Just wonderind if you guys ever been ticketed by cops, or had any type of encounters, while on tour.
Just wonderind if you guys ever been ticketed by cops, or had any type of encounters, while on tour.
I've only had good experiences. I found that rural police are helpful- I'm don't think the average cyclist gives them much to be concerned about. Once, late at night in the middle of nowhere northern Ontario an OPP officer pulled over just to make sure we were alright and had a place to stay. He didn't mind us tenting at a rest stop once we explained that we wern't lighting fires or leaving garbage.
Lots of encounters with local cops. All pleasant and friendly. Mostly seeking their advice or responding to their queries about my trip. The local police officer is often the the best local tour guide, restaurant critic, and route organizer, all rolled up in one.
Never any tickets, but I don't speed much on my touring bike.
Never been ticketed while biking, but I've had a few strange encounters. In Vienna, Austria, on a morning with extremely light fog (only a few cars had their lights on), a cop yelled at me while I was pedaling, "Wo ist dein licht?" (Where is your light?). It struck me as absurd, plus he was using the familiar form of "you" (I was 25 years old at the time). I started to laugh and didn't even stop pedaling, which astonished him. That had been proceeded by a Viennese cop yelling at me when I was walking my bike on the sidewalk on a street with one-way traffic going the other way. That made absolutely no sense to me. Could that possibly be illegal in Austria? I didn't argue with either one, but neither encounter made much sense to me. At least the fog-obsessed cop was arguably looking out for my safety, but as I said, the fog was extremely light and few cars were using their lights.
I got pulled over on a highway in Ohio that I shouldn't have been on, no ticket the cop just gave me directions for what roads I should use. I totally knew better, I road right by the "bikes must exit here" sign.
I got a ticket from the highway patrol in Tucson for riding on I 10 when there was an adjacent frontage road available. I'd been on the interstate since Van Horn, Tx, so I didn't even notice. I didn't have to appear in court, so I don't think it was the equivalent of a speeding ticket.
Not a ticket, but at least an encounter to relate. One weekend when I was living in Fort Collins, CO I decided to do a short mini-tour loop:
Friday afternoon: Ft Collins to Cheyenne (~50 miles)
Saturday: Cheyenne to Laramie (~50 miles)
Sunday: Laramie to Ft Collins (~70 miles)
Anyways, when I got up in the morning there was a strong west wind and I just wasn't looking forward to fighting it all day - so decided to cut short this mini-tour by riding back to Fort Collins.
There is a spot where alternatives on the CO/WY border narrow to just a few choices: I-25 and US-85. That morning I chose I-25. Cycling on I-25 is legal in Wyoming as well as the last 11 miles of Colorado (mile marker 299 south to exit 288). I was cycling south at about mile marker 291 when I came past a large truck that had rolled and was on side of the road. The truck driver was standing there dazed but otherwise ok - and with him were two Colorado State Patrol officers with two State Patrol cars.
It seemed like they had enough on their hands, so as I cycled past I looked back on the lane and otherwise planned to just cycle past and let them do their jobs. However, as I got close one of the cops yelled out: "get off the interstate!".
So at that point, I stopped and in polite and calm voice let him know that Colorado DOT bike maps indicated cycles were legal from mile marker 288 to the border - that there was a yellow "caution bicycles" sign back two miles back at exit 293 and that at the next exit 288 was a "bicycles must exit" sign. It was all in a polite matter of fact way - and the trooper then apologized for yelling at me with a comment of "I just hadn't seen anyone out here before". It was otherwise a short - but constructive conversation.
Otherwise, I really haven't had encounters with law enforcement other than friendly and curiosity type encounters. I had the largest # of curiousity encounters in Russia where local cops might be out with radar guns looking for speeders. They would see me coming past and wave me over - only to ask all the standard curiosity questions everyone else did e.g. "where are you from? where are you cycling to? how will you get back once you get there? etc"
"The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."
I'm just curious to hear about the encounters some cyclists have had with the police. I find them interesting. Especially the foreign stories.
I always thought is to be funny to actually get pulled over for a car infraction while on a bike. Maybe since I live in NYC and can't see a cop doing it here. I would think it kind of pathetic.
On a bike trip in northern Spain this year, I was suddenly surrounded by 3 plainclothes officers in Santander inside a small regional train station. I was waiting for the track number to be posted for the narrow gauge train I was taking to get out of town to avoid its extensive industrial suburbs. One of the officers showed me his law enforcement ID and asked to see my "documento de identidad". In Spain and many other countries, it's legal for law enforcement officials to stop anyone at anytime and demand to see their papers, which you're supposed to carry on you at all times. I handed my passport over to the Spanish officer. He read through it and looked for my entrance stamp to the European Union. He then phoned in my information to someone who apparently ran it through a computer and confirmed that I there legally. He asked me a few questions about where I was biking and handed my passport back.
While on tour, I've only had good experiences. One time we were stopped on the side of hte road taking a break when a police car stopped and backed up. The cop got out and walked toward us - "Uh-oh," we thought, "what did we do wrong?"
But then he came up with a big smile and told us he had seen us on the news and just wanted to stop and say hi. He was very helpful and helped us find a place to stay that night. We still get emails from him occasionally!
But I did get a ticket one time - for running a stop sign at 5:00 in the morning! I was riding with two other cyclists and all three of us pedaled through the stop sign together. The other two stopped at the hospital (where they worked), but I kept going to the nursing home a mile farther away. The cop followed me! I couldn't believe he gave me a ticket for running the stop sign when there was NO traffic at all!
It ended up being a big fiasco as I didn't have any money at the time and then I completely forgot to pay the fine. A while later, the police came to my house with a warrant for my arrest - but I was back at college in another state! So then it got even worse - I skipped the state! Fortunately, my mom paid the fine for me and all was well.
What did I learn from all this? Never, ever, give the cops your drivers licence if they stop you. You don't have to have ID while riding a bike. I should have just given th guy some fake name and nobody would have ever found me!
On Sept. 27, 2002, there were mass arrests of people who were not doing anything illegal in Pershing Park in Washington, DC. Some folks who were arrested were there for a peaceful demonstration. Some of the others who were arrested were passersby including cyclists who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. There have been a slew of lawsuits against the Metropolitan Police. The illegal behavior by the police is going to cost the taxpayers of DC a lot of money. Now it seems that evidence has mysteriously disappeared.
Last edited by axolotl; 08-26-09 at 09:26 PM.
Not while touring but a riding partner of mine did get a ticket for rolling thru a stop sign not that long ago. Had to laugh because he is one of the most conscientious people you will ever meet and I don't think he has ever received a ticket while driving, serves him right : )
I had a very annoying encounter with a park ranger in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I had biked up from Hilo, a 4,000 foot (about 1225m) climb. I had tried to rent a cabin which provided access to shower blocks, but they were all reserved by a school group. Individuals like me, however, were not permitted to reserve them. Anyway, I set up my tent in the campground (which only had access to cold water sinks, and the water is indeed cold at 4,000 feet in Hawaii). There were 2 hikers who were camping there, and they told me that when they completed a lengthy hike the day before, someone staying in the cabins offered to let them use the showers. The 2 campers suggested I walk over to the cabins and ask. So I walked over and found a bunch of kids running around and one adult woman sitting in front of a cabin. I politely explained to her that I had tried to pay for a cabin but none were available because of her group's reservation, that I had just biked uphill 4,000 feet, and would she allow me to take a shower. I even offered to pay. She got all agitated and went into a lengthy refusal citing the park's rules, and eventually said, "It's not my decision". I said that I understood but that it was, in fact, her decision. I said nothing more and I walked back to the campground. A few minutes later, I was talking with the 2 campers who were surprised when I told them the response I got. Then suddenly a park ranger drove up and got out of his vehicle and walked toward us. He asked if one of us had "tried to take a shower". I replied that I had asked permission to take a shower after I had previously tried to pay for a cabin which I wasn't allowed to reserve, but that I was refused on both counts and had not attempted to take a shower when permission was denied. I also explained that I had just biked up from sea level. He was polite after that, explained the rules about the shower block, and then had a friendly chat for several minutes about my bike tour. Just when I thought he was going to leave, he suddenly asked to see my drivers license. That incensed me. I had done nothing wrong, and I was under no legal requirement to be carrying a drivers license. I told him as much. I requested that he call his supervisor to confirm my contention that he had no basis to insist that I provide him with a drivers license. I didn't tell him whether I even possessed one. I showed him a university photo ID. He was unwilling to call his supervisor and kept insisting that he had a legal right to demand to specifically see a drivers license, though it was obvious that he had doubts. After he finally left, the 2 hikers were incredulous at what had just transpired. They felt bad because they were the ones who suggested I walk over to the cabin area to ask to take a shower.What did I learn from all this? Never, ever, give the cops your drivers licence if they stop you. You don't have to have ID while riding a bike. I should have just given th guy some fake name and nobody would have ever found me!
About a week later on Kauai, I met another touring cyclist who was an attorney, and she cited the specific case which backed me up. When I got home I wrote a letter to the superintendent of the park complaining about what had transpired and got an offensive response objecting to the poor quality of the photo on my student ID and saying that he had reprimanded the ranger "for failing to ensure positive identification of a suspect". He also wrote that "a drivers license is merely a form which provides positive identification of a suspect." That response made me even angrier. I wrote him back and said that I hadn't commited a crime, wasn't accused of committing a crime, and was never told that I was a “suspect”, and I added that a drivers license is a document which allows someone to legally operate a motor vehicle. The fact that it is commonly used as a form of ID in no way compels anyone to carry one or provide one when they're not operating a motor vehicle. Of course, he never replied to that.
in Spain a police stop me on the exit lane of a motorways. He said that cycling on motorways is forbidden (but quite often you have no chance to avoid it - in this case I could) and cycling without helmet outside cities is forbidden as well. In total it should cost 130 EUR... I explained my situation (was a mistake... I'm on the exit lane to leave to motorway...etc.) After I showed my German passport I was escorted 200 m and can proceed without fine...
A good strategy on tour is to ask the policeman direct. "Hello, it's very nice that you stop. I lost my way, how do I come to..."
Like most of you, I've had only positive experiences.
The best one was a police "escort" through a very busy section of town in Mission Gorge CA by a bike cop.
It was very cool riding behind him down the center of the road with cars pulling to the side and stopping just as if it were a patrol car.
I even remember his name - Sgt. Jim Seal. He was riding a Smith & Wesson bicycle.
"I thought of that while riding my bike."
- Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity
Last edited by njkayaker; 08-27-09 at 08:44 AM.
There are lots of jerks out there. Some cyclists are jerks. Some law enforcement officials are jerks. If someone hadn't happened to be filming when this officer decided to abuse his authority, the officer probably would have gotten away with it.
The Ticket itself is no big deal in comparison to providing false information to a police officer...usually involves a mandatory court appearance, very hefty fine, and possibly jail time as well. Just had a friend go through that nightmare....BIG fine and took him over a year to work off the community service he was given in lieu of jail time (plus the bond $$$ he had to post to get out of jail until his court date).
The fine for running a stop sign looked much more appealing to him afterwards.
BAD juju, that.
Hey, I'm just this GUY...you know?
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Last edited by njkayaker; 08-27-09 at 01:47 PM.
It's somewhat unlikely. Not having ID isn't a crime in the US, so you can't be arrested for it. Driving is different since you are required to carry a license to drive.Won't they just take you in if you fail to provide an ID?
Depending on the specifics of your local laws, it is possible that without ID they may be able to detain you for the traffic violation...but I imagine the paperwork is sufficiently onerous that they wouldn't really want to. Still, as noted above the consequences of actually lying to the cop could come back to haunt you, it's generally best just to accept the ticket and move on with your life. (If you're really cheap, consider taking the ticket and contesting it in court...often times no one will bother to show up to prosecute and the charge will be dropped automatically).
Better than having no ID, you could tell them you are an illegal immigrant. I had a friend involved in an auto accident here in Houston that was the other driver's fault. The lady was an illegal from Mexico, no license, and the cop said because of this he couldn't write a ticket and there was nothing he could do so he let the illegal go scott free.
Not that I'm advocating that, mind you. Especially if you look as European as I do.