Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Police Contact

I was stopped on the way home last night at about 10:15.

I will hide the officer's identity to shield him from public ridicule. I will call him "Officer Fife".

Officer Fife works for the Richardson Police Department.

I was traveling south on Plano Road approaching Beltline when he pulled me over.

"You must have a blinking red rear light to operate on the roadway at night. Get off the road and onto the sidewalk."

"I am not required to have a rear light on my bicycle."

"Like all vehicles, you have to have a rear light. You must ride on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, you must ride on the other side of the road against traffic."

"There is no law requiring such."

"It is a City of Richardson law."

"Does city law supersede state law?"

"Our laws conform to state law."

"Could you show me the statute, please?"

"I'm not going to argue with you. Do I have to write you a ticket?"

"For what violation?"

"Very well, show me your ID."

"I have no ID on me."

"Take your bicycle onto the sidewalk and out of the street. I'll deal with you there."

So I walked my bicycle to the sidewalk and lay it down. I waited while he got his notebook out.

"Name?" I told him my name.

"Driver's licence number?" I told him I had no driver's licence.

"No driver's licence? Any ID issued by Texas?" "None" I said.

"Birthday? Address?" I gave them to him.

With that he retreated to his squad car. After a few minutes he returned.

"I don't have time to deal with stuff like this, so I'm letting you go with a verbal warning."

"We disagree on what the requires of me."

"I told you what the law says."

"What does Sec 551.104 say?"

"I'm not going to argue with you. Stay on the sidewalk!"

"Do you just make up laws?"

He stalked off in a angry huff.

I waited until he was out of sight, and then I continued on my way in a lawful manner, as I had before. I was delayed about 15 minutes.

Sec. 551.104. SAFETY EQUIPMENT. (a) A person may not operate a bicycle unless the bicycle is equipped with a brake capable of making a braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
(b) A person may not operate a bicycle at nighttime unless the bicycle is equipped with:
(1) a lamp on the front of the bicycle that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet in front of the bicycle; and
(2) on the rear of the bicycle:
(A) a red reflector that is:
(i) of a type approved by the department; and
(ii) visible when directly in front of lawful upper beams of motor vehicle headlamps from all distances from 50 to 300 feet to the rear of the bicycle; or
(B) a lamp that emits a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear of the bicycle.