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Houston's Undercover Cyclist Harassment Sting

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Houston's Undercover Cyclist Harassment Sting

Old 03-30-14, 03:29 AM
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kjmillig
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Houston's Undercover Cyclist Harassment Sting

Good!
Undercover stings target drivers endangering bicyclists | khou.com Houston
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Old 03-30-14, 06:21 AM
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That is great for Houston, something I've long thought was needed in my area.
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Old 03-30-14, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by 02Giant View Post
That is great for Houston, something I've long thought was needed in my area.
Well, the police did say after 80 hours on the road, they barely gave out any citations, even though their primary objective was to look out for dangerous drivers.

Of course if you ask enough cyclists, a good number will happily claim that many drivers are crazy, dangerous SOBs, based on the actions of maybe a tiny portion of the driving community.

Yes there are definitely dangerous drivers out there, but what's the law doing against the SOB cyclists who exaggerate how they feel 'threatened' by some imaginary army of killer motorists out there?
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Old 03-30-14, 07:53 AM
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Having an occasional presence can't hurt.
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Old 03-30-14, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by keyven View Post
Well, the police did say after 80 hours on the road, they barely gave out any citations, even though their primary objective was to look out for dangerous drivers.

Of course if you ask enough cyclists, a good number will happily claim that many drivers are crazy, dangerous SOBs, based on the actions of maybe a tiny portion of the driving community.

Yes there are definitely dangerous drivers out there, but what's the law doing against the SOB cyclists who exaggerate how they feel 'threatened' by some imaginary army of killer motorists out there?
Obviously, so many cyclists saying that independently must all be liars.

There's can't be any other reason why the Houston police only issued a few citations.

Hear that?

The all-knowing kayven says anyone complaining about aggressive and dangerous drivers is a liar.
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Old 03-30-14, 08:14 AM
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There are harassing drivers out there, but it isn't something I come across every block. Eighty hours of patrol and very few citations is not surprising. What probably does more good than writing citations is publicizing the undercover patrols. This would make a lot of haters think twice.
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Old 03-30-14, 08:32 AM
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I suspect that the most beneficial result of the 3' law is that it will be easier to prosecute in the case of a collision, since the driver will, assuming that it can be proved it was his fault, be automatically in breach of the law.

I understand that, in many places in continental Europe, such collisions are automatically the fault of the drivers, unless they can prove tht the cyclist swerved violently. Of course, in France, for instance, the overtaking margin is supposed to be 2m, wich makes it highly unlikely that the rider swerved that much.
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Old 03-30-14, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by CommuteCommando View Post
There are harassing drivers out there, but it isn't something I come across every block. Eighty hours of patrol and very few citations is not surprising. What probably does more good than writing citations is publicizing the undercover patrols. This would make a lot of haters think twice.
Tend to agree. After all there are not that many haters out there, really.

In any single year of bike commuting on a daily work day basis, I only get about 4 "events" a year. And those "events" are not evenly spaced.... meaning there may be a cluster one year and nothing the year after. "Harassing events" really don't occur that often... and I suspect that a few of them are distracted motorists rather than real harassment issues.

Obviously having something thrown at you or being yelled at in a very specific way are harassment events... close passes can just be distracted driving. Of course if you are injured it really doesn't matter much what the reason was... you are still down.
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Old 03-30-14, 09:03 AM
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More cities should be doing this.
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Old 03-30-14, 09:04 AM
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With so low of a number of tickets given out, my question is how the LEOs are riding, as a group of two or more, or solo. From my personal observations, motorists tend to be less willing to act aggressively towards cyclists riding as a group than a cyclist that is riding solo.
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Old 03-30-14, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Tend to agree. After all there are not that many haters out there, really.

In any single year of bike commuting on a daily work day basis, I only get about 4 "events" a year. And those "events" are not evenly spaced.... meaning there may be a cluster one year and nothing the year after. "Harassing events" really don't occur that often... and I suspect that a few of them are distracted motorists rather than real harassment issues.

Obviously having something thrown at you or being yelled at in a very specific way are harassment events... close passes can just be distracted driving. Of course if you are injured it really doesn't matter much what the reason was... you are still down.
My instances of incidents is a little higher than yours, (about once a month) but I guess it depends on whether you count cases of blatant belligerence, or include ignorance too.

It's like flat tires. You can get several on a single ride, or go half a year without one..
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Old 03-30-14, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by achoo View Post
Obviously, so many cyclists saying that independently must all be liars.

There's can't be any other reason why the Houston police only issued a few citations.

Hear that?

The all-knowing kayven says anyone complaining about aggressive and dangerous drivers is a liar.
Apparently the all-knowing achoo knows more than the all-knowing keyven

Last edited by keyven; 03-30-14 at 10:09 PM.
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Old 03-30-14, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by CommuteCommando View Post
My instances of incidents is a little higher than yours, (about once a month) but I guess it depends on whether you count cases of blatant belligerence, or include ignorance too.

It's like flat tires. You can get several on a single ride, or go half a year without one..
The only difference is that the flat tires are often the result of a sharp piece of road detritus, but the bothersome encounters are often caused by road detritus of a rather dull sort.
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Old 03-30-14, 08:51 PM
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If they get press coverage (they did) mission accomplished even if they issue no tickets. I would like them to issue a few to drive the point home.
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Old 03-30-14, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by atbman View Post
I suspect that the most beneficial result of the 3' law is that it will be easier to prosecute in the case of a collision, since the driver will, assuming that it can be proved it was his fault, be automatically in breach of the law.
I don't know the wording of the Houston 3' law, but that's certainly not true for the Austin 3' law, which is almost identical to the state wide law that was passed by the state legislature but vetoed by Rick Perry (so it never became law.)

Here, the ordinance only covers passing (and throws in some intentional actions like assault and harassment -- I'll ignore that part, as it doesn't really apply here) and some versions of the left and right hook. It does not create a 3' zone around the cyclist that motorists may not enter. So if the motorist was actually trying to pass the cyclist and bumped them -- that would qualify. But it doesn't cover running stop signs or red lights, and possibly not even running over a cyclist from behind (as the motorist didn't actually pass the cyclist -- unless he ran him over completely, of course.)

And then to make matters worse, the ordinance has a loophole so large that you could drive a SUV through it -- that it's an "affirmative defense" that the vulnerable road user was violating a law at the time of the incident. Now, you might think "ok, that's not so bad -- if the cyclist caused it, it shouldn't be the driver's fault" -- but as worded, it's a much larger defense than that. If the cyclist had no lights on his bike at night ... fine. But it would also qualify if the cyclist had a joint in his pocket, no brakes on his bike or even was an alien in this country illegally.

Fortunately, everything that this ordinance makes illegal was already illegal, so there's other laws that can be used. All the ordinance does that's really useful is give a hard and fast distance for minimum passing distance rather than leaving it unspecified -- and really, 3' should be a bare minimum anyways, and I'd suggest more in most cases.

Actually looking up the Houston ordinance, it seems quite similar to the Austin version but with one huge improvement -- the affirmative defense covers relevant traffic law violations instead of violations of any law -- and some smaller improvements as well.

But it still doesn't cover all sorts of collisions between a car and a bike. But then again, those other things are already covered by other laws there too -- if somebody's at fault and causes a collision, there's almost always a law that covers it -- if not, they wouldn't be deemed to be at fault. The only exceptions would be unavoidable, unforseen events -- hitting a patch of ice, mechanical failure, heart attack, etc.

That said, in 80 hours of sting they only gave out three tickets and one warning? Austin passed a similar ordinance in 2009 and gave out less than 20 tickets in four years total for it until they had a sting on it in 2013. In that sting they also had police officers riding unmarked bikes, and they gave out something near one hundred tickets for violations. I don't know how many man hours this sting required, but it seems to have been a good deal more effective than the Houston one.

It's still sad that over 80% of the tickets given for violating this ordinance in Austin were for passing a cop too closely (and it may be that the <20 violations from 2009 through most of 2013 were mostly cops as well) -- but at least they're finally trying to put this ordinance to some use.

Last edited by dougmc; 03-30-14 at 11:08 PM.
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Old 03-31-14, 02:24 AM
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Originally Posted by keyven View Post
Well, the police did say after 80 hours on the road, they barely gave out any citations, even though their primary objective was to look out for dangerous drivers.

Of course if you ask enough cyclists, a good number will happily claim that many drivers are crazy, dangerous SOBs, based on the actions of maybe a tiny portion of the driving community.

Yes there are definitely dangerous drivers out there, but what's the law doing against the SOB cyclists who exaggerate how they feel 'threatened' by some imaginary army of killer motorists out there?
How many motorists have cyclists killed this year compared to number of cyclists killed by motorists. Yet you think the cops should spend their time ticketing cyclists. Maybe you think the only reason for tickets is revenue, thus you think cops should go after the easy targets.

The 3 tickets handed out to the bad drivers, plus the publicity will reduce harassment of cyclists in Houston and may even save a cyclist life, but you rail against it. What gives with such an attitude?
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Old 03-31-14, 04:10 AM
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On a lighter note.....

......rides on a bike he got for $45 at a yard sale! Seems like he got a pretty good deal. I could make out the Schwinn name, but with downtube shifters it's one of their better models and appears to be in excellent condition.

Oh, and Houston Police, keep up the good work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 03-31-14, 07:09 AM
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1 in 10 drivers do something which annoys me.
1 in 100 drivers inadvertently try to kill me.
1 in 1000 drivers are purposely malicious.

Or so.
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Old 03-31-14, 07:52 AM
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metal man +1

You are absolutely right. Putting it on the news will mean that the word will get around.

More cities should do this and see that it gets on the local news. Who knows how many cyclist it might save.
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Old 03-31-14, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
1 in 10 drivers do something which annoys me.
duuude...you are an effing saint.
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Old 03-31-14, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
How many motorists have cyclists killed this year compared to number of cyclists killed by motorists. Yet you think the cops should spend their time ticketing cyclists. Maybe you think the only reason for tickets is revenue, thus you think cops should go after the easy targets.

The 3 tickets handed out to the bad drivers, plus the publicity will reduce harassment of cyclists in Houston and may even save a cyclist life, but you rail against it. What gives with such an attitude?
I am not 'railing" against protection for cyclists, despite what your anger-induced haze makes it appear (see how easy it is to paint someone in a negative light?).

Cyclists are as much responsible for their own safety, and knowing there are cycling cops going around handing tickets to errant motorists AND cyclists would reduce dangerous antics from both sides. How is that a bad thing?

I'm reminded of the cries of Racism every time the two sides clash. Cyclists seldom need to defend their behavior in an accident if there's no video evidence - they are the poor, defenseless ones who can do no wrong. Emotions rule this debate, not logic or facts.
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Old 03-31-14, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by keyven View Post
I am not 'railing" against protection for cyclists, despite what your anger-induced haze makes it appear (see how easy it is to paint someone in a negative light?).

Cyclists are as much responsible for their own safety, and knowing there are cycling cops going around handing tickets to errant motorists AND cyclists would reduce dangerous antics from both sides. How is that a bad thing?

I'm reminded of the cries of Racism every time the two sides clash. Cyclists seldom need to defend their behavior in an accident if there's no video evidence - they are the poor, defenseless ones who can do no wrong. Emotions rule this debate, not logic or facts.
Your attack had nothing to do with anything I said. My response to your post was on point to your claims.

Another on point for which your emotions will consider an attack, how many legal cyclists killed by drunk and distracted drivers do you claim were equally at fault for their death?
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Old 03-31-14, 10:31 PM
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We have bicycle police in my area. I wish some would ride undercover simply because that would be a perfect way to discover crack houses and drug dealers. I see everything in the poorer areas near the edges of the downtown.
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Old 04-01-14, 06:35 AM
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If motorists just gave turn signals the world would instantly become a better place. Using a blinker light is an act of brotherhood with other road users and a huge step away from motorized narcissism. Start by catching the non- signalers and make them go to driving safety school. In school, teach them how to exist on roadways with ALL road users.
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Old 04-01-14, 11:34 AM
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A few years ago, we had a handful of local cops who rode bikes for fitness. I only saw them go out in a group and they always were clearly marked as police. I asked one of them why they didn't ride without markings so they could see what the rest of us were putting up with. He responded that they knew full well the level of harassment we were receiving and they didn't want to deal with that. I don't see our local police initiating a program like Houston anytime soon.

Even when they have done pedestrian right-of-way stings (state funded operations) they have had to arrest people for going after them. Some people, thankfully a small percentage, are just hostile jerks who are happy to endanger others.
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