8 May 2007
…we want to be free to ride our machines without being hassled by The Man.
We want to be free! We want to be free to do what we want to do! We want to be free to ride. And we want to be free to ride our machines without being hassled by The Man.
- Heavenly Blues,
from the eulogy of the Loser,
from the classic Biker movie “The Wild Angels.”
Well, I’ve been busy busy busy the last week… but today I was stopped by Johnny Law for supposedly riding my bike inappropriately.
What!? Here’s my story… and I’m sticking to it!
So, seeing how it’s National Bike Month, I figure I should do as much bike commuting as possible. And since I wanted to go to the store and pick up a Mother’s Day Gift for my wife, I decided I’d ride my bike to the store. I also thought it would be clever to ride in street clothes as opposed to being decked out in my swanky biker race kit…. and I decided to ride my single speed bike… for fun… these all seemed like harmless decisions.
Now, maybe, just maybe, I had a little bit of an edge to me this morning. I was just wearing a ratty old t-shirt, and my Prana Knickers (aka clam-diggers, don’t call them capri pants!)… and I had my Camelbak “Hydrate or Die” backpack on… and I was also wearing my old-skool punk rock chain biker wallet…
I guess, the coppers, figured that I was some punk… my wife says I look like a bum when I wear my old clothes that don’t fit me because they are too big for me. I guess the fuzz just assumed that I was up to no good riding my “messenger style bike”… they must have watched “Quicksilver” too many times… I am a dead ringer for Kevin Bacon.
So there I am pedaling up a 5% grade hill, on a not very busy, mid-paced psuedo arterial but residential road… 3 lanes of one-way traffic… as I’m about half way down this block I see that the right lane is a turn only… so I pull over into the middle lane, which is the right most lane that is not a turn only-lane. Next thing I know I get the siren and lights behind me… WTF? What’s going on? I pull over… the cop pulls up beside me and says…
“You’re on a bike you shouldn’t be in the middle of the road!”
“What? I’m not allowed on the road? What?” - me, seriously, I’m dumbfounded.
“You need to be in the furthest right lane… the slow lane!” - now I notice there are actually two cops and they are kinda looking at each other like they’re trying to figure out what I actually did wrong so they can sound official.
“This lane is a turn only lane… I need to go straight. You want me to go straight from the turn only lane?”
“No, you can switch lanes when you get to the intersection.”
(This doesn’t sound safe to me at all… in fact, I’m thinking that if the cop saw me roll up to the intersection in the right turn only lane and then switch to the center lane at the intersection he would have given me a hard time about it… but I follow his directions and pull up to the intersection in the right most lane… now he’s sitting next to me in the center lane.)
“Excuse, me, but what do you want me to do again? I need to go straight, you want me to go straight from this lane?!”
“Yeah… just go straight from there… switch lanes in the intersection.”
What?! Is he serious? Where did this guy go to traffic school? That’s the craziest move in the book… I’m sure he’d bust me if he saw me do that. Ok… I comply…
Next thing I know, the light turns green, and the fuzz pulls off real fast like… I don’t think they wanted me asking any more questions like “What’s your badge number?”
Of course, down the road about 1 mile I get nearly run off the road by a couple locals who yell out the window at me “What are you crazy! Riding a bike in the road?!”
What?! Wow… I’m not riding my bike in that part of town again.