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I am looking for some resources to file complaints against an officer's treatment of me while biking this morning.  This officer was clearly uninformed about biking rules of the road and made lots of generalizations about bikers in general.  

I do believe it is possible that my bike (a cargo bike with kids in it) is being targeted since this is not the first run in I've had near the police station at California on Palmer.  This particular officer just took things a bit far threatening me with a ticket and telling me that he could kill a biker with his car.  My son was with me at the time and the altercation took 40 minutes. I need to know what my future course of action can be and if there is a way to file a report against this officer. I do have his name, car number, time of incident and details.

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Anika,

I recently witnessed, but was not a party to, an altercations between a cyclist and an un-uniformed police officer, who drove an unmarked car erratically and in a way that endangered several cyclists, as well as other drivers on the road. I happen to be an Active Trans board member, so contacted Rebecca Resman at Active Trans, and she got back to me with a number for the Independent Police Review Board. The number I called was 312.746.3594. They took a lengthy report over the phone, and gave me an appointment to go in a leave a recorded statement, which I did. In my case, I could not be sure which district the police officer belonged to, as he was in an unmarked, or perhaps even a private, vehicle, and I only saw his badge from the distance. Because you were personally involved, and because the car was marked and clearly belonged to the particular district, there may be a different procedure. Please call Rebecca at Active Trans for advice on how to proceed. Good luck.

FYI - for a marked police car, the beat tag on the roof (black and white number card on top of the light bar) and time of day are what you need to identify that vehicle and the officer(s) in it.

Justyna said:

Anika,

I recently witnessed, but was not a party to, an altercations between a cyclist and an un-uniformed police officer, who drove an unmarked car erratically and in a way that endangered several cyclists, as well as other drivers on the road. I happen to be an Active Trans board member, so contacted Rebecca Resman at Active Trans, and she got back to me with a number for the Independent Police Review Board. The number I called was 312.746.3594. They took a lengthy report over the phone, and gave me an appointment to go in a leave a recorded statement, which I did. In my case, I could not be sure which district the police officer belonged to, as he was in an unmarked, or perhaps even a private, vehicle, and I only saw his badge from the distance. Because you were personally involved, and because the car was marked and clearly belonged to the particular district, there may be a different procedure. Please call Rebecca at Active Trans for advice on how to proceed. Good luck.

Thanks for the advice.

When the incident happened, I was able to record the name of the officer, the beat tag and time of the incident.

Rebecca Resman was one of the first people I talked with and she was very helpful. I have since filed a report with the Independent Police Review Board, left messages with the community liaison sergeant at the 14th district, and made contact with other biking authorities. So far, I am in a holding pattern waiting for responses but will update as things progress.

I would absolutely call the precinct in your neighborhood. It is imperative they know about this in case there are other complaints agains this officer. There used to be a handy bike pamphlet published by the mayor's office. I would offer to drop some off at the station and/or offer to host a "safe riding" portion at the next CAPS meeting. Just be very proactive and don't let this go, please.

What is practicable is determined by a judge or jury in a courtroom. The police officer may have no clue about what is practicable for you given your situation. Given the statistics on getting doored and the serious injuries that may occur, you might hope that it would be ruled practicable to remain at least 3 feet from another vehicle, but that depends upon the prejudices of the jury or judge and your legal representation. If he pulls you over again, it may be to write a citation for you.

It seems to me that you were dealing with an uneducated police officer who is viewing things with prejudice. Unfortunately, so may be a judge and jury. Any of them may view you as endangering your child by taking them onto the road since they may view a bicycle as a toy. That is not my view, but people are all across the board on what parents should or should not allow kids to do these days. 

Although a lot of information is available on the internet, you may want to prepare yourself with knowledge from the following book. It is excellent, and although it won't detail Chicago ordinances or Illinois statutes, it will help you understand them when you look them up, and understand the history and principles of law related to cyclists. And it may help any of us deal with unreasonable police officers, drivers who collide with us, and city and state officials who write the laws that affect us. In fact, now that I have pulled it off of my shelf to share this information with you, it is about time I read it again. FYI, in Wisconsin where I live, maintaining a distance of at least 3' from other vehicles is the law. That would include a police vehicle that is overtaking a cyclist. To not do so and collide with the cyclist would be a traffic violation. Riding a bicycle into the door of a parked car as it is opened would also be a traffic violation.

Bicycling & The Law: Your rights as a cyclist by Bob Mionske, JD

copyright 2007

velopress@insideinc.com

$18.95

It would be great if a PDF version of this document were available for download online. Can that be arranged? People need to have copies available to carry if desired.

Suzi said:

There used to be a handy bike pamphlet published by the mayor's office. I would offer to drop some off at the station and/or offer to host a "safe riding" portion at the next CAPS meeting.

The pamphlet from the city of Chicago regarding safe biking says that you should ride 4 feet away from parked cars to avoid being doored. Pretty good start for what is considered "practicable," if the city is already telling you to keep that distance.  

Yup.  If there are parked cars they city has already told you to be a minimum of 4-feet away from them.   If one ends up fighting a ticket for the offense of not "riding as close to the curb as practicable" having said pamphlet from the city should pull a bit of weight.  Don't pull it out until the cop has said his piece first and placed you within 4 feet of the parked cars (but not the 1-foot he is citing you for not being.)

Koltraned said:

The pamphlet from the city of Chicago regarding safe biking says that you should ride 4 feet away from parked cars to avoid being doored. Pretty good start for what is considered "practicable," if the city is already telling you to keep that distance.  

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