The Cost of Being Different

Fred’s troubles began in Port Orange in February 2009. Until then, he had been happily and legally traveling around the Space Coast without trouble from the police. Like many of us, Fred had studied the laws regarding bicycle operation and ensured that he was operating in accordance with the law. He uses lights at night, obeys traffic control devices and drives in the right lane on multi-lane roads. Because the roads he uses have lanes that are less than 14ft wide, he rides near the center of the lane as he is legally allowed by 316.2065(5)(a) exception paragraph (3).

When the Port Orange PD began stopping Fred, they were not interested in the exceptions. They wanted him to ride next to the curb. He refused to give up his legal right to the lane. They began a campaign of pulling him over and ticketing him every time he drove through town. Fred hired a lawyer ($400) to file a motion to dismiss. The tickets were dismissed without a hearing.

We thought the problem was solved, but early this year, Port Orange PD renewed their campaign of harassment. Fred received two more tickets and the threat that he would be pulled over every time he was seen. Through the pro bono efforts of attorney Jeffrey Lynne, president of the South Florida Bike Coalition, these citations were also dismissed… expedited by a nicely-worded letter to the Assistant City Attorney about Constitutional concerns and liability for the city.

Once again, all was well in Fredworld.

During the exchange, it was revealed that the triggers for police action were Fred’s “unusual vehicle” and “citizen calls.” It turns out, this was to become a recurring theme.

Until recently, Fred had experienced little trouble with other agencies and no trouble closest to home in Ormond Beach. But his freedom to travel hit a new snag at the beginning of September. First, he had a rather intimidating encounter with a hostile FHP officer. It didn’t result in a ticket, but ended in a threat: “…if I see you that way again, I’m gonna burn your butt.”

Two days later, trouble continued when Fred was pulled over by an officer of the Ormond Beach PD. Fred described the circumstances leading up to the officer pulling him over:

Ormond Beach, FL, Granada Blvd, Route 40, just east of the river, approaching A1A. Motorcycle patrolman well behind me in traffic, bus stopped in my lane. Turn signal, lane change, back into my lane. Less observant drivers back up behind the bus. Motorcycle cop pulls alongside me in left lane (not my lane) and shouts something. I waved, all fingers, of course.

He drops behind me, lights me up, no siren, I pull over.

The officer accused him of impeding traffic (solo bicyclists are not subject to the impeding law, it only applies to motor vehicles). I guess he didn’t notice the bus. Fred carries his dismissal paperwork for his 4 previous citations, along with a copy of the Florida statutes. The officer wasn’t interested. Told him he had to ride near the curb or he was going to get a 5th ticket, stating he was sure could get it through the judges because he doesn’t have a problem with them. So, is the law interpreted so arbitrarily the police think they can change the outcome by having a good relationship with the judges?  A scary thought.

A week later, Ormond Beach PD made good on their threat. In one trip, Fred was stopped twice and received one citation. The following is a video of the traffic conditions before both stops.

It’s interesting that Fred was on the road by himself for over a minute (this is pretty typical), then the officer followed him on an empty road until a platoon of traffic caught up. The presence of the officer actually created a slow-down in the passing traffic. I’ve seen some of Fred’s other videos, there is a small curiosity factor from his “unusual vehicle,” but traffic typically flows around him faster than you see here.

After stopping at a red light, the officer pulled Fred over and gave him a citation for: 316.2065(a), “impeding traffic bicycle violation – not riding as close as practical to right curb.”

As you can see in the video, there is an undesignated area that is striped like a bike lane to the right of the travel lane. The officer correctly referred to the stripe as a “fog line” and did not call it a “bike lane.” But he still wanted Fred to drive his vehicle in that space. I have more to say about that and will get to it below.

When you’re a bicycle driver, it’s up to you to prove your right to drive defensively in court. And well, if that costs you hundreds of dollars in legal fees, then maybe you should consider driving a car like everyone else.

Again, there was no interest in the text of the law or the dismissed citations.  Motorists get pulled over for speeding, running red lights and doing things that can cause bodily harm to others… violating actual laws. Bicyclists get pulled over for driving defensively in the way that is both legal and safe and the justification is that incompetent drivers might a) run over the cyclist or b) cause a crash while passing unsafely. Clearly, in the face of illegal or unsafe behavior by incompetent members of the majority, the solution is to remove the legally-operating minority.

After signing the citation, Fred took his measuring tape out to the street. He waited for a gap when there was no traffic and measured the lane width. The officer yelled at him to get out of the road and threatened to give him another ticket for blocking traffic, even though there was no traffic. Thou shalt not violate the hallowed ground of the culture of speed.

Not 20 minutes after resuming his travels, Fred was tailed again. This time an officer in an unmarked vehicle (not sure if it was a personal or official vehicle) saw Fred leave the bike lane on the downhill side of the SR40 bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway. Fred climbed the bridge in the bike lane, because he was going slower than traffic. On the downhill, an aerodynamic vehicle can easily outpace cars. The speed limit is 35. Fred was traveling, um, a bit faster, and pulling away from the cars in the lane behind him.

He was stopped on A1A after being tailed for four minutes by an unmarked car. The reason for the stop was that he wasn’t in the bike lane on the bridge.

This is a good example of how bias works. Because of the belief that bicyclists should not be allowed to operate as equal drivers, the police only read the part of the statute that confirms this belief and allows them to stop something that looks wrong in the context of the belief. Fred’s position was explicitly legal via the very first line in the statute: “A person operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic…”

After some heated discussion, they let him go with a warning. Most likely because they knew there was no basis for the stop, though they did try to change to focus to his lane position on A1A. And stated that he would be impeding the right lane even if traffic could easily pass in the left lane. A couple choice items came out of the discussion.

1) Irate motorists have been calling 911 to complain about him “impeding them.” Translation: making them change lanes and possibly wait 10 seconds for the opportunity because they were driving 10 feet in front of their noses until they encountered him.

2) If you want to ride like that you need to talk to your legislature and get the law changed because it’s not legal. Of course it is legal, but the problem is the way the law is written. It’s far too easy for an officer, and even some judges, to interpret it in favor of the cultural taboo against getting in the way.

The Tyranny of the Majority

For this, I will refer you to Wikipedia

The phrase tyranny of the majority (also: tyranny of the masses), used in discussing systems of democracy and majority rule, is a criticism of the scenario in which decisions made by a majority under that system would place that majority’s interests so far above a dissenting individual’s interest that the individual would be actively oppressed, just like the oppression by tyrants and despots.

The 911 theme was at the core of Chipseal’s problems and it was a theme in his recent trial. It’s distressing to me that motorists can call 911 to whine about having to change lanes to pass a bicyclist and that the police respond by harassing the bicyclist. Hello. We need you to uphold the law that protects our safety, not safeguard the tender convenience of a few crybaby motorists.

Another thing that has been said in nearly every encounter is that “all the other bicyclists” ride on the edge near the curb. Again, tyranny of the majority. If you are different, you must be wrong.

The muddy issue of practicability and undesignated gutter lanes

It is very clear leading up to the second stop that Fred was operating within the explicit exceptions of 316.2065(a). It is less clear in the first stop. The issue of roadway position and practicability become a bit more convoluted when a stripe is added to a road. Legally, a fog line demarcates the edge of the travel lane. Cyclists are not required to operate on the shoulder. But what happens when that stripe is to the left of curb and gutter and is broken at intersections to look like a bike lane? It is not designated as a bike lane, so it not subject to the new language requiring use of a “lane marked for bicycle use.”

Now, if we’re measuring from the lane line to the gutter seam (which marks the edge of roadway, gutter is not included), that space is 14’10.” If there was no stripe, it would not be explicitly exempt by sub-section 3 (substandard lane). However, it is not a single lane and the stripe changes the dynamic of the space in some fundamental ways:

  • It is more likely to collect debris and broken glass due to the sweeping action of the cars tracking in the narrowed travel lane.
  • Motorists tend to track the center of their defined lane space. They will move over if something is in that space (like a bicyclist in a wide curb lane), but are less likely to deflect for anything outside that space (like a bicyclist in a shoulder or bike lane).
  • The stripe makes anything to the right of it irrelevant to a multi-tasking, distracted driver because it is outside his/her focus area. This exacerbates the problems with crossing and turning conflicts, as well as close passing.

Just because the definitions and exceptions are ambiguous, does not mean it is practicable to operate in that space. The definition of practicable is: feasible: capable of being done with means at hand and circumstances as they are.

Personally, I don’t find it feasible to operate my single-track bicycle in 3’10” of space next to a lane with a significant volume of truck traffic. But Fred’s vehicle has additional considerations which make operating in that space a serious detriment to his safety, ergo not practicable.

  • Fred is not driving a single-track vehicle. He has 3 wheels that must miss debris or broken glass. An obstruction that might be avoided by minor deflection with a bicycle, could cause him to have to merge completely out of the lane. This increases workload, stress and can cause him to suddenly be where he’s not expected.
  • Fred’s vehicle is much shorter than an upright bicycle. This makes him far more vulnerable to being overlooked by crossing and turning drivers, and more easily shielded by shrubbery and moving screens. When he is operating in the center of a travel lane, he is highly visible, but placed out of contention, he’s at an even bigger disadvantage than a two-wheeled bicycle driver.
  • Because Fred’s vehicle is not readily identified as containing a human being, drivers seem to move over less when passing it in the shoulder. While they make complete lane changes when he operates in the travel lane, they barely deflect at all when he is to the right of the stripe. In my experience, at least half of drivers will deflect when passing me in a bike lane or shoulder (whether I’m riding or standing there), in the video below, you can see that far fewer deflect to pass the Velomobile. Quite a few of those passes are downright scary.

We need to take action

While Fred’s vehicle is different and adds additional safety concerns to the equation, none of us should be forced by law or misinterpretations of law to ride in a manner we know to be less safe and efficient than full lane use. It is ridiculous that we should be contained in a substandard, hazard-prone space in order to not be a bother of 10-30 seconds (for the 2 or 3 drivers who didn’t recognize the need to change lanes until the last minute).

Rather than being viewed as an affront to the majority, human powered vehicles need to be seen as a fact of life, like traffic lights and transit buses. Rather than reinforcing the tyranny of the majority, law enforcement needs to lead the way to a better, safer and more equitable traffic culture.

But we need help to get them there. One program in the process is the Florida Bicycle Law Enforcement Toolkit. But we need more than that. The roadblock we constantly face is the unwillingness to accept an interpretation of the law that allows for full lane use. We’re up against a cultural norm and an entrenched belief system. I don’t think we will make real progress until the law itself is rewritten.

There is lots of talk about active transportation, alternative transportation, carbon footprints, obesity and how the bicycle fits perfectly into the solution… it’s become the hip thing. But if the legislature and community leaders want to make human-powered transportation truly viable, they have to remove a system of oppression whereby the drivers of human powered vehicles can be subject to harassment, delay, citations, anxiety and financial burden simply as a result of driving defensively. These are, in fact, the most proficient and engaged bicycle drivers and the best representatives of human powered transportation.

How can we build a sustainable and healthy bicycle culture on second-class citizenship?

If you live in Florida, tell the Florida Bicycle Association you want this to be a priority (and make sure you’re a member to support the organization). Tell your legislators you want transportation equity and an end to discriminatory laws that punish people who are trying to do something good for their community and the environment.

If you are a member of the League of American Bicyclists, please take a moment learn about three board candidates who will put your legal right to the road FIRST:

Eli Damon (who has suffered from police harassment)

John Brooking (a regular reader and commenter)

Khal Spencer (a strong advocate for traffic justice)

Then please sign the petition to put them on the ballot for the next election. If you are not a League member but would like to help these fine gentlemen help us, you can join the league and then sign the petition.

24 replies
  1. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    A nicely worded article, Keri, thanks for that. One minor quibble. The A1A stop from which I “escaped” without a citation was not performed by a marked or unmarked patrol vehicle. I saw a marked patrol vehicle two cars back as I was southbound on A1A and observed it following at my pace for an extended period of time. I became irate and pulled over of my own accord. In retrospect, I should have just let the cop pull in behind me as he did, and then proceeded on my way. The rest is history, as has been said by others wiser than I.

    Today’s travels were performed in a manner so as to keep me as clear of Ormond Beach officers as possible. Sadly, it was not successful.

    Traffic stop 24, citation 6.

    I said very little, primarily “I’m not breaking the law”. The officer’s foundation was “to help keep me safe.” When a driver pulls around me, operating in the center of the lane as I do, the driver behind him will speed up and strike me, killing me.

    My response, verbatim was, “That’s an illusion, a misconception” when in reality, I wanted to tell him that he was full of it.

    This officer was likely the one who pulled me over prior to the first citation stop and told me he would write me up, which he did. He used a fancy little PDA device which takes signatures and prints out a convenient thermal paper citation. I’m hopeful that it means it will appear in the court records faster than the SEVENTEEN DAYS that the last one took. I’d like to have both of them addressed simultaneously.

    “All I wanna do is bicycle, bicycle…”

    ring-ring, ring-ring

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      Thanks for the clarification. I had a difficult time describing that odd situation.

      Too bad we can’t sit these officers down and make them watch the hours and hours of video you have of drivers passing you safely. Hmm, what’s reality? The opinion of the officer with zero experience or the EXPERIENCE (recorded on video) of the guy with thousands of hours operating his vehicle?

  2. JAT in Seattle
    JAT in Seattle says:

    It is a travesty that the emergency response system is being misused in this way. Calling 9-1-1 to report a cyclist in your way should be a crime. Dispatching on officer to respond to such a non-event is the sort of government waste that drives some people crazy, to say nothing of tying up the courts.

    Locally the Pierce County 9-1-1 response system servers were recently overburdened and crashed leaving nearly 800,000 people without access to emergency services because of so many 9-1-1 calls following the scramble of a pair of Air Force jets leaving a sonic boom in their wake.

    What is it about emergency that people don’t understand? These officers (and thre 9-1-1 dispatchers) need to be retrained or reassigned.

  3. Wayne Pein
    Wayne Pein says:

    Great piece.

    This is a heinous situation. Someone(s) should send the link to this piece to Port Orange newspapers, blogs, the mayor and city council, attorneys, police, human resources, etc. Send it to lots of folks so the message is viral and the recipients are held accountable. Flood it all over Florida.

  4. Wayne Pein
    Wayne Pein says:

    Motorists pass the velomobile when it is in a bike lane or faux bike exactly how the designers intended. That is, by not moving over at all. That is the point of channelization. That is how all standard travel lanes are envisioned to function. Drivers do not have to move left to pass another motor vehicle in the adjacent lane. Drivers typically center in the lane, but can also be expected to be off-center in the lane right up to either lane line.

    Keri, whenever you make animations they should include motorists who hug the lane line.

    That motorists sometimes move over for bicyclists in bike lanes or faux bike lanes who are recognized as bicyclists indicates that the total space is too narrow for comfortable passing by motorists. That is typically a function of the bike lane being too narrow. Even a 4 or 5 foot bike lane is narrow when the available clearances are examined with trucks driving along the lane line. So if it’s uncomfortable for motorists in their steel enclosures doing the passing, it’s obviously a lot more uncomfortable to the passed low speed bicyclist with his flesh exposed.

  5. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Well said. The only item I would disagree with is “likely because they knew there was no basis for the stop.”

    IMO, if they’re typical, they have little idea what the law is about cyclists and less interest in finding out. In Chip’s case, the officer did not have an accurate copy of the statute even after tow stops, an arrest, and coaching by the city attorney.Note: “tow” should be “two” but I can’t fix it!

  6. Will
    Will says:

    If I were in Fred’s spot I would go on the offensive. Injunctions and civil rights lawsuits both come to mind. If you keep getting the same cops pulling you over for the same reason, its more fuel for the fire.

    My first step would be to gather enough evidence. Audio/vide of the cops would be great. First step would be to get them to admit they had no probable cause to pull you over. “Why did you pull me over officer?” is a good lead in to that. I’d try to work in at least once “am I free to go?” to show you’re not just shooting the breeze. Tickets easily shot down by a judge will be a benefit here.

    Filing complaints, documenting the illegal stops is also important, especially in the media sense, as you tried everything you could to get the harassment to stop. If the complaints don’t stop the harassment, I’d choose whether to do the legal process, the media process, or more likely both. When the time to strike is evident, go.

    The number one tool people have to keep government in check is a free press. Hopefully a press that cares enough to publish the accounts.

    The other piece, the legal attack, hopefully will have some newsprint and tv cheerleaders helping. The 2 options that come to mind is an injunction or a civil rights lawsuit. If the media picks it up, hopefully a lawyer will jump in and volunteer. Hopefully they will have a better idea what to do then my ideas cobbled together from wikipedia and google searches.

  7. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    The greatest ammunition I carry in my clip is that four traffic stops in Port Orange have been dismissed on request (by attorney). The fourth stop had to be followed up with communications with the PO city attorney or someone resembling such a position, including the threat of a lawsuit. Did you know that there is no constitutional right to travel, but the Supreme Court has decided that a US citizen does have it, even though it’s not in the honorable document? There are court interpretations of the document that apply to the freedom to travel and it apparently worked in my favor in the communications to the POPD and PO City Officials.

    I am pursuing this avenue, even as I type this and am hopeful for a similar result.

    The videos that Keri has so graciously edited and posted are the evidence I collect at each stop, but as long as an uninformed uniformed officer believes that I am in violation, he is within his rights to pull me over. They do not hesitate to inform me why I’m being stopped, which usually begins with, “I told you the last time that I would write you up for…” Since what they write me up for is 316.2065(5)(a) and I am operating under the exception allowed in (5)(a)(3), I’ve been able to get the citations dismissed.

    They do refuse to recognize the exceptions, even though it’s the same statute for which I’m being cited. Often enough, the u-u officer will invent reasons for the citation, such as “We’ve received calls that you’re impeding traffic”, although the videos here show how that works. Today’s stop included “The driver behind you will change lanes and the car behind him will run you over.” At least ten thousand miles of riding in the lane refutes his argument (refudiates?) but one does not convince an uninformed uniformed officer that his illusions are just that. The FHP trooper’s basis for not allowing me to operate in a safe manner was that he’d never seen it before.

    My letters to the FHP troop commander and to the Ormond Beach chief of police have gone un-acknowledged.

    Because I am one cyclist operating on multi-lane roads in a safe, legal manner, and do not represent any other cyclists in my area, it is unlikely that the local press would be supportive. A local radio personality has made abrasive comments on the air and I refuse to involve myself with any form of media, having seen such things become distorted beyond recognition. I would rather have no media involvement at all, because I’ve had some interactions with drivers and they do not need to know more information about me than they already have. When someone honks, I wave with my full hand, but a few near-collisions have resulted face-to-face exchanges with some drivers. I am not proud of these, but my vehicle is too distinctive to be overlooked.

    Other local cyclists are few, at least of the commuter variety. The bike shops sponsor rides at which drivers transport their bicycles from somewhere to somewhere else, to ride in the nice parts of the county and then drive them back to the original somewhere. There is no support of safe cycling in this area and I’m not the pioneer to bring it to Eastern Volusia County.

    All I want to do is ride my bicycle.

  8. Chris Baskind
    Chris Baskind says:

    This is an important article for all of us.

    Fred, thanks for your patience. When there are enough Freds, everyone will get a fair shake. And well done, Keri.

    Ride on!

  9. drummergeek
    drummergeek says:

    Fred, I don’t know how you do it man. I’m glad you’re not giving up. I don’t think I’d have the perseverance to keep at it day after day. But at the same time I’d be mad at all of the trouble, because like you said, all you want to do is ride.

    Thank you for being a good role model as to how to ride safely.

  10. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    Fred, thank you for not being harassed out of your legal right to the road. You are helping everyone by setting an example for others to follow.

    I do have one comment on your statement:

    “Did you know that there is no constitutional right to travel, but the Supreme Court has decided that a US citizen does have it, even though it’s not in the honorable document?”

    Kevin’s comment:

    I presume that they relied upon the implied rights in the Ninth Amendment, whose text reads:

    “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

    Interestingly enough, one of Canada’s most important constitutional documents explicitly refers to mobility rights in great detail.


    Mobility Rights
    Mobility of citizens

    6. (1) Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.

    (2) Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right

    (a) to move to and take up residence in any province; and

    (b) to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.

    (3) The rights specified in subsection (2) are subject to

    (a) any laws or practices of general application in force in a province other than those that discriminate among persons primarily on the basis of province of present or previous residence; and

    (b) any laws providing for reasonable residency requirements as a qualification for the receipt of publicly provided social services.

    (4) Subsections (2) and (3) do not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration in a province of conditions of individuals in that province who are socially or economically disadvantaged if the rate of employment in that province is below the rate of employment in Canada.

  11. cavale
    cavale says:

    “When you’re a bicycle driver, it’s up to you to prove your right to drive defensively in court. And well, if that costs you hundreds of dollars in legal fees, then maybe you should consider driving a car like everyone else.”

    Seriously? What an incredible demonstration of privilege.

  12. Angelo
    Angelo says:

    Distressingly enough, the laws you are citing have more exceptions than a number of others I have read. I haven’t seen other MBL laws with exceptions for bicyclists traveling at the speed of other traffic. Since rush hour traffic is frequently slower than normal bicycle speed, this exception would defeat the point of mandatory bike lanes.

    § 21-1205.1 Maryland state law requires the use of bike lanes if they are paved to a smooth surface. Note it does not list your exception if the bicyclist is traveling at the speed of prevailing traffic, or at the speed limit.

    The Pennsylvania requirement for slower traffic to pull over and allow following traffic to pass has an exception if the slower traffic is traveling at the speed limit. Many other states (including Delaware) do not make an exception for traffic traveling at the speed limit. I question the sanity of a situation where you can in theory be simultaneously be cited for going too slow (others want to pass) and for going too fast (over the speed limit, but not as much as others want).

    In all the traffic stops and cases I’ve heard of or experienced, the law depends on the individual officer, regardless of what is written.

    Somerville MA seems to passed some truly obscene MBL (Section 13-7) laws within the last year or so. Bicyclists are allowed to leave the bike lane only for left turns or to pass slower bicyclists, but must yield to overtaking motorists turning right. Bicyclists are constrained to the bike lane regardless of speed, and are at fault in right hook collisions. I don’t know about enforcement, but I assume if they took the time to write and pass this, they are quite serious.

    • NE2
      NE2 says:

      All of the MBL exceptions in Florida aready existed as exceptions to the far-to-right rule. Watch for their removal in next year’s session as our south Florida lawmaker discovers that cyclists are still legally riding in his Lexus lanes on A1A…

      Does Florida have any laws about slow vehicles needing to pull over? It does make sense in mountainous areas where trucks may need to go significantly slower than normal speed. It’s usually a lot easier to pass a bike, though silly divided highways with one lane in each direction (Vick Road in Apopka, for example) make this impossible.

    • fred_dot_u
      fred_dot_u says:

      Angelo, I agree with you about the inanity of speed limit references. I’ve had more than one uninformed uniformed officer tell me that I cannot ride in a safe manner because I cannot travel at the speed limit. There are either current or proposed traffic laws that cite a driver for operating on an interstate highway in the left lane if that driver is traveling at the speed limit. It’s amazing to me that such things can be conceived, much less proposed, created and/or enforced.

      You are correct, the enforcement and writing of citations is dependent on the individual officer. The law is determined in court, or in court-related process. In my case, four citations have been dismissed by filing a Motion to Dismiss, eliminating the need to appear in court, but not eliminating the expense of legal counsel.

      I’d read about the Somerville law about yielding to right turning motorists. That’s just crazy.

  13. Jason Penney
    Jason Penney says:

    At what point will Fred’s council inform Volusia County authorities that further harassment will mean they pay for his legal council? (Yes, I lived in Ormond Beach many years ago, and I know Granada BL and that bridge over the Halifax quite well.)

  14. beck the biker
    beck the biker says:

    interestingly enough, cyclists in pennsylvania are subject to a similar standard of keeping to the right when travelling slower than other traffic.

    its a long standing aspect of traffic law, unlikely to be removed simply by fighting against bike specific FRAP laws that allow wide leeway in choosing a safe lane position.

    It certainly sounds like Fred is having some targeting issues, but bicyclists and narrow, slow moving vehicles failing to keep safely right while traveling slower than the rest of traffic that wishes to overtake is a violation of the spirit, the intent, and the letter of the law in all 50 states.

    BIKES-FRAP laws are much more permissive for bicyclists than SMV-FRAP laws. be careful what you wish for.

    • fred_dot_u
      fred_dot_u says:

      Obviously, I’m not going to be particularly impartial in my reply, but the “spirit, the intent, and the letter of the law” is that bicyclists are entitled to as much safety considerations as other road users. Forcing cyclists into a narrow, restrictive portion of the roadway while other road users ignore speed limits and operate while distracted is not providing that equivalent level of safety.

      Controlling a narrow (<14' wide) lane by operating in the center of the lane, or in some cases, to the left of center, forces other road users to change lanes to safely pass the cyclist. This is not illegal under FL law and I should not have to hire a lawyer every time some two-bit cop thinks he knows the law better than the courts know the law.

      My recent research of PA cycling laws, completed only moment ago, indicate that the state does not have provision for safe cycling in the same manner as does FL and TX and many other states in the USA. How unfortunate for cyclists in that state. The PA drivers manual, presented by the state, in an online format, does specify that in a narrow lane, the cyclist should not marginalize himself while riding due to the danger of being forced to the edge or off the roadway.

      I'm glad I don't ride in PA!

      • NE2
        NE2 says:

        Be glad you don’t walk in PA either. PennDOT waaay overuses ‘no pedestrians’ signs at intersections, sometimes prohibiting crossing at all four possible crosswalk locations.

  15. Robert Cooper
    Robert Cooper says:

    I’m wondering if confronting the police at the scene might be misguided.

    Our goals are:

    1 — to avoid delay, expense and stress, and

    2 — to effect change in the behavior of the police.

    The first is best accomplished by giving the policeman what he wants at the scene — contrition and obedience. All of his training is focused on getting these two things from miscreants.

    If the officer tells me to get on the sidewalk, I will say, “Yes, sir,” and stand on the sidewalk for 37 minutes or until I’m reasonably sure that he is gone. I avoid a ticket and a court appearance, thus avoiding stress, expense and even more delay while in court.

    The second is best accomplished by engaging the Chief of Police, the Mayor and the City Councilmen, personally, one-on-one, as individuals, over a cup of coffee in a diner.

    When the Chief of Police, the Mayor and the City Councilmen tell this officer to stop harassing cyclists riding legally in the lanes, he will stop.

    In the officer’s view, he reports to his superior officer.

    In the officer’s view, he does not report to the perpetrators he has detained.

    He’s not likely to stop harassing cyclists just because a cyclist he has detained tells him to stop.

    Educating the police is something that needs to happen somewhere other than at the side of the road by someone other than the detained person.


  16. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    I very much appreciate the show of support that is appearing due to the wide distribution of my traffic stop reporting. Some errors have crept into the link above, though.

    The caption on the photograph references Port Orange, but that particular stop is an Ormond Beach stop. Port Orange police are now well aware of the statutes regarding safe cycling, with my thanks to the South Florida Bike Coalition for their assistance and do not deserve this error. They did in the past, however!

    Another error appears in “Our friends at CommuteOrlando are documenting their local FHP’s …” in that FHP was responsible for only one traffic stop, which was an erroneous warning by an overbearing officer. Currently problems reside in uninformed uniformed officers of the Ormond Beach police department, not FHP.

    Of minimal significance, the reference to the helmet cam is also in error and can be overlooked without concern.

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  1. […] has won his court cases and filed a lawsuit against one police department. In Florida, Fred U has faced repeated harassment from several police departments. Each time, he has won in court, but it has cost him hundreds of […]

  2. […] friends at CommuteOrlando are documenting their local police’s almost bizarre determination in ticketing …. It’s a great, information-packed piece on how biased police officers can deter people from […]

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