Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bad cop, no doughnut

I was pleased—briefly—when I opened this morning’s Anchorage Daily News and found a prominent article on Bike To Work Day. But, as with so many things involving the Daily News, my joy was short-lived.

This time, it wasn't entirely the newspaper’s fault. What was disturbing was the experience recounted by the woman in the photo that accompanied the story. Judy Abrahams lives on the Hillside and rides more than 20 miles each way during her commute, so someone at the ADN apparently decided she'd be a good person to describe riding in Anchorage.

As she was riding up Northwood Drive with a reporter, a police officer pulled up beside her, honked his horn and pointed to the sidewalk, indicating that she should be on it. She said it looked like the same cop who did the same thing the previous day.

Now, I’m just some guy who likes bikes, but I ride part of the same route Abrahams rides and I’ve bothered to read the municipal ordinance regarding bicycles, so I happen to know that Abrahams was not only on a route where it's safe to ride on the street, she was riding completely within the law.

The ordinance is very easy to read, and it’s readily available. You can download a PDF file right here. (Just click on "Municipal Bike Law.") It’s a good document to be familiar with if you ride a bike in Anchorage.

It’s an even better document to be familiar with if you’re authorized to write tickets for traffic violations.

Life as a bike commuter is hard enough with bad drivers. We don't need ignorant cops, too.


daveIT said...

F da police
F da police

That's why I carry my waste those suckas that be bitin' on my ridin' style. Pop! Pop!

Let them write me a ticket...I'd gladly go to court to prove their ignornace of the bike laws.

Disclaimer: I love (smart)cops...I just talk big. Don't arrest me! OINK!

Michelle said...

Drivers out here in the Valley are insane, I ride 1 of the 3 bike paths out here and still feel like I'm in danger everytime I have to cross a street. They are ignorant about the rules of the road or just don't care and would love to run me over and squish me into the ground. Instead of being mudsplattered, they'd like me blood-splattered. Must be all the meth dust in the air...

That cop must not be aware there are better things to do, like bust the meth houses, oh sorry, that's just here in the Valley

I liked today Ride but Be Wary article in today's paper.

Jill said...

I was a bit annoyed when I read that article myself. I still need to read the municiple law that you linked, but in SLC it is actually illegal for cyclists to ride on the sidewalk. If that's the case in Anchorage, not only was this cop ignorant of her rights as a cyclist, as well as the rights of pedestrians who use the sidewalk, but he was encouraging her to break the law.

Tim said...

Except in "business districts," i.e., downtown, it is legal to ride on Anchorage sidewalks. Northwood is nowhere near a business district. It has an adjacent sidewalk, but also has a bike lane among much of the road.

The law clearly states that when you ride on the sidewalk you're under pedestrian rights/rules, and when you're on the street you're subject to vehicle rules.