Wednesday, August 13, 2008

License To Speed?

I received a letter last week written by the Brookfield City Prosecutor, to the Mayor. It was quite a surprising letter for a number of reasons. First the City Prosecutor refers to two separate incidents in the letter, one of which I didn't even bring to his attention, and he transposes the facts of the two incidents. He also makes assumptions about my reasons for contacting him about the one incident in the first place, many of which are incorrect.

I'm not going to get into all the mis-statements of fact or incorrect assumptions, as that would take to long and be far to boring for readers of this blog.

I will however discuss the most shocking part of the letter. The part where the City of Brookfield's City Prosecutor, in an official correspondence to the Mayor, seems to give tacit approval to drive a car over the posted speed limit.

Mr. Kershek says that, "if a bicyclist is traveling the posted speed limit and the average car is traveling at five miles per hour greater than the posted speed limit, the bicyclist is, by definition traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic under the conditions then existing"

Mr. Kershek goes on to say, "in the interest of safety, it is reasonable to interpret the statute as requiring bicyclist to ride as close to the right hand edge of the road whenever they are not keeping up with traffic, regardless of the speed of traffic. To allow otherwise would create an unsafe situation as cars would have be forced into the oncoming lane of traffic to pass the bicyclist, allowing the required three feet distance between them."

So if a bicyclist is traveling the maximum posted speed limit in Brookfield Wisconsin, they have to make room for motorists who are speeding so the law breaking motorists don't have to slow down to pass?

Does this mean that if all the cars on the road are speeding, I'm allowed to speed on my bicycle to keep up with the flow if traffic?

This interpretation sure seems to raise all kinds of questions. I'll get back to you if I hear any answers.



cyclonecross said...

Wow! I'll have to double check, but I think that speed laws in Ohio require that drivers operate at a speed that is reasonable for traffic and/or road conditions. To me, this would indicate that the cars would have to slow down in the presence of a bicycle in order to pass safely. I'm assuming that WI treats their speed limits in a similar fashion.

El Serracho! said...

what if i'm driving 10 miles per hour over the speed limit? shouldn't the cars that are driving only 5 miles per hour over the speed limit have to pull over to make room? otherwise i would have to drive into opposing traffic to pass them.


cyclonecross said...

You will want to see this:

Tingler said...

dang, do you live in that town that Rambo stumbled upon in his first movie?

Blue said...

These people are idiots!!!

Nick said...

The cops are half-right, for the wrong reason. They don't have to enforce laws they don't agree with, that's called executive discretion. They'd have saved themselves a lot of trouble if they had just said, "enforcing the 3-foot passing law is not a priority for our department." They'd be completely in the right then.

Where they go off the deep end is in trying to twist the law to say that cyclists have to use the shoulder, when it doesn't. Their "two wrongs make a right" justification for close passing doesn't hold water either.

It really sounds like neither the city prosecutor or the chief understands his job. I'm always amazed when I meet someone who does something all their life and doesn't really understand it. But it happens all the time, in every endeavor half the people are below average.

You walk a fine line between raising awareness -- it's entirely possible none of these guys ever really thought much about what the law is in regard to cyclists -- and raising hackles. With these Barney Fife types you don't want to back them into a corner where they get militant.