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.