Sunday, August 23, 2009

I fought the law, part 2

So Mike Hendricks, a local KC Star columnist, wrote about cyclists on the Blue Moose ride getting tickets from Prairie Village police. The column is here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/columnists/mike_hendricks/story/1395868.html. You might remember that I was one of the ticketed.

Honestly, I'm not sure what I think about Hendricks' column or the situation in general, but I'm pretty sure I don't like it.

Hendricks is right when he says that KC cyclists needed to learn a lesson on traffic safety. When I did the Blue Moose ride earlier in the summer, it was car-hostile enough that it made me uncomfortable. As he mentions, Prairie Village officers warned the group for a couple of weeks and said they would write tickets if the bad behavior continued.

Before the ride started on the 13th, the ride's leader made a brief announcement about the warnings and asked everyone to follow traffic laws and ride either single-file or two-abreast at all times. Everyone seemed agreeable and understanding. Sure, speeds were relatively fast at times, but fast on this ride still doesn't exceed a 25 mph residential speed limit and no one got speeding tickets anyway. Aside from the speed, the ride was very calm and orderly, and the group either stopped completely at lights and signs or came very close to full foot-down stops.

Here's the disappointing thing. The Prairie Village police waited until most cyclists had heard the message and were making an effort to comply before writing tickets. The ride had improved, and the riders got slapped anyway. I'm afraid that will only encourage hostility and argument from both sides. It makes me wonder if the tickets were inevitable or if the riders could have possibly followed the laws well enough to not get ticketed.

I understand the point the officers were trying to make, but I think they'd already made that point with less negative impact by giving the warnings. As a result of the tickets, we now have officers saying things like, "It's not hard. If you see a cop nearby, just follow the law and stop." We also have cyclists looking for fellow cyclists who are lawyers to get them out of their Prairie Village traffic tickets on various technicalities. Those games don't really benefit anyone, and they certainly don't make cyclists any safer.

1 comment:

  1. I can vouch for you saying previously that that group of riders rode aggressively enough to make you uncomfortable. It's too bad that they shaped up and THEN got tickets.

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