Monday, August 24, 2009

Sunday 8/23 NSW vs Old Westbury Police

"Stop and pull over to the curb"
This was what I heard from the police SUV with its lights flashing as I rode on the eastbound service road of the LIE.

We started out at our normal meeting place in Great Neck. JeffB, Joe, JonD, and Isaac (me). It was a typical ride to Wheatley. We met up with DaveS, Dave, JeffK, and Harold. The plan was to go to the goats with Isaac suggesting that we add a Sagamore Hill loop. Shortly after we left Wheatley our ride was interrupted.

From my recollection it began with a demand from the officer in an Old Westbury Police SUV that we ride single file on the LIE service road. We did. We were at that time in the right lane. He then passed us. As I was leading I noticed that in a driveway further along that same Police SUV had positioned himself in an attempt to be out of our view.

JeffB said that the Police SUV then came up along side him and demanded that he ride to the "right". Then the officer said: "Not that right, the other right!" JeffB said that the officer rolled down his right window and Jeff explained to him that he/we could not ride to the extreme right as this area had sand and road debris. The area in question was to the right of the white line that had diagonal white lines. (see picture). What JeffK later called a breakdown lane. The officer in question called it the shoulder.

Next I heard the Police SUV behind me and Dave S. He demanded we ride to the right. I rode to the right just to the left of the white line. As JeffB had already informed him, we could not ride where he wanted us to ride due to road hazards. I did not know at the time that JeffB had told him that. Regardless I did not ride to the right of the white line. My belief was it was not safe. At this point the lights came on and we were directed to pull over.

As the Old Westbury Police officer exited his big SUV he declared that we were going to get tickets for not riding to the right and impeding traffic. He also stated that he had received complaints about all of the cyclists impeding traffic on the service roads of the LIE. He told JeffK that he would be getting a ticket too. JeffK said that he was behind him. The officer said that he had seen JeffK in his rear view mirror.

What fun we North Shore Wheelmen get ourselves into!

Not to be outdone JonD took out his wallet and flashed his badge. Harold complained that the officer should be going after the people speeding on the local roads and not us. The officer said that in five years of being in the police department he had never given a ticket to a bicycle. JeffB suggested to him that he should not ruin his perfect record. A long discussion ensued. Eventually after consulting his traffic law book and expert legal nudging, actually I believe it was noodging, we were set free sans tickets.

The rest of the ride was almost uneventful. We went to the goats, a Sagamore Hill loop, a stop in Bayville and home by way of Factory Pond and Wheatley. At the Bayville stop some cyclist disobeyed a red light and lightly bumped into a older man crossing the street. Later It seemed the man that he was with who claimed to be a policeman? got into a pickup truck and peeled out in the direction of those cyclists. We do not know what happened. It must have been something in the air that day.

We encountered a cloud burst and Isaac encountered a flat tire on Wheatley. When I noticed that my front tire was flat I began to slow down. Just then I heard the shouts of the 8:30 Triangle group. They had been coming up behind me and were chiding me for hitting my brakes. I did not know that they were there.

Back in Great Neck by Noon. About 53 miles.

Next week Isaac will be at the Tobay Triathlon in Oyster Bay. Watch out for 1000 cyclist. It is a shame we wont be riding through Old Westbury.

For more info about New York State bicycle laws see this very informative pamphlet produced by the state, The third paragraph of the first question states that bicyclists "must obey all traffic signals, signs, and pavement markings. Look at our picture. Is this an area that a motor vehicle could drive in legally? Can you call this area a shoulder? The NYS Vehicle and Traffic Laws section 1234, , has most of the information that we need to know. It does not specifically note pavement markings as the pamphlet does. It does say bicyclists can ride in the shoulder.

Also in the pamphlet in the Tips For Motorists, the sixth line of tips notes that experienced bicyclists will ride in the center of the traffic lane three of four feet from the curb to allow them room and time to avoid road hazards and be better noticed.

If this is a state publication then this is what the state wants us and allows us to do. I will try to get my hands on copies of this pamphlet from the state as it has more info than the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Laws and distribute them.

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