Friday, December 30, 2005

Rider sought citation, claims right to the road

It seems I'm not alone! And apparently they've never heard of the Selz decision in Alabama. Travis Sherman was stopped for impeding traffic and he received a ticket. To his credit, Travis insisted that the issue go to court. His attitude is certainly commendable, but at this point, I really hope he has an attorney! His court date is January 10th.

From the MASSBIKE law page, here's the relevant section of Alabama law. It's the same 'as far right as practicable' language as is seen in most other states. To motorist and some law enforcement officers, this is the 'get the hell out of my way' section.

Section 32-5A-263
Riding on roadways and bicycle paths.
(a) Every 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.

Here's a link to my traffic stop piece from last summer.

I think it's encouraging that Doug Daughhetee, former president of the Birmingham Bike Club, endorsed education, tolerance, and road design, instead of the knee-jerk reaction of calling for more bike lanes and paths, as some people with little real cycling knowledge would do.

What follows are excerpts from the newspaper article on Travis Sherman's stop.

Birmingham News

Ticketed cyclist to get day in court
Rider sought citation, claims right to the road

Friday, December 30, 2005

Travis Sherman could have ridden away with a warning, but the avid cyclist decided a ticket and a day in court were a matter of principle.

As Sherman rode his bicycle along Shelby County 58 in Helena Dec. 18, a police officer stopped him and eventually wrote him a citation for impeding traffic.

"I am part of the traffic," Sherman said. "I have the right to be on the road."

During the days that followed, Sherman said, he watched as news of his citation appeared on Web forums and the situation mushroomed. He had sent his account of the incident to about 25 friends but, before long, hundreds of cyclists and cycling clubs had contacted the Helena Police Department.

"That was never my intention," Sherman said this week. "I'm trying to get the word out there that they need to stop calling. I don't want to slam the police."

As Sherman recalled, he was hugging the right side of the road when the officer stopped him.

A different version

Helena police have a different version. The officer's report states Sherman was not riding on the far-right side of the road, as state law requires, said Lt. James Penhale.

...Penhale said Helena's cyclists should not worry about an onslaught of traffic tickets because of the Sherman incident.

"We don't have anything against bicycles," Penhale said. "But, like a motorized vehicle, you have to obey the traffic laws, and when you don't, there are consequences. And he asked for a ticket. What officer is going to deny that?"

...Doug Daughhetee, former president of the Birmingham Bike Club, said law enforcement and cyclists have an overall good relationship. He agrees with Sherman that the focus should shift away from his citation and back to the need for awareness.

Daughhetee said he does not think bike paths and bike lanes are the answer. Tolerance, education and attention to road design would be more effective, he said.

"Most people are not antagonistic. They are just oblivious," Daughhetee said. "There is not much accommodation for cyclists. Drive around and tell me how many share-the-road signs you see. And the issue is not covered very well in the drivers training manual. There is something in there about watching out for kids on bikes as a hazard, but nothing that recognizes that they are road users."


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