Thursday, August 19, 2010

What a bike-lane prosecution looks like

Even some of my bike-advocate friends had a hard time seeing what the fuss was about when the Florida Legislature sprang HB971 on us back in the spring. The requirement of riding in the bike lane, where one existed, didn't seem like a big deal, and it was hard for some bicyclists to imagine getting into trouble for using the motor lane where circumstances made that appropriate. Well, here's a law case from Texas in which a cyclist was convicted of reckless driving for "taking the lane" instead of riding on the paved but damaged shoulder.  There's additional description of the Texas case here.

Thanks to Keri Caffrey for bringing this case to my attention on her blog, Commute Orlando.

3 comments:

Jeffrey Lynne said...

Actually, that is not the full story. Reed Bates was "baiting" local law enforcement and really should not have been on that road, even if he had the "right". You can be right, but you can also be dead. Choose your battles, people.

http://www.bikeleague.org/blog/2010/08/picking-your-battles-the-league-the-reed-bates-case/

JHop said...

Jeff has probably followed this case more closely than I. In any event, his advice to pick our fights is always appropriate.

vey said...

These sort of outcomes are the logical result of treating bicycle riders differently from other traffic. Demanding special treatment such as lanes and trails eventually results in laws requiring their use. Then police and prosecutors attempt to enforce those laws and judges drop the hammer on them (pun intended).

It is all very logical.

As far as LAB and Bike Texas "picking their battles." Anyone should know that unless it is a complete set-up such as Scopes Monkey Trial was, cases come as they are. If the ACLU had to wait for a perfect case before they did anything, then they may as well fold up, since it will never arrive.

I am not sure I know what is "baiting." Does this mean that if a policeman gives you an unlawful order, you should follow it? In cases of emergency, I do just that, but later, I ask what should be done.

It doesn't happen anymore, but several times in the past I have been ordered off the road while I was hugging the white line. A policeman decided it wasn't safe to ride a bicycle on the road. I did what I was told, but then when I was he was gone, I went back to what I was doing. After all, how was I supposed to get home?

Could I have been caught? Sure. Could I have counted on Jeffrey Lynne or Andy Clarke to help me? Doubtful. They would have said I was baiting the cop.