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Stopped by Police for taking the lane.

This topic contains 126 replies, has 32 voices, and was last updated by  AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe 1 yr, 5 mos.

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mr marvelous

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Apr 19 2013 at 9:35pm #

I was coming home from the Flock ride riding down Highland Ave. I moved over to make a left onto Stanton when a Police car pulls up to my back wheel tailgating me gets on his bullhorn and says Stay to the side of the road. It startled the cheese and crackers out of me. After I made the turn onto Stanton They pull up next to me and tell me to “stop impeding traffic” then they speed off. I’m making my way halfway up Stanton when the same Police car comes down from the other direction slowing down to give me the stink eye before the speed away again.

I don’t know how I could of handled an angry officer looking for confrontation, any reasonable tips that will not get me a police stomping.


Pseudacris

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Apr 19 2013 at 10:33pm #

Wow, that really stinks. Police don’t usually respond well when they are wrong, so Im glad it didn’t escalate, though this sounds like harassment to me. Make sure you use hand signals to give them one less excuse.

Would it be worthwhile to place a call to rhe zone commander…describe what happened and say you are calling to clarify “your” understanding of the law?


Marko82

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Apr 19 2013 at 10:39pm #

Maybe they were late to the doughnut shop?

Seriously, I’ve had similar confrontations with PPD in the past where the cop was clearly ignorant of the law. Tread carefully at your own level of willingness to spend the night in front of a magistrate. And i’m ashamed to mention this, but there is the whole DWB thing too. Sometimes an “ok officer” stings like hell, regardless. Glad you are ok.


edmonds59

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Apr 19 2013 at 10:58pm #

This is shameful. Unfortunately as a middle aged white guy I have no useful advice for you as to how to avoid a police stomping. Being a middle aged white guy is probably the best method, but this may not be an option.
Stay safe.


Pierce

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Apr 19 2013 at 11:41pm #

I would file a complaint.

I had an officer in McCandless try to tell me the same thing on a four lane road right before I pulled into work and I invited him to pull over so I could talk to him.

He proceeded to look around in his book of laws, realized he was wrong, still tried to lecture me, and then left with me pretty much standing firm and saying “I’m taking the middle of the lane because it’s the safest place for me to be.”

As for confronting the police, it’s hard to say; I’d be wary of doing it if I was by myself and there weren’t a lot of witnesses around. Doing it in front of work was kind of safe because the security guards have known me for about five years and (as I figured they would) watched what was going on.

Filing the complaint afterwards might still be able to have the effect as confronting them on the street, without the chance of being another victim of police brutality.


Drewbacca

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Apr 20 2013 at 12:05am #

what pseudacris said…


pbeaves

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Apr 20 2013 at 3:46am #

you had Cheese AND Crackers?

i knew you were holding out.


sloaps

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Apr 20 2013 at 6:04am #

You can submit a complaint via 311. That’s what I did when I had an issue with an officer’s driving abilities. I had names and vehicle number. Someone from the bureau called me to follow up. Dunno if anything happened after that.


mr marvelous

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Apr 20 2013 at 7:20am #

I didn’t get names or vehicle number, they never got out the car. I just don’t have much to report other than they were rude.
I could tell the officer wanted confrontation he had that look in his eyes. I knew I was in the right but I said nothing as to not cause a problem.

Calling in wouldn’t hurt I just wish I had more information on the officers.


Vannevar

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Apr 20 2013 at 10:01am #

There’s no way you’re going to win a one-on-one with a police officer, whatever “win” means.

Survive and get away from the event (in an orderly manner, not escaping lol), get the vehicle number, don’t make a show of getting his badge number because if he spots it he’s going to escalate so he can arrest you and then he writes the report, gets to subdue you, and gets to send your bike to the property room.

Get away from it, write detailed notes, and then become “bigger than one” by asking BikePgh to call the PoliceDept on your behalf.

The other part of this that’s interesting to me is: were you hauling the trailer back from the Flock ride?


mr marvelous

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Apr 20 2013 at 10:36am #

Yes I was pulling the trailer, it was dark and him sitting in the car I couldn’t see his badge. It happened so fast didn’t even think to look for the vehicle number. I didn’t want things to escalate so I kept quiet. Also I don’t drink so there is no case for a BUI


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Apr 20 2013 at 11:25am #

I agree with Vannevar.

In the moment, “yes, sir” is never the wrong response. Taking issue with the officer at that moment won’t solve anything. Worst case: they find something to cite you for. Best case: you waste ten minutes arguing a point you can’t win.

Making note of the unit (car) number, and contacting the ZOne Commander as someone suggested earlier in the thread seeking “clarity” on the law is a gentle yet potentially effective way of making the point.


cburch

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Apr 20 2013 at 12:02pm #

unfortunately my best advice for the emergent situation mirrors bill’s. fortunately everyone’s advice for following up is also spot on and less likely to result in you getting beat up by a racist dickbag with a badge.


Ahlir

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Apr 20 2013 at 12:44pm #

Always call the officer(s) “sir” and do not do anything to suggest you’re about to bolt.

It helps if you act genuinely concerned and try to actively help the officers problem-solve the situation at hand. Surely there was a misunderstanding, quite possibly on your part? Point out that you would never willfully do anything wrong: You’re heard that (eg taking the lane) was legal, or even required, under certain situations; wasn’t this one of them? Be grateful for this opportunity you have been provided to learn about the law and about your responsibilities as a citizen, and to support the police in their duties.

There. Good cyclist!

Remember,

1. Most cruisers should have a video camera. If practical, get in front of it.

2. Cruiser numbers or tags are not enough: you need the badge number. Otherwise you will likely be informed that “we don’t know which ones they take out”.

3. If 3-4 other cops pull up, you were insufficiently submissive. Pull your ears back. Issue appropriate sounds (optionally, roll onto your back). Stay on camera and hope for the best.

4. Tell us (and others) all about your adventure.


salty

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Apr 20 2013 at 1:01pm #

That sucks ass, glad you didn’t get stomped…


Drewbacca

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Apr 20 2013 at 1:04pm #

On a side note, pulling the trailer makes you vulnerable. Try not to ride alone with that thing attached. If I was in the area, I’d offer to ride along.


edmonds59

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Apr 20 2013 at 1:05pm #

Gah, The above advice is making me sick to my stomach, the bile is coming up in my throat.
Although it seems exactly right to address the original question, how to deal without getting a beating.
Does nothing to make me “respect” the fucking law.


Vannevar

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Apr 20 2013 at 1:34pm #

So, I’d like to cordially disagree with somebody above, talk about the dog that didn’t bark, and then let spill my own personal fears.

Never ever get into a discussion of the law or the rules with a cop. Let me take it further: black civilian, white cop, Friday night: no way. This is not a chance for enlightenment, the deck is stacked, you are all-but-screwed the moment he engaged you, say Yes Sir and survive. You got a wife and kid. There is no discussion or understanding or raising consciousness.

The dog that didn’t bark, the clue we haven’t discussed, is the trailer. Here’s a possible narrative: You just led a ride around for about an hour pulling that trailer, blocked up some traffic, playing music, blinking lights, and the cops are talking about it over the radio. Or maybe this officer saw you and thought: bunch of jagoffs, but there’s a lot of them and I don’t need the noise. A little bit later, this cop sees you pulling the Flock trailer alone and he thinks, man a gift from above so he gives you some shit.

And now to my own personal fear, and I’m sorry but it’s about Race in general and Marcel and Flock in particular. First Flock ride I went to, I said to my friend “Are the thirty of us really going to make the black guy pull the music cart, and do we really leave the only black guy here to take the police heat when they don’t like the music?”

Because if a cop wants to, pulling a loud non-standard stereo donkey cart through the streets in the evening is disturbing the peace, at least enough to justify hauling the cart-puller in for the night.

We should have somebody like me (white, veteran, late-middle-aged, suburban, lawyered-up, career made, nothing at risk) pulling that cart. How does an arrest for public disorderly, disturbing the peace, resisting arrest affect a young black man’s chances of getting to a job interview?

I’ve been concerned about that, and I’ve been chicken-shit to not bring it up.

Back to this specific instance: I think it was all about the cart. And never argue or discuss with these guys.

No offense intended. I’ve got nothing but respect for M. I think we put him way out on a limb on these rides and that’s unwise.

Vannevar.


salty

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Apr 20 2013 at 1:43pm #

Plenty of other people have pulled that cart and not been harassed by the police.


joanne

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Apr 20 2013 at 3:28pm #

Thank God you are okay, Marcel–I am so angry that this happened to you.

I like the idea of calling it in. I don’t think I would even ask for clarification–you risk getting the wrong answer about the law from whomever answers the phone. I would take the “concerned” approach–this incident is a concern because it doesn’t appear to be in line with the current cycling laws. Then, follow up with an email, to establish a paper trail. If this thug with a badge decides to hassle you again, that could be useful.

In the meantime, perhaps anyone pulling the trailer on the way back from a Flock ride should have an escort home. Ray and I are always up for helping with that. I shudder to think what more could have happened last night. Horrible.


mr marvelous

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Apr 20 2013 at 5:46pm #

I don’t know if race was the problem or the trailer or both. What really scared me was the look in the officers eyes. He wanted a confrontation. He looked angry as if I did something personal to him. I never post about problems being black and riding expensive bikes on here because I don’t think the message board is the place for it and I like to think of all of us as fellow cyclist, not caring what race, gender or religion. I have been stopped twice before by police because I was riding bikes that are too nice for people like me and must have been stolen. The last time when my single speed was fairly new they questioned how someone like me came across such an expensive bike. I ended up having to explain my knowledge on the bike, price and the fact that I was wearing clipless shoes before I could go, Also I had to show some ID.
I don’t want this to turn into a racial discussion and I would like to leave it at that. This message board and the cycling community is the one place where I’m not the black guy I’m just another cyclist and I love that about all of you.


srpit

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Apr 20 2013 at 5:59pm #

“Plenty of other people have pulled that cart and not been harassed by the police”

Salty, I believe you may have just proved Vannevar’s point with that statement. Think about it.

Marcell, first of all I’m very happy that you’re ok. Second, I’m horrified at the situation in that you have to fear for your life over something like this. I wish I could do something to magically change our society. I’m ashamed at how slowly progress has been made in that regard. Finally I have to say that your only responsibility is to look out for yourself and your family. You don’t need to educate anyone about bike/traffic rules. You don’t need to put yourself in a potentially even worse position by engaging someone like that. Be safe.


gg

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Apr 20 2013 at 5:59pm #

I don’t claim to know what happened, but I have read a ton of your posts on here and if you ride like you post, I suspect you are going to have more encounters with all kinds of things on the road in comparison to someone who is more laid back and humble or someone that knows they are as low as you get while riding a bike as far as car drivers are concerned. I only post this to warn you to be safe and indeed, don’t ride like you own the road. I assure you, you don’t own it and you never are going to prove anything. Best to ride safe and try and avoid problem areas. Ride safely far to the right and don’t act like you are all that. You are not.

*** remember, this post might save your life. I have a feeling you are riding like you are important to others. That is how you post and I just assume that bleeds into your riding of a bike.


mr marvelous

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Apr 20 2013 at 6:01pm #

Also I like to add I’ve been hauling the trailer around for some time. I’m o.k. with it at times it’s difficult getting it up Neville and Stanton but I don’t need an escort. It’s part of my duty with Flock and I enjoy doing what I do. Don’t worry too much about me I’ll be o.k.


mr marvelous

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Apr 20 2013 at 6:03pm #

@gg how I ride? Um… I don’t think you have any idea how I ride or maybe you misunderstand how I ride.


mr marvelous

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Apr 20 2013 at 6:10pm #

@gg as a board member of Flock I can’t say this is how we ride then ride differently myself. I don’t filter, I don’t run lights or stop signs. I do often take the lane, I don’t how riding far to the right is safe.


gg

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Apr 20 2013 at 6:12pm #

mr marvelous wrote:@gg how I ride? Um… I don’t think you have any idea how I ride or maybe you misunderstand how I ride.

I might indeed misunderstand how you ride, but like I said, I have read a lot of your posts and a self important feel is very evident. Mr. Marvelous. All I am saying is when on a bicycle, you are NOT important in the least. You should be riding as though you are an easy target. If you are trying to show those around you that you have some power by taking up more space or whatever, you are sure to lose that game. Like I clearly stated, I don’t know what happened, I am just wondering if you ride like you come off on this forum. I am not sure you do. My point is, please be careful if you are trying to send a message out there on the road. That can be fatal and we don’t need more cyclists hit out there.


gg

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Apr 20 2013 at 6:14pm #

mr marvelous wrote:@gg as a board member of Flock I can’t say this is how we ride then ride differently myself. I don’t filter, I don’t run lights or stop signs. I do often take the lane, I don’t how riding far to the right is safe.

If that is the case, I suggest you peruse this matter. There is no room for police to be aggressive towards cyclists and your voice needs to be heard if indeed you were being targeted. Make the call.


edmonds59

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Apr 20 2013 at 6:47pm #

gg; You have completely misinterpreted Mr. M’s posts, let me just leave it at that for now.
He is one of the members who organizes Flock rides, so Mr. M does have some degree of responsibility to assert what may come across as “importance”, as you put it.
If you have ridden with Mr. M, you will know that he does not ride as if he “owns the road”, which, whether or not you intended it, carries some negative connotations. He rides as any cyclist should, following the rules of the road for vehicles, and asserting their rights as vehicles.
I am in a bit of a time crunch here and will assuredly need to add more later, I seriously do not want to inflame things but gg please do attempt to tread here with a bit more care and nuance.


Vannevar

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Apr 20 2013 at 7:23pm #

gg : I disagree. He’s a gentleman who sets a very good example for others when he rides.

I base my statement on having ridden with him. Have you?

Not that anybody’s ever disagreed on the internet before, or that I’m any right more than chance would permit.


Vannevar

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Apr 20 2013 at 7:28pm #

Also, I sincerely apologize for bringing up such matters that I shouldn’t have in this forum, and for projecting my own views onto somebody else’s topic. Truly.

I really do need wisdom.


Pseudacris

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Apr 20 2013 at 7:37pm #

gg

“god help us all” if anonymous internet forum posts are any kind of real benchmark of riding/driving/dating/table manners…..

it is terrifying to be confronted with corrupt power, no matter what body you inhabit. good on you if you have never had that experience.


Pseudacris

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Apr 20 2013 at 8:06pm #

How about one of these on top of the flock trailer?

it will attract MORE police, but they will act much friendlier…


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Apr 20 2013 at 8:09pm #

@gg: I have ridden with Mr. Marv. He is as unassuming and humble a person as you will find.

If anyone is self-important on this Board, it’s me.

Now kiss the ring.


Ahlir

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Apr 20 2013 at 8:24pm #

Wow. Just to reiterate:

Always be nice to the police. We need them. Especially if you end up in a car-bike altercation. What kind of assumptions do you want them to have going in?

The key at this point is to get everyone used to the fact that bikes are legal vehicles and have all the consequent rights.

Especially the cops.


dbacklover

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Apr 20 2013 at 8:49pm #

two words. Go Pro.

It is getting to the point where I look at a cyclist without a helmet cam like a cyclist without a bike. Many times I wear mine turned off (mostly because I forget to change out the batteries) but I have seen people start things then notice the helmet cam and suddenly change their minds and get all nice and insist that I go ahead.

If I were stopped I would be sure they not only saw me reach up and “turn” the camera on but I would insist that they identify themselves and smile for the camera.

What I would like is a camera that records live to the internet thru my phone.


edmonds59

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Apr 20 2013 at 9:01pm #

V, don’t apologize too profusely. I accept responsibility as my first response post tee’d the whole thing up.
I respecfully appreciate that Mr. M did not wish this to be about race. But it is implicit and inseparable from the subject. So Mr. M., apologies.
But I despise the unspoken undercurrent of race issues that continue to be kicked forward in this country. Too many things are unable to be solved until as a country we admit to and attempt to resolve “race”.
Also I have a serious problem with ” authority”, especially fascistic power-tripping authority.


bikeygirl

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Apr 21 2013 at 5:24am #

gg wrote:I don’t claim to know what happened, but I have read a ton of your posts on here and if you ride like you post, I suspect you are going to have more encounters with all kinds of things on the road in comparison to someone who is more laid back and humble or someone that knows they are as low as you get while riding a bike as far as car drivers are concerned. I only post this to warn you to be safe and indeed, don’t ride like you own the road. I assure you, you don’t own it and you never are going to prove anything. Best to ride safe and try and avoid problem areas. Ride safely far to the right and don’t act like you are all that. You are not.

*** remember, this post might save your life. I have a feeling you are riding like you are important to others. That is how you post and I just assume that bleeds into your riding of a bike.

gg:

While somewhere in in here you show off-handed concern for Mr M, if I follow your logic that “we ride as we post”, I hope I never find myself in the road with you ever as a cyclist, and even less if you own a car driving on the road.

I’m just gonna leave it at that…..


Benzo

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Apr 21 2013 at 1:56pm #

GG: Putting the first comment up to ‘call someone out’ as self important is just kind of screwed up, that is just a dick move man.


stefb

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Apr 21 2013 at 5:13pm #

I don’t think GG is very smart.

Marcel, I am sorry these things have happened to you. I sometimes forget how crappy the world is.

And btw, I would never call a cop sir. I call no one sir.

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