Saturday, June 21, 2008

Losing Sleep Over Losing My Life

It’s 2 am and I should be sleeping, resting for a long ride tomorrow. Instead I keep going over in my head the fact that the police who are sworn to protect the public are all to often unwilling to do their duty if those who ask for help are on a bicycle.

I heard back from the Brookfield officer who has been very fair and reasonable in his handling of the Acura complaint. He looked at my video and showed it to a couple fellow officers for their opinion. Unfortunately one of the officers he showed it to was the Captain who was invloved in the silver Hyundai incident where I was told, "if a bike was only travelling 10 mph, the bicyclist has no right to be in an active traffic lane on any road in Brookfield". Now the officer seems to be of the opinion not only that no ticket should be issued, but that the driver of the Acura did nothing wrong by passing very close, TWICE, while speeding. He said he would check the statutes again and get back to me, but I’m not holding my breath.

If the reasonable officer can be made to believe that I shouldn’t be on the road or that I don’t have the right to be protected or have the laws enforced equitably where do I turn for help?

I was buzzed by a silver Honda on a short ride tonight and then sprayed by his windshield washer fluid. I’m almost dreading going to the police about this incident. I really think he tried to get as close as he could to me. He meant to scare me. He meant to scare me with a 2 thousand pound weapon and I’m dreading having to deal with the police. I’m doubting whether the police will even take my complaint because I choose to ride a bike. If I were walking down the street and some punk kid threatened me with a baseball bat, that would be a crime, but because someone did the same thing with a car, I’ll likely be asked why I was there in the first place. The police will likely look for ways to blame me for someone else’s illegal conduct. I guess I was asking for it. I had the nerve to be on their road. What did I expect?

What I expect is for the police to fulfill the promise they made when they took their oath. I expect them to do their duty. The laws are for the protection of everyone. I shouldn't have to justify why I was using a public roadway in order to be protected by the police. I shouldn’t have to forfeit my right to be protected because I ride a bike and I shouldn’t have to lose sleep worrying about whether I might die in a crash tomorrow because the police refused to do their duty and cite drivers who endanger others on the road.

6 comments:

Ed W said...

Jeff...email your complaint to the chief, your city council, and the city attorney. If there's a bicycling advocacy group in the area, copy them on it too. Use neutral language, that is, avoid being accusatory or confrontational. Say that you believe the PD should be proactive rather than reactive. As a cyclist and taxpayer, you'd prefer that they head off problems while they're small, rather than wait until someone is hurt. Motorists who harass and attempt to intimidate cyclists will only escalate if they're not confronted with the consequences of their behavior. It may be to your advantage to have a local advocate do this for you as an advocate will be less emotional.

As the the '10mph' crack, the officer is simply wrong. Be sure the city attorney is aware of this, and be sure your local bicycling advocate is aware also.

G'luck!

Anonymous said...

The police aren't interested. They never are. File complaints with the DMV and see where that gets you. It may not work either, tho

Anonymous said...

I have never seen one person have more problems with cars then you. As a rider I also pay very close to what is going on around me but come on man it sounds like you are just looking for trouble. Just because you can ride three feet from the curb why would you? I ride in Waukesha all the time and on some of the most narrow roads out here and yet I still have very little problems.It sounds to me your like the kid who cried "WOLF".
Why would the police start to listen to you if your in their ear all the time.
Now don't get me wrong are there people who cause problems for riders? Yes, and those people should be turned in but almost once a week we hear from you how someone almost hit you, it is starting to sound like you are becoming a vigilante with a camera not a rider with a cause.
Pissing off cars is a good way to get yourself hit, and take it from me when you get hit and all busted up the last thing going though your mind is was he less then three feet from me or did the camera get his/her plate number.
Riding is to be fun, if the fun has ended for you and its all about a vendetta you need to get off the bike for awhile.

Jeff said...

I’m not a big fan of responding to anonymous comments, but Mr. Anonymous raises an issue that I wanted to respond to, and since I was responding to that I decided to address his/her other issues.

I carefully consider whether I should call the police every time something happens on the road. I don't want to become the boy who cried wolf. After reading your comment I went back and looked at every video I've posted since I started the blog. In almost every instance I would call the police again. Have you looked at the videos? The latest videos, especially, in my opinion, show drivers acting extremely dangerously. If I'm not supposed to call the police for that, then what are they there for?

Looking for trouble? You sound like the ignorant motorists or cops, who would have no trouble using surveillance video to catch someone breaking the law, but when they hear of a biker with a camera, the biker MUST be looking for trouble. Again, look at the videos and tell me if these moves by the motorists look reasonable and safe to you.

Just because I post every week doesn't mean I've called the police every week. I don't have any idea how many miles you ride or on what roads, but your reference to curbs is completely irrelevant to a discussion of this blog. None of my videos are on roads with curbs. I ride country roads. I ride about 150 miles a week. Most of the time, and in almost all my videos, I'm not as you say, 3 feet from the curb, I'm usually within 6 inches of the edge of the road, and in many cases I'm off the road on the paved shoulder.

If I'm pissing off cars, there is not much I can do about that. I'm riding the same way I always have. I obey the traffic laws, and, as I said I am almost always on or very near the white line.

I don't want to find out about getting busted up in a crash, which is why I'm turning in the worst offenders. I'm sure if it happens I won't need to measure how far the driver was from me.

You're right, riding is supposed to be fun, and most of the time it is. I can assure you I don’t have a vendetta. It’s not personal, it can’t be, because I don’t know any of the people I’ve called the police about. I’ve never met them, I don’t want to know their names or anything about them. I just want them not to run me off the road, or worse.

The thing occasionally making rides not fun are the idiot drivers and the police who refuse to acknowledge my right to be on the road, or their responsibility to protect me like any other citizen.

Anonymous said...

Just a word of support--keep trying. Unlike M[rs]. Anon, I don't think you're crying wolf. Drivers have been getting more and more aggressive--not just with bikes, but with each other.

But, as a bike, I don't have a 2000lb shield to protect me from the aggression. What I have is my voice and louder, more articulate voices such as yours. Please keep trying to be heard. We need all the voices we can get.

Tingler said...

agree with last post. drivers are being difficult, no matter if youre on a bike or in a car, all over the country. Other than my groceries going up in price, perhaps the euro-ization of america in now here. bikes are a part of life in europe. here they are regarded as a road nuisance.