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Why would a Sheriff tell me to get on the sidewalk?

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Why would a Sheriff tell me to get on the sidewalk?

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Old 10-26-04, 07:02 AM
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CitiZen
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Why would a Sheriff tell me to get on the sidewalk?

I was stopped at a light in the right lane of a busy four-lane (Leonard NE near the
Beltine, Seely.) A white sheriff's car pulls up abreast of me. Here is the conversation verbatim:
He: "Ma'am?"
Me: "Yes?"
He: "You might want to get on the sidewalk since there's one available."
Me: "I thought that was illegal!"

I regret to say I got on the sidewalk for a few blocks then resumed my usual route back on the street. When I first saw his car, I was sure I would be commended for wearing a helmet and using my generator lights, fore and aft! Pffftt!

I'll be phoning the Kent County Sheriff's Office for clarification, but no wonder we can't get no respect when even our guardians of the law don't know the law.
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Old 10-26-04, 07:27 AM
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Old 10-26-04, 08:29 AM
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Check your local ordinances. A few idiotic towns require sidewalk use. But if a cop orders you onto the sidewalk, you have to comply, at least for awhile (I intentionally left that mushy).

If the cop is being friendly, you could always respond, "But I feel safer on the road. Is it OK if I stay here?"

You are right to contact the sheriff's office for clarification.
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Old 10-26-04, 11:15 AM
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Assuming your trascript of the conversation is accurate, the Sheriff did not order you to use the sidewalk. It appears that he was suggesting it to you. I think if the Sheriff were requiring you to use the sidewalk, he would have used unambiguous language.
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Old 10-26-04, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by supcom
Assuming your trascript of the conversation is accurate, the Sheriff did not order you to use the sidewalk. It appears that he was suggesting it to you. I think if the Sheriff were requiring you to use the sidewalk, he would have used unambiguous language.
You are right, in theory, but a "request" from a cop is more than a "request" from you or me.
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Old 10-26-04, 12:23 PM
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I used to be a big fan of the sidewalk-riding strategy. When I was 15 years old, riding next to 50mph traffic was not my idea of fun, and I passed a pedestrian on the sidewalk about once a month. I therefore felt that the sidewalk was a pretty good place for me. After a couple of years of that, though, i began to feel confident riding next to cars, and the roads are smoother than the sidewalks so I went for the easier ride instead of separation from traffic.
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Old 10-26-04, 01:32 PM
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What sort of top speeds to vehicles reach on that four lane road? In my neighborhood, top speeds of fifty mph are not rare on four lane roads. And, the lanes can be narrower than a bus or 18 wheel truck. So, if an officer suggested to someone that they, and their bike would be safer on the sidewalk, he might be correct...from a survival point of view.

I keep reading posts from people who say they feel comfortable riding a bike on a four lane road with vehicles going 40 mph or 50 mph. I rarely see anyone actually attempting this feat in Houston. Sky diving looks safer.
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Old 10-26-04, 01:49 PM
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I, for one, am glad that it is legal for bicycles to ride on the sidewalk in Los Angeles - as long as the right of way is yielded to pedestrians. It gives us another option when traffic gets dicey. I used to commute on Roscoe Blvd in the San Fernando Valley, CA. There is a pretty busy 2 mi. stretch along an airport, industrial park and a big brewery where pedestrian traffic is so light that it renders the sidewalk a quasi bike lane. I would not have been able to commute anywhere near as safely if I hadn't been able to ride on the side walk there. In fact, the occasional pedestrian seemed to understand, as I'd usually get a friendly nod, providing I announced my presence well in advance. So give the local cop shop a call and find out if it's legal for you to ride the sidewalk when appropriate. If it is it makes a nice option to have. DanO
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Old 10-26-04, 02:21 PM
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Its illegal to ride on the side walks here in Quad Cities, Iowa, but I've never been hassled in 25 years. I don't think the cops care as long as you aren't muscling pedestrians out of the way. I always ride the sidewalks if available on busy (dangerous) streets. I am old and afraid though.
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Old 10-26-04, 02:41 PM
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Cycling on sidewalks is also illegal here (Saskatoon SK). I would estimate that at lease 80% of the high-school kids I meet along my route ride on the sidewalks though. If they don't ride the sidewalks, they ride the wrong way on the street, hugging the curb.
 
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Old 10-26-04, 03:22 PM
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"Understand that the law is on your side. The law gives you the right to use the road, the same as a motorist, and to make other traffic slow down for you sometimes. Since you don't have eyes in the back of your head, you can't be expected to keep track of the traffic behind you at all times. The driver approaching from the rear is always required to slow and follow if it's not pssible to pass safely."

I started to laugh at this line from the PA DOT Bicycle Handbook, until I read the next paragraph...

"In any case, narrow roads aren't usually places where motorists drive very fast. It's dangerous to drive fast on narrow roads because there's so little room for error. Motorists expect to have to slow down for all sorts of reasons."

Ha, Ha!
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Old 10-26-04, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by alanbikehouston
What sort of top speeds to vehicles reach on that four lane road? In my neighborhood, top speeds of fifty mph are not rare on four lane roads. And, the lanes can be narrower than a bus or 18 wheel truck. So, if an officer suggested to someone that they, and their bike would be safer on the sidewalk, he might be correct...from a survival point of view.

I keep reading posts from people who say they feel comfortable riding a bike on a four lane road with vehicles going 40 mph or 50 mph. I rarely see anyone actually attempting this feat in Houston. Sky diving looks safer.
Would riding Beltway 8 service road from Greenspoint to Richmond Ave. count? Talk about scarey rides. I've done it a few times but don't really look forward to it. I would rather be jumping out of a plane but that's because it doesn't take as long to be over with, and cars are less likely to cut you off by turning right in front of you.
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Old 10-26-04, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by CitiZen
I was stopped at a light in the right lane of a busy four-lane (Leonard NE near the
Beltine, Seely.) A white sheriff's car pulls up abreast of me. Here is the conversation verbatim:
He: "Ma'am?"
Me: "Yes?"
He: "You might want to get on the sidewalk since there's one available."
Me: "I thought that was illegal!"

I regret to say I got on the sidewalk for a few blocks then resumed my usual route back on the street. When I first saw his car, I was sure I would be commended for wearing a helmet and using my generator lights, fore and aft! Pffftt!

I'll be phoning the Kent County Sheriff's Office for clarification, but no wonder we can't get no respect when even our guardians of the law don't know the law.
how were you riding the bike? where you riding a like a drunk driver and weaving in and out of your lane,, ahh you did the right thing don't argue with a uniform officer
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Old 10-26-04, 05:24 PM
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I have to chuckle at the image of America's sidewalks teeming with pedestrians, all out for a nice walk in the fresh air
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Old 10-26-04, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by CitiZen
...When I first saw his car, I was sure I would be commended for wearing a helmet and using my generator lights, fore and aft!...
Forgive me for not knowing anything about generator lights. Do they only work while you are moving? I mean, were the lights off because you were stopped? If that were the case, and he pulled up to you after you had stopped, he wouldn't realize you had lights at all. That could be the reason he suggested the sidewalk. Under those circumstances, it would be a pretty good suggestion!
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Old 10-26-04, 06:28 PM
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League of Michigan Bicyclists

257.660 BICYCLES, MOTORCYCLES, OR MOPEDS; OPERATION ON ROADWAY; USE OF BICYCLE PATH; PASSING; OPERATION OF BICYCLE OR MOPED ON SIDEWALK; EXCEPTION...

Sec. 660. (1) A person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction...

3) Where a usable and designated path for bicycles is provided adjacent to a roadway, a bicycle rider may, by local ordinance, be required to use that path. Where a usable and designated path for bicycles is provided adjacent to a roadway, a bicycle rider who is less than 16 years of age shall use that path unless accompanied by an adult. [Note: this is not a sidewalk-- me]

5) A person operating a bicycle on a sidewalk constructed for the use of pedestrians shall yield the right of way to a pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing the pedestrian....

are the only references to sidewalk usage by cyclists I could find.

My take? This deputy wanted to through his power around, saw an attractive female on a bike, and let loose.

Dave
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Old 10-26-04, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Daily Commute
You are right, in theory, but a "request" from a cop is more than a "request" from you or me.
The wording quoted was not even a request. It was merely a suggestion like stating that you might try the chocolate malt at the burger shop.

Surely they teach police to state orders clearly and unambiguously. If a cop intends for you to ride on the sidewalk, I would expect him to tell me that I 'must use the sidewalk' or 'please use the sidewalk'. Stating that 'you might want to use the sidewalk' is, not even a request. If it were said to me, I would assume that the cop is merely suggesting an alternative that I may not have considered. I would thank him and politely state that I feel safer riding with traffic so as not to endanger pedestrians and to minimize my exposure to cars entering the main street from side roads. If the cop really does want me off the street, he can then clarify himself.
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Old 10-28-04, 12:04 PM
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"In any case, narrow roads aren't usually places where motorists drive very fast. It's dangerous to drive fast on narrow roads because there's so little room for error. Motorists expect to have to slow down for all sorts of reasons."

Ha, Ha!
I agree! The person that wrote that doesn't seem to know anything about PA drivers!
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Old 10-28-04, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by supcom
Stating that 'you might want to use the sidewalk' is, not even a request..
"You might want to use the sidewalk" coming from a cop can easily be understood as an order. At least if your cops are anything like ours. "You might want to use the sidewalk or I'm taking you in" is also an order.
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Old 10-28-04, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Fredmertz51
Its illegal to ride on the side walks here in Quad Cities, Iowa, but I've never been hassled in 25 years. I don't think the cops care as long as you aren't muscling pedestrians out of the way. I always ride the sidewalks if available on busy (dangerous) streets. I am old and afraid though.

Used to be a $14 ticket in the 80's when I was in high school. Of course, we were downtown Des Moines, riding freestyle bmx bikes and doing the "street" riding thing. Ie. riding on walls, off walls, down stairs, park benches, etc...

As for the police request, I would've said thanks, and stayed in the street. He had no legal ground to push the issue, and by the nature of the request, he didn't ride.
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