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  1. #1
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    Was pulled over and ticketed on my commute yesterday

    Hello,

    I received a traffic ticket yesterday and was told that I could not commute by bike through Gallatin, Tennessee anymore. After not being able to sleep and getting online to post this message on the Bentrider Online forum, I was advised to copy my first post and send it to you with the hopes that you may be able to help me out in some fashion. The entire thread can be read at: http://www.bentrideronline.com/messa...ad.php?t=42736 This was my first post:

    Was pulled over and ticketed on my commute yesterday.....(long)
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It may just have been an ignorant officer, but it still has made for a very sleepless night.

    After being pulled over, the officer told me that there had been many calls about me riding a bicycle on the road. I informed him that I had read in Tennessee Code Annotated that I had all the rights and responsibilities of a motor vehicle and that the road/shoulder was too narrow to justify not taking the full lane for safety, so I was taking the full lane since the bike lane did not go thru town . I could not remember the chapter and section which covered bicycles, but being an officer he should know. Well, ignorant may be giving the officer too much credit, as he informed me that because of Gallatin Municipal Code that I was impeding traffic because I was not able to maintain the posted speed limit of 45, that I needed to have the bike registered and insured, and that I was going to have to call someone to come pick me up, as he would not allow me to pedal out of town. I asked him to call a supervisor over, and he informed me that his superior had rolled by as I was being stopped and was now too busy. I started off thinking that he may not know, but would be told of his error once he talked to someone else, but obviously that was not going to happen. After giving him my license and getting the $105 ticket and being told that the next time they saw me on the street that things would escalate. Well I was a bundle of nerves(angry, confused, anxious, ashamed) and did not know what to do next as I still had at least 2 miles to get out of town and then another 12 to get back home.

    I did pedal home and looked up the laws that cover bicycles for Tennessee(and I was right...or at least I think I am, but when an official tells you that you are wrong, then you question yourself). I can not figure out why a city law would supercede state law and why said city law would target bicycles in a way to insure they not be able to be legally ridden, as there is no way anyone I know of can maintain 45mph. (END)

    The ticket was for impeding traffic. The stretch of roadway in question is three lanes(center turn lane) at the point where the officer pulled me over. Road is four lanes in town and two(with a bike lane) as you come to the edge of town. I would appreciate any advice/help that you may offer.

  2. #2
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    contact your local bicycle advocacy organization. cop was ignerent.

    buy 'bob mionske's "cycling and the law" if you want some gristle to digest about bicyclists right to the road and being traffic.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  3. #3
    Senior Member bhop's Avatar
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    Maybe talk to a lawyer?

  4. #4
    JRA
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    You'd be advised to consult a lawyer.

    Gallatin Municipal Code is available online:
    http://www.municode.com/Resources/ga...d=12389&sid=42

    from chapter 16:
    Gallatin Sec. 16-2. Bicycle riders, etc. (a) Every person riding or operating a bicycle, motorcycle, or motor-driven cycle shall be subject to the provisions of all traffic ordinances, rules, and regulations of the city applicable to the driver or operator of other vehicles except as to those provisions which by their nature can have no application to bicycles, motorcycles, or motor-driven cycles.

    Sec. 16-137 concerns speed limits on specific streets.

    ---

    LAB has a page for Tennessee (although the link to the state code doesn't work):
    http://www.bikeleague.org/action/bikelaws/tn.php


    ----

    The Tennessee code is available at:
    http://www.michie.com/tennessee/lpex....htm&cp=tncode

    See Title 55 chapter 8

    Tennessee Sections 55-8-171 thru 55-8-178 concern bicycles.

    Tennessee law defines a bicycle as having 2 wheels, although in Chapter 26 Pedal Carriages and Rickshaws, pedal carriages and rickshaws are definded as 4 and 3 wheel bicycles, respectively (designed to be used to transport passengers). Logically, if a rickshaw is a bicycle with 3 wheels, then a device with three wheels is a bicycle.

    Tennessee § 55-8-101(4). Definitions
    “Bicycle” means every device propelled by human power upon which any person may ride, having two (2) tandem wheels, either of which is more than twenty inches (20") in diameter;

    § 55-8-101 (73) “Vehicle” means every device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, excepting devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.

    § 55-8-101(28). “Low speed vehicle” means any four-wheeled electric vehicle...

    I couldn't find a definition of Human Powered Vehicle (HPV) in the Tennessee code.

    I am not a lawyer.
    Last edited by JRA; 08-25-08 at 06:58 AM.
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  5. #5
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Impeding traffic is not a bicycle specific violation, it applies to any vehicle that is not going as fast as it reasonably can can go. Enforcing it as not keeping up with the speed limit is the same as saying bicyclists and slow moving vehicles are not allowed on any road, in direct conflict of laws saying they are allowed. Contact your local bicycle advocacy group/bike club and see if they have a lawyer recommendation.
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  6. #6
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Get a lawyer. Or at the very least, talk to a lawyer.

    With regards to impeding traffic, here is the best summary ...

    http://www.velonews.com/article/9772

    Good luck.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Febs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by knightslayer57 View Post
    I started off thinking that he may not know, but would be told of his error once he talked to someone else, but obviously that was not going to happen. After giving him my license and getting the $105 ticket and being told that the next time they saw me on the street that things would escalate.
    The ticket was for impeding traffic.
    What code provision is cited in the ticket?
    Last edited by Febs; 08-25-08 at 02:44 PM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member hurricane harry's Avatar
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    This happend in Hazzard County? Roscoe? Bo? Luke?

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    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    The posted speed limit is a maximum, not a minimum.

    The cop is a moron.

  10. #10
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    I think I would pay a visit to the local States Attorney, with a copy of the laws in hand, and ask for their opinion. I'd be willing to bet, that their opinion will be in direct opposition to the local constabulary. Then, go visit the local PD, and ask to see the chief.

    Don't forget, that your tax dollars support the SA, and they will work as much for you as against you.

    I have had real good luck talking to the States Attorney, be it county or state. Doesn't cost you anything either....

  11. #11
    Senior Member grayloon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    I think I would pay a visit to the local States Attorney, with a copy of the laws in hand, and ask for their opinion. I'd be willing to bet, that their opinion will be in direct opposition to the local constabulary. Then, go visit the local PD, and ask to see the chief.

    Don't forget, that your tax dollars support the SA, and they will work as much for you as against you.

    I have had real good luck talking to the States Attorney, be it county or state. Doesn't cost you anything either....
    Do you mean the district attorney, the one responsible for prosecuting cases? If so, this was a municipal citation from what I read. Municipal violations are handled by municipal courts in most states. The municipality will have a prosecuting attorney present at the trial, but the states attorney is not involved at that level. It may or may not do to talk to the city's prosecutor. Sometimes, they don't want to chat until its time to go to court.

  12. #12
    Senior Member grayloon's Avatar
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    You may want to take the matter up with the city manager and/or mayor. The town is progressive enough to have a dog park, maybe they are in other matters. I doubt that it wants to be known as the Tennessee town that prohibits bikes.

  13. #13
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    Around here, the prosecuting attorney for the city, would be the county states attorney.... or an associate county states attorney....

    Also, District Attorney - States Attorney, same thing.

  14. #14
    Senior Member sojourn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by knightslayer57 View Post
    Hello,

    I received a traffic ticket yesterday and was told that I could not commute by bike through Gallatin, Tennessee anymore. After not being able to sleep and getting online to post this message on the Bentrider Online forum, I was advised to copy my first post and send it to you with the hopes that you may be able to help me out in some fashion. The entire thread can be read at: http://www.bentrideronline.com/messa...ad.php?t=42736 This was my first post:

    Was pulled over and ticketed on my commute yesterday.....(long)
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It may just have been an ignorant officer, but it still has made for a very sleepless night.

    After being pulled over, the officer told me that there had been many calls about me riding a bicycle on the road. I informed him that I had read in Tennessee Code Annotated that I had all the rights and responsibilities of a motor vehicle and that the road/shoulder was too narrow to justify not taking the full lane for safety, so I was taking the full lane since the bike lane did not go thru town . I could not remember the chapter and section which covered bicycles, but being an officer he should know. Well, ignorant may be giving the officer too much credit, as he informed me that because of Gallatin Municipal Code that I was impeding traffic because I was not able to maintain the posted speed limit of 45, that I needed to have the bike registered and insured, and that I was going to have to call someone to come pick me up, as he would not allow me to pedal out of town. I asked him to call a supervisor over, and he informed me that his superior had rolled by as I was being stopped and was now too busy. I started off thinking that he may not know, but would be told of his error once he talked to someone else, but obviously that was not going to happen. After giving him my license and getting the $105 ticket and being told that the next time they saw me on the street that things would escalate. Well I was a bundle of nerves(angry, confused, anxious, ashamed) and did not know what to do next as I still had at least 2 miles to get out of town and then another 12 to get back home.

    I did pedal home and looked up the laws that cover bicycles for Tennessee(and I was right...or at least I think I am, but when an official tells you that you are wrong, then you question yourself). I can not figure out why a city law would supercede state law and why said city law would target bicycles in a way to insure they not be able to be legally ridden, as there is no way anyone I know of can maintain 45mph. (END)

    The ticket was for impeding traffic. The stretch of roadway in question is three lanes(center turn lane) at the point where the officer pulled me over. Road is four lanes in town and two(with a bike lane) as you come to the edge of town. I would appreciate any advice/help that you may offer.
    So on the one hand you admit to impeding traffic, then you complain because you are being treated like any other vehicle on the road.......If you can't find a way to NOT impede traffic (another route, earlier start, staying more to the right, etc) then best you don't commute. The good of the many outweigh the good of the few, or the one (as Spock would say). Pay the fine, find a way to commute and get along with your fellow commuters, regardless of what they commute in.....

  15. #15
    Senior Member Febs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sojourn View Post
    So on the one hand you admit to impeding traffic, then you complain because you are being treated like any other vehicle on the road.......If you can't find a way to NOT impede traffic (another route, earlier start, staying more to the right, etc) then best you don't commute. The good of the many outweigh the good of the few, or the one (as Spock would say). Pay the fine, find a way to commute and get along with your fellow commuters, regardless of what they commute in.....
    Why should he pay a fine if he was riding lawfully? Which statutory provision did he violate?

  16. #16
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    There may be a restriction to riding that particular road. Around here, I may not ride on our main street as posted. If you aren't allowed to ride it, there should be signs around, however.

  17. #17
    Devilmaycare Cycling Fool Allister's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sojourn View Post
    So on the one hand you admit to impeding traffic,
    'Taking the lane' does not equal 'impeding traffic'.
    If we learn from our mistakes, I must be a goddamn genius.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by sojourn View Post
    So on the one hand you admit to impeding traffic, then you complain because you are being treated like any other vehicle on the road.......If you can't find a way to NOT impede traffic (another route, earlier start, staying more to the right, etc) then best you don't commute. The good of the many outweigh the good of the few, or the one (as Spock would say). Pay the fine, find a way to commute and get along with your fellow commuters, regardless of what they commute in.....
    Say it with me: "speed LIMIT." Go read (and comprehend) the laws and maybe you'll see the ridiculousness of this ticket.

  19. #19
    Senior Member grayloon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    Around here, the prosecuting attorney for the city, would be the county states attorney.... or an associate county states attorney....

    Also, District Attorney - States Attorney, same thing.
    Gallatin has a city attorney and a municipal court that handle municipal citations. Though, I must say, the city's website is poor when seeking information about the courts, request for trial of traffic citations, etc.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Febs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allister View Post
    'Taking the lane' does not equal 'impeding traffic'.
    Correct. In fact, the Tennessee statutes cited in the link in JRA's post say exactly that.

    Section 55-8-154(a) provides, that "No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law."

    As a threshold matter, because this section specifically refers to "motor vehicles," rather than just "vehicles," it is arguably not applicable to bicycles. Even if it does apply to bicycles under section 55-8-172 ("Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway is granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter ..."), there are two exceptions to the proscription on driving at slow speeds: (1) "when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation," and (2) "when reduced speed is ... in compliance with the law." The first of these exceptions is arguably applicable. The second is applicable based on the facts as they were presented to us because "reduced speed is ... in compliance with the law." Specifically, section 55-8-175(a)(1) expressly provides that "Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except ... When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge." This code section goes on to define “substandard width lane” as a "lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane."

    Thus, given the facts as they were presented by the original poster, the Tennessee statute expressly permits him to travel in the substandard width lane.

  21. #21
    20+mph Commuter JoeyBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allister View Post
    'Taking the lane' does not equal 'impeding traffic'.
    It does in New Orleans! I've been telling you kind folks that for some time now. It is the cop's call. If he shows up in court and tells the judge you were impeding traffic - then you were, whether you believe you were or not.

    Pay the danged ticket. I know it sucks. Then adapt your riding style/route to suit the facts on the ground. Or get a lawyer and spend a bunch of dough to fight it, measure the lanes, hire a civil engineer as an expert witness, etc.
    Last edited by JoeyBike; 08-25-08 at 09:07 PM.
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  22. #22
    Devilmaycare Cycling Fool Allister's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
    It does in New Orleans! I've been telling you kind folks that for some time now.
    Aren't you special.
    If we learn from our mistakes, I must be a goddamn genius.

  23. #23
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    Please talk to a traffic lawyer. The initial consultations are free. You have a good case. Don't you dare pay that ticket. If you pay the ticket, they win. You will never be able to ride that road again, neither will anyone else.

    Police officers are often ignorant of the laws they are supposed to enforce. "Escalating" what does that mean? Did he threaten to arrest you?

    I would put my foot down and stand up to these people. They are not better than you.

  24. #24
    What is this demonry?! Szczuldo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
    It does in New Orleans! I've been telling you kind folks that for some time now. It is the cop's call. If he shows up in court and tells the judge you were impeding traffic - then you were, whether you believe you were or not.

    Pay the danged ticket. I know it sucks. Then adapt your riding style/route to suit the facts on the ground. Or get a lawyer and spend a bunch of dough to fight it, measure the lanes, hire a civil engineer as an expert witness, etc.
    **** the OP didn't even say anything about TRAFFIC being on the damned road. I take the lane on all the roads during my commute, mind you there are 2 lanes each way so cars usually don't have an issue and if they do too bad.

    I'd be damned if I have to pay that ticket, the law is very vague on what is deemed safe enough to be riding on the curb, I've come to interpret it as I'll ride in the right tire track or in the middle of the lane. Especially since that road had a center lane people can still safely pass him. Illinois law has the same clause about bikes needing to be as close to the right as it is safe, and I've blown past plenty of cops in the middle of the lane and usually all they do is point their radar *** at me to see how fast i'm going.

    I've seen some of your video's and i'm actually shocked that you would tell him to pay the ticket, I'm sure you'd be pissed off if you have to pay such a ridiculous ticket.

  25. #25
    Senior Member sojourn's Avatar
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    Read the guys post.......the cops were getting complaints because he's IMPEDING traffic........I'll tell you, it appears to me that many posting to this particular thread are....well........products of the public school system!
    GEEZE!

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