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Old 08-01-14, 12:51 PM   #1
73conti
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Cop vs. Bicyclist

So I am participating in deferral program for a speeding ticket I got in my car. If I don't have any offenses in 6 months, then the ticket is dismissed. If I pick up a traffic related offense during this time, I get fined double and it goes against my license etc.

Got me to thinking, as a novice bike rider, now I am paranoid I am going to get picked up on my bike for doing something wrong. Whether its riding on the sidewalk, going against traffic... heck, even looking like I am danger out there.

So do you think I have something to worry about here? What do I need to know here?

PS- Yes this seems like a silly question, but I am completely new to bike riding so I have no idea really. Thank you.
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Old 08-01-14, 12:53 PM   #2
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Where is this taking place?
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Old 08-01-14, 01:03 PM   #3
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In CA; bicycles are supposed to follow the same rules of the road as motor vehicles. In many communities - but not San Jose - it is illegal to bike on the sidewalk.
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Old 08-01-14, 01:20 PM   #4
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South Suburban Chicagoland.

How do I find out the bike laws in my community?
You say I am supposed to follow the traffic laws? How can I do that when I am cowering to the side of the road with cars passing me? Am I supposed to get in line with the rest of the traffic then? That would be a death sentence.
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Old 08-01-14, 01:22 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by nfmisso View Post
In CA; bicycles are supposed to follow the same rules of the road as motor vehicles. In many communities - but not San Jose - it is illegal to bike on the sidewalk.
OTOH, as long as the citation is properly recorded as a bicycling violation it should not count against your driver's license record or affect auto insurance in California. Rules in other states and countries vary, so it would help to know the location of the OP.

Edit - I see he has now indicated that he's in Illinois. Not sure of the law there with regard to cycling violations - usually the state DMV website will have links to the local vehicle code and other relevant information.

Last edited by prathmann; 08-01-14 at 01:25 PM.
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Old 08-01-14, 01:26 PM   #6
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In most places, it's pretty hard to get a ticket on a bike. In urban areas, stop for red lights and stop signs if you're concerned about any potential for getting stopped. You shouldn't be riding against traffic so that should never be an issue. If you're not doing something wildly dangerous or very annoying, few cops would give you a second look.
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Old 08-01-14, 01:52 PM   #7
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I suggest that we only take the lane (or "get in line with the rest of the traffic", a good way to put it) when there are no vehicles dangerously close and fast and only when road conditions require it. Such as debris in your way, parked cars too close, narrow lane width, or turning left.

Otherwise, other than this "far right as practicable" requirement, all of the traffic rules apply.

It's not unheard of for cyclists to get tickets for aggressively taking the lane, or for ignoring traffic control devices, but pretty rare IMO.
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Old 08-01-14, 02:30 PM   #8
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Sounds like the op is in chicago. If there is more than one lane on a street that isnt a US highway, normally meaning a 35mph speed limit, I'll take a lane. Sometimes I'll get in with traffic on certain streets, if the bike I'm on is geared for me to go "fast" enough, such as side streets and small streets that usually have slowed or slow traffic.
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Old 08-01-14, 04:58 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by 73conti View Post
How do I find out the bike laws in my community?
Ask Google:
bikechicago.info
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Old 08-01-14, 06:07 PM   #10
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Illinois Department of Transportation This site will lead you to an explanation of the Illinois bike laws. If you don't do stupid things such as riding the wrong way on streets, riding sidewalks in business districts, or ignore stop signs and traffic signals, you are unlikely to EVER be stopped by a cop. I have decades of riding and have never ever been stopped by a cop. It does seem as though you are not comfortable riding the roads in Chicagoland. I used to live in Boringbrook, near Argonne National Lab and rode a lot but that was some years ago. It never seemed too dangerous.
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Old 08-01-14, 06:42 PM   #11
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don't ride a bike. don't drive a car. stay home for 6 months till the coast is clear. if you MUST go out, take a taxi, or public transport. oh..., and don't drink anything alcoholic either. in short, try not to enjoy life very much. and BTW, out here in CA, it's not too difficult to get a citation while riding a bike for running a stop sign.
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Old 08-02-14, 08:09 AM   #12
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I guess what I am most confused about... does an offense on a bicycle count the same as an offense in a motorized vehicle?
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Old 08-02-14, 08:18 AM   #13
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I guess what I am most confused about... does an offense on a bicycle count the same as an offense in a motorized vehicle?
Depends on laws and practices where you are.
Highly unusual and rare for a cyclist to get a ticket of any sort.
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Old 08-02-14, 08:23 AM   #14
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if in the small writing of the "contract" your restrictions include "any kind of mechanised vehicle" you'd be screwed if you, for example, road without proper lights, or the wrong way down a one way street,etc... most minor cycling violations are overlooked by passing police, but it would be sensible not to take any undue risks in terms of the law..but lets be honest, we all take some risks, at least i do
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Old 08-03-14, 03:20 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 73conti View Post
So I am participating in deferral program for a speeding ticket I got in my car. If I don't have any offenses in 6 months, then the ticket is dismissed. If I pick up a traffic related offense during this time, I get fined double and it goes against my license etc.

Got me to thinking, as a novice bike rider, now I am paranoid I am going to get picked up on my bike for doing something wrong. Whether its riding on the sidewalk, going against traffic... heck, even looking like I am danger out there.

So do you think I have something to worry about here? What do I need to know here?

PS- Yes this seems like a silly question, but I am completely new to bike riding so I have no idea really. Thank you.
Read your local highway traffic act ... especially the section pertaining to bicycles.
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Old 08-03-14, 07:58 AM   #16
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you could always just take a bicycling vacation, and get a now hobby for 6 months. take 6 months off, then go on a bicycle camping tour.
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Old 08-03-14, 09:32 AM   #17
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Suspended licences often have the Judge recruiting a new cyclist .. often it's DUI. but they can pull you over on a bike too.
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Old 08-03-14, 10:06 AM   #18
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DUI does often result in a suspended license, but in the news yesterday it was the other way around. This floors me. Some guy was arrested for DUI in Colorado at age 19, no license, and the Judge as part of his "punishment" required him to obtain a license! Which was a "hardship" for the young man, because unknown to the Judge he lacked citizenship or other legally valid residence.

What's wrong with this picture? DUI, no license, no insurance, no papers if you bother to check, and the punishment is "you have to get a drivers license young man"?
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Old 08-06-14, 11:20 AM   #19
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You might want to take a League of American Bicyclists cycling class. They have them in the Chicago area. This will give you information and experience on riding. Check it out.
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Old 08-06-14, 11:47 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by 73conti View Post
South Suburban Chicagoland.

How do I find out the bike laws in my community?
You say I am supposed to follow the traffic laws? How can I do that when I am cowering to the side of the road with cars passing me? Am I supposed to get in line with the rest of the traffic then? That would be a death sentence.
You might want to post in the regional forum. Also try to find a local club.

Generally the biggest problem for cyclists is that some rule is not enforced or is enforced with reason, E.g. full stop at a stop sign rules and then all of a sudden it is enforced to the letter of the law. Often because of a complaint about cyclists blowing stop signs, an accident or even one cop under 'quota'.

So follow the letter of the law.

Also don't be rude if pulled over. Often with a bike infraction you practically have to talk your way out of a warning into a ticket. Not always, but often enough. Be polite, be sorry ask the officer how to do it right. Once the original ticket is gone you can decide if you want to 'stand up for your rights' or not.

EDIT: Never been pulled over on a bike. That includes when a bunch of us were far from proper at a stop sign right in front of an unmarked police car. (We noticed the radio setup and the lights inside the car too late).

I have several times failed to talk myself into a ticket when the officer was planning on just a warning. And once when they wanted to be SURE I was below the legal limit for alcohol. Not rude, no ticket at all.

Last edited by Keith99; 08-06-14 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 08-06-14, 12:02 PM   #21
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Yeah, you have to get the feel for the local area. I've heard of people being stopped on bikes for stuff here in Fort Worth, but I've never experienced it myself, even when I might expect to (rolling a red light or something). The rule of thumb really is to not stand out. In general, a cop isn't going to stop you on a bike unless he sees something that catches his attention, that may be dangerous. Oddly, sometimes they stop you for riding in the lane even though it's legal, but they don't care if you ride illegally on the sidewalk as long as you're not mowing down pedestrians.

From what I read on BikeForums and hear from friends, the worst thing to do if you do get pulled over is to try to tell the cop what the law is. Instead, be polite & respectful and at least give the appearance of compliance. If you get stopped the cop is trying to fix a perceived problem. If you let him "help" you, you're less likely to get a ticket. From what I've seen, even if the law permits certain bike behaviors (like taking the lane), cops still sometimes ticket you for it (calling it reckless driving or obstructing traffic) and such charges frequently hold up in court, even though the cyclist is operating within the law. The wildcard is that most people in the court system are looking at it from a car-centric viewpoint.

Some will disagree with that approach, saying that it strips away their rights. In 6 months, you can push back if you feel you need to assert your rights. But if you want to just keep a clean record until then, blend in and go along to get along.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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