Today I expected to ride north with a strong south wind and make it a 10 mile out and back, but when I stepped outside with my bike and the wind was blowing about 20 MPH from the west! So east it is.
I choose a familiar loop that will dump me onto state highway 34 for the west-bound leg back to Ennis and the headwind portion.
Highway 34 is signed 55 MPH with a single 12 foot lane each direction, with occasional improved shoulders. The traffic was moderate, and I was overtaken by four semi-tractor trucks during the three and a half miles.
I was also overtaken by an off duty cop, unfortunately. He tried to bully me into obeying his view of how things ought to be.
He drives up beside me (on the shoulder) in a small car with a young female child sitting next to him, paces my speed and when I look at him, he displays his badge and orders me to pull over.
So he gets out of his car and a lecture ensues. He tells me I can't ride so far in the lane. (I was positioned in the left tire track.) I tell him I need to for my safety and the law permits it. He says I need to keep on the shoulder because I am "impeding traffic" and violating the far to the right rule. I ask him if he is going to cite me. He says no. I then ask him if I can be on my way then. He says he didn't order me to stop- he didn't flash any red lights... I cut him off with a raised voice; "You stopped my under the color of law by flashing your badge at me!"
I mark that as the point that the "traffic stop" became something different- more of a conversation than a confrontation. I'll try to describe it in broad strokes rather than specifics, but some of his assertions are real gems.
So he tells me I can proceed, and I turn to mount my bike. He then said; "But don't be riding out where you were or I will have to call one of my on duty friends to meet you." I am about to retort "You had better call him, then!" when he asks if we could talk for a minute. I calm myself down and face him, and agree to talk.
He now asserts that he is just concerned for my safety. We discuss the relative merits of riding on the shoulder and in lane. It is impossible for him to imagine that I would be at greater risk of inattentive drivers when riding on the shoulder. I tell him that there are no restrictions on where I can ride in the lane if the lane is less than 14 feet wide. He asks how wide I think the lane is, did I measure it?
I tell him it is easy to get an accurate estimate. (Most cars about six and a half feet wide, can two of them travel side by side within the lane?) At this he laughed, and he said he knew quite well they were less than 14 feet from accident investigations.
He says; "Maybe it's within your right to ride there, but you'll end up dead right." (Yes, he actually did!)
We talked about the danger of distracted drivers drifting onto the shoulder, I quoted to him the law and we realized neither of us would persuade the other.
So I was compelled by a law officer who took it on himself to enforce (through intimidation) laws that only existed in his car-centric prejudices.
RIGHTS AND DUTIES.
(a) A person operating a bicycle has the rights and duties applicable to a driver operating a vehicle under this subtitle
OPERATION ON ROADWAY. Sec 551.104
(a) A person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, unless:
(1) the person is passing another vehicle moving in the same direction;
(2) the person is preparing to turn left at an intersection or onto a private road or driveway;
(3) a condition on or of the roadway, including a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, pedestrian, animal, or surface hazard prevents the person from safely riding next to the right curb or edge of the roadway; or
(4) the person is operating a bicycle in an outside lane that is:
(A) less than 14 feet in width and does not have a designated bicycle lane adjacent to that lane; or
(B) too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely travel side by side.