The Chainlink

True story.

On my way in this morning, I was heading southeast bound on Elston towards the Wellington/Rockwell intersection (those who aren't familiar, it's a 6 corners type thing). Anyway, I've rode the route enough (over 2000 times) to know the timing of the light, so I can cross right when it turns green.

So, this morning as I'm coming up on the intersection, I see the cop stopped at the light (heading in the same direction). I'm also watching the timing of the lights. So I slow way down (didn't have to too much as it was quite windy and a bit cold), and as soon as I see the light to my left turn red, I add a little steam to my pedaling so I can hit the green light right before I cross the white stop line.

As soon as I cross the line, the cop pulls up next to me and starts yelling "What does a red light mean?" confused, I say it means "stop." He then yells that again, and again I say "stop". He then forces me over to the curb and gets out of his car and starts getting really confrontational about the event. At this point I'm in shock and saying that I went through a green light and he told me "we wouldn't be having this conversation if that were true."

He then goes into how ALL cyclists think they can ignore traffic laws and yet give cops shit when they do something wrong. At this point I realize this guy has a chip on his shoulder (he also told me not to call him "man" when I was talking to him Sorry for being so informal). I also say that I don't have a problem with cops at all, in fact, the majority I've met are really nice people.

He then repeatedly asks me for ID and then says this: "I hope you don't have ID." WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN!?!?! I say that I have ID and if it's ok, I need to reach into my bag to get it out. He gives me this look like I'm crazy, but quite frankly I'm not taking my chances with this dude (unfortunately the cold zaps my GOPRO battery or I'd have a nice video for you guys).

He takes my ID and gets back in his car. I sit there in the cold wondering what's about to happen. He then gets out about 2 minutes later and asks if I think I'm getting a ticket (power trip much?). I say, if I ran a red light, I would expect that. He lets me off with a warning, saying he put me in the system and if I get pulled over again, I'll most likely get a ticket.

I say thank you and ask to shake his hand and he says "no, we're good."

All this being said, I honestly thought I timed the light right. If anything I went a .5 second early, but the fact he was immediately generalizing all cyclists and cop interactions was the cue to just let him do his thing. If I did run the light, I would expect a ticket - I'm not above the law, nor do I think cyclists are.

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I was totally going to agree with everything you did and say that you just ran into a cop with an ax to grind. However, I agree with Andrew's comment. Instead of saying,"that is how I talk when you were using "man" ", using "officer" would have gotten you a lot of good will and perhaps ended the situation sooner. I think it is a cop out (no pun intended) to use the excuse that is the way I talk, it is just an excuse. This incident although started about your bike might have been about the way you spoke to him and that only confirmed things in his mind. 

It was actually in my pocket until he got in his car, then I put it on the handlebars (where the mount is). I had it ready to go in case things got weird. The issue is that with the cold temps, the battery drains really fast.

As far as beat cops are concerned, I agree they deal with tons of crap everyday that I wouldn't be able to put up with. But he came out "swinging," if you will. I was not going to give him any ammunition.

Yea, good call on how you handled it.  When I got pulled over I was dead honest ( I did go through the red light) and admitted it and didn't put up a fight.  I'm not sure if he did it on purpose, but my cop wrote down the wrong citation number and they threw out the ticket in court.

Since I actually did go through the red light, damn it taught me a lesson.  

And it sounds like cops are starting to pull us all over... and your case, even if you didn't go through, or just look like you are when you know are aren't!


Chris LaFrombois (8.5 mi - o.w.) said:

As far as beat cops are concerned, I agree they deal with tons of crap everyday that I wouldn't be able to put up with. But he came out "swinging," if you will. I was not going to give him any ammunition.

The situation only lasted a few minutes and quite frankly, if you were there, you would have realized calling him "officer" from the start wasn't going to change anything with him. It just happens, I called him "man" once and corrected it for the remainder of the incident.

Julie Brown said:

I was totally going to agree with everything you did and say that you just ran into a cop with an ax to grind. However, I agree with Andrew's comment. Instead of saying,"that is how I talk when you were using "man" ", using "officer" would have gotten you a lot of good will and perhaps ended the situation sooner. I think it is a cop out (no pun intended) to use the excuse that is the way I talk, it is just an excuse. This incident although started about your bike might have been about the way you spoke to him and that only confirmed things in his mind. 

He was hoping you don't have ID because he wanted to give you a hard time. If he wanted to be a real dick, he could say, "Oh, you don't have ID... you look like that guy in the wanted poster down in the station. Let's take you in to the station to run your prints and make sure that's not you".  

So while are only require to carry ID if you're driving a motorized vehicle (no such thing as a "biking license"), the cops can waste a couple of hours of your day if you don't have ID.

So, what if they were to cuff a bicyclist to haul to the station, what happens to the bicycle?

definitely a variety of cop attitudes - one morning I was riding Elston and had just turned down Wells and was in the bike lane when a delivery guy walked right in front of me with his loaded cart and paused as he pulled it up on the curb. I'm sure I had a panic stricken face since it was one of my first road rides with clipless pedals and I was struggling to clip out as I braked. Luckily there was a trash can that I could grab to balance. A cop was nearby and actually apologized for the delivery guy - super cool. barely a block later another cop yelled at me to stop at the red light even though I was already braking for it.


Depends on the cop. My uncle got wacked by a side mirror in a hit and run (wear your helmets kids). The cop that showed up threw his expensive bike in his trunk and brought it to the ER for him. 

A cop that is trying to ruin your day? Who knows.

Beans ~ 14 mi. said:

So, what if they were to cuff a bicyclist to haul to the station, what happens to the bicycle?

And on other occasions they didn't take the bicycle and didn't let him lock it up.


 
David Heiberger said:


Depends on the cop. My uncle got wacked by a side mirror in a hit and run (wear your helmets kids). The cop that showed up threw his expensive bike in his trunk and brought it to the ER for him. 

A cop that is trying to ruin your day? Who knows.

Beans ~ 14 mi. said:

So, what if they were to cuff a bicyclist to haul to the station, what happens to the bicycle?

I had a CPD SUV pull up next to me last winter while riding south on Broadway just South of Wilson and roll down his window and toot his horn to get my attention....I couldn't imagine what I might have done wrong...I had stopped for the red light at Wilson and waited for the green....turned out, he wanted to ask how I was able to keep up with the speed of traffic given how much snow and slush was on the streets and compliment me on riding all season.......I explained that I dress appropriately and just keep pedaling ifaster but in a lower gear to handle the slush and that I regularly get from Edgewater to Lakeview faster on a bike than in a car, but especially so when the weather is bad because it slows the cars down more than the bikes....he shook his head to indicate that he thought I was crazy and then gave me a chuckle and a thumbs up.....it was a shockingly.strange encounter....he must have been very bored that day......not all cops have bad tude against cyclists.

Cops being the tricky bastards they are will often try to get you to admit you just ran a light or some other infraction. They take pretty extensive notes at traffic stops, so what might seem like an innocent, "hey you just ran that light back there huh?", that is really them trying to trap you. Obviously don't be belligerent, but never admit you did something wrong.

I got pulled over this morning for yelling at two motorists who almost ran me over. One of them told me I should be on a bus instead of a bike, and the other accused me of almost causing an accident and told me to "go get run over by a car" I apologized to the cop, but reminded him that they were the ones who were threatening me. He let me go and told me to be safe.

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