Friday, August 23, 2013

More Police Harassment

Thursday August 15, 2013

On this day I was traveling southbound on the I-820 service road in Fort Worth Texas at around 2:10 PM. I am wearing a ball cap and long pants.

This section transitions from a two lane (with a wide outside lane) to a single lane, and then back to a two lane (with a narrow outside lane) configuration. The single lane becomes the right lane of an on-ramp/off-ramp two lane merge.

I take a Mike Beck Disapproved* lane position throughout. I drive in the left lane in the first (two lane) section and in the right lane in the second (two lane) section. I travel this road often as it best serves my destination considering travel distance and terrain.

It is common for motorists to be annoyed with my presence and express it with their automobile horns. Often, the more impatient motorists will pass me on the shoulder. Even when the road divides into two lanes again I will often get free unsolicited advice from motorists or their passengers as the accelerate past me.

On this day, when I was about midway through the single lane section, I hear on a PA system; "YOU CAN'T RIDE ON A ON-RAMP. YOU MUST USE A SERVICE ROAD!"

I do a shoulder check and observe that it is a patrol car without its lights on.

I turn around and continue on my way as if the officer wasn't there.

The lane divides, and the officer pulls along side of me in the passing lane, pacing me. I see that it is a Ft. Worth Police officer. He wants to talk...

"Cars are piling up behind you", he says. "You are not allowed to ride here."

Defending myself, I say; "I am driving lawf..." He cuts my statement off.

"Hey, your supposed to be wearing a helmet!" He says, as he notices my cap.

"Stop making up laws!" I say. The cop gets a surprised look on his face.

"I'm not making up any laws!" he says.

I turn forward and return my attention to my driving. He moters off, much to the relief of the seven or eight motorists who were trapped behind us.

I continue on my way.

So dear reader, did this officer make up any laws? Is a cyclist allowed to operate on a freeway on-ramp in Texas? Is a cyclist allowed to impede traffic on this road? Is a cyclist required to wear a helmet when driving in Fort Worth Texas? Should I have obeyed the officer's rules when so directed, or the actual laws as passed by our legislators?

 *TM This would be the left tire track directly in front of a motorist. Mike Beck disapproves on the general grounds of it being "overly rude". Amusingly, he somehow believes this imperils him when he is cycling on the road in southern California!


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Traffic Stop Ruminations

Why was I pulled over?

Do you think this officer was truly concerned with my safety, or was he just enforcing the Culture of Speed?

Is he the local safety patrol or is he a speed cop?

His first gambit, perhaps as a result of his confidence that I was breaking some sort of law, was that I "can't be blocking traffic that way". It is not clear precisely what he meant.

As there was a travel lane next to me (conveniently commonly called a passing lane) I wasn't blocking anyone. Was he objecting to my chosen route? (In the travel lane and not on the shoulder?) Was he objecting to my centered-left lane position?

Regardless, I responded to what he actually said by pointing out that everyone was free to avail themselves of the other lane if they wished.

So he made up a scenario that in his imagination was my imminent peril; "Well, a bunch of cars almost swerved into you back there."

As I noted, traffic was not heavy. The Airport Freeway parallels Hwy 183 siphoning off non-local traffic. I find it hard to believe, even on reflection, that I was a significant hindrance to anyone, nor do I think there was enough traffic to create the hazard he lied about.

No one passed me while straddling the lane, for instance. This would be something I would notice because it is such a rare event. All the overtaking drivers that day did so with due care and completely within their own lane.

Even if folks did dart into my lane without seeing me, it would be their reckless actions that were putting me at risk, not my lawful presence, as his statement implies. In that moment, and even now, it is this notion that particularly irks me: To make an unsafe lane change is illegal and a citable offence; But this officer pulled me over, not them!

These are the issues that I am hinting at with my questions to him, and so he retreats to the more tenable position of "safety".

What a joke! This officer hasn't a clue as to how to operate a bicycle on a roadway. He is immersed in the Culture of Speed, he has a windshield view of the world and he has likely never given any thought as to how fast vehicles behave around slow vehicles. Excuse me if I doubt that your safety tips will be useful to me.

Society has empowered this officer to enforce laws enacted by our duly elected legislative bodies. He has been given the power to detain people suspected of criminal behavior. He is therefor abusing such powers if he is detaining the law-abiding for breaking imaginary laws or by capriciously enforcing his own personal rules. As an agent of the state he has no lawful authority to compel others to listen to his safety lectures.

So what is he? A policeman? Is he a Culture of Speed cop? Is he the local safety patrol?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Again While Minding My Own Business

Tuesday August 13, 2013

I am enjoying a ride through Richland Hills (a suburb of Ft. Worth Texas) going south on Hwy 183 at around 3:30 pm. It is sunny, there is a mild south wind and traffic is mild and calm. There is a 45 MPH posted speed limit.

This is my first experience on this road, and I like it. A four lane with a median and nice 11 foot bicycle/automobile lanes. I am driving in my classic Mike Beck Disapproved lane position- Yes, I am in the left tire track! (GASP!) I am wearing long sleeves, long pants and no helmet.


At the sound of the electronic klaxon I do a shoulder check to see flashing red lights. I am being pulled over by one of Richland Hills finest.

I stop, and discover I am quite nervous. I work at calming myself. I remind myself to keep my mouth shut as much as possible. "Don't argue," I tell myself, "and don't make statements, try to couch everything as a question..."

The officer gets out and walks up to me and says; "Traffic was piling up behind you; You can't be blocking traffic that way."

"Was traffic having trouble passing me in the next lane?" I ask.  My jitters are going away and I am returning to a calmer state.

"Well, a bunch of cars almost swerved into you back there."

"Am I to be held responsible for the actions of others?" I speak in an even tone. He seems surprised at my question.

"Well, I'm concerned about your safety."

"I doubt that." I say in a disgusted tone. (I couldn't help myself.) He gives me a funny look.

"You from around here?"


"Do you have ID?"


"Can I see it?"

I reluctantly hand it over.

"Wait here, I'll be right back."

He retreats back to his patrol SUV to discover that there are no warrants out for my arrest.

After a short while he returns and says; "I have taken down your information just in case you get hit down the road." Handing me my ID he says; "You are free to go, but it would be safer if you used the shoulder."

"Actually it wouldn't." I say.

"I am not here to argue with you. You obviously dislike cops, and I just don't want you to be hurt."

This time I manage to keep my mouth shut. But it was hard.

I put away my ID, wait for a gap in traffic and proceed on my way.