Thursday, August 11, 2005


I've been riding a bicycle on the road for well over 30 years, and a cop has never stopped me. Until today, that is.

As I was riding home this afternoon, a county sheriff's officer came up behind me and switched on his lights. I was northbound on that infamous stretch of 129th just south of 86th Street. The officer told me he could cite me for impeding traffic. I replied that I wasn't impeding traffic. I'm part of traffic and I was at the design speed of a bicycle. He said that traffic was backed up behind me "for a mile", an innocent bit of hyperbole that I ignored. He said that his supervisor told him last week he should have cited two cyclists for riding abreast and impeding traffic, and he would do so in the future. I pointed out that first, I was riding alone, and second, that in Oklahoma it's legal to ride two abreast when the lane is too narrow to safely share with motor vehicles. He said that if I had been driving a motor vehicle, I would have been cited for impeding traffic. I asked if it's legal to drive at less than the speed limit. He said that it was obvious that he wasn't getting through to me, and left.

As near as I can tell, this officer wanted to substitute his personal opinion for the law. When it was obvious that I wasn't going to defer to his opinion, his choice was to cite me or back down.

Actually, I believe it was the presence of his marked police vehicle that contributed to the backup of traffic. Drivers will usually pass regardless of the presence or absence of a passing lane along 129th, but when a police car is sitting in the queue, they're afraid to do so.

I suppose the next step is to contact the county sheriff, and try to get his officer educated.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're right, the next step should be to contact the county sheriff and have them re-educate the officer in question.

It's so vitally important to us, as cyclists, that the officers on the street know and understand the law as it relates to cyclists.

There was a case here in my area where a cyclist was cited for "impeding traffic" under similar circumstances. He was found guilty! Naturally, he appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court and the conviction was overturned.

You can read all about the Selz case here.

4:55 AM  
Blogger barenakedbiker said...

Yes. Selz was a huge win. Unfortunately, Oklahoma cops will not care. From various situations Ed has decribed, it is only a matter of time before he gets a ticket or arrested for some stupid, bogus infraction. Sometime down the road, someone in charge will get pissed off and authorized the street cop to charge him with something, anything. Then, it will be up to Ed to obtain the services of an attorney willing to fight and knowledgeable of bicyle laws. If he faces a jury, he will be...well, you know...up crap creek without a paddle. Why? Most juries and judges do not ride bikes and are prejudiced by their homefront war machines, the automobile. For the cop who wants to harass a particular cyclist, the easiest ticket is the "ride right" rule. It's appealable, but, that takes time and money. Wild and crazy drivers, I can handle. Cops are another matter. Watch your back, Ed.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

I gotta tell you, the drivers in your area are flat out mean S.O.B's.

I live in Montreal Canada and I've been racing bikes for 15 years and I've NEVER heard of anything like what you went through.

My sympathies..


12:19 PM  

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