Got yelled at by the police

lemmitrek

Member
image.jpg Part of my home commute is on a short 2 lane road US-46. I have to get from the shoulder to the left side to merge onto the left turn lane.
This part is always unnerving. I'm lit up like a chrsitmas tree when I riding in the dark.
I waited with merge attempt until trafic slowed enough down due to the upcoming trafic light.

Tonight a cop watched me doing doing this and yelled at me that I have no businesses being in the left lane and forced me to move back on the right side. I tried to explain him my intention of merging, but he insisted.
I was told that I am getting myself killed because people don't pay attention to bikers in America.
I asked him how am I supposed to make my turn and he told me to drive until the trafic light and use the cross walk. I Followed his instructions and waited 4 rounds of lights changing, but the crosswalk light never turned green and I couldn't find a button to press.

By the way, Not really fun to have this conversation while he was blocking 2 lane rush hour trafic.
Here is the million dollar question: Did I do anything illegal?
I appreciate his concern, but his delivery was really off.

Have you guys been in similar situation?
Using the crosswalk also means to dismount and push the bike.
 

PowerMe

Well-Known Member
My understanding is if bikes (in your geographical area) are to be treated just like any other vehicle on the road, meaning you have the right to be on the road, and if you then need to make a left hand turn, you should be able to act like any other vehicle, which means getting into the proper lane you need to make a turn at a light, obey all the traffic rules, make sure you signal your intent, and then make your turn and get into the lane you should be in to continue on your way.

If, however, you were doing a shortcut type maneuver -- one that no other vehicle would be able to do, and one that is not considered legal according to traffic laws, and if you're doing that maneuver on the road, then a cop is likely going to have an issue if they see it.
 

Shea N Encinitas

Active Member
You appear to merging pretty early. Sometimes at an intersection like this I will simply have to pull over maybe 200 feet short of the turn, wait for traffic to fill the intersection then weave up to the front with all the surrounding cars stopped. You could also stay right, clear the intersection then setup at the light 90 degrees counterclockwise, kinda what the fuzz instructed you to do, but without the crossing signal. -S
 
Last edited:

lemmitrek

Member
My understanding is if bikes (in your geographical area) are to be treated just like any other vehicle on the road, meaning you have the right to be on the road, and if you then need to make a left hand turn, you should be able to act like any other vehicle, which means getting into the proper lane you need to make a turn at a light, obey all the traffic rules, make sure you signal your intent, and then make your turn and get into the lane you should be in to continue on your way.

If, however, you were doing a shortcut type maneuver -- one that no other vehicle would be able to do, and one that is not considered legal according to traffic laws, and if you're doing that maneuver on the road, then a cop is likely going to have an issue if they see it.
Thank you for your feedback. I did not take any short cuts and followed what I thought was the right way of merging. The problem with this street is that you are allowed to go up to 50 miles.
I don't think I did anything wrong. I think his concerns that a car would simply not pay attention were sincere. If I can, I avoid busy streets, but this one is the only way to get and leave work.
 

lemmitrek

Member
You appear to merging pretty early. Sometimes at an intersection like this I will simply have to pull over maybe 200 feet short of the turn, wait for traffic to fill the intersection then weave up to the front with all the surrounding cars stopped. You could also stay right, clear the intersection then setup at the light 90 degrees counterclockwise, kinda what the fuzz instructed you to do, but without the crossing signal. -S
Good observation. Trying to strike the balance to merge with the least impact on traffic. If I wait to long the light turns green going straight and it gets really dangerous.
Mergin early I drive all the way to the left that the cars can easily pass.
We don't had those type of streets in Germany where I grew up.
It is walking a fine line between being confident and too scared in this type of traffic. That's the downside of commuting. ;-)
 

Shea N Encinitas

Active Member
One busy intersection, on the way to REI, is preceded by a steep grade, I've hit 35 mph coasting there before brake checking my speed. Point being most of the time I can get close enough to the speed of traffic to act like a motorcycle, take the lane and then setup at the left turn light. This requires another kind of confidence that I'm running short on, that of the bicycle itself, the brakes, welds, tires, 9 mm skewers, etc. Much above 30 and you want the overbuilt model, definately hydraulic brakes. I was very impressed with a Haibike FS RX demo today, short little brake levers with so much power and control. There was also a nice German bike at the shop, a Focus dual suspension mid-drive, 28 mph, $6,700 - YIKES. -S
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
Sounds like the fuzz were more worried about your safety than traffic laws... If that's the worst of it, you've got it made!
 

Bud

Member
Wolfgang,

My Road ID bears the inscription: "WE ARE TRAFFIC, DAMN IT!".

Our regional (perhaps national) road culture is such that cyclists are not yet welcomed, much less respected, members of the road going community. That we "block traffic" suggests that we are not considered part of the mix that is traffic. That is where we are, still, despite the substantial efforts of cycling advocates across the nation. That is our current reality.

I read an interesting Star Ledger article yesterday that was posted on the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition website. The focus of the piece touched the issue raised by your experience. It reads, in part:

The easiest way to reduce deaths and accidents is enforce laws that cover both cyclists and drivers, said Cyndi Steiner, New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition executive director. But civilians and police have to know what the law says first.

"Enforcement of current laws directed at both drivers and cyclists is the easiest first step," Steiner said. "But
we continually see that the police are not aware of the laws that dictate cyclists' use of the road, and both
cyclists and drivers tend to get away with dangerous behavior."

Infrastructure such as separated bike lanes, protected bike lanes, and signs that "reflects cyclists' legitimate
use of the road," would help, Steiner said.

The entire piece is here:

http://www.nj.com/traffic/index.ssf/2014/10/adults_making_up_the_majority_of_cyclists_killed_i.html#incar t_river

Cyclists operating on public road ways have all of the rights and responsibilities as those who operate motorized vehicles. We have to obey the same rules. In order to become respected members of the road going community, we have to act like respectable members of that community. If you are traveling down a highway where bicycling is permitted, then it is your right to be there. If traffic conditions are such that you reasonably believe should take the lane for your personal safety, and you can do so lawfully, then you may do so. If you do so, and you are in front do someone who does not understand your right to be there, or you are chastised by a law enforcement officer who directs you off of the road, then you will hear about it. That you hear from them does nothing to alter the reality of your right to exist and to use that roadway - properly, lawfully, and safely.

So what is lawfully? Let's go to the video tape:

New Jersey Statute 39:4-14.2, 39:4-10.11 Operating Regulations.

Every person riding a bicycle on a roadway shall ride as near to the right roadside as practicable exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction. A bicyclist may move left under any of the following conditions: 1) To make a left turn from a left turn lane or pocket; 2) To avoid debris, drains, or other hazardous conditions on the right; 3) To pass a slower moving vehicle; 4) To occupy any available lane when traveling at the same speed as other traffic; 5) To travel no more than two abreast when traffic is not impeded, but otherwise ride in single file. Every person riding a bicycle shall ride in the same direction as vehicular traffic.

In New Jersey, the law states a bicyclist must obey all state and local automobile driving laws. A parent may be held responsible for the child’s violation of any traffic law.

So, could you move left to turn left? Yes. Could you move left and then travel in that lane until you reached the turn? Yes, but only if you are able to travel at the same speed as the balance of the traffic on the road so as not to impede the flow of traffic. So if those laws were obeyed by you, then it appears that you were acting in a lawful manner. In that case, a kind and respectful letter to the Chief of Police, with a copy to the Mayor, describing your experience might be in order. The Chief needs to ensure that his officers are properly trained, and the Mayor needs to know that there are cyclists who commute on his busy roadway so that he may consider the public safely issues and whether infrastructure or other changes are called for.

But we have to be careful not to be hypocritical or self-righteous. And I am speaking for myself. I aspire to commute daily. I love to ride. It enriches my life. It is a great way to be in the world and to interact with it up close and personal. I enjoy the ability to get to work through the snarl of urbanish traffic quicker than I can by car (by unlawfully passing on the right). I love being able to cross through intersections with out having to wait for lights (by unlawfully riding across the walkway without dismounting). And I occasionally respond to motorists disrespect with the universal one-fingered salute of dissatisfaction accompanied by a chorus of verbal bile.

Do I get the frustration and concern? Yes. Do I want others to act differently towards me on the road? Yes. Do I need to act differently while on the road? Obviously. So I am left weeping: "Can't we all just get along?" Abiding by the law, and I'm speaking about me and everyone else on the road, would move us all in that direction. Keep hope, and yourself, alive!

Bud

P.S. They had two 2015 Peaks at Cycle Craft. Heading there to get my brakes adjusted (again) and I will be asking for a test ride on one while I'm there.
 
Last edited:

Bud

Member
Oh, and another option is to turn right into the shopping center, turn right at the Appleby's, then turn left into the 5 lanes of traffic crossing Route 46 from the south. I'm not sure which odds I like better...
 

Brambor

Well-Known Member
This appears to be pretty tricky riding there. I would probably try staying in the right lane, cross the intersection and immediately join the sidewalk on the right and proceed to place myself to the front of the line of the traffic (waiting at a red light) that is making the straight crossing to N Beverwyck.
 

lemmitrek

Member
Wolfgang,
New Jersey Statute 39:4-14.2, 39:4-10.11 Operating Regulations.

Every person riding a bicycle on a roadway shall ride as near to the right roadside as practicable exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction. A bicyclist may move left under any of the following conditions: 1) To make a left turn from a left turn lane or pocket; 2) To avoid debris, drains, or other hazardous conditions on the right; 3) To pass a slower moving vehicle; 4) To occupy any available lane when traveling at the same speed as other traffic; 5) To travel no more than two abreast when traffic is not impeded, but otherwise ride in single file. Every person riding a bicycle shall ride in the same direction as vehicular traffic.

In New Jersey, the law states a bicyclist must obey all state and local automobile driving laws. A parent may be held responsible for the child’s violation of any traffic law.

So, could you move left to turn left? Yes. Could you move left and then travel in that lane until you reached the turn? Yes, but only if you are able to travel at the same speed as the balance of the traffic on the road so as not to impede the flow of traffic. So if those laws were obeyed by you, then it appears that you were acting in a lawful manner. In that case, a kind and respectful letter to the Chief of Police, with a copy to the Mayor, describing your experience might be in order. The Chief needs to ensure that his officers are properly trained, and the Mayor needs to know that there are cyclists who commute on his busy roadway so that he may consider the public safely issues and whether infrastructure or other changes are called for.

But we have to be careful not to be hypocritical or self-righteous. And I am speaking for myself. I aspire to commute daily. I love to ride. It enriches my life. It is a great way to be in the world and to interact with it up close and personal. I enjoy the ability to get to work through the snarl of urbanish traffic quicker than I can by car (by unlawfully passing on the right). I love being able to cross through intersections with out having to wait for lights (by unlawfully riding across the walkway without dismounting). And I occasionally respond to motorists disrespect with the universal one-fingered salute of dissatisfaction accompanied by a chorus of verbal bile.

Do I get the frustration and concern? Yes. Do I want others to act differently towards me on the road? Yes. Do I need to act differently while on the road? Obviously. So I am left weeping: "Can't we all just get along?" Abiding by the law, and I'm speaking about me and everyone else on the road, would move us all in that direction. Keep hope, and yourself, alive!

Bud

P.S. They had two 2015 Peaks at Cycle Craft. Heading there to get my brakes adjusted (again) and I will be asking for a test ride on one while I'm there.

Bud,

I really enjoyed reading your thoughtful written response and appreciate it very much.
I started merging when the traffic slowed down due to the red light and I was trying to completely move over to the left to not slow anybody down. There is enough space on that stretch to ride a bike on the left side of the road marker and it worked good enough for me the last couple of years(not saying that it would be legal, but considering the options, the most sensible maybe). I don't think the officer recognized my intentions, and interfered before it became clear. I believe that he thought I was just picking this lane to drive and pass the other cars.
I didn't get a ticket and I would have appreciated an opportunity to speak to the officer in a more safe place about this particular intersection.

You bring up an excellent point of whether he knew about the cycling laws in detail. You are correct about the fact that we are as cyclist definitely not yet welcomed in our area.

Some viewers of this thread might ask, what is the big deal here as I believe J.R was trying to say. He was right about the ticket and that the officer was more concerned about my safety.

The title of the thread was not the best choice, but I was trying to get our fellow bikers thinking what would be the best way to deal with possible dangerous situation of trying to make a left turn on a busy streets and I think that we got some good suggestions.

By the way, tried to cut through the parking lot as you suggested, but to get out seems to be even more dangerous. Cars trying to get on 80 and I have seen a couple of really nasty accidents with cars who were trying to get out of the parking lot.

I also tried Brambor's suggestions, which was dangerous because of the dedicated right turn lane. I basically was reliving what I tried to do before.

I like what you said about being careful not to be hypocritical or self-righteous. I have been particpating on Sunday morning road bike group rides. Fun, but it leaves a lot of room for improvements when it comes down to obeying the rules.

I actually thought about going to the police department in Parsippany and trying to speak to the officers about this area and trying to raise some awareness and suggestions.

On a different note:
I hope you enjoyed your test ride of the Peak. I bought my bike at Cycle Craft as well. I know the owner Brandon for almost 20 years now. It is a great store and they are always trying to do the right thing by you.

I originally considered the Specialized Turbo, but I couldn't find any reasonable close dealers. Cycle Craft is 2 miles from my house and it is perfect if you need help. That was the reason why I ended up with the Dash. Support your local LBS.
I recommended Brendon that his team should look at this is forum if they want to understand why people are buying eBikes and S-Pedelecs. Not alway easy to understand if you come from a normal bike background.

Glad to hear that I am not the only one in my neck of the woods with an eBike. :)
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
Sounds like the fuzz were more worried about your safety than traffic laws... If that's the worst of it, you've got it made!
I thought your interaction with the police was a good one, one of the best I've heard of.
Some viewers of this thread might ask, what is the big deal here as I believe J.R was trying to say. He was right about the ticket and that the officer was more concerned about my safety.
Most traffic cops appear to care more about the flow of car traffic than a cyclist right of way. This may not be true but the anecdotal evidence points to that. I am just happy to read a good story about an interaction between cop and cyclist.