separation space while passing and due respect when passing said stalled vehicles, pedestrian, or significantly slower moving vehicle as so defined above.
I'm sure others could probably figure out how to say the same thing with less words and it probably isn't strict legal language but those are the kind of clarifications a "may pass bicycle over double yellow line" law needs to have. I hate being passed over a double yellow line at the top of a hill crest or around a blind corner where its a roll of the dice as to whether another oncoming car is just out of sight or being blatantly passed over a double yellow line with oncoming traffic clearly visible.
As to my own state specifically, it doesn't specifically prohibit passing over a double yellow line, but rather specifies rules for safe passing and references no passing zones and says your not supposed to pass in no passing zones except under certain previsions where it refers back to the law requiring safe passing and the conditions which must be met in order for a pass to be legal. Or in other words you can still pass in a no-passing zone so long as it is still safe to do so and the same provisions are met for normal safe passing. Kind of weird how thy do the loop right back the safe passing law as the exception but - hey - if it works.
joejack and turbo, thumbs up to both of you.
I have become grateful for being in is area. People don't drive all that well here, but they are generally not hostile to cyclists, nor is law enforcement. It's not heaven, but I could do so much worse.
Good job JoeJack. It sounds like you educated both a law enforcement officer and a judge and set one more precedent in case law protecting our rights. Thank you.
Very interesting. I'm glad it was ultimately dismissed but it's a bit silly that you were even indicted in the first place.
2014 Cannondale Synapse Carbon 3 Ultegra
2010 Trek 7100
I wish it did set a precedent in case law but trials held in the Justice of the Peace Court as mine was do not have that power. I would have needed to have the trial held in the Court of Common Pleas or possibly even the Superior Court for any case law precedent to be set. I might have considered that if the cost wouldn't have been prohibitive (my defense cost me nothing but time whereas I'd need a lawyer in a higher court). Maybe next time!
With that said, I will offer up the full details of my defense plus my all-important not-guilty paperwork to any local cyclist who encounters the same thing. Hopefully if they get the same judge as me, the case will be immediately dismissed. More importantly, there is one less DE law enforcement officer handing out tickets for legal cycling in the first place.
I've been in a Superior Court without a lawyer - although it's not recommended it's not prohibited here. But still expensive with court costs. Maybe you could make a website with pdf's. All the paperwork is the most difficult thing, and the most fraught with danger to your case, even with a JP or Magistrate court.
I've been thinking a lot about the words safe and dangerous. In one usage, they refer to danger to others, in another, they refer to danger to oneself. I think law enforcement and laws should devote much more energy on the former than the latter. I drive a car, and when a pedestrian walks in front of me reading his cell phone, sure, I get angry that he's doing something dangerous, but I am creating the danger. He is merely doing a bad job at avoiding it. It's different than when I fail to stop for a pedestrian or when I drive too close to a cyclist.
Why should there be any emphasis on violations that endanger oneself? I get it, it's not a meaningless concept, but it's so much smaller than acts that create danger. And the danger we create is, more or less, directly proportional to mass and velocity, since F = MA. (Force equals mass times acceleration.) A car weighs 3,000 pounds. A human on a bike weighs 200 pounds. The car is much more dangerous, and laws and enforcement should be concerned primarily with the danger that use of motor vehicles creates, as opposed to the danger that we expose ourselves to by being in the presence of motor vehicles.
To your point though, documenting my experience would certainly be beneficial to other cyclists in a similar position, if for no other reason than to alleviate some anxiety about how the trial (and pre-trial activities) progresses.
Congratulations on your case. I hope it leads to laws eventually changing, although that won't automatically make the drivers and LEOs any easier to deal with. WA state recently changed the law allowing motorcycles and bicycle to run red lights after either a certain wait time, or one full cycle (basically, when you're fairly sure that it won't detect you), and that took years. I suspect more than one bike/motorcycle will still get ticketed and will have to fight it to get the word out.
I'm not sure what was up in this video - can't see in front of the cyclist to see if there is some reason he's slowing/stopping but if you look at the comments you'll see what we, as cyclists, face from motorists.
I hate those bicycle ********. Here in the US, they are constantly pushing for lawmakers to have their little toys considered as vehicles on the road, just like motor vehicles...Stupid hipster ****. Bus should have kept goingI wish the bus driver accelerated******** cyclist is ********. Virtual high five to the bus driver.
2014 Cannondale Synapse Carbon 3 Ultegra
2010 Trek 7100