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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.

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Wonderful to see this support from the cycling community for a fellow rider! Awesome!

I was on my motorcycle, not bicycle...a car made an illegal three point turn, almost backing into me. I shouted to the driver to pay attention, who gave me the finger, to which I responded invoking the illegal u-turn...this attracted the attention of the passenger, whom allegedly was an off duty cop...who proceeded to threaten to "kick my ass." 

I told him to have at it, as there were "real" CPD officers across / down the block (and I was wearing helmet / riding gear).


As he started towards me, I rode off, running a red light to avoid the confrontation that was surely coming. I expect that if this guy was actually a cop, I'd have ended up in cuffs.


Glad that there were witnesses and helpful bicyclists in this situation. Good on'ya.

It's sad that people may be claiming to be off-duty cops, accomplices to illegal acts, in order to intimidate law-abiding individuals. Well, we know that some impersonate cops in order to perpetrate illegal acts. Tough world it is.

For what it's worth it's supposed to be illegal to pass withing 3 feet of a cyclist.


The new law will bring fines against motorists of $150 to $500 for:

1. Turning left or right in front of someone on a bicycle.

2. Passing with less than 3 feet of space between car and bike.

3. Opening a vehicle door into the path of a cyclist.

4. Parking or otherwise obstructing marked bike lanes.

Likely the driver could say that the cyclist was the one that came within 3 feet not the other way around.

for what its worth: Its hard to get too technical about some of these 'scofflaw' points without recognizing some hypocrisy pretty quickly. Its technically illegal for a bike to Idaho-stop  or slow roll stop signs and red lights when no one is around, I guarantee that 99% of cyclists I see on the daily commute do so regularly...  The difference (and it is important) there being that they (mostly) do so at their own risk of life an limb rather than at some one else's.

If only a cyclist's video would be admissible in court or at least for a citation regarding close passes and not necessarily require a cop to witness. I say that if a cyclist wants to report a close pass and has video with a credible tag shot, it's at least worth a written warning. Then, if a motorist does, say, five or ten reported close passes within a year, they get a citation and an opportunity to take a defensive driving course covering cyclists' rights or discuss it with a judge. Would that overload the system too much?

New Rule:

Cops that want to arrest people when off duty must wear body cams at all times.

If the investigator of police officers want to fire or charge a cop, he gets fired instead.

Ben thank you for taking the time to assist a fellow cyclist on the ground. This is one posture that certainly and immediately connects any cyclist to the one place we actively avoid on a daily basis.

I am currently in the fall session of Citizen's Police Academy. In the Tuesday, Oct 13 session I learned that every dispatched call is automatically recorded (audio and video) as soon as the sirens are activated. I have reached out to the Sergeant that we sign in to class each week with and asked if we might discuss this specific incident next week as we happen to be going to the building that dispatches calls requesting police assistance. 

The first session of this class on September 29th was devoted to Procedural Justice which is a program developed by two Harvard professors that is being taught and trained to over 10,000 CPD officers. I think Wikipedia accurately and succinctly describes same as the idea of fairness in the processes that resolve disputes and allocate resources.

Rather than rush to judgement, I think it wise to ask all parties involved in this incident for an explanation so that we all can better understand the totality of facts as we try to integrate motorized and non-motorized transportation into our transportation system. I'll post any response when I receive same.

Yours in shared highways and biways,

Eric Puetz

The officer who arrived with lights on and actually took the cyclist away did briefly interview both parties before doing so. The witness had left by then and he did not ask to interview me (a potential witness) for a bystander's opinion. But I feel that he did fairly handle the situation.

I also want to stress that the situation was handled without any physical violence and everyone involved was relatively calm given the high emotions running at the time, voices were raised more to be heard over surrounding noise than out of anger.

This cop is really out of line (and based on the info given here, outside the law) but I've stated before that banging on a car will potentially accelerate the situation. For your own safety try to keep your emotions in check. I believe that it is also legally perilous (even if potentially defensible).

If you are honestly trying to give warning using a loud horn is probably an emotionally safer method. If it's unavoidable then bang away to save life or limb, but if you are just trying to "send a message" then perhaps you should think twice.

I agree and while I do not have a loud horn, and think a bell is ineffective in this situation. Personally, I've come to prefer 'the death scream' (in my case probably sounds like a little girl) it alerts the vehicle to your presence, and unlike 'knocking' it helps to de-escalates the situation by communicating to the driver that you feel (very) threatened by his/her actions and fear for your life. This puts them into the emotional context of 'I might have hurt someone' rather than 'someone is attacking me and my precious things' which is the only reaction I've ever received to knocking.


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