On the way to the Ride of Silence yesterday I was ticketed for taking the right lane on Greensburg Pike. The citation is 3301(b), requiring vehicles traveling slower than normal speed to ride to the right (as the officer explained to me, as far right as possible. My understanding is different). I take the lane there because when vehicles in the left lane stop to make a left turn, vehicles will pull around them to the right, at speed, passing me with inches to spare unless I block the lane. I've had this happen there and started taking the lane in response.
I've contacted Marc Reisman to fight the ticket, after discussing it with people at the Ride of Silence yesterday. If you have other advice I'd be happy to hear it.
@jonawebb I'm sorry this has happened to you. It seems you and I are having similar problem. I don't know if the police officers don't understand the law or if I don't. I take the lane for safety reasons and when I don't I'm often almost right hooked. I'm hoping someone can post some clarification on the law for taking the lane.
On a road with two or more narrow lanes in your direction -- like many city streets -- you should ride in the middle of the right lane at all times. You need to send the message to drivers to move to the passing lane to pass you. If you ride all the way to the right, two cars may pass you at the same time, side by side, and squeeze you off the road.
If you don't have one, stop by any Penn Dot Drivers Licensing facility and grab one of the Penndot - published "Pennsylvania Bicycle Drivers Manual" booklets.
Not only does this instructional booklet apply and advise cyclists to utilize your logic for the position you took in the lane, it also provides illustrations regarding where a cyclist should position him/her self to ensure optimal visibility and safety.
Closing the lane by a cyclist to avoid getting squeezed or brushed is the equivalent of a cyclist actively obligating (or forcing) a motorist to follow the safe passing law, rather than passively hoping they will do so out of their strong command of Pennsylvania laws pertaining to motorists and cyclists, their compassion for cyclists on the roads, and their incredible degree of patience, tolerance, compassion, and constant awareness that they are piloting 3000 pound machines that can kill or injure.
There is a piece of the law that refers to cyclists being required to stay to the right as much as is "reasonable safe or applicable or practical" or something to that effect. "Safe or..." regarding the road surface, or "safe or....." regarding the traffic situation, I am not sure if it delineates.
You need to take pictures, get on Google Maps and print out the spot in question where you were taking the lane. Show that when cars are making a left turn other motorists will pass on the right making it VERY dangerous for your in that area and make it impossible for them to pass leaving 4', so the safest way to handle it is to take the lane for that spot and then move back over. Some officers have a hard on for this crap I guess. Wanting to pound their tiny chests. A TICKET? How ridiculous!
Yeah, I should have been carrying one of those -- it might, or might not, have made the difference. We ended up arguing about what the law was, and now I'll have to see him in court. Maybe if I'd been able to whip out an official DOT publication he would have listened.
If you were really cited for 3301(b) you should be able to get it dismissed on a technicality Since 3301(b)(2)(ii) plainly says that section does not apply to "a pedalcycle..."
Regardless, it is bullshit that you got the ticket in the first place. "As close as practicable" is not "as close as possible", although unfortunately it is ambiguous enough language that who knows what a judge will decide. I do the same thing all the time for the same reason.
salty wrote:If you were really cited for 3301(b) you should be able to get it dismissed on a technicality Since 3301(b)(2)(ii) plainly says that section does not apply to “a pedalcycle…”
If that is the case you already won, but after bringing in the evidence that clearly states "does not apply to pedal cycle", I would still be prepared to show why you needed to be safe and take the lane.
Hope the judges rolls his eyes at the cop a little, but that kind of thing is hit or miss.
I agree with all above, but what jurisdiction is this? City? Other?
Thanks for the advice. I printed out the relevant section of the law for the ride this evening. Clearly, the ticket is invalid since the law says it doesn't apply to me.
I was in Penn Hills. The magisterial district is 05-02-08, 2065 Ardmore Blvd 15221.
Playing lawyer for a minute, I disagree with salty's conclusion that "If you were really cited for 3301(b) you should be able to get it dismissed on a technicality Since 3301(b)(2)(ii) plainly says that section does not apply to “a pedalcycle…”"
Salty didn't show what's in the "...".
3301(b) says "(1) Upon all roadways, any pedalcycle operating in accordance with Chapter 35, proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into an alley, private road or driveway.
(2) This subsection does not apply to:
(i) A pedalcycle using any portion of an available roadway due to unsafe surface conditions.
(ii) A pedalcycle using a roadway that has a width of not more than one lane of traffic in each direction."
From the portions of the law I've read, I think the most relevant is section 3505(c):
"A pedalcycle operated at slower than prevailing speed shall be operated in accordance with the provisions of section 3301 (relating to driving on right side of roadway) unless it is unsafe to do so."
The "unless it is unsafe to do so" clause is what most justifications for "I took the lane because ..." hang on.
Paul, check the wording: "...shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic, OR as close as practicable to the right-hand curb..." In other words, the right-hand lane is OK.
(Edit: I think you're right about the technicality. 3301(b) doesn't exclude bicycles.)
Prevailing speed of traffic is zero, since the car was stopped to make a turn. You were going faster than the prevailing speed of traffic, no?
Cute, but of course I was taking the lane all along. It doesn't make sense to move and take the lane just when a car stops in the left lane, since it is just at that point that a driver will attempt to pull to the right around them. If I'm not already blocking the lane I'm very likely to get run into when they do that.
Disclaimer: (1) Yeah, I'm an attorney,(2) No, I'm not an expert on bicycling law or traffic law,(3) Jonawebb, do exactly what you have done and work with Mark Reisman on this.
I just want to try to parse 3301 for everybody that Paul put up. It's less than a model of clarity.
Start with 3301(c)(2). The double negative makes this hard to decipher. Read it: "This section [3301(b)] does not apply to a pedacycle using a roadway that has a width of not more than one traffic lane in each direction." Translate as: This section does not apply to a bicycle using a roadway that has one traffic lane in each direction." In other words, a two-lane road.
Now 3301(c)(1) makes sense. There is no other right hand lane available for traffic, so the statute contemplates a dual lane highway where you can have one. Second, since it doesn't apply to a one lane in each direction highway, you don't have to ride as close as practicable to the right edge of the highway. in other words you have the discretion to take the lane and do all the other things we normally do depending upon what we percieve as safe for us at the time and circumstances.
I assume Greensburg Pike is at least two lanes in each direction. If so, then yes, in theory he could cite you with that statute, whether he simply ignorant of how cyclists have to analyze and process a road and traffic flow or he just wants to be a jackass who gets his rocks off by giving you a ticket.
Now 3505(c) come into play at this point. You are are supposed to ride in conformity with 3301(c) unless it is not safe to do so. And that's exactly what the argument is in your last post; it wan't safe for you to do so. I think Paul's interpretation in his second post is correct.
So talk it over with Mr. Reisman to decide how you want to proceed. And I would go through the PennDOT PUB 380 Bicycling Manual linked to earlier to find what would help you and take copy with you to the hearing. I suspect the magistrate will buy into it as authority to support your case. The manual talks mostly about the 3500 set of statutes, not 3301, so you want to get it out 3301 and into the 3500s to be able to use the manual, as well as defeat it by showing that the cop in effect cited you with the wrong statute.
3301(b) says “(1) Upon all roadways, any pedalcycle operating in accordance with Chapter 35, proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic,
That's not 3301(b). That's 3301(c). I think you're looking at an older version of the law, before HB 170 (the 4-foot law) changed that section and renumbered parts of it.
Here's the current law.
I'm okay with getting a ticket for doing something clearly against motorist law, like making a right turn on red where it is explicitly marked "no turn on red," but this is just crazysauce and merely a safety issue.
I'll take my chances right-turning-on-red, but I will not not take the lane when I need to.
My analysis (not a lawyer). The cop cited you under the wrong section, maybe because he didn't know the law was updated a year ago. But let's pretend he cited you under "somewhere in 3301".
3301(b) doesn't apply to bikes, as 3301(b)(2)(ii) says.
3301(c) is the section for bikes. It says when there are two lanes in your direction, you have to use the right lane, or be as close to the curb as practicable. You were doing the former, so you're fine.
Yes, Paul quoted the earlier (pre "4 foot law") version of 3301. IANAL but you cannot be cited under 3301(b) while riding a bike, and you should be able to get the citation dismissed based on that alone regardless of the other merits of the case.
BTW, everyone, it would be a good idea to print out that law and carry it and a PA bicycle handbook with you. If you get a cop who is willing to listen, your having it could make the difference between your educating someone and leaving versus having to wait half an hour for your ticket, then fighting it in court.
Pub 380 in pdf
for easy printing and whatnot.
Incredible that a cyclist was ticketed for something like this. During the time period you were interacting with the officer, I feel confident that within a mile of that location, motorists wantonly broke numerous traffic laws.
The idea of carrying printed out sections of traffic laws is perhaps a good one.
Obviously we are all curious what the outcome will be in court.
I use to carry a copy of the bike laws in my bag. After two different interactions with (Pgh) police where their knowledge of the law was, ahem, questionable - neither one wanted to even look at my document let alone read it. YMMV but I find carrying it useless.
Yes, I must have been quoting an out-of-date version of the law. Sorry. It doesn't change my conclusions, however, which are that taking the rightmost lane for safety reasons is legally justifiable.
Jon: if you let us know when you'll be appearing in court, perhaps some of us could accompany you (in or out of spandex, but with helmets under our arms).
So would the best solution to this problem is for us to start carrying a copy of bike laws with us in the hopes the officer will read it. Even if Jonawebb wins in court we still need to solve the problem of being stopped for taking the lane.
I'm guessing that, in general, once he's gone to the trouble of stopping you, he's not going to want to walk away without you either agreeing with him and promising not to do it again, or giving you a ticket. The cop yesterday, however, really worked at convincing me I was wrong, and went so far as to look up section 3301(b) in an (out of date) book of laws he had. It's just possible that if I had the up to date version of the law he would have been convinced. And the PA DOT publication might have helped.
On the other hand, if I had the up to date law, he might have cited me under the correct paragraph, so my getting out of this would be not quite as trivial.
In any case I like Stu's approach in general -- reason with people, marshaling the facts, even when people are being unreasonable. It can't hurt, right?
paulheckbert wrote:Jon: if you let us know when you’ll be appearing in court, perhaps some of us could accompany you (in or out of spandex, but with helmets under our arms).
I'd be happy to join you. I had an incident with a driver in December, and we talked about doing this at his court hearing, but he wound up pleading guilty and paying the fine.
@jonawebb I agree, my only advice and something you most likely tried is be as polite and respectful as you possibly can while trying to prove your point. I have found kindness sometimes helps but arguing never helps. Not saying you were not respectful it's just the only advice I can think of.
When did this occur? I am curious because of my interaction with a "concern troll" over lane-taking the past couple of days. I do know he contacted the Greensburg State Police and asked for clarification. Possibly coincidence; I want to think so, anyway. But this guy is intransigent. (See other thread, or maybe don't see other thread.)
It was around 6 pm, on the way to the Ride of Silence.
@jonawebb - Jon, Steven's analysis above in his last post is correct. The officer cited you under the wrong section. That should be enough by itself to have the magistrate throw it out.
I once had that happen with a client years ago. We went to the magistrate, I explained that my guy was cited under the wrong statute and the magistrate threw it out on the spot. The cop was less than happy, but too bad.
This happens once in a while. You got lucky. So go get 'im, dude!!
BTW I've been thinking about 3301(c) and I think the analysis above by @cdavey, with all respect, isn't quite right. The part of the law that refers to "a roadway that has a width of not more than one traffic lane in each direction" is worded in that peculiar way for a reason -- it's excluding two lane roads with wide lanes. The idea is that if you're on a two lane road with narrow lanes, or say a wider shared one lane road, you are allowed to take the lane. But on a two lane road with wide lanes you're supposed to ride to the right (as far as is "practicable", of course, which is a different issue.)
The rest of the law refers to multi-lane roads; you're allowed to take the right lane, and can use other lanes when turning left. And this part of the law is not conditional on your need to take the lane for safety reasons. You are allowed to take the right lane, period.
So it's actually quite a good law and if motorists and cops knew about it that would help quite a bit. Let's keep educating them!
BTW, the link above to the PA Bicycle Riders Handbook makes this point explicitly, discussing different riding strategies on roads with narrow versus wide lanes.
There are people in the world who cannot handle shades of grey, whether it refers to statute law or Bible Scripture. "It says what it says and there is no possible way to misconstrue that meaning or stretch it to fit any other meaning."
Problem is, some lanes are 12 feet wide, some are 20 feet wide, and so the law, while it does make sense in some places, does not account for these variations. Being in legalese, with double negatives, multiple cross-references, and easily found outdated text, all make for a confusing initial source, and then compound that with lots of differing interpretations of the text and applications to different pieces of road, and you have a mess.
To further complicate things, both cyclists and the police are human, and may bend even their own understanding to fit their mood at any given moment.
Ultimately, the bottom line is a judge's ruling. Too many variables even to try to list, so I'll stop here, and simply say,
Good Luck, Jon.
P.S. And let us know when any hearing is!
Just heard from Marc Reisman -- he suggested I represent myself at the District Magistrate level, using the defense discussed above, and then contact him to appeal if the ticket isn't thrown out. Which is what I'll do. Now I have to return the ticket stub and ask for a trial. I'll let you guys know what happens. Thanks for the support & info.
+1 on letting us know about the hearing. If I'm in town, I'll plan to attend.
Good luck, Jon!
Keep up the good fight!
Good luck @jonawebb and thanks for pursuing it.
Got my trial date today -- August 13, 9 am, 2065 Ardmore Blvd. I'll post again closer to the trial. But I'm not expecting a very exciting time. There's a good chance the cop won't show up, after all, and if he does, there's a good chance the judge will just dismiss the ticket when he realizes it's written under a law that explicitly no longer applies to cyclists.
However, I'm sort of hoping that things don't get dismissed immediately so I'll have a chance to get the cop under oath and ask him if he ever enforced the 4-foot law. I didn't watch all those episodes of Perry Mason as a kid for nothing.
However, I’m sort of hoping that things don’t get dismissed immediately so I’ll have a chance to get the cop under oath and ask him if he ever enforced the 4-foot law.
Be careful of disrespecting a cop in front of a judge. I don't think that would go over very well, but that is up to you. I was passed by a cop on Highland closer than 4' the other day. I just shook my head and shrugged my shoulders. It is what it is. For the most part though, I find my cycling trips are pretty good lately. I hate to even mention it. Maybe it is luck at the moment?
@gg wrote "Be careful of disrespecting a cop in front of a judge".
I think that in front of a judge is the perfect place to debate a cop.
..disrespecting* a cop in front of a judge”.
I think that in front of a judge is the perfect place to debate* a cop.
Yeah, well, disrespecting isn't a good idea, the courtroom is the place to take any dispute you have with a cop.
Edit: also, BTW, as I recall, Perry Mason was always completely respectful.
@jonawebb - Jon, you may not get to question him about the 4 foot rule. Your citation is about failure to be in the right lane. It and your case doesn't have anything to do with the 4 foot rule unless I missed something. If I didn't miss anything, the 4 foot rule is irrelevant to what is in front of the magistrate to hear and decide in your case. He may not allow you to bring up the 4 foot rule unless you can show in fact that it is relevant and has something to do with your case. Otherwise he can see it as a waste of court (his/her) time and not allow you to bring it up.
That said, magistrates often will figure that it is their job to let you have your day in court and be heard even if something you have to say is irrelevant, because the district magistrate level is the place where most people have their only contact with the court system. They want it to be as satisfying as possible since the average person doesn't know the proper legal procedures to use in court. They just want to be heard and hopefully get a fair shake.
In other words, it could go either way whether or not you get to ask him about the 4 foot rule. Just don't assume that you will be able to do so unless you can also show its relevancy to your case.
The magistrates aren't required to know or apply the law; if they don't know it or don't like it it just doesn't apply. Each one is different, and can set most of their own rules; I don't know how this one will operate. You may not get a chance to cross-examine the cop / ask him questions.
I wouldn't ask about enforcing the 4-foot law but would probably point it out in your safety argument for taking the lane.
I was biking last week and brushed pretty close by a car going by, waaayy less than 4', and went to take note of what the car looked like & noticed it was a police car. Of course anybody who doesn't know or follow the rules are not going to enforce them.
Point out that he has an old copy of the law and cited the wrong section, but don't expect that to help much at the MDJ level.
Disclaimer: Not a lawyer, not legal advice.
Don't forget my exciting trial tomorrow, just in time for BikeFest! 9 am, 2065 Ardmore. I'm expecting it to go pretty quickly once I point out that the law I was ticketed under explicitly does not apply to "pedal cycles", but anything can happen.
Yea, good luck Jon. I hope the judge is open to listening to your side.
I'm going to try to show up for your court hearing, Jon. Not in spandex, but in work clothes, but with helmet tucked under my arm - trying to make bicycling look like something even an ordinary-looking middle aged guy would do -- another way to commute to work.
Well, I was found guilty. Paul was there, as was my friend Judy Hale Reed, a member of my Meeting and a fellow cyclist. It helped a lot to have them there.
The policeman started by taking me outside to review the law -- he had the new law -- and said the ticket could be amended to refer to 3301(c), not 3301(b), the law he cited me under (because at the time he had the old law). And he claimed that chapter 35 required cyclists to ride to the right. But I refused to agree and wanted to go to trial.
So, at the trial, the policeman reviewed his claims, the ticket was amended to 3301(c). I got a chance to speak, and pointed out that I was following the plain wording of 3301(c) -- ride in the right hand lane OR as far to the right as practicable. I said that I'd tried riding near the curb and cars would nearly sideswipe me there as they maneuvered around stopped traffic in the left lane.
The judge found me guilty, and now I have to get in touch with Marc Reisman to appeal.
well, that's disappointing. i had hoped that it was generally recognized that taking the lane is "as far to the right as practicable" in some cases. hopefully a lawyer arguing your case will make the difference.
Kinda speechless. So, IMMEDIATELY before the trial, they get to change the charge?
And of course, no indication of any thought at all about what is "practicable". And there's the whole thing mentioned earlier on the thread about the PA driver's manual explicitly addressing multi-lane roads and advising cyclists to take the lane when they would otherwise be squeezed too far far to the right, totally ignored.
Don't know what Marc's advice will be in terms of an appeal. If you do decide to do so and there's any chance at all of reversing this bad, bad precedent, you're of course doing us all a great service.
Let us know what your plans are and how we can help.
Wow, they're willing to enforce this but not the 4 Ft Law? I take the lane on 5th Avenue for the very brief time that I am on it and people STILL pass me within the lane even though there are two lanes in the same direction. This even happened in front of a Pittsburgh Police Officer. Needless to say, they didn't do anything.
@hv, just so everyone knows, the issue isn't whether taking the lane is "as far to the right as practicable." That's not how the law reads, since 2012:
"Upon all roadways, any pedalcycle operating in accordance with
Chapter 35, proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into an alley, private road or driveway."
Note the 'or' -- it's not 'and'. Riding in the right hand lane complies with the law.
A truly idiotic ruling. Good luck with the appeal.
Did the cop's car have a dash-cam? You might be able to get it with a FOIA request.
Was this in front of a magistrate?
My impression is they aren't required to know anything about law and they tend to side with police, property owners, and authority figures.
This is just another data point for that.
[I've left various expletives I vocalized out of this post. Most here can figure which words belong where.]
If you want funds for legal fees, please post that. Some of us here would happily toss in a buck or two.
So, did the judge show any sympathy what-so-ever? Or did it seem like he was just blowing you off (implying that he isn't impartial on this topic)?
Well, it seemed like he took a look at the law, listened to the police officer, and made his ruling. I didn't get a sense that he pondered the meaning of 'or' very long. But he didn't seem completely uninformed, either. He wasn't contemptuous of me, and maybe if I had argued the case better it would have gone my way. I should've had the PA Bicycle Riders manual, for example. But I'm not sure that would've helped.
It's a day late, but according to http://www.dot.state.pa.us/Internet/Bureaus/pdbikeped.nsf/infoChapterTwo?OpenForm
There are pictures in the link that are omitted here.
RIDING IN A NARROW LANE
In a wide lane, there's room for cars to pass you. But in a narrow lane, cars have to move partway into the next lane to pass you. Narrow lanes are comon on city streets and on backroads in the country. On a narrow two-lane, two-way road stay alert to strings of cars from the front, in case one pulls into your lane to pass. You can ride near the edge of this type of road if cars are coming from only one direction at a time. Then cars from the rear can pass you without having to move as far into the other lane.
On a two-lane highway, be alert to drivers ahead of you pulling out to pass, especially if the lanes are narrow.
But if cars are coming from both directions, you have to take control of the situation. You can't take chances that the drivers behind you will try to pass you in oncoming traffic.
Glance behind you, and if there's traffic threre too, take the first opportunity to merge safely to the middle of the right lane. Also merge to the middle of the right lane at a blind curve where there might be oncoming traffic. On a right curve in a narrow lane, this technique makes you visible earlier to the drivers behind you.
The driver behind you will have to slow and follow you. It helps to make a "slow" signal (left arm extended downward) to indicate that you're aware of the car behind you and that it's unsafe to pass. Don't let an impatient driver cause a crash.
On a multilane road with narrow lane, a), ride in the middle of the right lane. You are likely to get squeezed out, b), if you hug the edge.
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.
It may seem dangerous to make a motorist slow for you, but it's not. The usual reason that bicyclists feel unsafe on narrow roads is that they do not take control of the situation. Remember, the drivers behind you don't have room to pass you safely anyway. If you ride all the way over at the right, you're inviting them to pass you where the road is too narrow and, too often, you will get squeezed off the road. If you show clearly that it's not safe for drivers to pass you, the're unlikely to try.
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.
But be courteous. When it becomes safe for the car behind you to pass you, give the driver a wave-by signal. If you block traffic for more than a short time, the law requires you to pull to the side and let the traffic by.
On a road with two or more narrow lanes in your direction -- like many city streets -- you should ride in the middle of the right lane at all times. You need to send the message to drivers to move to the passing lane to pass you. If you ride all the way to the right, two cars may pass you at the same time, side by side, and squeeze you off the road.
This is why the appeals process exists. And I will be happy to chip in.
It has also not slipped my mind that this occurred just hours after a troll whom I know called a police precinct about cyclists taking the lane, arguing heatedly that that should not occur. I will deal with that troll separately.
I was at Jon's hearing before the magistrate in Forest Hills this morning. In addition to Jon's summary, I thought I'd write up my impressions of what happened.
A synopsis of how it went, tonally:
Magistrate to cop: whaddaya got for me today, Joe?
Joe the cop: this man was biking very slowly in the center of a lane, and when I stopped him he was insolent and wouldn't submit to me.
Magistrate to Jon: what do you have to say for yourself?
Jon: I was biking home from work. I used to get buzzed when I'd ride on the berm, so I now take the lane, as the law allows.
Joe the cop: the law says cyclists must stay to the right.
Magistrate: guilty. Next!
[note: I don't know if the cop's name is Joe]
In more detail:
Dumpy one-story building in Forest Hills. Small lobby with about 15 unhappy-looking people in it.
I join Jon and his friend Judy. We chat while we wait. Judy informs us that in PA, a magistrate need not have a law degree. You have to get elected. And you need a high school diploma and you need to take a 4 week course, to become a magistrate. Reassuring!
The cop that cited Jon walks up and asks Jon to step outside and talk. I think the cop wanted Jon to submit and admit he was wrong and plead guilty. Jon read section 3301c to the cop and pointed out that it says cyclists must ride in the rightmost lane or at the right edge of road, typically. Cop said (paraphrasing) "yeah, right edge of road". Jon said "but it says 'OR rightmost lane'". Cop said (opening law book, pointing at a paragraph) "This section, 3505c, says you need to be on the right side". Jon: but I was cited under 3301 and I was following 3301. Cop: "We can change the citation. If you admit your guilt then you don't have to go before the magistrate." Jon refused.
Called into magistrate's room. Magistrate Caulfield in robe behind bench. Cop there. Judy there. Jon's in a jacket, no tie. I've got a white shirt on (dressed nicer than usual), with bike helmet under my arm, (my small attempt to demonstrate solidarity and make cyclists look ordinary & respectable). Judy and I don't talk.
Magistrate asks cop to summarize what happened.
Cop says that Jon was riding "in the middle of the lane" on Greensburg Pike, "extremely slow speed for a bicycle", "he failed to move over", so I pulled him over. Jon was "defiantly insolent" when I spoke with him. "He insisted that I write him a citation".
Magistrate is reading for a few seconds.
Magistrate to cop: Did you want to change this from 3301b to c?
Magistrate makes a notation.
Magistrate to Jon: "do you have questions for the officer?"
Jon: "Have you ever cited someone under the four foot law?"
Magistrate: "out of order".
Jon starts to talk about 3301b and c and read them aloud.
Magistrate (before Jon gets past the first word): "I can read."
Jon gives the background: that he was biking home from work in Monroeville to home in Squirrel Hill (1 hour commute), that he was on a 4 lane road that's his safest route home, that he used to ride the right berm on this road, but found that cars would pass him in that right lane (particularly if the left lane contained a car turning left) and that he got buzzed and decided that riding on the berm was not safe. So after consulting the law (section 3301c) he concluded that it was legal for him to take the right lane on this road. And also the safest thing to do. And he found that since he has been taking the lane, on this road, he hasn't gotten buzzed.
Magistrate: "how fast were you going?"
Jon: "slow. I was going up a hill".
Cop: "Section 3505c says 'when a bicycle is slower than prevailing traffic, it must stay to the right'".
Magistrate: "This is certainly an interesting issue. I find you guilty."
I was disappointed that the magistrate didn't take even a second to read 3505c to check if it was relevant. He never brought up safety. He gave no advice. He basically just rubber-stamped what the cop said.
I thought Jon presented himself well: the argument that "I used to ride the berm and it was unsafe, so now I take the lane. And the law says I can" seems quite solid to me.
I'm glad Jon will be appealing this!
You guys should write a song about the whole ordeal, something like Arlo Guthrie's classic "Alice's Restaurant."
jonawebb wrote:I didn’t get a sense that he pondered the meaning of ‘or’ very long.
Jon, Maybe you could get Bill Clinton as your lawyer. He was really good with the word 'is'. :-)
Magistrate (before Jon gets past the first word): “I can read.”
You tend to second-guess yourself in these circumstances.
Thinking about it, maybe if I'd explained better -- if I'd asked the cop to read section 3505c -- if I'd said the law was based on a League of American Bicyclists model law intended to permit exactly what I was doing -- etc. maybe I would've won. But OTOH I'm guessing that the DM was thinking I was coming across as excessively legalistic and bike nerdy and looking for a loophole in the law, while on the other hand the cop was somebody he sees in there every day fighting crime and trying to keep people safe. He's not going to overrule the cop on a 'technicality' ('or' instead of 'and'). So losing was probably inevitable.
I'm thinking things will go differently on appeal, where the law will be better understood, and I'll have professional representation. Marc did suggest appealing should I lose at the DM level when I discussed it with him before.
Its not uncommon for the magistrates to wrongly interpret a statute like this. They do not have to be an attorney to hold this position, and many of them just follow the police officers lead. They have to work with them daily after all.
Its also very common to appeal these decisions. Happens all of the time.
Appeal it and you will win.
I'll chip in $100.00 for the cause.
Take satisfaction in knowing that the suburbanite police officer that wrote you the ticket will have to show up in court when you do. They hate all of the hassle getting downtown at 8am, paid or not.
I'll also chip in for the legal fees
Jon, what was the fine?
Wow, thanks. $112.
I see I put this in the wrong thread:
I just talked with Marc Reisman — I’m going to go ahead with the appeal. It will cost $99 to file for the appeal and his fee will be $500. Honestly, I can afford it, but if you feel motivated to support the effort, you could send me money at PayPal, username same as this account. Thanks.
Thank you for fighting this.
Jonawebb, what email for paypal?
Same username, at Gmail. I'm really touched by the donations -- thanks.
If this case turns out in our favor, it will be a good precedent for future challenges to cyclists in PA
For my own benefit, to all the legal eagles out there, when the case gets in front of an actual judge, and it is determined that jonawebb was acting within the law, is there some mechanism by which that information is passed back down to this "magistrate" so he is given the information that his ruling was wrong? That seems like that would be a thing.
... that information is passed back down to this “magistrate” so he is given the information that his ruling was wrong?
I'm also curious about this. It's seems like an important step.
Particularly since appealing is not without cost.
Well, I would get my fine back, which would come from the magistrate's office, so I would think they would have to be informed somehow.
edmonds59 wrote:For my own benefit, to all the legal eagles out there, when the case gets in front of an actual judge, and it is determined that jonawebb was acting within the law, is there some mechanism by which that information is passed back down to this “magistrate” so he is given the information that his ruling was wrong? That seems like that would be a thing.
I sure hope so, I know that even the State's Unemployment Compensation Referees get their cases back for review when the higher ups overturn a decision that was appealed, I would think the Magistrates do as well.
Many of these cases never get disposed of properly. The appellant has to pursue the action far up enough in the system so that a (hopefully) positive judgement is recorded at a high enough level to apply over a broad enough jurisdiction to affect decisions below it. It takes money and time. Somebody has to really care.
The real catch is the money. Only issues that people really care about, or have the money for, work their way up in the system. Concretely, if Jon wins his appeal it does not mean that those of us in unrelated jurisdictions will be able to benefit. It will somehow have to work its way up.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer; I have never played one on TV. And, no matter how many beers you buy me, I will never assert otherwise (thought I wouldn't mind if you tried). I did look into this at some point in the past.
IANAL either but I don't believe that's entirely true. A ruling in any court sets a precedent, although it may not be mandatory for other courts to follow it unless it comes from a higher court. It can still be cited in other cases though.
to both @Ahlir and @salty: the thing about appeals of this sort is, chances are the appropriate decision will never reach a high enough court to provide precedent to a sufficiently large area that a randomly picked district magistrate will know of the precedent.
there are many reasons for this. fortunately, the most obvious one is that cases such as this one tend to win on their first appeal, so that when an actual judge becomes involved, the magisterial ruling is overturned, and no one really cares. the magistrate got it wrong, the wrong is righted, let's move on.
i am pretty fully confident that jon's citation will be nullified upon appeal. at that point, the likelihood that the district contests the decision is basically nil. and this is as it should be: a point of law that is generally agreed upon shouldn't make its way farther in the appeals process. it would require a disagreement on the point of law on the part of both parties to reach some significant level of precedent, and i believe that this won't be the case here.
I think the important this is this: The community is providing some help to Jon in pursuing this.
It costs more to appeal than pay the fine, but each appeal will have a marginal effect on enforcement at the police and magistrate level.
If there gets to be a pattern of bad citations, maybe Bike-Pgh can do something about it.
Is that where this issue is going? That we need more cyclists to press the envelope, so to speak? Not so much go out of our way to invoke getting ticketed, but at least to unabashedly take the lane wherever it is unsafe not to, and thus force the issue? And if a cop happens to be nearby to issue a ticket, then fine, bring it?!
Well, then, fine, bring it!
I will have the camera rolling, just in case.
@Stu yeah, well I don't see how I could have acted differently, except by meekly riding to the right after I was stopped (then worrying and looking over my shoulder every day when I rode home through Forest Hills). Every step in this feels forced to me, except for the support from folks here, which has been unexpected and awesome.
Filing the appeal is absurd. I must appear in person at the County Courthouse between 8:30 and 4:30. What do people do who can't take time off work?
"What do people do who can’t take time off work? "
They get screwed by the system at every turn.
jonawebb wrote:...I must appear in person at the County Courthouse between 8:30 and 4:30.
So you need to be prepared to be there all day; there's no hint about what time they'll actually hear your case?
PS: Jon, I think you missed an opportunity. You could have listed your hearing before the magistrate last week as a Bikefest event :-)
No, being at the courthouse is just to file the appeal. The actual trial happens whenever. Amazing, right?
Jon, I think what they meant is that you can file between 8:30 am and 4:30pm by appearing there in person. I went once (long time ago) with my friend to appeal his traffic ticket (succeeded) and it took around 40 minutes to go through lines and paper work. But again it was during "previous millennium".
I'm not really familiar with this procedure, but you will almost certainly not have to be there all day long. Sometimes there is a line to do filings, but in my experience the Department of Court Records staff are helpful. You may have to go down during business hours to get the paperwork, work on it at home and go again to actually file it, but if you bring all your materials you may be able to do it all in one visit.
i think his point is that 8:30-4:30 tends to fall within the work day for most people, and if you're boss won't give you the time and you can't afford a lawyer to do it for you, you're out of luck on filing.
Just heard from Marc -- he's filing the appeal this afternoon. Having an attorney is great. Thanks for your support.
The hearing date is October 29 @ 8:15 a.m. in Room 21 of the City-County Building.
jonawebb wrote:I got a chance to speak, and pointed out that I was following the plain wording of 3301(c) — ride in the right hand lane OR as far to the right as practicable. I said that I’d tried riding near the curb and cars would nearly sideswipe me there as they maneuvered around stopped traffic in the left lane.
I've been thinking about the legal wording and it seems to me that the "lane available for travel" is a reference to a construction situation when the far right of the roadway is unavailable (to anyone). In that case, the OR means that there is a temporary lane (so close to the right, wouldn't work).
It seems like we are permitted to take the lane on a two lane road, but not a four lane? The wording of these laws is way too confusing.
The PA Bicycle Rider's Handbook
makes it pretty clear what they're talking about. On multi-lane roads with lanes that are too narrow for a driver to pass safely you should take the lane:
"On a multilane road with narrow lane, a), ride in the middle of the right lane. You are likely to get squeezed out, b), if you hug the edge"
The riding to the right stuff applies to roads with a wide lane, and roads where traffic is going in one direction:
"In a wide lane, there's room for cars to pass you. But in a narrow lane, cars have to move partway into the next lane to pass you. Narrow lanes are comon on city streets and on backroads in the country. On a narrow two-lane, two-way road stay alert to strings of cars from the front, in case one pulls into your lane to pass. You can ride near the edge of this type of road if cars are coming from only one direction at a time."
There's an interesting discussion on this going on in the comments of today's Frazz comic: http://www.gocomics.com/frazz/2013/09/27
Greetings, everyone. First post in the forums here. I thought I would share a similar situation that I encountered in my municipality last year when I was stopped (but not cited) for taking the lane.
I was riding on Route 19 in Cranberry Township, Butler County going about 20-25 mph in a posted 45 and positioned about 1 foot to the left of the white edge line. My past experiences riding on this road (two lanes in each direction, center turn lane, poorly maintained hard shoulder) with people cutting me off on right turns and vehicles not moving over to provide enough space when passing forced me to choose to ride in the right hand lane of traffic instead of the shoulder.
A police officer pulled me over one afternoon in December 2012 and explained that I SHALL ride on the shoulder as required by section 3301(b) because I was proceeding "slower than prevailing traffic" and the shoulder was "as far right as practicable" on the roadway. I explained to him that bicycles were exempt from section 3301 entirely as of the new legislation passed in April 2012 and fall under a completely new section (3301(c)) stating that bicycles can ride in the right hand lane OR as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway. Again, I was not cited but it was a very interesting conversation.
The keyword in this is "or." This gives bicycles the option to choose either the right lane of traffic or the shoulder. This is equivalent to a tractor, amish buggy, or other slow moving vehicle using the roadway - these individuals have the right to choose either the shoulder OR the right hand lane, regardless of their speed. Studies conducted by the Federal Highway Administration indicate that general traffic flow and the safety and visibility of the cyclist actually IMPROVES when bicyclists choose to ride in the right hand lane instead of the shoulder.
I don't know the exact thinking of why the General Assembly has that exemption for "a pedalcycle using a roadway that has a width of not more than one lane of traffic in each direction." However, some other states actually require bicyclists to use the shoulder on certain roads with higher speed limits. For example, Maryland law states that bicycles shall use the shoulder on roadways with speed limits of 50 mph or higher and can't ride in the lane of traffic unless making a left turn or otherwise directed by an official traffic control device. Pennsylvania (except on signed Interstate highway sections permitting bicycles like the Neville Island Bridge) does NOT require bicycles to use the shoulder at any time for any reason. It seems as if that exemption was to clarify that bicycles may ride in the right hand lane at any time, regardless of the number of lanes present on the roadway.
Since this incident, I have completed a fourteen month high school senior project with Cranberry Township on pedestrian, bicycle, and school bus safety. I also created a video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=perhcDjBi2E
) on pedestrian and bicycle safety as part of a public education platform. I sat down with several Township officials to discuss and review the new legislation from last April as part of my project. All of us came to an understanding that it was acceptable for bicycles to ride in the right hand lane, even though the cyclist may not be traveling at prevailing speed and may require motorists to change lanes to pass. I am now a college student in Washington County and I still maintain regular contact with Cranberry Township providing some feedback on expanded bike/ped infrastructure enhancements and new development.
The last thing that I would want to see happen is something like this to a cyclist. Below is a video of a bicyclist involved in a hit and run crash in Bethlehem, PA last April. The actor was the first in the state to be cited under Pennsylvania's four foot passing law which took effect that same day.
@jonawebb I wish you good luck at your hearing, and please let me know if you have any questions or if I can help you in any way.
Disclaimer: I'm not an attorney.
@weatherdude, I'm glad the officer listened to you. Maybe if I'd been carrying the printed law, the way I do now, he would've paid attention. Maybe not. But anyway, I'm pretty confident things will go well at the appeal. Thanks.
BTW if you look at the PA Bicycle Driver's manual (from PennDOT), which I recommend, the thinking on the exception on road width is pretty clear. On a narrow road, where there isn't space to pass, or where there is opposing traffic, you're allowed to take the lane -- even when there are not two lanes in your direction. The law's odd wording is supposed to capture that situation.
Wow, weatherdude, my compliments to you and your project. Impressive.
My mental image of the officer's face as you concisely and factually reviewed the law with him is somewhat akin to that of a dog reading a dictionary.
I am not a lawyer either, but here is my general thoughts on the issue:
I do not believe that exemption you refer to is actually an exemption. The law is spelled out here: http://www.dmv.state.pa.us/pdotforms/vehicle_code/chapter33.pdf
The wording between 3301(b) and 3301(c) is identical except that 3301(c) specifies that the bike has to be in accordance with chapter 35, which, among other things, includes the ban on biking on freeways unless special permission is given. The exemption says that 3301(c) doesn't apply to roads that are only one lane in each direction. I think the conclusion is supposed to be that if 3301(c) doesn't apply, then the general 3301(b) that applies to all slow moving vehicles actually does apply.
Taken together the conclusion is supposed to be: On a road with only one lane, you are to behave like any other slow moving vehicle and stay to the right as much as is practical unless you're turning or passing something moving even slower. Aka, try to stay to the right unless you need to take the lane. On a road with more than one lane in each direction, you have to stay in the right lane or on the shoulder, unless that 2 lane road is a freeway that you're banned from using. That's the most common-sense reading of the laws to me, at least. The PA cycling guide seems to agree with that reading.
Kudos to that Bethlehem bus and the vehicle behind the hit and run driver for an awesome job of boxing him in when they tried to leave the scene!
@czar, 3301(b) was amended in 2012 to explicitly exclude 'pedalcycles' (bicycles). It's not an issue here. There's nothing in chapter 35 about lane position.
Edit: obviously the law is confusing, but the PA Bicycle Driver's Manual, published by PennDOT, makes this clear:
On a multilane road with narrow lane, a), ride in the middle of the right lane. You are likely to get squeezed out, b), if you hug the edge.
"I think the conclusion is supposed to be that if 3301(c) doesn’t apply, then the general 3301(b) that applies to all slow moving vehicles actually does apply."
There are two problems with that.
1. 3301(b) specifically says it doesn't apply to bikes. So even if 3301(c) doesn't apply to bikes in certain cases, 3301(b) still wouldn't apply.
2. Under your interpretation, there would be no point to having 3301(c), since you think it says, essentially, "do the same as 3301(b) under some circumstances, and otherwise, do the same as 3301(b)." Regulations are never interpreted in a way that makes part of them pointless, whenever there's some alternative interpretation.
@steven: You raise two good points. On your second point, read 3301(b) and 3301(c). The wording about keeping to the right is exactly the same except that (c) requires that the bike is being used in accordance with chapter 35 and notes that that subsection only applies to multi-lane roads. Chapter 35 doesn't mention anything about where to ride on the road, but it does mention specifically that bikes aren't allowed on freeways. I would say that those two statements in (c) imply that bikes can take the right lane on a multi-lane road as long as that multi-lane road is not a freeway. That subsection is necessary, because other slower vehicles are allowed on freeways, they just have to stay to the right.
As to your first point, that is the odd part of the regulations. If you read it exactly as written, it seems that the law implies that bikes have to stay to the right or in the rightmost lane on a multi-lane road that is not a freeway. If the road is one lane in each direction then there's no keep to the right requirement at all.
czarofpittsburgh wrote:If the road is one lane in each direction then there’s no keep to the right requirement at all.
That's not quite right. The odd wording of the law is trying to get at the idea of lanes that are wide enough for a car to pass safely versus narrow lanes (which are actually the usual kind). If the lanes are wide, you are supposed to stay to the right, but if they're narrow you can take the lane. Again, the PA Bicycle Driver's Manual contains a well-thought through explanation of this, based on the law. We don't have to figure this stuff out by guessing at the law's intent.
If the written law is that much lacking in clarity that the PA bike manual (btw not a legally binding document) needs to explain it, it's no wonder that law enforcement officers, magistrates, and judges sometimes fail to interpret the law correctly.
Bump, my appeal is coming up next week.
The hearing date is October 29 @ 8:15 a.m. in Room 21 of the City-County Building.
Do you know which judge it'll be in front of? Or is it in arbitration, or even jury hearing?
I don't know the judge. It's in the court of common pleas.
jon, I'm going to try to show up. Bump this again on monday.
Bump, ajbooth's post reminded me. Tomorrow, 8:15 a.m. in Room 21 of the City-County Building.
My attorney, paid for with the help of many of you, sounds pretty confident. It would be totally awesome if we had two victories in two days.
I'd love to attend, but taking time off this afternoon has put me behind at work, and another few hours would crush me.
Good luck, please update when done. I'm with you in spirit!
I'll be there tomorrow morning at your hearing, Jon, business casual, helmet in hand (to subtly suggest that cyclists are ordinary people, too).
Officer didn't show--case dismissed. Paul Heckbert, Marko, and wbt kindly came w/helmets.
jonawebb wrote:Officer didn’t show–case dismissed. Paul Heckbert, Marko, and wbt kindly came w/helmets.
WTG helmet-bearers! I would have been there but I had to help out my sister this morning.
I know it's a common occurrence, but the officer being a no-show says a lot to me.
Damn it! That's such a dick move. I think cops should be financially penalized for that.
a) waste court's time b) waste citizens' money
It allow doesn't allow for the interpretation of the law to be settle since the case was just dismissed. It seems like it would be more useful if the interpretation was fought for
Don't you think it would be a bigger waste of the court's time and the citizen's money if the officer DID show up for a case he pretty much couldn't win?
We had a one hour wait before Jon's one minute hearing/dismissal took place. Here's what it looked like inside Courtroom 21 this morning.
Jon was ticketed for taking a lane while bicycling in Churchill in May. His appeal hearing took place in October. People waited from 8:15am till 9:05am for the judge to appear and start hearing cases - a very inefficient system.
Judge Robert C Gallo in the distance, a large group of cops from all over the county, seated at right. Jon's case was dismissed because the cop in his case did not show up.
wbt wrote:Don’t you think it would be a bigger waste of the court’s time and the citizen’s money if the officer DID show up for a case he pretty much couldn’t win?
Well, if John's case overturn police fine -- it's a precedent that could be used in Churchill district. so no more tickets for taking a whole lane in Churchill. So one 15 minutes paid show and no more.
Marc Reisman, my attorney, did volunteer that he'd talk to the guy's supervisor if he tries this again. My guess is the cop realized he didn't have much of a case, and decided to give up. Or possibly mboyd, who knows the chief of police in Churchill, and volunteered to speak to him on my behalf, had time to do so.
In any case, two victories in two days! Yay!
I'm glad the case was dismissed, but I find it rather unsatisfying. It would have been much better to have a judge tell the officer that his interpretation of the law was wrong, and that the magistrate got it wrong too. (Or even hear why "our" interpretation is wrong)
Still, a-win-is-a-win so we can take comfort in that. Thanks for being persistent Jon.
It would have been much better to have a judge tell the officer that his interpretation of the law was wrong, and that the magistrate got it wrong too. (Or even hear why “our” interpretation is wrong)
+1 for precedent, and for correcting an erroneous magistrate ruling.
I did learn some interesting things about the bike law from this. One is PA 3364 (b), which I don't remember seeing cited here before:
"A pedalcycle may be operated at a safe and reasonable speed appropriate for the pedalcycle. A pedalcycle operator shall use reasonable efforts so as not to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic."
It seems to me that this could reasonably interpreted as restricting our rights regarding taking the lane and so on, depending on who is deciding what "normal" and "reasonable" mean.
So that makes a self-contradictory trifecta of bike law: PA 3301 (c) gives us the right to take the right lane; PA 3505 (c) says we can do this unless it's unsafe; and PA 3364 (b) says we aren't supposed to hold up traffic, either.
Fortunately, in my case the cop cited me under PA 3301 (b) then switched to (c). If he'd cited me under PA 3505 (c) he might have had a case -- we'd be arguing about the safest way to ride on Greensburg Pike.
Well that was anti-climatic. Congrats Jon and thank you for taking a stand.
Were any cars actually held up behind you at the time? I ain't no lawyer, but it seems to me that if he had cited you for 3364(b) without any traffic actually present being "held up", it would be pre-emptively ticketing you prior to an offense.
Per the lesson from this thread to carry a copy of the bike law, I've made up a printout of some relevant sections of
the Motor Vehicle Law
. The readme describing the PDF is here.
Copied from earlier, the Bicycle Driver's manual (Pub 380) is
for your printing pleasure.
I hope it's helpful!
edmonds59 wrote:Were any cars actually held up behind you at the time?
He argued at the district magistrate hearing that he'd observed motorists acting "confused" (?) by me riding in the middle of the lane. So he probably would have claimed that I was obstructing traffic, in violation of 3364(b), if he'd been aware of the law. And then it would have been my word against his, and who do you believe? Me or Mr. Cop of Authority?
He argued at the district magistrate hearing that he’d observed motorists acting “confused” (?) by me riding in the middle of the lane.
Really? Wow. Confusion on the part of others is your responsibility...awesome.
edmonds59 wrote:Were any cars actually held up behind you at the time? I ain’t no lawyer, but it seems to me that if he had cited you for 3364(b) without any traffic actually present being “held up”, it would be pre-emptively ticketing you prior to an offense.
agreed... this reads to me like the law in some states that would require a motor vehicle to pull over in the event that it is holding up more than three vehicles. It's one thing to inconvenience a few drivers while pedaling through a tight or otherwise unsafe spot... it's another thing to hold up traffic for several miles.
3364(b) needs clarified or repealed, as it could be taken to ridiculous extremes. Cars fly down Perrymont at 45+ without regard to either the 35 mph posted limit or the dogleg turn at the bottom of the hill, posted a suggested 15 mph. After 22 years of practice, I myself can wail through that curve at close to 30 myself, if driving.
If cycling, if I were to take the lane here and force them to 15, that could still be an applicable case of 3364(b), AFAICT.
This came up last summer in the extended argument that started in the "suffer fools gladly" thread. The guy argued that anytime a bicycle was in front of a driver, it was blocking traffic, and the guy still thinks that way. Nothing, nobody, nohow, is going to change his mind. And he is not alone.
This came up last summer in the extended argument that started in the “suffer fools gladly” thread. The guy argued that anytime a bicycle was in front of a driver, it was blocking traffic, and the guy still thinks that way. Nothing, nobody, nohow, is going to change his mind. And he is not alone.
It's hard to have a fruitful discussion over a hypothetical discussion... you never know what the other person is imagining in his/her own mind. In regards to that thread, I think that your old friend has an inability to understand where other people are coming from in discussing these hypotheticals. I think that he lacks imagination more so than simply thinking wrong.
Stu - Speak of the devil, our old "fool" just commented on a video I put up on Fb about the cyclist in Ashland Oregon being ticketed for being out of the bike lane, then friend requested me. I immediately blocked him, frigging moron.
Oh, I know exactly what he's thinking, why he's thinking it, how he came to think it, and why he isn't changing his mind. It's just the way he operates. He's like that on every topic.
I know his brother, too. A little more "with it" but just as deaf to what anyone else thinks. It's an "I'm right, and I won't rest until I change the world to agree with me" line of thinking.
It just scares me to think how many more like that are out there. Like the bigots of the 1950s, we just have to wait for them all to die, and hope they don't breed or brainwash any more in the meantime.
I have plenty of real world experience of people thinking they can pass a bicycle whenever they want, at whatever speed, regardless of oncoming traffic
I go down Lebanon Rd on 885 everyday after work and a least once a week, if not more, even when I'm taking the lane and going 35+ MPH downhill a car or two will pass me, which has been pretty scary sometimes with a bus coming up the hill in the opposing lane and closing in fast, with the passing car seemingly oblivious
Well Stu, at one time I thought age and time might resolve things, but they won't. There are way more than enough young dumbshits coming up below. Dumbshits are like human knotweed.
There's a developing case near Ft Lauderdale, Florida, where a cyclist on a Critical Mass ride was ticketed for taking the lane. It's too early to post links or a summary -- this is from Facebook posts that are marked "N minutes ago" -- but it sounds like a similar type of situation.
Here are the couple of Facebook posts on the Ft Lauderdale incident, actually the nearby town of Wilton Manor:
November 11 at 10:05pm
: "I called the Wilton Manors Police department to inquire about riding in their fair city. I explained a friend had received a ticket for riding on 26th Street because he was not close enough to the curb. I said I did not want to get the same ticket so I needed some information. The person that answered the phone was very nice, he said he rode his bike to work. That he took 26th street to get to work. He said I should leave a message for his boss and that I would receive a call back. More to follow, I hope."
Nov 12 at 11:46am
: " I just spoke to Operations Commander Gary Blocker of the Wilton Manors Police Department. We went over the statute on the officer's citation. I explained that a cyclist is entitled to ride in the travel lane. Statute 316.2065 (5) (a)as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations: substandard-width lane, which makes it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge or within a bicycle lane. For the purposes of this subsection, a “substandard-width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane. That would need to be a 14 foot lane, 26th is a substandard lane. Commander Blocker was very understanding, we went to the Florida Bicycle Association's web site. I showed him where the bicycle laws are and that he could order booklets for his officers. He ordered them while we spoke. He asked if Ray was going to contest the ticket and I said I think so. I also told him around the last Friday of the month he may see a lot of cyclists. He said to give him a couple of months so he can get the Florida Bicycle Law Enforcement Guide handed out to his officers. He said he has seen the riders gather at Holiday Park before, he volunteers for your sports. He could not have been any nicer. Hopefully we can turn what one officer did into something for the betterment of everyone."
Sounds like a win to me! What can we learn from this?
Good post Stu.
Here's a case in California involving a group ride of 70 cyclists ordered to ride single file. They're fighting the ticket. Again, the defense centers on whether the far-to-right law even applies in a sub-standard-width lane.
[link to Facebook thread
This is outstanding. "A law like no other". From Florida, but applicable pretty much anywhere. Gold. http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/2013/11/19/a-law-like-no-other/
Time for a cop tangent:
SFPD accused of brutality in arrest of bicyclist http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/san_francisco&id=9331350
Apparently the guy was riding his bike on the sidewalk when two plain clothed "Violence Reduction Team" officers told him to stop, but he had ear buds in... a beating & arrests ensue.
Post dated October, but recently popped up on Momentum Mag's twitter feed: '[Canadian] Legal Brief - Overcoming "Car Bias"
In 1993, the cycling community in British Columbia received a very special gift called Pacheco v. Robinson. … A great proposition emerged from this case, that is, simply because cyclists are more vulnerable, they are not required by law to anticipate every eventuality or take extra care. As a practical matter, it is always wise to be hyper defensive, but as a legal matter, a cyclist is not held to a higher standard based on his or her vulnerability.
Jon: I ran across a story about an Ohio case that is reminiscent of yours:
In 1999, Steve was riding on S.R. 44 in Trotwood – a 5 lane, 45 mph roadway. After stopping at a light, Steve pedaled off in the right lane, with cars behind him. A police officer didn’t like seeing the cars behind him and pulled him over, citing him for “impeding traffic.”
At trial, we presented expert testimony that what Steve did was perfectly appropriate and that his speed was appropriate FOR A CYCLIST. ... The trial judge disagreed and found Steve Guilty.
We appealed and, with the help of the [Ohio Bicycle Federation], publicized Steve’s case through the Internet. Trotwood got emails from all over the WORLD chastising it for prosecuting Steve. We won a 2-1 decision on appeal, with the court holding that in analyzing an “impeding traffic” charge, the court must consider the capabilities of the vehicle and its operator. Since the officer conceded that Steve was going at a reasonable speed for a cyclist, the court overturned the conviction.
The precedent set by their appeals court that the court must consider the capabilities of the vehicle and its operator in analyzing an impeding traffic charge is very interesting. I'm going to do some research on PA case law on whether we have a similar standard.
It’s ironic that a road cyclist would be harassed by the police in Trotwood, since it’s a western suburb of Dayton, Ohio, which was designated a “bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community” in 2010, and Dayton plans to begin a bike share program in 2015. http://mostmetro.com/the-featured-articles/bike-share-to-roll-into-dayton-spring-2015.html