Friday, April 10, 2015

Okay, Here's What Happened...

In my many, MANY miles traveled around this and surrounding towns, I have never once seen a police officer when I actually needed one. 


As the saying goes; "there's never a cop around when you need one." There is another saying that goes something like: "There is always a cop around to screw with you when your day needs a good Fisting."

So here I was, riding home from work on a beautiful evening and it finally happened: I got pulled over on my bicycle! 
Let me break this down for you...
First, I wish to God that I had a Fly 6 tail light to capture the action and since I did not, I am presenting this to you as honestly as I can. Sure, there is some sarcasm jammed in here, but this is as accurate as my short term memory will allow. So with that in mind, let us begin...

I pull up to a red light at what is normally a very busy intersection. This is one that I have sat through many times (in heavy rush hour traffic I might add). I have been yelled at, honked at, and just the other day had an awesome interaction with a lovely motorist who is lucky to have any teeth left in his head after honking and yelling "Get out of my way! I need to go around you!!" whilst on his mobular telephoning device. 


Anywhore, I have made my position pretty clear when it comes to which traffic laws and how they put cyclists in danger, but if for some reason it is still a mystery to you, let me sum it up thusly...

I have not and will NOT "roll" a stop light. EVER. (stop signs? maybe... 'nother story ;)

BUT I DO have a theory that I put in to practice which has kept me alive thus far and I have always said "If I fuck this up," by which I mean, if I get myself killed because I went through a light "then it was my fault." PERIOD. 
As I refuse to blame a motorist if a cyclist rolls the dice and loses. 

See, traffic laws are designed to keep multiple-ton vehicles from ramming into one another and therefore for the most part do not apply to bicycles. That said; The laws recognize me as something I am NOT (a vehicle) so I try to follow as many of them as I can to avoid the inevitable, which is to say; if I act like a car, then hopefully I can avoid being hit by one. However, as cyclists, we all know that the point is moot and the effort is absolutely futile. No matter how many times we try to be "responsible, law abiding citizens" there will always be that one asshole that tries to call us on our bullshit. In this case, it was a State Trooper and he was having none of it. 

So there I was, rolling up to that same intersection, the one I like to call the "Punishment Light" which never signals itself the same way twice, and the Green, "Left Turn" arrow was displayed. 
Naturally, I assumed that the next light would be the full green, right? Well, it wasn't. But you know what? As it It turned red, I hit the brakes, stood there, drank some water, scratched my ass... etc, just waiting. Like a good boy.

Now, I knew there was a car behind me* because I saw it as I glanced over my right shoulder (which I always do when I am in the turn lane to see if I am about to get yelled at by some schmuck in a BMW who has on his blinker).
*Interesting side note: this car appeared out of nowhere. Meaning, not one single car was behind me the whole way down this road until I stopped, which likely means he came out of the adjacent parking lot. This fact will prove important later in the story.)

Spend a day with me and you will notice one thing; When I sit at an intersection like this it is common for me to go on the left arrow. That means that when the left arrow is displayed on my side of the street, it is also on the other side of the street. If that side empties before the "full green" is displayed on my side, I GO. Careful to keep looking for cars in that lane and also ones trying to turn right on red in the lanes to my right, I proceed.

I adopted this technique in order to avoid the onslaught of traffic from behind. You see, if I get a head start, it is likely that the ten cars behind me will have a chance to jockey for position to get around me rather than having the same ten cars try to squeeze in next to me as I try to get up to speed and claim what little road is left for me once the cars are done with it.

The Awesome Sauce is: I am actually allowed to do that!

...Unless an Indiana State Trooper is behind me, that is. 

In this case, there were no cars in either turn lane. Naturally, one assumes that rather than arrows being displayed, there will be a full green... Right? 
You all answered yes, right? (except for my readers from afar that is, because as we all know, the roads over there run in a differenty direction).

Sweet! Now we are all on the same page. Good!

So I stand up on the pedals, track stand for a second (longest track stand I have done in my life) and start to roll...
the Arrow shows and my brain says "Ah shit... Well... It's safe.... Keep rolling."

(minus the ticket, this is EXACTLY what happened)
Him: (jumping out of the car and hustling over to me) Hey man, you know why you are being pulled over? 


Him: Why did you do that then? 

Me: I got "started" and at that point, I didn't want to break my momentum.

Him: You are aware, Son, that you are considered a vehicle and must obey the laws, minus of course, the speed limits, etc... 

Me: Yeah, but...

Him: Stop right there. I don't want to hear it.

Annoyed and desperately wanting to fire back, my survival instinct to remain upright and free of handcuffs took over so I tried a different tactic:
You know there is a sate law that affords me this opportunity, no?

Granted, my words were not as eloquent but either way I mentioned that I was allowed by law to move through the intersection after two minutes and then
 a puzzled look came across his face that made it look as though he was clearly unfamiliar with this law...

 Him: "2 minutes?!" he barked inquisitively, "Yeah... More like 30 SECONDS!"
 Keep it up man, you are about to talk yourself into a ticket. I stopped to warn you of the dangers of cycling. 

"Are you fucking serious right now?" I thought. "You stopped me just to lecture me about cycling safely? Why? Out of the goodness of your heart?"

Man, of all the people in this city he picked me? Really?  

Me: Look, can I level with you here? I asked. I am an avid cyclist and...

Him: What the hell does that have to do with anything?!

Me: I am simply trying to say that it means I am always paying more attention to cars than they are to me and...

At this point he was yelling pretty loudly and I decided it was best if I just shut the fuck up. That, or call my lawyer from jail. So as much as it pains me to say it, I submitted.

 Me: Yes Sir. You are right.

Him: You know what you did wrong?!

Me: Yes Sir. 

Him: (still yelling) You gonna do it again?!

Me: No Sir.

Him: Good. Now get out of here!

To which I replied: Have a great evening officer and please be safe out there.

(At which point it is worth stating that I really meant that. That is to say, those dudes have hard jobs and a lot of them are family men like myself. With that in mind, I hope that they all make it home safe. Every time.)

Him: (his back already turned to me he raises a caddy back hand) 
... Yeah, yeah. 

As I was getting back on my bike, left to ponder what just happened, 
 I turn to watch him as he whips a shitty, blows a stop sign and races off in to the sunset.

I was pissed! I know it doesn't read that way, but let me assure you... 
that clown made me feel like a criminal.

Firstly, I am allowed BY LAW to go through that intersection. 
House Bill 1080 (the 120 second rule) is designed with those who choose alternative transportation in mind. That said, I will make one concession here; 
It may or may not have been less that 120 seconds that I was there BUT,

A). It may have been closer to 120 seconds than he made it sound when he said "...More like 30 seconds!" as I sat through an entire cycle of lights waiting until it was safe to proceed.

B). He had no way of proving the length of time I was there (and honestly, I have no idea either). But as the burden of proof rests on those enforcing the laws, I win. 

Regardless, he was not counting, nor was I but I maintain that the amount of time matters very little here.

The reason the light did not change for me was the exact reason that the law was created to begin with. I have always wondered what would happen if I ever had to quote the law. In this case, it taught me a valuable lesson:
Don't tell a cop "Well the law states..." and expect it to go well.  

Also... as a motorist, you are not allowed to lecture me on the "...dangers of cycling." Ever. Police officer or not. I know how dangerous it is. You cannot begin to comprehend what we (cyclists everywhere) deal with everyday. If you could, then that would likely mean you actually do ride bicycles in which case you would probably have left me alone.

In addition, if you want to go around sighting examples to support your argument and therefore fuel your oppressive, anti bike rampage, perhaps you should pick a better example than "...THAT GUY WHO GOT KILLED ON STATE ROAD 23..."
A guy who, for the record, has a name. Steven Carey was literally "just riding along" when a 20 something chick hit him from behind. He had lights, mirrors, reflective vestiges, and the whole lot, yet ended up under a car because, as she put it, "he came out of nowhere!" 

Bullshit. He was right in fucking front of you! 

"Well, I didn't see him!" she says.


"I only looked down for 20-30 seconds!!"

...Turns out (they later found) she was on Facebook when it happened.

So a man died just blocks from where I commute every day and you have the audacity to lecture me?

Hey, Officer Ass Hat, here's a tip... 

You want to help cyclists? Then start ticketing all those bastards I see looking at their phones while driving and leave me the fuck alone. 

I am serious here. One day it will likely be me under that car and I fear that it will be from the same maddening set of circumstances. 

Until then, let me enjoy the rest of the time I have on this Earth by riding my bicycle in peace.