Time and time again, I hear people complain that cyclists do NOT follow the rules of the road. Some even think we shouldn’t be on the road at all. People complain that the police don’t enforce the law and turn a blind eye to us cyclists.
Then today the Seattle Times has an article talking about just that! The Seattle Police are staking out a school zone (which in Washington is a 20 MPH zone) looking for speeders. I am ALL for this, my kids have walked to school for years, and speeders in school zones annoy me to no end!
Turns out though, this school zone is in the middle a looooooonnng fun downhill….
Why does that matter? Well, at least in my case, unless there is a downhill, I have no worries about exceeding a speed limit. However, give me a long down hill and I am pushing 40 mph! Evidently I am not alone. This speed enforcement does not discriminate! Cars and bikes both are being pulled over and ticketed, and I am in complete agreement!
This is an elementary school. These kids are taught to look both ways for cars. They may or may not see a bike. especially since some cyclist around here don’t use lights, even on dark days. Even if they see a bike, they may not think they have to worry, and will dart out (I speak from experience on my multi use trail). A collision between a fast-moving bike and a kidlet would end up hurting both the rider and the kid!
I know people complain that bikes are never pulled over. But I have said the same thing with vehicles. How many times have we seen someone barreling down the freeway, weaving in and out of traffic and no one pulls him over. I’ve seen crotch rockets pop wheelies on I-5. No police.
It’s not that cyclists aren’t pulled over, it’s just that there are only so many officers, and they have to prioritize.
Now, personally, I’ve been pulled over twice on the bike.
The first was for speeding. I blazed down a hill in Dashpoint State Park doing 30 (in a 15 zone). It was a training hill for me, I flew down to the beach then turned around and pedaled back up. I saw some rangers on the side of the road, but didn’t think much about it.
As I slogged back up at a road burning 5 mph (It is a STEEP climb) The rangers stopped me. They were using the radar gun and clocked me at double the speed limit. The ranger I talked to told me that if they took the average speed, down and up, it came to 17.5 MPH. No ticket this time, but they knew I rode there frequently. If I sped again, there would be a ticket! So yep, rode the brakes every time after that.
The second time was a stop sign. Once again, at the bottom of a hill. I was flying down to Point Defiance Park in Tacoma (a great place to ride). It has a five-mile loop with views of Puget Sound and Mountains. Plus raccoons, deer and foxes. The loop has a 20 MPH limit, and if I didn’t stop, I could hit it at the limit and get past the only busy part of the park.
So yep, I was flying down, looked both ways, and there was no traffic, so yep. Blew the stop sign. Next thing I knew, lights and siren behind me, and I was pulled over. (No argument or complaint, totally my fault). Officer was not happy! But again a warning. (Though he did tell me it woulda been a $155 fine)
I will tell you, I did two circuits of the loop. When I got back close to the officer, who was eyeballing me. I stopped. put BOTH feet on the ground. Then took off from the stop sign.
So yep, we do get pulled over. Maybe not as often as cars do, but it happens. And I will say when it does, it is deserved. We should follow the same laws. I won’t say I am a perfect cyclist, nor driver for that matter, but I try.
But someday, I am sure I will get a ticket, and I will only have myself to blame.
- Seattle Police Ticket Cyclists for Speeding (slog.thestranger.com)
- Speedy cyclists often dinged in school zones (q13fox.com)
- Police speed trap snaring bicyclists, too | The Seattle Times (seattletimes.com)