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Daily Archives: October 23, 2012

Legal Cycling In The USA Pt II… Stay On The Right Side Of The Road

I’ve been doing a little investigating into Ohio’s laws to make sure that I hadn’t improperly stated anything in my previous post concerning a Bicycling article – the way they wrote the article follows the letter of the law.  The Sheriff’s Deputy was, indeed, mistaken.

That notwithstanding, I found it interesting that in Ohio, signalling with your right arm outstretched for a right turn is perfectly legal, and obviously preferrable (4511.40)…  The same cannot be said for Michigan which still sticks to the antiquated left hand, right turn method, though I ignore it and have done so in the presence of police officers quite often – I use the right arm out pointing to the direction I’ll be turning…

In addition, the Ohio Bicycle Federation did a fabulous job in commenting on Ohio’s laws to clarify a few things.  One of them made me think back on a trip to the gas station the other day.  I was cruising down the road in my truck – a narrow main road, two lanes and hardly any shoulder with a 55 mph speed limit, and what do I see but two late teenagers (17-18) riding their bikes right at me on the side of the road.  I can’t remember ever seeing anyone quite that brazen, normally they’re at least smart enough to ride on the gravel shoulder on the wrong side of the road – not these two.  After passing them I whipped around (safely of course) and caught up to them, they were still on the wrong side of the road…  I’ve decided to stop holding my tongue when it comes to wrong way riders and let the two know that they were risking their lives by riding on the left.  I then turned into a sub division and went about my way…  Normally, I’ll only say something when I’m on my bike and have to dodge a wrong way cyclist, but no more.  This is from the Ohio Bicycle Federation:

Section 4511.25(A) is a general rule that applies to all vehicles, including
bicycles.  Some people think it is safer to ride on the left to “see traffic
coming”.  This is illegal and wrong!  Pedestrians walk facing traffic so they
can sidestep off the road if necessary.  But you cannot sidestep a bike.  Riding
on the left is both illegal and dangerous.  Crash statistics show that wrong
way riding has about 3½ times the risk
as riding on the right.

In addition, and Michigan Law mirrors that of Ohio in this regard, the law allows for riding on the sidewalk.  I cannot, for the life of me figure out why it is so hard to make riding on a sidewalk illegal.  This is from the Ohio Bicycle Federation:

Although this section allows riding on sidewalks, don’t do it.  Accident studies
show that even low-speed sidewalk riding has about double the accident rate as
riding on the road.  The danger increases with speed.  If you ride on the
sidewalk, every intersection and even every driveway is a potential collision
site.  Motorists crossing your path do not look for conflicting traffic on the
sidewalk, especially if you are coming from the “wrong way”.

Lastly, this little utterly important snippet:

An unseen cyclist is in great danger.  According to the Ohio Dept. of Public
Safety data for 2007, about 62 percent of fatal bicycle crashes in Ohio occur
during non-daylight hours (even though few cyclists ride then).   The reflectors
that come with new bikes are grossly inadequate for nighttime visibility.
Always use both a headlight and tail light when you ride in the dark.
[Emphasis is mine]

There is a common saying among we firearm toting Americans – if trouble comes knocking on your door, light it up like a Christmas tree.  The same should be said for riding at night – I use a flashing tail light whenever I ride alone during daylight hours, I can’t imagine ever wanting to ride at night if a motorist couldn’t see me from at least 1,000 yards away.

Thanks For The Faith No More…

I read a post on a blog last night that had the video for Faith No More’s Falling To Pieces video embedded in it.

Quite stupidly I clicked on the play button and was immediately thrust back to my rebellious youth – my awkward teenage years behind me, I had it all…  I was 19 years old.  In ’89 I had the hottest girlfriend on the planet (think Ginger Lynn at 21 – only pretty), a great job, later I was actually maintaining passing grades in college, and hadn’t spun out – yet…  Life was awesome.

So anyway I’m listening to Falling To Pieces on youtube – on my phone, while flipping to iTunes and spending a small fortune on Faith No More albums with all of that awesomeness that was my 19th year above grass flooding in…  My poor daughter didn’t know what to think – as she’s watching Sponge Bob and begging me to turn it down.

I can’t find found the post with help – even though I commented on it – and I know I follow your blog…  Just wanted to say THANKS!

For those who require clarification (and sure as shit stinks, you’re out there):  My wife is now, and has been for more than 17 years, the only woman in my world.

Legal Cycling In The USA

While perusing bicycling magazine’s website the other day I ran into an interesting story that relates to cycling on the road that brings up a few interesting points for debate…

Two guys peel off the back of an advanced club ride in Libya – I mean Ohio. They were both racers who had a fairly tough ride the night before and decided to finish the ride at an easier pace. Going through a small town, they encounter a Sheriff’s Deputy who excoriated them for riding on the road. An explicative flies from the Deputy’s mouth and pandemonium ensues… Ending with one of the cyclists tazed and both in cuffs.

Now the Deputy, from his own testimony, is a liar, pure and simple. That he wanted to be a prick and throw his weight around is made fairly clear in the article… I’ve seen this first hand and it’s scary as hell when it’s happening to you. The two sued and rightfully so…

My concern with the article is when it starts getting into the weeds:  Assuming that the cyclists were riding legally on the road – and as the article lays out, it’s pretty hard not to – the question then becomes what should a cyclist do when a police officer attempts to violate a cyclists right to the road when the officer is in the wrong?

From the story:

What happened to Tony and Ryan from the moment the Deputy first decided to say something to them is a real-world example of the challenge cyclists face in securing their right to the road. For most of us, I suspect it’s easier to just quietly comply with a law enforcement officer’s misguided attempts to enforce laws that don’t exist. Sure, we know the officer is wrong, but do we really want to go to jail to make that point, instead of wherever it is we happen to be going at that moment?

The problem is, if everybody acquiesces to a violation of our rights, do we still have the right? I would argue that unless the right is exercised, it doesn’t exist. Therefore, when a law enforcement officer is enforcing laws that don’t exist, it is incumbent upon us to stand up for our rights.

While that’s a good answer and true, the article makes the key point immediately thereafter:  But how do we do that without triggering a beat down and a trip to jail?

And therein lies the rub.  Keep in mind here, I had a rather troubled youth – I’ve had my run-ins with the police – and I’ve lived cleanly since, I know both sides of the coin.  Disregarding an officer’s order or request is foolish, no matter how right you are.  Often times this will result in a beat down of some sort for the simple egregious act of non-compliance to a Fourth Amendment violation.  Does it suck?  Hell yes, but once you’ve got the busted teeth and black eyes to show for disregarding the unlawful order of an officer who is violating your right to the road, they’ll really go to work on you and unless you’ve got the money for an exceptional attorney, you. will. go. down.  Now I have an excellent attorney and can afford to fight that kind of rap – if you don’t, leave that shit to people like me who can afford to fight it the right way by doing as ordered and getting off the road – at least until the cop is out of eyesight…  The only other option is to buck the system and hope you can find a lawyer who would fight the case for free (pro bono).  To that end though, you can bet that if a cop is unlawfully harassing cyclists, sooner (rather than later) the officer will happen across one with money – and at that point it’s on, as it was in this case.

Now, is this fair?  No it most certainly is not.  It is practical.  Bitching about it through busted teeth won’t change a thing either.  Cops make mistakes just like everyone else.  Just like doctors, nurses, lawyers, construction workers – everybody right down to the chick working the drive thru at Mickey D’s – and if you think the “chick” at the drive thru is discriminatory, fear not, the skinny pimple pocked boy is on the frier (feel better?).  Cops are just better at covering it up than just about everyone else (except politicians).  The point is, if it sucks to be you, there’s no reason to make it worse with a bad decision.

Feel free to disagree – the comments section is below.