Monday, March 22, 2010

Impede Traffic, Pull Over a Cyclist!

Graphic courtesy of Keri Caffrey
Friday March 19, 2010. Approximately 13:30 hours. Ennis PD traffic stop.

Cause: The Patrol Officer preferred the cyclist use a different route.

Result: Cyclist allowed to proceed after a consultation with headquarters.


The cyclist was traveling west-bound on East Ennis Avenue having just crossed Kaufman Avenue, on his way home with groceries. He was pulled over in the 200 block in heavy traffic. Because there was no place to pull off the roadway, they blocked the right travel lane for the time of the stop.

The highway has four 12 foot travel lanes. The posted speed limit is 30 MPH.

The Officer initiated the traffic stop from the left lane. When he “whooped” his siren, the cyclist did a head check to see the patrol car in the left lane trailing the cyclist by less than a car length. There was another car, directly behind the cyclist, trapped by the patrol car. The cyclist signaled a right turn and pulled to a stop at the curb.

The officer approached the cyclist and greeted him by name. The cyclist was unfamiliar with this officer.

The officer asked the cyclist if he understood that he was not allowed to drive on the left side of the right travel lane.

“Not on this lane.” Said the cyclist.

“Why not?” Asked the Officer.

“It is less than 14 feet wide.” Replied the cyclist while producing his 12 foot tape measure.

The lane turned out to be 11 ½ feet wide.

The Officer excused himself to consult someone who had access to the law books.

The cyclist busied himself with taking photographs.

Shortly, the Officer again approached the cyclist and apologized for stopping him.
The cyclist accepted his apology, and continued his trip home.

Self-portrait in Officer McCurdy's glasses


  1. Call me a starry-eyed optimist, but that seems like progress to me.

  2. Things are just so much easier here in North Carolina. The law is simply that a cyclist is entitled to the whole lane. Nothing more, nothing less. DOT manual says cyclists ride to the right as a courtesy; to be polite, but don't have to. Glad I'm not in Texas.

  3. Wow!

    I had to read the entry twice to make sure that it wasn't a different city and state entirely! Had you waited a bit more than a week (4-1-10), I might not have truly believed it.

    As I often say, after my 19 stops, "He must not have gotten the memo."

    Nicely done.

  4. Kudos! It seems your message is finally being received.

    Tape measure? What other nifty items do you carry in your seat bag?

  5. I hate cops. Hate them. Minus the part where he trailed you and blocked another car behind you, I don't think I would mind an interaction like this with an officer. Laws regarding cycling (especially ones that pertain to the width of a lane) are not always well known. I would probably die of shock if a member of the NYPD ever apologized to me for anything.

  6. Does this mean they made copies of the current law?

  7. Glad to hear this encounter ended better. It might be a good gesture in terms of your future relationship with the department to commend Officer McCurdy to his superiors for his reasonable handling of the situation and ability to admit a mistake.

  8. Point of fact, the officer who apologised to me was not Officer McCurdy. He is the one who arrested me on March 9.

    I refrained from naming this officer to protect his reputation. But I do admire him!

  9. Despite what some might and DO claim, I believe the Ennis police are doing their level best to uphold police professionalism and community service. Your latest post supports that view. If there is a failure in the PD, it is a failure of leadership, but that is speculation on my part.

    All I can say from first hand observation, is that I would have made sure my guys were well prepared to deal with a developed situation, and not left to their own individual initiative. That appears to be a continuing Ennis failure. Again, though, speculation - because I am not privy to Ennis PD discussions and the Ennis PD may be under financial or other constraints that prevent it from getting quality advice from outside. If the Ennis police were fully briefed, either ChipSeal would not be stopped, and 911 callers would be briefed on the law, or else he'd be toast beyond what ANYBODY could argue with. Either way, we could move on to something new. To some extent, this is a "small town" situation that just happened to have "Ennis" as the name of the small town.

  10. Driving is queuing. It's cars that impede traffic.

  11. @ Peter. Funny, it seems to me that cars ARE traffic.

  12. Actually, it seems to me that both Peter AND Anonymous are correct!