Ticketed

25 May

ticket 2For the first time in nearly 25 years of riding as an adult I got a ticket.

The police officer had his ticket pad out before he ever asked me what happened, plus his tone told me it wasn’t going to go well.

He started writing the citation for “disregard signal light” immediately. No discussion. No attempt to get the facts. Since I am a cyclist he probably thought I had no regard for any red light and ran it. After all we’re all known for that.

Which in my case is laughable. Except it isn’t funny.

Here’s what happened:


Mark and I had made a run to a local grocery, Sunflower Market, which is located on 2nd street – one of Edmond’s busiest streets. We left the market with our stuff and rode out the way we rode in on a much less busy street, Littler. Heading north, we waited at the light (Littler and 2nd) but since no cars were behind us the light didn’t trip. There were cars in the left turn lane by us and they got the green and proceeded. The light for traffic going straight tripped to green for the cars opposite us but being on bikes it didn’t trip for our side.

History: I have waited… and waited… and waited… and waited… (and waited) at this particular light before and unless cars come up behind you it doesn’t turn green. No surprise to cyclists, it happens all the time at traffic lights. You could wait until the proverbial cows come home and the light isn’t tripping.

We were stopped with one foot down while we waited. Knowing the light would never change since there were no cars behind us (and none in sight) I elected to proceed through the intersection and red light when the opposing side got their green light, which is when if I had been in my car my light would have changed. There was no risk, the oncoming traffic was going straight, if there had been any risk I wouldn’t have done it. I don’t have a death wish.

I proceeded through noticing as I did that there was a policeman on a motorcycle stopped on 2nd street at the light. Unfortunately I didn’t see him until I was almost through the intersection. My husband did so he stopped – lucky too because we would have two tickets right now.

I saw his flashing lights in my helmet mirror but waited 10-15 seconds to pull over while I looked for a good spot. Before I was able to stop he yelled “HEY”. As I got off my bike and he got off his motorcycle I told him I had seen him but was just looking for a good spot to pull over.

He said nothing but got his citation book out. I told him I understood why he stopped me but wanted to tell him why I proceeded the way I did. At that point he made a comment that started with “you bike riders”, given his tone I knew I was most likely getting a ticket.

I still wanted him to understand why I did what I did so I told him about how bikes often don’t trip lights (and my history at that light) and even suggested he look at my husband who was still stuck at the light! Mark ended up being stuck there for nearly 10 minutes and 3 times during my conversation with said officer I pointed out “see that’s why I went when it was safe to do so because being on a bike you don’t trip the light!” He never looked over to see that Mark was still waiting.

He told me motorcycles do, I said yes, but they are bigger but the same isn’t true for bikes. I pointed out to him that although I knew he had no reason to believe me he had just stopped possibly the most traffic-law abiding cyclist in Edmond. Going to the grocery store there were numerous 4 way stops, many with no cars present, but guess who stopped at every one of them – yep, me.

I’m hardcore when it comes to abiding by traffic laws; look around here I’ve written about it numerous times. I once chased down two cyclists who blew through a 4-way stop. I believe and practice – same rights/same rules. I believe cyclists should stop at red traffic lights, and I do, and did on this occasion, but until those same lights can account for bicycles we have no choice but to proceed safely through the intersection or be prepared to sleep there.

This particular officer didn’t care. He seemed hell-bent on giving me a ticket. And he did. During this time Mark arrived (he had to push the cross-walk button and use the sidewalk to cross) and I asked him to take pictures for this blog post.

I told the officer I would be going to court to fight the citation because I didn’t deserve the ticket given the circumstances. He suggested I pick a different route or get the laws changed. I pointed out that Boulevard and Broadway would be worse and that Littler is the best option for cyclists. I doubt that he was serious with his suggestion that I get the law changed, I told him I helped get the law changed with the 3 foot ordinance several years ago when we got the Edmond City Council to adopt it. He said he didn’t make the laws, and I replied that no, but he was charged with enforcing them and given the circumstances he could have chosen not to issue me a ticket.ticket 4

After I got my ticket Mark and I proceeded home stopping at each and every stop sign (no other signals) just like we did before, and do whenever/wherever we ride.

An expensive trip to the grocery store – if found guilty it will be a $119 fine.

Stay tuned.

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3 Responses to “Ticketed”

  1. Kim May 28, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    Arghhhh… I am behind on your posts because I was out of town for a bit. Geez, stay strong and keep spreading the word about this injustice. I hate it when authorities get tainted and stop listening because they think they’ve heard it all before. If they are tired of listening to the public they need to get a different job! Okay, my dander is up a bit.

    • Susan May 29, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

      Glad you’re back Kim,I appreciate your comment and support. I actually see this event as an opportunity – to discuss with the police and city officials the issues and problems with biking in our community and to hopefully improve things for all of us who choose to go by bike. At least that’s my goal.

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