8 May 2007

…we want to be free to ride our machines without being hassled by The Man.

Posted by Brad Hefta-Gaub under: B Movies; Commuter Challenge; Cycle; Fitness; cops; exercise; fixed gear; fixie; single-speed.

The Wild Angels 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.

Hydrate or Die!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.

The Scene of the “Crime”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.

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7 Comments so far...

...we want to be free to ride our machines without being hassled by The Man. « ZappoMan.wordpress.com - Fitness Blog Says:

8 May 2007 at 11:19 pm.

[...] What!? Here’s my story… and I’m sticking to it! [...]

Phil Sabin Says:

9 May 2007 at 9:49 am.

Wow - I’m fairly certain that it is illegal to change lanes in the middle of an intersection, no matter what kind of vehicle you are in (or on).

But enough about your petty little problems - Now that I’m officially a HOG, I’ve got to see that motorcyle movie!!!


MOM Says:

10 May 2007 at 9:49 am.

Obviously that ‘man” had never read the rules of riding a bicycle: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/bike/Safety_Tips.htm
I agree, if an automobile had done the maneuver he asked you to do a ticket could have been expected. Love your blog….MOM

Kevin Says:

10 May 2007 at 8:37 pm.

First a speeding ticket in your car. Now you’re pulled over on your bike. Look out for the Coast Guard on your swim.

zappoman Says:

10 May 2007 at 9:42 pm.

Fortunately, no ticket this time…

Funny thing about the Coast Guard, I was bringing my youngest daughter home from school last week on the bike (she has a half bike that I can pull behind my bike) and as we crossed one of our local bridges she looked down in the water and saw a Coast Guard boat. It was one of those harbor patrol boats which are now decked out with 50mm machine guns. Zola was like “Look at that boat Daddy! What’s that!?!”

Hopefully they weren’t looking for me. ;)

noelryan Says:

18 May 2007 at 5:51 am.

You just can’t win sometimes. In London, there are constant debates about cyclists jumping red lights - pedestrians and car drivers hate this.

When I used to cycle, I would sometimes jump red lights (the age old excuse - “there is no traffic so no harm done”), but sometimes you have to ignore the rules of the road for safety reasons: nearly all London cyclists take off from a traffic light whilst it is still red to avoid being driven off the road by car drivers trying to do a racing start.

It did make me smile earlier this week when I saw a cyclist with his bike facing the wrong way on a one-way street having his name and address taken by a policeman - some people go out of their way to endanger themselves and others!!

OK, So What’s Next? » Trixie The Fixie - My Frankenstein Bike Says:

8 June 2007 at 1:21 pm.

[...] before turfing me out to make my own way there. I was subsequently transferred to Leicester Royal Infirmary, where some nasty damage to my left kidney was diagnosed. Even now, I am prone to kidney problems (what a whining sob story). So after that second incident, I have even less confidence in the police than that jailbird, Zappoman does. Sorry, that last bit was a digression . . . Trixie underwent a metamorphosis (a bit like witness protection?) in the summer of 1990, when in preparing her for cycling into my summer job, I found that one of the rear drop-outs was cracked. So I booked her in at a shop that did frame building to have them both replaced. At the same time, as the bike would need respraying, I had the colour changed from black to white (standard practice for a ‘hot’ vehicle - respray job!). I also took the opportunity to replace the crank with a one-piece casting / spider, the rear derailleur with a Shimano 105 model, and the nasty seat post with a new alloy one. [...]


About Brad

Me in 2002 - 200lbsThis is my fitness blog. Some people who knew me a long time ago may wonder, what the heck I'm doing writing a blog about fitness. Many of them wouldn't imagine that I'd have anything to do with fitness. You see, up until age 34, I treated my body very poorly. I sat around at home, at work, at play. I ate junk food and lots of it. And the result was what you'd expect 5'4" and 200 lbs with 36% body fat. (more...)