Friday, February 19, 2010

My Formal Reply To Larry

What are you hoping to accomplish with this "rank political activism"? Is pissing off the drivers your goal?

No, my goal is to travel about on the public road. I am often going someplace. But why I am on the public road is immaterial, isn’t it? The only purpose that is required in order to use the public road that one is using it for travel. (Sec. 541.301 TRAFFIC. In this subtitle "traffic" means pedestrians, ridden or herded animals, and conveyances, including vehicles and streetcars, singly or together while using a highway for the purposes of travel.)

I don't know about you but making mad the people operating things that could easily kill me seems pretty foolish.

I am not responsible for the emotional state of other people. I am acting lawfully. If that upsets other travelers on the public road, rest assured I am on a very long list of other things that are making that person angry. It is not especially hard to overtake a bicycle on any road, let alone this one. It is not a maneuver that requires the lightning fast reflexes and the focused skill of a Formula 1 race car driver! Encounters with motorists on this road last less than a minute. It takes an expansive ego to assume that it will ruin the rest of the day for someone! If having to overtake me on Hwy 287 is the worst thing to happen to someone during their day, they have it rather good, don’t you think?

What is worse is they will be more likely to [not] be courteous to OTHER bikers they see. Thanks a lot!!

The vast majority of drivers I encounter on the public road are courteous and display due care around bicycles. Surrendering to bullies is not likely going to have an outcome you will like.How about adjusting your attitude and approach. I find that being courteous to drivers (and cops for that matter) gets the drivers more courteous to me on a bike.

I am the very picture of courtesy to those around me! I drive where they are most apt to notice me from a distance, thus allowing them plenty of time to negotiate a merge into the passing lane. (A maneuver that is so common, it is rarely even recalled at the end of a trip.) It is only the motorists that are not paying attention to the task at hand that end up having to slow because they don’t notice me in a timely manner. Is it courteous to other drivers to neglect your primary duty when operating on the public road?

Those who are paying attention never even have to let up on the gas. Projecting the hardships experienced by incompetent motorists onto me is a neat trick. My conscience is clear.

I violate no one’s right-of-way, nor does anyone violate mine. How am I discourteous?

I wave, smile, and try to not impede them as much as I want them to not impede me.

I am not impeding anyone who is driving competently. In order to do that, I would have to drive my bicycle simultaneously in two lanes. Do drivers have the right to drive at top speed at all times? Please take a moment to review “Texas Maximum Speed Law Explained”, it should clear up this misapprehension of yours.

THAT makes the world a better place for bicyclists, not your childish antics.

Capitulation and abandoning my express statutory right to operate on the roadway? (Travel lane) That would make it better for cycling how? I find it hard to call a roadway “public” when the only vehicles that are allowed on it are those that are first required to obtain a license from the state!

You seem to think I am doing some sort of stunt. I am not. I am lawfully traveling between Waxahachie and Ennis on a public road that is not a limited access highway, nor does it have a minimum speed limit.

I am not only doing it lawfully, I am doing it in the safest manner possible. I am sure that I have made the round trip on that highway twenty times. At my reasonable speed for a cyclist, that would be about an hour of exposure in the sixteen miles I travel on it round trip. So with twenty hours of exposure, across 320 miles, how many times do you think I have been hit? How many motorists crashed into each other within a mile of me?

Anonymous, you have no clue how high speed traffic behaves around slow moving vehicles. To think it is hazardous can only be the result of hysteria. If this is a stunt, or childish antics, it is as dangerous or controversial as taking a bath.

In the series of photographs below, they are taken from the side of HWY 287, near where I was arrested twice. This was taken on a Friday morning, a week ago.

Besides an official traffic control device warning of a pedestrian crossing ahead on a road with a 65 PSL, this series documents the heavy congestion in both directions one can find on this roadway.

second in series

third in series

fourth in series

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sometimes Motorists Do the Darndest Things

After writing my friends phone number on my left arm*, I had to deal with one of the complications that my bicycle set-up causes. With the unusually heavy snowfall in the local region, I had a little trouble getting onto the road that attaches to my driveway so I could resume impeding traffic.

I have chosen to equip both of my bicycles with a speedplay pedal and cleat system. One of the characteristic features of this system is that it is intolerant of mud, packed snow, ice, sand and gravel. These pedals are a particularly poor choice for the cyclocross crowd.

Now, when I chose them, I could think of no reason to have to walk in them- certainly not once I got underway! Ah, yes, those were the days!

With the wet season in full force, I normally have negotiate 200 feet across the lawn from the door to the driveway that is mud, muddy and swampy. I have an old set of sneakers that have the singular purpose of delivering me with dry feet onto my driveway. Whereupon I remove them and put on my cycling shoes, and they await my return.

Today, (Friday February 12) however, I faced a 50 yard walk in twelve inches of snow. This was the heavy wet kind you Yankees seem so familiar with, not the dry blowsy kind that passes before the residents up in Montana and Wyoming while on it’s way to Nebraska. If I wore those faithful sneakers, I would have to take a towel to dry my feet before donning socks and cycling shoes. All the while standing on one foot, perhaps on the roadway. Yes, it would’ve been ugly.

So I slogged out to the streets with these boots on. Switched shoes and I was on my way. Oh, and I put the boots in a plastic bag to protect them from automobile spray.

This is a trade-off for my style of cycling. I find it acceptable.

Why I want to town

Today I viewed the Ennis Police stop dash cam videos and some of the audio that was recorded on them. (today = Friday February 12)

I’m glad I did. I found that my demeanor was not nearly as combative as I had feared. My contemporaneous recollections of our conversations are more accurate than I thought they were. I was striving for accuracy in all of my descriptions of the events and so I am pleased.

When Officer Watson stopped me in town, on October first, I saw that I had forgotten part of it. While Officer Watson and Sgt. Pillow discussed the ins and outs on impeding traffic, I was looking for identifying marks on the police car to write down, pen and paper in hand. Suddenly you can see a light go on in my head as I remember that I have my camera with me! And even with me looking the police car over so carefully, I never did notice Sgt. Pillow!

Yosemite Sam

One aspect of the dash cam footage that interested me was how soon I could be observed from traffic coming up behind me.

So when Officer Hudson comes up on me, on the dash cam there is no me to be seen! There is this old pickup protectively trailing behind me with his hazards on! Yikes!

It’s the fella who was hopping up and down, warning me that the long arm of the law would soon put an end to my scofflaw ways, or something similar.

Now, in my opinion, he did something incredibly dangerous and stupid!

Part of what makes a bicycle driver safe from being “runned over” is our distinctive silhouette. Everyone who sees it knows instantaneously that the cyclist is moving at a “slow speed”. I operate in the most annoying lane position I can precisely so that I will be seen and identified as a slow moving driver at the earliest possible instant. I want to afford the motorist the maximum time to access his options, decide early to merge, and go around me. In the vast majority of the time, motorists flow around the slow vehicle without hesitation and without the slightest of delays.

But for a distracted driver, making a quick scan ahead every four or five seconds, they rarely notice that they are quickly closing the gap between them and a slow vehicle when the slow vehicle is an automobile. In a quick glance, our minds assume the automobile is proceeding down the road at approximately the same speed we are. We have been trained for that by endless repetition.

Thus, I believe this “good Samaritan” was in grave peril, just as he felt about me.

Keri Nailed It

“The culture of speed causes some police to enforce
traffic flow vs safety. Worse, they often don’t even realize that their concepts of protecting safety are stealthy manifestations of traffic flow management. (i.e. the notion that speed differentials and lane changes cause safety problems resulting from the presence of a slow vehicle rather than the incompetent or aggressive behavior of faster drivers)”

The language and concepts Officer Hudson spoke to me about precisely reflects this idea that the problem is my presence, not the competency of the motorists. I believe he was genuinely concerned about my safety. But while he had watched me drive by him earlier that day on Hwy 287, he failed to observe how traffic operated around me.

He said many 911 callers said there were many close calls and near wrecks. Did he observe any? It doesn’t matter, these reports validated his bias of how the situation would play out.

Perhaps he will watch how fast traffic behaves around an obviously slow moving driver tonight. Perhaps he will listen enough to hear why traffic behaves as it does.

*You can thank SteveA for the precise description.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Ellis County Demands a Public Showdown

Hello, dear Reader.

I received a dispatch today here at my bunker.

The authorities at the Ellis county jail last month released me with instructions to contact Judge Polk in Waxahachie for a court date.

His long-suffering clerk will be glad that I will no longer be pestering her about it. It is now evident that my charges were forwarded to a different court. I’m glad they let me know!

My case has been forwarded to Ellis county’s precinct 1, in Ennis. It will be heard or overseen by Justice of the Peace Bill Woody. (ChipSeal wonders if he voted for him…)

The dispatch is notification that a pre-trial conference will be held February 25, and that all motions must be filed seven days prior to the conference. (No motion will be entertained beyond February 25th.)

They have again changed the charges leveled at me. I am now required to defend myself from the scurrilous charge of “obstructing traffic”. I am thinking of filing a motion for a pledge from the prosecution to not change the charge again!

I still do not know the name of my accuser. (Motion 1) I do not yet know what law they think I am in violation of. (Motion 2) Did the deputy actually see me obstruct traffic? I don’t think so. (Motion 3 for dash-cam footage) What exactly was said by both me and him? (Motion 4 for audio captured by the deputy.) What did my arrest file say? What did the Deputy claim in his arrest statement? (Motion 5 for my arrest report.)

Empty Threats

I have been sternly warned that if I fail to show up for the pre-trial conference, that my driver’s license could be denied when I try to get it renewed. I guess that will be after I get one in the first place.

Let’s work through how this works, shall we? They arrest me for using a bicycle rather than an automobile to get around. Now, to compel me to submit to the judicial process, they threaten to cause me to get around on a bicycle!

Alternately, I could have a warrant for my arrest issued against me. Huh. That seems rather formal to me, seeing how they will arrest me for simply traveling on the public road!

The judicial system in this county seems particularly ill prepared to deal with bicycle issues.

Unusual Plea-bargain Proposed

I look forward to the pre-trial conference. I think that I will consider a plea bargain. If the prosecutor apologizes for violating my right to travel on the roadway in writing, I won’t insist on a public trial. Yeah, something like that.

In another forum, a commenter who claims to be a lawman, made this statement regarding this arrest; “I feel this rider attempted to be excessive in his interpretation of his individual rights to the extent that it impeaded [sic] on the rights of others.” He therefore approves of my arrest.

I either have the right to travel on the roadway or I do not. It is a right expressly granted to operators of bicycles in Sec. 551.101. What statute removes it?

What right do motorists possess that I infringed? Do drivers have the right to proceed at the speed limit? Did I prevent any driver from proceeding down the road? No, it was me who was prevented from traveling home.

Which Will Prevail? Cultural Bias or the Law?

This is the perfect expression of the windshield view of the world. No slow moving traffic allowed! Traffic flow tramples everything in it’s way- even express statutory rights.
The letter from Justice Woody’s clerk reeks of it.

The ever changing charges betray a frantic search for a statute to justify their point of view, rather than seeking to find what the law actually says- which is their sworn duty to enforce.
No, this is far more important to me than it is for them. I want a public trial. The law is clear, and I was acting lawfully.

Their windshield view is also clear to all who wish to see it. Inconveniently, it is contrary to Texas law. Nonetheless, their view may prevail. The culture of speed is pervasive in our society.
It will be a public spectacle in either event.

The stakes are high for both sides of this issue. Do they decide the case based on the law, or do they substitute their notion of what the law ought to be “had the legislators thought about it” instead? Dare they display their willingness to override the law in favor of their prejudice in a public forum?

They need not worry that I won’t show up.

I want a public trial.

Sincerely, ChipSeal AKA The Menace of Ennis

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I was under the false impression that jury selection would take place on one evening, and the trial would be the next morning.

That is false.

The jury selection will commence at 5:30 PM Tuesday February 16, and the trial will be held immediately following.

The courtroom will be inside this building near the corner of Dallas Street and Brown Street in downtown Ennis. From I-45 go west from exit 251 on Ennis Avenue. Turn left at the second streetlight after you cross the railroad tracks. I have no idea where you would park a car. I never have to think about that sort of thing.

Perhaps you will be able to come down to witness the proceedings. I would like that! I won’t hold it against you if you can’t manage to make it- Don’t worry, I’ll let you know how it turns out! (But the first report will likely be from the courthouse from Steve’s fantastic phone. Watch
this space for a Tuesday night dispatch!)

But if you do decide to come, could you go to Waxahachie first and then proceed to Ennis on Hwy 287? It will not be during the same time of day I was stopped or cited or arrested, either being a little earlier or a little later than when I was driving on it. But could you do this experiment for me? Could you travel as close as possible to the exact speed limit, and take note of how many vehicles you pass, and about how many pass you?

(I-35E to exit 404. Take Hwy 287 east to Ennis. Exit Business 287 which will become West Ennis Avenue. When you come across a sign warning that the “lane ends merge left”, go through the next two signal lights and turn right onto Dallas street.*)

To those who are seeking other ways to help me out, contact
SteveA, who has more timely communication with the world, and is heroically shouldering most of the things I have been able to off-load onto someone else. A full credit roll will be made after the trial, but help has been supplied from Florida, California, and all over Texas. It has been offered as well from Canada and Montana. Just knowing you are keeping tabs on all this is heartening. Thank you!

*e-mail me for directions that trace my crime spree. See if that shoulder is one you would drive on! My e-mail address is cleverly hidden from spam-bots over there -> under "about me".

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Court Date

The mail has come.

The three violations have been combined, and jury selection will be done on the evening of February 16, 2010. A Tuesday.

The following day will be independence day.

I am submitting motions for the disclosure of dashcam video and some 911 information.

I have yet to secure a court date for my Ellis County arrest. The court where I have been ordered to appear has not yet found a record of my violation. That is a fact, anything else is speculation.

All the above will consume much of my attention, but as SteveA pointed out, it is more important to me than it is for them.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A letter came in the mail.

It said: Re: State of Texas v. ChipSeal (Poetic license, don’t ya know!)

Hmm. It’s me against the entire state of Texas? I think I could be a contender to get the Nobel prize for being the most annoying cyclist, don’t you?

It went on: Dear Mr. ChipSeal, The offense of impeding traffic is defined at Section 545.363 of the Texas Transportation Code. Sincerely, Toby Mash, City Attorney for Ennis Texas.

Well, certainty! Now with a fixed charge, I can defend myself!*

How this came about

In my narrative A Tale of Two Jails, a judge (Who it turns out is Municipal Judge Johnson) released me with the promise that we would meet in the next week. He spent nearly a half-hour with me.

He said he was interested in hearing a defense for cyclist’s use of the highways.

He is very idealistic of juries, and spoke of them as being a forum of “equity” for the community. He encouraged me to choose a jury trial.

He said at this judicial level, it was reasonable for me to represent myself, and that a wider latitude of conduct would be extended to someone who did so.

He answered many of my process questions, including how to submit a motion to the court.

I was surprised when he suggested that I speak to Mr. Mash about it. So I did.

I went to Mr. Mash’s office and walked in unannounced. I expected that I would need to make an appointment. To my surprise, Mr. Mash dropped all that he was doing and immediately sat down with me for about twenty minutes.

He too was helpful with my process questions, and enlightened me on some of the bureaucratic details of how this whole thing goes down.

Jury trials

Should I choose a jury trial, 24 Ennis residents will be assembled on a Wednesday evening. Both Mr. Mash and I would be able to ask questions of them under the watchful eye of Judge Johnson, and both Mr. Mash and I would each be able to disallow six of them without reason. The goal will be to empanel six jurors before it becomes so late that we annoy them. (That part worries me. I seem to be extraordinarily annoying!)

I find this task daunting. Both judge Johnson and Mr. Mash advised me to bone up on Texas Jury Selection rules. I will also be required to pay a fee to cover some of the cost of empanelling the jury. (Mailings and the like.)

Separate trials?

Mr. Mash said I could file a motion to combine my charges into one trial. I am inclined to do so. The three Ennis City violations are essentially the same, and if I prevailed on one charge tried separately, the remaining two would be dropped.

If they are combined, I will have the opportunity to question all of the officers involved.

On filing motions

A motion is submitted in writing to the court clerk, and if granted by the Judge, is sent on to Mr. Mash’s desk. (What? No internet submissions?**)

Mr. Mash said that when the motions begin hitting his desk, he then proceeds to see if a case can be made, usually by interviewing the arresting officers.

I asked about getting information about what particular law I am accused of breaking, rather than the vague description of “impeding traffic”.

He said that the formal charge, including the section of the law, is normally sent to the accused ten days prior to his trial, but a motion could be submitted for an earlier release.

Since I had on my person a written out motion for that very purpose, I asked him to look at it to see if it was what the court expected in a motion presented to it.

Because Eli Damon was so good as to include his lawyers motion in his discussion of his case, I adapted it for my purpose. The paper Mr. Mash saw said this:

Motion for disclosure of statutory relevance.

Your Honor, I do not yet know what statute I am being accused of violating. My ticket only says “impeding traffic”. There is no reference to any chapter or section of the Texas Transportation Code, or any other law other than this vague description of violation.

I am certain I was operating my vehicle lawfully under the bicycle specific rules found in chapter 551. Operation Of Bicycles, Mopeds, and Play Vehicles. I am very familiar with those statutes. Therefore, my accuser must have some other, undisclosed and unknown to me portion of the law in mind to have so accused me.

Would the court order the prosecution to disclose the statute under which I am accused? Without such information I am unsure as to how to defend myself.

With that as an example before him, I asked about filing a motion to see relevant dashcam video. He told me to be as specific as possible in my request, and that generally I would be able to see the video but not have a copy. Because I found Eli Damon's motion so helpful, I intend, once this whole thing is done, to publish the motions I submit to the court, and any other helpful things I come across.

He then returned my motion to me. Thus this letter of disclosure to me was a happy suprise.

*Sec. 545.363. MINIMUM SPEED REGULATIONS. (a) An operator may not drive so slowly as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.

**Submitting a motion electronically is impossible, because by doing so it changes into an e-motion! Why am I the only one who laughs at my jokes?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


So many great comments, so little time!

I have had limited access to the internet, and while that will become better soon, it will be more restricted than I enjoyed before. I meant to have the six posts publish daily using a “delay” feature Blogspot offers, but after publishing part one, my internet connectivity was again suddenly interrupted- causing unintended aggravation to you, my dear reader. I am humbled that put up with it. Thank you for your patience.

I have a picture I intended to post with each of the series, but using “public” computers has compatibility issues. I am dismayed at the unpolished look my blog has descended to. Relying on my limited writing skills and content alone is a thin reed to lean on.

I have been writing the posts at home on my desktop, and transferring the files in a cut and paste manner with a flash drive on a public computer. As time allows, I have saved web pages to the flash drive and read them at leisure at home. E-mail correspondence has become more like snail mail. Sigh. It has caused a feeling of isolation, so I have been heartened by your many comments, reading them for the first time on Friday night.

I wish to answer some of the questions and offer a few more comments of my own.

CarFree Stupidity said...
Do they really have nothing better to do with their time than continuously harass you? Or is your riding on the roadway really seen as that subversive down in Texas?

“Continuously” is somewhat of a exaggeration. I have been car-free in Texas since 2007, and I have logged 12,000 miles of impeding traffic. The first citation I received was last October. I was not stopped by anyone on my one dozen or so prior traverses across Hwy 287 to Waxahachie, so this is a recent manifestation. Each stop has been described here.

I think Keri and Mighk are right that it is seen by local police as primarily a safety issue. The police (And many others!) think I am mad to travel on the roadway when the speed limit is 65 miles an hour with a “perfectly good paved shoulder” nearby.

SteveA said...
So, when these guys toss you in the hoosegow, do they offer you coffee? If so, is it any good? I'm thinking Chip may have some ulterior motives here and may be on to a good thing.
(They didn’t even let us smell coffee!) Seriously, it's hard to believe these guys haven't researched the statutes a bit better by now, considering there seems to be little real crime for them to pursue out in Ellis County. The level of courtesy they offer is a sign they're not really feeling real good about all this.And it's late January now, what about the first introduction to Officer's Watson & Pillow. That would seem to hold the key to all these later incidents and, perhaps, someone having a lot of explaining to do.

That would be Sgt. Pillow to you Mister! I will be making a motion to combine all three of the Ennis PD tickets into one trial. I will do progress and “process” blogs shortly.
danc said...
Well I kinda imagined this was next. Boo! Did you ever get the video/audio from the Oct ticket?

I intend to submit a motion for their disclosure. It is doubtful that I will be able to have copies, but I expect to be able to view them in the presence of the City Attorney.

Dear Rantwick said...
I am insulted. I would ride home miserable and cold and wet, get pneumonia and shiver for days before I would call Mrs. Rantwick. I'm stubborn like that.
Now if you had called her, she might have driven to Texas to help you out. She's nice like that.

I found this a delightfully charming comment. Well done, dear Rantwick!

Anonymous said...
I am trying to figure out sir, why would you continue doing this activity when you know you are going to be arrested or cited for it? What are you trying to prove?

PM Summer said...
@Anonymous: Why? Because A) He needs to get somewhere, B) He doesn't have a car and uses a bicycle for transportation, C) Under Texas law (the Transportation Code), a bicycle is a legal vehicle, and the operator of a bicycle shall be granted all rights, and be subject to all duties, applicable to the driver of a motor vehicle.

Thanks PM! That was what I would’ve said!

Dear Anonymous; Since when does a freeborn citizen need to justify acting in a lawful manner? I say this to show that I am magnanimous in entertaining your question.

I suppose I also have this quaint and romantic idea that the law will be respected. I therefore decline to be a road sneak. I will not retreat into the shadows as though I am unclean, but assert the simple dignity of my rightful place on the public road.

Can you say that you actually have a right if it is unexercised because of duress? I have the certainty that I have no practical right to freely travel on the public road on a bicycle for a time. But because this is a natural right that does not descend from the whims of men, nor from man’s government, I am certain this right will be restored to me.

I intend to KNOW when that happens. Therefore I continue this activity.

Anonymous said...
Wow! This has been a grand adventure indeed!On one hand, I'm glad that you were treated with care in your incarceration(s).On the other hand, I don't think I could be as rational being confronted for doing that which is completely legal AND being hauled off to jail.I hope the Judge(s) find you innocent (or would that be guilty?) of your legal actions.I have to shut up now as the semantics are starting to give me a headache.(This is JTGYK over at bike forums...for some reason Blogspot doesn't like me commenting under AIM)

Anonymous said...
jtgyk againNote that I was not the first Anonymous commenter nor do I share his views

Thank you JTGYK, I’m glad you stopped by. It is a little like a trip through the looking glass, isn’t it?

Rantwick said...
"operating a bicycle on the roadway"! Unbelievable. Here's hoping the judges hearing your case show the same sense as the first one you mentioned in this post.Carry on! You continue to impress me with your civil writing about being treated so unfairly.

I must admit, Dear Rantwick, after that charge was leveled at me, I am more inclined to believe your dwarf attack was not something you made up.

The Big Fella said...
This is quite the serial you have posted! If you have to establish the "ChipSeal Bicycling Legal Defense Fund," I'll be happy to contribute . . .As a fellow bicycling Texan, thank you for standing up for our legal right to be "granted all rights, and be subject to all duties, applicable to the driver of a motor vehicle." While I'm proud of your conviction (pun unintended), I'm saddened by the necessity of it.

Nice to “meet” you Big Fella! Thank you for the offer! (And Keri and Eliot too!) I may yet require some help, but if so, it will be reluctantly.

Anonymous said...
If you really think your rights were violated shouldn't you report that to a federal agency like the FBI?

Principled Pragmatist said...
Get a lawyer. Somebody's head has to roll for this kind of blatant abuse of police power.When you're told what the charge is, the reasonable expectation is that it be a violation of some law. If there is no legal violation, that's unlawful arrest!

Whoa! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves!

To Anonymous; I doubt suing for an abuse civil rights will get me to where I hope this can go- and besides, the Feds are not really needed to right this wrong. If I were to be convicted, and lost on appeal, perhaps. But even then it may not be the wisest course.

Principled Pragmatist; Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the enthusiastic support! But I am not sure this is deliberate abuse of power beyond my musings in my last post. I think that the Officers in question are sincerely doing their duty to advance what they believe is in the interest of public safety.

WonderBiker said...
PP, I do not think it was a blatant abuse of power. Rather, it seems more to have been a blatant display of stupidity.

Glad you stopped in, WonderBiker! These officers are merely reflecting the windshield view of most Texans. Because bicycles are never driven on the roadway in our area, it must be illegal…

Principled Pragmatist said...
Arresting someone and keeping him in jail for a charge of "riding a bicycle on a roadway", or even for "impeding traffic", is certainly stupid, but it's also abuse of power, and it seems blatant to me, especially the obviously trumped up first charge.Arresting someone must be taken very seriously - a free society cannot tolerate unlawful arrests, and the only recourse is to have serious repercussions (like getting fired) for anyone who abuses the extraordinary legal power of arrest.The ACLU might be interested in this case.

The hapless Ellis County Deputy Z gave me a poorly considered ultimatum, and so he painted himself into a corner. He pretty much had to follow through on his threat to arrest me, thus the contrived charge. Sadly, the die was cast when he ordered me to drive on the shoulder. I would’ve slept less in my own bed than I did in jail had I obeyed him.

Anonymous said...
Given your arrests and that tickets have been issued, I would suggest that an alternative avenue would to find a high-quality civil rights attorney who could weave what on the face seems to be a deliberative attempt to violate your civil rights. I do not live in Texas, but I assume that there is in fact specific state civil rights. Sounds to me that the local bike advocacy groups should investigate that angle not merely more legislation.

Folks, I understand your anger. Revenge sounds sweet. It may even be possible. (ChipSeal, in astonishment, considers arguing a case that sounds a lot like Doohickie’s rejoinders about courtesy! He has to breath into a paper bag for awhile.)

I could raise a holy stink, and make life miserable for some people, and maybe put some lawyer’s kid through college, but I will cut off any possibility of partnering with local police in a civility campaign. It would be great for me, but a tragedy for my community.

Consider the sage words of Keri Caffrey:

Ultimately, these incidents are a manifestation of the bigger problem — what
Steve Goodridge describes in
Taboo against Bicycle Driving
. The problem must be tackled from a number of
directions. We are
working very hard to
build a mutually-beneficial relationship with law enforcement and to create a
program that will give them knowledge of the laws and help them understand how
we protect ourselves on the road. But law enforcement officers are a part of our
general culture. They’re people. They’re just as influenced as anyone else by
the biases of the society in which they live.
The fundamental rule of the
road is First Come, First Served. The distorted rule of the
of speed
is All Life Yields to Faster Traffic. When the roads are governed
by FCFS, pedestrians and bicycle drivers are people using public roads. When
governed by the culture of speed, they are merely
objects in the
has been noted here before
, the culture of speed causes some police to
flow vs safety
. Worse, they often don’t even realize that their concepts of
protecting safety are stealthy manifestations of traffic flow management (i.e.
the notion that speed differentials and lane changes cause safety problems
resulting from the presence of a slow vehicle rather than the incompetent or
aggressive behavior of faster drivers).
… We have work to do. We need grace, understanding and cooperation. And we need those in law enforcement to be our allies.

Before this happened my local police had no need to listen to a local cyclist about Texas’s slow moving vehicle laws. Scofflaw cycling is the proper way of operating in their minds, and is universally ignored. They will now have to speak to me about SMV law while under oath! I will be able to present to them (and a jury!) a cyclist’s view of the roadway. I can show them why it is safer for a cyclist to operate following normal traffic rules. Right now they don’t understand, and convinced by our culture that bicycles are toys, they are not interested in seeing it differently.

This is an opportunity. I want to make the most of it.

Rantwick said...
"Are they twisting the law to enforce their opinion of what they think would be a wiser choice on my part?"Yep.I wrote a post about you... check it out if you can stay out of jail long enough; I'm eager to know what you think of it, or would correct in it.

I am mortified to reveal to you that I failed to load it onto my flash drive, and so I have not yet read it. But if you are reading this post, I am also reading yours! Expect an e-mail soon.

Anonymous said...
Bates and only rides a bicycle...did you ever work at a med lab in Dallas?

Him? No, not me. He’s the handsome Bates of Dallas. I’m the ugly one.