|Colleyville Police Patrol on a Nicer Day|
Lately, I've had a lot of cause to consider what I might do if I were pulled over by the police while riding safely and legally. Not having my legal and video tape team in place and ready to roll, and not particularly having any crusade or point I felt needed to be made today, I chose "Option A."
Option A consists of what I feel should most often be the cyclist's course of action in most encounters with the police, assuming the cyclist isn't actually doing anything wrong. I imagine some would advocate a different course of action. Here's what I did, including what I did WRONG.
- The "contact" began when the officer, in the left lane, ordered me over his loudspeaker to "get on the sidewalk." Initially, I didn't comprehend what he was asking, (I suspect such an encounter is almost always a surprise so it takes a bit to register fully), but that was soon corrected.
- I replied that it was unsafe to ride on the sidewalk. The officer repeated his order.
- At that point, I pulled over (I admit I forgot to signal a stop and rightward movement in the ordering around). I stopped, dismounted the bike, and got on the sidewalk. I did not say anything further to the officer.
- The officer was NOT inclined to stop in the RH lane to give me a lecture or get out of his car in the rain which was getting worse by the moment.
- I stood on the sidewalk and the officer departed. While it would have been difficult to get his badge number, I confess that getting his car ID completely slipped my mind until he was gone. Me bad.
- Determined that I was NOT going to ride my bike on the sidewalk, I began to walk toward home. Had the rain lightened enough to risk getting out the cell phone, I might have called for a ride home the rest of the way.
- After about a minute, lightning began to strike close enough that I started counting the seconds between the lightning flash and the thunder.
- At that point, I decided that walking home was no longer a good idea, and I rode like the wind - down Hall Johnson - arriving home without further incident, and without getting struck by lightning. Had I been struck by lightning and killed, I would have been VERY irritated with the officer. Had I complied with his order and been struck and killed in a right cross, I likewise would have been VERY irritated.
- Anyway, having gotten out of the incident without either being cited or performing unsafe acts, I called the non-emergency police number. Unexpectedly, this shed some light on Reed Bates 911 calls. MY call was transferred to 911 where I, as had several of the Reed callers, noted this was NOT an emergency. Unlike them, I noted I had been transferred to them via the nonemergency phone operator despite clearly indicating it was NOT an emergency. Unlike the Bates callers, I called when I got home.
- As it turns out, the 911 dispatchers were pretty busy and they said someone would call me back. I think they often get busy when it rains in the late afternoon.
- About 8:30, Officer Terrell of the Colleyville PD called, and I explained the situation, how sidewalk riding is extremely dangerous, and how I just wanted things explained to the patrol officers so that I was not going to have to worry about being detained while riding safely and legally. I did not want to file a formal complaint, but only wanted to be able to ride safely. Officer Terrell was polite, and tried to explain that the officer probably felt I was in danger due to the rain and he'd done similar, though he wasn't saying it was right. I explained that I had two rear lights lit at the time, and a reflector. I did not mention that only two cars passed me the rest of the way along Hall Johnson and there was no drama in either case (they weren't really going much faster than I). It seemed pointless, because Officer Terrell indicated he would pass along my concerns to the patrol officers. It was pretty clear during the conversation that I was upset, but I was also polite. I tried to make it clear I have no wish to become a law enforcement target, nor to achieve any end other than to be allowed to ride without being directed to do unsafe stuff. I did not attempt to go into my cycling background or education at all, nor that I could provide references to the applicable statutes and at least some of the accident studies.
It's pretty clear about the biggest thing I did wrong - I did not get any way to ID the police officer, nor did I get the name of the 911 dispatcher. I DID get Officer Terrell's name so at least I was 1 for 3. Amazingly, after the fact, I can't even honestly recollect if the officer ever flipped on his lights or not. In the event, since I did not want to lodge a formal complaint against the officer, perhaps it was better that I was unable to provide his name. Who knows? In any event, it proves the value of surprise. In this case, I certainly WAS surprised.
WHAT WENT RIGHT?
Things I think I did right. I did NOT agree to operate in an unsafe manner and I did NOT operate in an unsafe manner. (IMO, a twelve foot lane is not safe to "share," and especially not in wet conditions. Besides the danger of a right cross on the sidewalk, I have fallen on similar corner ramps in the past because they tend to be slick. A fall crossing a street could easily have ended very badly, especially if I tumbled into Hall Johnson as a car was passing.) I did NOT argue with the officer or, once I protested he was asking me to do something unsafe, say anything at all. For all I knew, initially, there might have been some danger ahead of which I was unaware (it turned out there was no danger at all other than the weather). Importantly, I did not attempt to argue cycling law with an officer in a law enforcement situation. I DID follow up. To Colleyville's credit, unlike Fort Worth, the police DID return my call.
|I Can Empathize With his Emotion|