The Chainlink

car starts to weave into your lane, you knock/bang to get their attention... they are a cop...

I saw a car stoped askew and a bicyclist down when I got to Desplanes and Washington this morning. I recognized the cyclist as someone whom I had passed a bit further back on Milwaukee and who must have then passed me up again when I stopped to fidget with my chain. I was amazed to see a police office already there until I realized that the cyclist was in handcuffs. I didn't actually witness what happened but from hearing what the cyclist was saying and what the officer was telling dispatch on his cell phone and what a witness who did actually see some of this said something similar to the following must have occurred:

The officer was off duty, likely on his way home from work in his own civilian car.

the cyclist was riding in the bike lane on des planes.

The officer was weaving lanes a bit and driving a bit aggressively (according to the cyclist and the witness the officer said he was stopped and not moving to the on duty officer who arrived later but had indicated he was in motion when initially calling dispatch)

A witness showed up who said she saw the cop weaving as he drove and asked if she should stay to give her information the cop told her that he did not need her information and she could (/should) go. The cyclist said he did need her information and she should stay. This was a red flag that caused me to stick around. I got her number on two of my business cards and tried to give the cyclist one. The officer told me I could not give someone who was under arrest anything, I said its just a business card. He took the business card from me.  I told the cyclist I would post something to so he can locate me if he doesn't still have her info. in the hopes of making this searchable I'm putting his name in the Tags, but I do not know if I have the spelling correct.

The bicyclist says he saw the officer weave a bit into the bike lane and knocked or banged on the car to alert the officer to his presence, the degree of force used for this knock was of some discussion ('a light tap?' 'no, loud enough that he could hear me' - 'he banged on my car hard, for no reason I was stopped')

Clearly blood was running hot, voices were raised but everyone was civil enough.

The cyclist asked what he was under arrest for the officer cited 'reckless conduct' or something vague and could not cite a statute number. The cyclist said he is a  lawyer, threats of lawsuits for improper arrest/detainment were issued.

What a mess...

For what its worth:

I don't think any cyclist bangs on windows unprovoked. Your hand is worth more than the glass and is more breakable, that's pretty clear even when road rage of getting cut off runs high.

The cop probably was tired coming off a hard shift doing thankless work and did not have any patience left.

No damage was visible to the car or the cyclist.

I'm glad no one got hurt, but what are you supposed to do when a car cuts into the bike lane... and its an off duty cop!

If you are the cyclist, and you need the witnesses phone number, call me at: tree one too, cinco quarto tres, eighty seven, 41.

I wrote this up within an hour of what I saw, but I arrived too late to see the events leading up to the arrest and even now my memory grows fuzzy... I wish my gopro hadn't been out of batteries, or that the cyclist had had one. ugh.

Streetsblog article

Most recent Streetsblog article:

Views: 43969


Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

no problem, as mentioned before. I hope others would do the same for me

Be sure to forward this to the local alderman's office, nothing gets a police commander's attention faster than a call from a city hall phone exchange. I think this is in Reilley's ward - not the most bike-friendly, but if enough people from here start calling he'll take notice.

Hi Ben

Just seems that bicyclists are fair game and when we assert our right to the road we get arrested or assaulted. Meanwhile there are REAL threats on the road- drunk drivers, texting drivers, uninsured drivers, incompetent drivers who are continually given a pass by the justice system. 

BTW the license plate numbers in IMG_2193 are pretty clear. But can anyone make out the lettering below the license plate numbers?

Its a tough life, and easy to feel like our own end of the stick is the shortest. I think its important to try to see the other perspective even if in the end its wrong or we disagree with it. We've seen 'great progress' in recent years with the new bike lanes and divvy's going in. (actually I find some of these lanes to be more dangerous than what they're replacing... but that's a different rant) I think its important that if we want to insist on our rights and privelleges to use the roads that we equally respect other's rights and privellages and live up to the full responsibilities as under the law and work to change the law where it needs changing. I do typically ride with a GoPro recording my commutes just so that in a situation like this, I would have that record of events. I do this because I DO feel that we get the short end of the stick, but I've also found that recording every commute has made me be more aware that I should ALSO work hard to follow those rules that apply to me too, no Idaho stops etc.

As for the test below the plate number. Its not perfectly clear, but in 2192 on my phoneI can make out that its simply a logo and the name of the dealership where the car was purchased. 'Fox Motors'.

Thanks, Ben. Yep. It's a luxury car dealership. No surprise. Be careful out there.


Most of the time...I don't have a problem with motorists...or cops, especially in Chicago, but things happen and sometimes even cops lie. Get everything reported and in writing. Being arrested is typically not a fun experience and if you aren't an attorney and it's not a minor first time offense, you might want to get one.

James, if you're the cyclist that was arrested, what type of law do you specialize in?
(Doesn't matter really, any lawyer knows the legal system better than most police officers.)

Chicago PD, thanks for your service. I mean that! I wasn't there and I don't know what happened but clearly, no one died and it doesn't sound like there was even any property damage so let's hope and pray everyone comes to their senses and any charges get dropped. Pretty sure neither riding a bicycle or touching a car is an actual crime, ESPECIALLY in Chicagoland, but "road rage" or aggressive driving is another story.

I do tend to agree with everything you posted. I've attempted to be clear in the initial write up about what I actually witnessed first hand and what I'm inferring from what the 3 other relevant people who were present have said and to note where those sources disagree.

To be extra clear, I did not personally see the manner of driving (over the bike lane or not), the knocking/banging or the placing of the hand cuffs.

Thank God he's a lawyer
The whole thing might not even go anywhere. Sounds like a lot of egos were involved: mostly the cop's. Once I got a ticket for something silly and it turned out the police officer hadn't even signed the ticket! Maybe he won't show up in court. But, I don't like this business of knocking on people's car windows or cars to "inform" them of their bad behavior. It usually is in anger and is unnecessary. Nobody responds well to aggression, even if the aggressor is in the right. I'm going to get criticized for saying that, but banging and scolding is dangerous and silly. It seems arrogant. It's a great thing that.we have bike lanes in Chicago, but cars aren't always used to them and the streets were built for cars, not bikes. Just don't be so angry if drivers mess up, anger and tempers just aren't helpful. A car is private property and most people don't appreciate theirs being banged on. It's a struggle being a bike-commuter in the city sometimes, but it seems best to be understanding.

I think you're onto it by looking at each event from the perspective of the person involved and see how it escalates. I think we can all sympathize with the feelings of the cyclist as a car cuts into your lane. I think we can sympathize with the feelings of a motorist who as far as they can tell suddenly out of no where has someone assaulting your private property. I think that going from that position to 'arrest' is a bit harder for us to sympathize with because very few of us have the power to take that action and it feels a bit disproportionate, but we can see how things escalated.

Perhaps the best thing we can take away is trying to see situations like this from the other person's point of view even if we disagree with it and try to learn how we could take actions which 'de escalate' these kinds of encounters.  too much it seems that we're in a polarized debate: cyclist vs. motorist, police vs. civilians, rather than point fingers and assign blame, we would all do well to try to be cyclists plus motorists, police and civilians etc. and build something better together.

I sincerely hope the discussion following this can be more in that vein and not  simply criticizing your point of view.

Yeah, the arrest thing, ugh: awful. I wonder.what happened to his bike? Hope it was okay. I hope too we can be less polarized, more constructive. Nice reply you wrote.

I had offered to lock it up for him at that location previously and he declined. (I have a secure bike room at work and a cheapish bike) There was discussion by the officer that arrived to take him away about whether the bike had been crashed or not and they said they would put the bike in the squad car and take it with. It think he had pinheads on it so not quite sure how they were going to get the wheels off to fit it in the suv with him in handcuffs in the back without his cooperation. I left about then as I was late for work and wasn't likely to be of much help.



© 2008-2016   The Chainlink Community, L.L.C.   Powered by

Disclaimer  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service