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Here’s sort of an odd one that appeared in my inbox courtesy of Ann Rappaport:
On September 2nd, Sean Harrington biked to the Detroit RiverWalk with his twin sons in a bike trailer. On the way home, he took the sidewalk north on Park Avenue, which is a one way side street heading south.
When pedestrians and construction scaffolding blocked the sidewalk, he rode on the road for about four car lengths.
That was apparently too much for Detroit Police who issued Harrington a $110 ticket and now may face charges of child endangerment.
Read the full article and commentary by visiting the M-Bike page.
On its surface, this one seems like a “geezus, don’t the cops have anything better to do?” kind of story, but I want to throw a few points out for discussion. First, many cyclists understand that in order to be taken seriously as legitimate road users, we must abide by the various vehicle laws on the books and ride according to those laws. Second, just as many of us cry foul when we see motorists breaking assorted laws…meanwhile, we’re running stop signs and blowing through red lights without a care in the world. Third, many of the vehicle laws are tough to apply evenly between bikes and motor vehicles, giving rise to such flexible rules such as the “Idaho stop“. Frankly, some of the laws on the books can inconvenience cyclists…when the shortest and safest route between two points means going the wrong way on a one-way street, can we just do it? Sometimes, even with our increased maneuverability on two wheels, just because we CAN doesn’t mean we SHOULD.
The pending case in Detroit is a bit over-the-top in terms of charges, but perhaps the Detroit Police are trying to send a message: whether two wheels or four, you are a vehicle and are stuck with the same laws. That’s a tough message to ignore if we want to maintain our rights to the road. Your thoughts, as always, are greatly appreciated. Hit us up in the comment box and tell us what you think.