laws for the bike
living in the third world

so I just got off the phone with Eric from WABA
it was a nice little chat
I, as usual, spoke more than I listened
it is a problem that I have been battling with for some times
more of a disorder for me rather than me actually being self centered or impolite
tough for me to contain the beast which is my talking brain, perhaps that is why the BLOG is so good for me
lets me get it out so that I do not need to unload it all on some poor unsuspecting coworkers, strangers, or friends (okay.... friend, as I am not so popular)

so Eric of WABA and I were talking...
I needed some bicycle related legal advice
more specificially.... I wanted to know what the laws for cyclist are in this city
as this morning I had a discussion with a DC police officer that nearly became a conflict which may well have then become a situation.....
well, actually, at the time things had occurred I had thought the exchange had gone quite pleasantly, but that was before I got an email from my friend Tom who had been stopped by the same police officer after I had had my encounter

let me back up for a second.....

this morning I was making my way to work
oddly I took a route that I do not usually take
on this day I went down Mount Pleasant Street; "el boulevard" as I like to call it
rather than dipping down towards the rear enterance of the ZOO on into Adams Morgan
when turning off Lamont street onto Mt. Pleasant street I slowed and yeilded rather than running the stop sign right in front of a DC Metropolitain Police cruiser
after making my slow turn I moved to the center of the lane to go around the police car that was stopped by a double parked car
seeing that the police car was about to move out and around the double parked car I moved further towards the center lane avoiding any possibility of collission

then seconds later I felt that I was in this officer's "radar"
so I slowed and pedaled along side of the police car with its open window
as I rode along side of the police car I tried to take it all in
at first I could not understand what the police officer was saying.... his "SPANGLISH" was a tad confusing to me
then he moved to a heavily accented English removing most of the Spanish all together
he told me that I had to ride to the right
I politely informed him that I could not ride to the right as it is not safe
to the right there are double parked cars
to the right there is right turning traffic
to the there are cars entering the roadway
to the right there is the "door zone" , okay I did not say that
but I did say that
to the right is unsafe for me to ride as cars are pulling out of parking spaces and pulling into parking spaces

the officer then said that it is the law that the bicyclist rides to the right
I agreed with minor correction.... the law is that the bicyclist ride as far to the right as they feel is safe
and in this case..... the center of the road is as far right as I feel safe

all the while this converstation is going on with me on my bicycle pedalling along while looking down at him in his cruiser as we move down the city street
me looking forward for oncoming cars and future obstacles
several times I had to slow and wait for the officer, even turning around for him once, as he was obstructed several times by double parked vehicles
I gestured dramatically at all of the double parked cars and trucks
his Central American eyes did not see a problem with the cars and trucks that obstructed traffic
he said I had to stay to the right and wait till it cleared
to that I let out a dramatic exhale and "yea, right" as it made no sense to me

then at last speaking the officer started in on my riding and how I flew by him
I guess my threshhold for his ignorance to the position of the bicycle ran short
because when he said that I had "flown by him"
I corrected him literally and said I had not "flown" I had "pedaled by him on a bicycle at slow speed" and then continued that had he been more alert he would have anticipated my approach

after that last exchange I moved forward through the green light
passed the next set of traffic on the right
ran the red
cut through a park
back onto the road
laughed at the two block long bike path to now where
the bike path that was fully obstructed by double parked vehciles
stayed in the center of the two lanes
and did not figure he was any where near me

upon arrival to work I had thought that we had a good exchange
I BLOGGED about how I was so pleased that we were able to discuss the various points
in that previous BLOG attempt that got lost in CYBER SPACE I made mention of my desire to approach the officer and thank him for hearing me out, thank him for his concern for my saftey, and thanks for his efforts to make the streets more safe in general
then I got an email from a friend
Tom a fellow cyclist and fellow Mount Pleasant home owning resident described nearly the same situation
except he was not able to speak back to the officer
he got a ticket (I think he got a ticket... as his email was not entirely clear)
my impression of the whole encounter was then altered

will try to get back to this post
time to leave work
hope I can get these thoughts on paper
earlier tried to SAVE A DRAFT
and lost a recount of this event prior to knowing of the ticketed cyclist as well as a tale of DWA (Driving While Asian.... please excuse my Archie Bunkerism)


talked with my friend Tom... he did not get a ticket
he said he was able to hold his tongue and get out of there before it came to the ticket stage of things

I rode home and did a little shy of an hour on the bike in a snowy rainy state
being tailgated then passed too fast and too close by each and every car that I encountered on Rock Creek Parkway
it was a teeth grinding experience that had me saying things that I am ashamed to repeat and would never like to have my sons ever hear
my life is valuable to me
it seems that the car drivers on the road failed to respect that idea

in respect to the police officer
in his mind he feels he is instructing the cyclist to do what is best for everyone
maybe even what he thinks is most safe for the cyclists
well.... as the cyclist.... I will tell you as I told him
it is not over to the right of the road on Mount Pleasant Street

that is not to say that I ride in the center of the road all over town....
that is most definitely not the case
but Mount Pleasant is a special place..... it has a very Central America feel to it
and that is not entirely a good thing
the day to day activity has a gray market which adds to the flavor of the strip
most of the cars that are blocking the LOAD/UNLOAD Zones are gypsy cabs
illegal cabs there to take the latinas home with their groceries
then there are other cars dropping off friends and family to go to the bank, grab a coffee at the 7-11, or dropped off at a spot where day laborers wait for work
can't these things be done with causing chaos and congestion
they can be done and should be done
I have no problem with the Gypsy Cabs per se... but they cause more trouble with there blocking the loading zones and their erratic and obnoxious driving styles
looking for a space
taking a U-turn whenever where ever they choose
what are they? bicyclists?

it is a tough situation
the chaos has gotten so out of control that there just does not seem like a place to begin
is complete avoidance of the main strip the cyclist only resolve?
maybe until officer friendly chills... sure
but what about later

I will have to gather my thoughts and contact some of the area representatives
let my voice be heard


PunkAssBitch said...


LOL...I'd try to do my best Edith impersonation, but it's a little hard to type out...and I'm drawing a blank on any of her signature lines other than Ahr-chie! LOL!

so glad to see that cops are stickin' to the letter of the law, but are still lacking in COMMON-fucking-SENSE! Geez!

Happy New Year to ya Joel...I've been extremely busy, so, it's a bit belated, but best wishes to you & yours for '05 :-)

joe said...

rode with a little extra care around the cop cars on mt. pleasant on the way downtown to meet up for saturday's ride...