Posts Tagged ‘police enforcement’

Highland Park Police, bicycles, and state law

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Highland Park, MichiganYesterday, the below letter was sent to the Highland Park Chief of Police, Theodore G. Cadwell II:

Dear Chief Cadwell,

I am writing to express concern that some of the Highland Park police officers may not be familiar with state law and bicycling.

Last night I was riding home from the Detroit Fireworks along Woodward Avenue through Highland Park.

At 11:11pm, I passed a Highland Park squad car at a traffic stop on northbound Woodward near Church. The police officer yelled “Sidewalk” to me. Apparently he expected me to ride on the sidewalk rather than the road. However, under state law, I have the same access to the road as any motorist (though I must stay to the right.)

According to MCL 257.657:

Each person riding a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped or operating a low-speed vehicle upon a roadway has all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to the provisions of this chapter which by their nature do not have application.

I would also note that bicycling on a sidewalk is far more dangerous than bicycling on a road. There have been numerous studies which have come to that conclusion.

Also, last month the Secretary of Transportation posted the article, Bicycling is only healthy when you ride safely. In the article he said, “Motorists should recognize that bicyclists have a right to ride on the roadway” and “bicyclists should ride on the roadway, rather than on sidewalks.”

I will drop off some booklets called “What Every Bicyclists Must Know” at the police station. They were printed in partnership with MDOT and help explain bicycle laws in the state of Michigan.

A Video solution for he said, she said

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Last month while biking, I stopped at a red light on Catalpa at Woodward. I was not in the right lane since I was not turning. I was continuing westbound on Catalpa.

This is legal under state law 257.660a (d):

A person operating a bicycle upon a highway or street at less than the existing speed of traffic shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except as follows:

(d) When operating a bicycle in a lane in which the traffic is turning right but the individual intends to go straight through the intersection.

This apparently upset the solitary driver behind me. After the light turned green and I proceeded across Woodward, he rode up next to me, rolled down his window, and yelled profanities and threatened to “have me arrested.”

I just dropped back a little, got his license plate number, and followed him in case he was going to the police station. (He didn’t.) Had he threatened to hit me, I would have reported him for aggressive driving.

It’s situations like this that make me keep a cell phone handy on all my rides.

Still, the problem is unless a police officer witnesses it, it’s often a case of he said, she said.

So,?I wish I had a video camera always running to capture this unacceptable social behavior. Not only could it help with potential police enforcement, but publically posted such videos might bring public shame to those who deserve it.

One bicyclists is video recording such incidents. Jeff’s Bike Blog documents bad drivers and is apparently active in reporting them to the police. He even shows how he configures the cameras on his bike.

Have you shot video of aggressive drivers on your bike rides? What has been your experience reporting aggressive drivers to the police? Have they taken any actions?