Monday, October 31, 2011

Police Bias

Let me preface this week's entry by saying that I'm a pedestrian, I ride a bicycle and a motorbike and I drive a car; I'm intimately familiar with the rules of the road for all four. That's why I have an axe to grind about our local police force who behave, it has to be said, in much the same way as police forces pretty much every where I've lived. Last week on a lunch break, a group of colleagues and I were sitting at the front row of a set of red traffic lights, next to police car. A cyclist came dodging between the lanes of cars (I don't have a problem with that) and then cycled through the red light and across the intersection. The police officer did nothing. However, on his left, the left turn lane had changed to amber, then to red and one car went through on red to turn left across the intersection. The police car lit up like a Christmas tree and took off after him.
So why is it OK for a bicycle to go through a red light but not a car?
I've no doubt if a car on a green light had hit the cyclist jumping the red light, it would have somehow been the car driver's fault.
What makes it worse is that cyclists have been doing this for so long they now think it's a right. I nearly had an entertaining accident on my bicycle last year when I stopped at a red light and the cyclist behind me nearly ran into me. As he gave me the international signal for "you're number one", he wafted through the red light shouting "why the f*ck did you stop?".
So : moronic cyclists + biased police officers. Seems like all us drivers are to blame for everything now.


Anonymous said...

You must not be that intimately acquainted with the rules of the road for bicyclists. Many jurisdictions state that for these road users, a stop light or stop sign can be treated as a yield - the reasoning being that it takes a great deal of physical effort to get started again on your bike from a complete stop, especially on a hill. The burden is on the bicyclist to use sensible judgement when going across the road, although I have seen a number of riders not use this wisely. If the bike rider yielded to cross traffic before crossing the road, there's a good chance that he didn't do anything wrong.

I may be wrong, but it seems like you've been posting so much about how stupid all American law enforcement officers are that you've developed your own bias.

Chris said...

Utah law defines bicycles as vehicles, and all vehicles must obey all traffic signs and signals. For the same reason, cyclists are not allowed on the sidewalks any more than cars are, although that doesn't stop them.
From the Utah cyclist handbook ( : "Your bicycle is considered a vehicle and you have the same rights and are subject to the same provisions as the operator of any
other vehicle (41-6a-1102). This includes obeying traffic signals (41-6a-305), stop and yield signs (41-6a-902), and all other
official traffic control devices (41-6a-208).

Please don't paint me as biased without first doing your own research.

Silas said...

"Many jurisdictions state that for these road users, a stop light or stop sign can be treated as a yield" - kindly name one, please? Because I submit that that's a load of bollocks.

Klaas said...

... and if there are indeed such 'rules of the road for bicyclists' the ones that invented them should be rocketed to a planet of their own.

Anonymous said...


The entire state of Idaho, for one. Chris, I'm sorry that Utah doesn't emulate this model, but it's bias in and of itself to claim police bias without knowing all the facts surrounding a situation.

Ars.Gladius said...

Even if it was in Idaho, the bike must still come to a full and complete stop at a red light, but may proceed if safe to do so, but must still yield to traffic that does have the right of way.

"A person operating a bicycle or human-powered vehicle approaching a steady red traffic control light shall stop before entering the intersection and shall yield to all other traffic. Once the person has yielded, he may proceed through the steady red light with caution."

The police officer, while justified in stopping the car that ran the red light on a left turn, should also have stopped the bike for running the red light, as they did brake the law (even in Idaho).

Ars.Gladius said...

Incidentally, I bike to work during the warmer months. So I am very aware of both sides of the issue.

Klaas said...

How silly is that. Red should be red.

Paul said...

I guess another way to look at it is how much potential danger is there? For the cyclist 99% of the danger is to him/herself. For the car, it's a danger to pedestrians, cyclists and other cars.
Here in Houston it's almost a sport to see how long after the light turns red you can run the intersection. I've lost count how many near misses I've seen or been involved in because some a@#hole thinks he (and it does mostly seem to be men) has the right to run the red.
While I agree it's a double standard, I have no problem with the cop going after the car and all but ignoring the cyclist. And being in the fire service here in Houston I've seen way too many car accidents where someone in a car has run a red and t-boned some innocent driver or cyclist.