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Old 06-06-06, 09:15 PM   #1
themickeyd
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I recieved advice from a cop today. . .

On my way from work to pick up my son at day care today I had a cop pull up at a stop light and give me a warning. He told me that I was allowed on the road but I couldn't be there because I was backing up traffic. Funny that he told me this while I was sitting at a stop light. He said it 3 times and told me I could be ticketed for it. I told him I wasn't trying to back traffic up and there were no alternate routes to my destination. He just said the same thing over. I kept going at the light and the 2 cars that were behind me turned at the next light. about 100ft down the road. Any advice for the next run in with the officer? I have all the RCW's and they all state I was in the right. The obstruction of traffic he was referring to was for slow traffic on 2 lane highways and roads. The road I was on was a 5 lane road and I was in the far right next to the curb, no shoulders or pull outs any place along the route.

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Old 06-06-06, 09:20 PM   #2
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I'd file a complaint with the police department right away, citing the RCW and why it's not applicable there in the first place, and ask that the officers be brought up-to-speed on traffic code.

Here is the Revised Code Of Washington that the officer must've been referring to. It's completely obvious why it's not relevant on a 5-lane street with just two cars behind the cyclist, stopped at a stoplight for good measure:

Quote:
On a two-lane highway where passing is unsafe because of traffic in the opposite direction or other conditions, a slow moving vehicle, behind which five or more vehicles are formed in a line, shall turn off the roadway wherever sufficient area for a safe turn-out exists, in order to permit the vehicles following to proceed. As used in this section a slow moving vehicle is one which is proceeding at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place.
emphasis mine. from the official Washington State RCW site

You weren't on a two-lane highway. It was safe to pass using another lane. You were going the same speed as all the other traffic (zero, since you're all sitting at a stoplight). There wouldn't have been any room to pull off even if the other critera were met. There were only two cars behind you, so no obligation to do so, either. Case closed.

Contact infos:

edit: oops, I read "Lynnwood." Off to find Lakewood now. My apologies to the fine folks of the Lynnwood PD... never mind, keep up the good work in Lynnwood


Ok, here's Lakewood, WA: http://www.ci.lakewood.wa.us/index.p...=82&Itemid=119 Let 'em have it.

Last edited by mechBgon; 06-06-06 at 10:45 PM.
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Old 06-06-06, 09:21 PM   #3
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F_ck yeah !

Tell them how it is.
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Old 06-06-06, 09:40 PM   #4
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All right, I emailed your mayor, themickeyd. Maybe she'll have a word with the police chief about it.
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Old 06-06-06, 09:49 PM   #5
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I also emailed his major.
Unfortunately, due to the content of my email, homeland security will be having a word with me about it...
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Old 06-06-06, 10:01 PM   #6
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It's sad when the boys in blues don't have a clue about the laws that they are paid to enforce.
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Old 06-06-06, 10:10 PM   #7
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Also, even the obstruscion of traffic on a 2-lane road is up to debate. Check out the "Legally Speaking" column on velonews.com. BAsically, wherever the test case was, it seems that a bicycle can not obstruct traffic, because it IS traffic. Or something like that.
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Old 06-06-06, 10:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmythefly
Also, even the obstruscion of traffic on a 2-lane road is up to debate. Check out the "Legally Speaking" column on velonews.com. BAsically, wherever the test case was, it seems that a bicycle can not obstruct traffic, because it IS traffic. Or something like that.
cut it out with that critical mass jive, you bike ridin' hippie
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Old 06-06-06, 10:19 PM   #9
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Exactly. "Officer, I AM traffic. I'll be as considerate a driver as I can though.... notice how I stop at the red light instead of just sidewalk-biking through. Thanks for being concerned for my safety though. Have a nice day."
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Old 06-06-06, 10:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slvoid
I also emailed his major.
Unfortunately, due to the content of my email, homeland security will be having a word with me about it...
400 watts, slvoid, they'll nevar catch you.

My first post is updated with the Washington state law that the officer was probably erroneously trying to apply to the situation.
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Old 06-07-06, 01:08 AM   #11
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If you're waiting at a red light in the right lane, you're no different from a car. Since a car in that position is not violating any law, NEITHER ARE YOU. You should have asked him to give you a ticket and then taken it to court and had it thrown out.
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Old 06-07-06, 05:38 AM   #12
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When I was younger, I would've told him to go ahead and write the ticket. Now my time is more valuable and would probably just smile, say thanks, and wave as I ride off.

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Old 06-07-06, 05:45 AM   #13
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If it happens again, get the officer's badge number and file a complaint to the police department. Cyclists have enough to worry about (road rage, thrown objects, etc), without the cops incorrectly citing traffic law as well.
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Old 06-07-06, 07:12 AM   #14
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So are school busses, garbage trucks, and mail delivery vehicles illegal in Washington, or do they all pull off the road whenever five cars show up?
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Old 06-07-06, 07:23 AM   #15
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Probably pull off the road (or the situation doesn't arise, because, safe or not, cars will pass a stopped garbage truck on a 2-lane).

That's the whole point anyway, EVEN WITH THAT LAW the OP can't get a ticket unless he's travelling on a 2-lane with 5 cars stacked up behind him AND refuses to move over to let them pass.

I'd just politely nod while he's talking, then say something to the effect of "I believe you're incorrect, as that law applies only on roads where there is no passing lane." If he continues to talk to you, just act polite but basically ignore him. If he isn't actually going to write you a ticket, then he's just being a nuisance and it'll be more trouble than it's worth to try to argue with him. If he does write you a ticket you'd clearly win in traffic court... of course that's kinda a hassle.

I agree with some of the posters who said contact the PD, but make sure you do it in a very friendly and polite manner, more of a suggestion that they double-check the bicycle traffic rules rather than a complaint about the actions of the officer. People respond much better to positive comments than negative.
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Old 06-07-06, 08:15 AM   #16
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You will never win an argument with a police officer, it is an unequal battle, in which he is holding all the cards - therefore the appropriate responce is to say "Thank you for the advice officer" then continue to ride in the safest way that you can. If he does cite you, then you can take your argument to a judge where the playing field is much more level. PITA though.
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Old 06-07-06, 11:23 AM   #17
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Politely ask him if he has a copy of the ordinance he thinks you're violating. If he doesn't, pull out your copy, read it together and have him explain it to you.
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Old 06-07-06, 11:30 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by washington law
On a two-lane highway where passing is unsafe because of traffic in the opposite direction or other conditions, a slow moving vehicle, behind which five or more vehicles are formed in a line, shall turn off the roadway wherever sufficient area for a safe turn-out exists, in order to permit the vehicles following to proceed. As used in this section a slow moving vehicle is one which is proceeding at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place.
Quote:
Basically, wherever the test case was, it seems that a bicycle can not obstruct traffic, because it IS traffic.
If that's really the reasoning, you've got to wonder where the "slow moving vehicle must turn out" laws come from. Everybody's going to have a defense: either "i'm not a vehicle, therefore not a slow moving vehicle" or "i'm a slow moving vehicle, but since I'm traffic I'm not obstructing traffic".

Seems to me the law about using turnouts oughta apply to bikes as much as it applies to motor vehicles.
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Old 06-07-06, 11:38 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lone_rider
It's sad when the boys in blues don't have a clue about the laws that they are paid to enforce.
Ha! And we expect motorists to understand?
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Old 06-07-06, 11:39 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cc_rider
Politely ask him if he has a copy of the ordinance he thinks you're violating. If he doesn't, pull out your copy, read it together and have him explain it to you.
I agree here.

"Well I happen to have the law right here.. want to read it together?"
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Old 06-07-06, 01:06 PM   #21
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Time to throw some irony to the story

To add a little more to what has happened and some things that make this even more fun.

Although last month was national bike to work month (All 340 lbs of me made it every work day on my bike last month). The local county parks and recreation is having "carLESS Commute Program" that started last Monday. It's always nice to have the police encourage participation.

Also the city of Lakewood has a survey on their web site wanting to know more about people who bicycle and walk in city. Funny thing though, they have a section on why you don't bike here and the Lakewood Police aren't listed. So I filled out the survey and added them as the #1 reason

I made a couple of contacts after I posted last night. The first one were my neighbors, I saw them heading out on their tandem and I gave a shout out before they left. As expected they were as flabber gasted as I was about what had happened. But then he stated he had a friend in the police department and he was now planning on getting a hold of him to chat about the problem. His friend is the Chief of Police for Lakewood. Can't wait to hear about his conversation!

I also contacted Govermental Concerns officer of the Tacoma Wheelmens Bicycle club and told him about what had happened and if he had any contacts or ideas what I could do further. He seem really pleased with the research that I had done with the RCW's and agree'ed that the office was in the wrong. But when I told him about posting here, you could see him grin from ear to ear over the telephone. He did suggest that I add the Public Works Director on to my email I plan to send over the matter, As well as adding the director of parks for the county "carLESS commute" program. He said do anything I could to encourage bicyclists from anywhere to voice their concerns to these people. So for those who have sent emails, Thanks! Those thinking about it, go for it! Also feel free to complete the survey for the City of Lakewood.

Ron
Lakewood WA
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Old 06-07-06, 01:56 PM   #22
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There used to be a California law like this for mountain roads. Probably still exists. It said something like if 5 cars were behind you, you had to pull over at the next turn-out to let them pass. I think it was meant to deal with the situation where a motor home is climbing the mountain at 3 mph with a whole string of cars following that have better horsepower to weight ratios.
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Old 06-07-06, 02:28 PM   #23
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The League of Illinois Bicyclists has a PDF of state bicycle laws that can be printed on business cards. I carry a few in my wallet for those circumstances.

Though so far this town has been weirdly, almost disappointingly friendly towards my commuting. Drivers are mostly courteous, what am I supposed to do with all my angst?
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Old 06-07-06, 02:29 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmythefly
Also, even the obstruscion of traffic on a 2-lane road is up to debate. Check out the "Legally Speaking" column on velonews.com. BAsically, wherever the test case was, it seems that a bicycle can not obstruct traffic, because it IS traffic. Or something like that.
Thanks for this link Fly, I always thought Velonews was for full kit wearing aero wheel riding roadies. I might just have to subscribe to it now

Ron
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Old 06-07-06, 02:34 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fillthecup
The League of Illinois Bicyclists has a PDF of state bicycle laws that can be printed on business cards. I carry a few in my wallet for those circumstances.

Though so far this town has been weirdly, almost disappointingly friendly towards my commuting. Drivers are mostly courteous, what am I supposed to do with all my angst?
Move here!

First beer after my wife post bail is on me!
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