Friday, August 08, 2008

Single File

Both Ray and JimmyNick have recently commented on single file cycling laws and their enforcement by local authorities.

Actually, I was on the ride with Ray when the Gates Mills police officer hassled us for riding two abreast. We were riding two across going up a curvy s-hill heading north on River Road, just north of Wilson Mills. At the top of the hill, we singled out. We had no idea a cop was behind us, and he pulled us over at the bottom of the other side of the hill. He specifically said that he pulled us over because we were riding double file going up the hill, which happens to include two totally blind curves. Apparently we were blocking traffic by riding double file. But, any driver who would attempt to pass a cyclist going up this hill has no respect for his/her own life or the passengers in their car, the life of the cyclist(s), or the life of any potential oncoming drivers. Like I said, we singled out at the top of the hill when it would be safe for a driver to pass us, but that wasn't good enough.

As for the arguments in JimmyNick's post, and the comments on Ray's post about the conflict between state law and local laws on this issue, let me just say that I agree with the consensus. For various reasons, I won't go into detail on why.

But, I would ask that if anyone who reads this blog is ever ticketed for riding two abreast in Ohio, or riding too far from the gutter of the road, contact me. We need to challenge the unlawful enforcement of these laws in court, and to the court of appeals if necessary. Honestly, you'll be wasting your time (and potentially be putting your short term liberty in danger) arguing about it with the cop who wants to ticket you.


Anonymous said...

You bring up the critical point that the police and non-cyclists just do not seem to understand: riding single file does not improve safety because it just encourages people to pass in an unsafe manner.

On Chagrin River Road, as on many other roads, to safely pass a single rider you have to cross the center line. So what does it matter if you have to do it also to pass 2 riders?

When a group is riding, it is actually BETTER to pass a group riding 2 abreast. It takes longer to pass 20 riders in single file than 20 riders in a 2-abreast formation.

I've never been ticketed, but have also been warned on probably 5 or 6 occasions. And you can ask Dick B about the time we got hassled by the Hunting Valley police ... at the mayor's insistence.

thump said...

I posted the language of the law on Ray's Racing Adventures, in the comments, and the language is clear: you can ride two abreast but the language then gets fuzzy enough to allow police to give cyclists tickets for impeding traffic. It's an out for the cops, no doubt. At the same time, we can say that we were avoiding danger road conditions.

I suspect, however, that the cops will win this debate, in court and out of it, more often than we will.