Monday, March 2, 2009

A Response and A Quote

I've gotten more than a couple requests recently for copies of the letter I recieved from the Brookfield City Prosecutor last year. I didn't post the whole letter initially because there are many factual errors in the letter and I didn't want to go through them all on the blog. I decided to post it now because so many people are asking for it after viewing the Fox Six report that featured me and my troubles in Brookfield.

In the letter, the Prosecutor refers to 2 separate incidents which were the subject of my correspondence to him. He mixes up the facts of the 2 cases repeatedly and misrepresents my position in both cases as a result. That being said, the absurdity of the Prosecutor's opinion is unmistakeable.

I am not a lawyer, but I believe his position to be legally untenable. He claims that a law abiding cyclist must move over for a law breaking driver so the law breaking driver doesn't have to slow down to pass.

He says that since the law says "normal speed of traffic" that refers to whatever speed the motorists are travelling. He seems to forget that the legislature has also enacted statutes which control the maximum speed at which any vehicle can travel, therefore any motorists travelling at greater than the maximum speed would be violating the law, so the fastest any traffic can "normally" be travelling and still be within the law is the maximum speed limit. I don't remember the term for this legal principle but it says that one law cannot be interpreted to render another law meaningless. Under his interpretation, the maximum speed law would become meaningless whenever a bicycle was present. Clearly that was not the intention of the legislature as the plain language of the statutes shows.

But I digress.

The letter is posted in it's entirety. I highligted the sections I think are the most absurd. I will try to track down my correspondence to him so you can judge for yourself how he mixed up the facts. It might take a while to post that.

I wanted to close with a quote I found on friend's.
"One moment of patience may ward off disaster, one moment of impatience may ruin a whole life."

Unfortunately I can't credit the author as it was listed as unknown. I think this quote is pertinent to this post today because it relates to my last post and this one.

I think we all know how a motorist's impatience can ruin lives. I think we unfortunately may see how a cyclist's impatience with a motorist might cost the cyclist. I think it is pertinent to this post because the City Prosecutor's impatience in rushing to back this police officer may make him look rather silly, and a more patient, thoughtful, researched opinion could have changed peoples attitudes, people who could have made a real difference on how motorists deal with cyclists. Instead we get more of the same attitude. Let's all keep trying to change those attitudes even if it takes a little patience



prathmann said...

After explicitly quoting the definition of roadway, the prosecutor seems to totally ignore what it says. The roadway is defined to exclude the berm and/or shoulder and therefore only includes that portion of the highway that is *between* the foglines. Riding as far to the right as practicable "on the roadway" must therefore be done somewhere to the left of the fogline. Anything to the right of the fogline would be off the roadway, not on it.

And I agree that when going at or reasonably near the posted speed limit the stay right rule would not apply anyway.

BTW, are there any posted group rides in the area during the winter? When visiting our daughter in West Allis I have sometimes gone on the Cream City rides - but their schedule ends quite early in the year.
prathmann 'at'

Jeff said...

If you click on the link for the Wisconsin Bike Lawyer on the right side of the page, he has a link with just about every group ride in the area.

fred_dot_u said...

Jeff, having received two citations from uninformed uniformed officers, I have a viewpoint to support your position, literally and figuratively.

Your law has the same exception used to get my cases DISMISSED and I hope you never need to get this far into the grief.

In some of the portions of your videos, I would have been riding about in the center of the lane, and sometimes more to the left, in order to reduce the frequency of unsafe passes. I've been criticized for my riding habits, but it's been only from untrained uneducated people, easily dismissed.

Unfortunately, it would appear that you have some officials in that same state, and I mean mental state.
The exception listed in the jpg letters reads "3. When reasonably necessary to avoid unsafe conditions, including fixed or moving objects, parked of moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or substandard width lanes that make it unsafe to ride along the right-hand edge or curb."

In my state of FL, the FL Dept of Transportation states that fourteen feet is the width considered to be standard, and specifically reads that it is to be considered the minimum width for a bicycle and motor vehicle to occupy side-by-side.

You can also find some great supportive references at Keri's Commute Orlando site. Here's a couple specific to our experiences:

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