Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bad Cops Doing Bad Things, Part II


Okay, Tiggy in Spiritu gets to publish part II of Bad Cops Doing Bad Things!!!

Hey did you know that Benepe's email to a policeman on the force titled "Battling Irrational Cops," was "quarantined".

Well we know that really just means they thought it was junk mail. But then, how come that never happened before?

Tiggy never had a run in with the law. Wait, I take that back.

Traveling back from Mexico in 2004, we got stopped by a police road stop--there are many in Mexico. Several soldiers all dressed from head to toe in green fatigues, carrying rifles, and wearing helmets approached the car to inspect it: they leaned close to the back seat window where Tiggy was sitting trying to see the cute little dog sitting on the back seat.

In a nano second she started to bark so ferociously, her teeth out, attacking the window so violently, the soldiers ran and fell backwards, their equipment falling to the ground. It was the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life.

Good girl, Tiggy!!!

Such an innocent girl.
I really miss her.

Okay here is the new post about BAD COPS DOING BAD THINGS!!

This by Bob Mionske, author of Bicycling and the Law: Your Rights as A Cyclist.
Please visit Velonews for the entire story, and the rest of his weekly post.

Last column, we had two questions from reader Jen Benepe, the publisher of New York Cycle News and president of Hotvelociti, who had two separate run-ins with mistaken law enforcement officers in the space of few days. We discussed the incident in her first question last week; this week, we're going to take a look at the incident her second question:

I am about to take a left hand turn on a two lane road which is fairly narrow. If I went all the way to the double yellow line, invariably someone from behind would come too close, plus I don't want to be hit from the other direction. I make a mistake and am one block (one block!) too soon, meaning, I have to go two blocks with my hand out instead of one before I turn. I jump almost out of my skin when I hear behind me a loudspeaker blasting, "If you are going to take a left hand turn get out of the middle of the road," and something like "now move it," barked at me once again, this time from another equally ill-informed police officer from a different municipality but in the same area.
If I had been a car, he would never have dared say such a thing, and moving back to the right would have endangered me unnecessarily. Plus I believe I had the legal right to be there. Again, what is the law in this case, and how should I address his behavior?

Jen, it's not clear which municipality this incident occurred in; therefore, it's unclear what local laws, if any, apply. However under New York state law, while bicycles are not vehicles, cyclists are accorded all of the rights and are subject to all of the duties applicable to the operators of vehicles. Assuming that no local law is applicable, under state law you were required to ride near the right-hand edge of the roadway, except under certain conditions, including when preparing to make a left-hand turn. In this incident, you were preparing to make a left-hand turn; therefore, you were not required to ride near the right-hand edge of the roadway once you began preparing to make your turn.
In fact, under New York state law, once you begin preparing to make your left-hand turn, you are required by law to be positioned in the lane nearest to the center line of the roadway. This is, in fact, exactly where you were riding when you were admonished by a law enforcement officer to "get out of the middle of the road." In short, you were in complete compliance with New York Vehicle & Traffic Law when the officer ordered you to "get out of the middle of the road."

It's unclear from the officer's order from what road position he expected you to make your turn, and it's equally unclear whether local law prohibits you from making a left turn as required by New York state law, or whether the officer is merely misinformed on what the law requires of cyclists, or doesn't care what the law is, and is enforcing his own version of the traffic laws. Now, regardless of your error in the choice of which street to turn at, it is probably safe to say that the operator of a motor vehicle who prepares to make a left turn, and then realizes that an error has been made, is not in violation of the law by choosing to continue to the next block before making the turn. Therefore, if motor vehicle operators are not required to make a left turn if they realize their error before beginning their turn, cyclists, being accorded the same rights, are also not required to make a left turn upon realizing their error. Instead, like motor vehicle operators, they would be allowed to continue straight until reaching the next block. One thing to keep in mind, however: if you have changed your mind about turning, you may be required to resume riding near the right-hand edge of the road, depending on how far it is until your turn.

Another thing to keep in mind: It's possible that local law prohibits cyclists from making left turns as required under New York law. If a law prohibiting left turns by cyclists has been enacted by this municipality, the officer's order to "get out of the middle of the road" would be a lawful order enforcing the law, and you would be required to comply with the local law, which likely would require you to use the crosswalks to make your turn.

On the other hand, if no local law prohibiting cyclists from making left turns has been enacted, the lawfulness of the officer's order becomes questionable. All vehicle operators are required to obey the law, and all vehicle operators are required to obey the lawful orders of law enforcement officers. However, no order is lawful where it directs the operator of a vehicle to violate the law. Thus, if the officer was directing you to make a turn in a manner that is in violation of the law, the order is not lawful. However, if the officer was directing you to make a left turn in compliance with local law, then the order was lawful. In any event, the officer did not direct you to make a turn as a pedestrian would. Therefore, assuming that local law does not require cyclists to make turns as pedestrians would, the officer's order to "get out of the middle of the road" probably does not amount to a lawful order, because he wasn't directing you to make your turn as a pedestrian would-he was merely ordering you to abandon your legal right to the road.

No comments: