Friday, April 20, 2007

A Night Commute with a Disappointing Situation

Last night my wife decided that she and Duncan (our son) weren't going to go to the Columbus Crew game since they both have head colds. I, not being particularly bright at times, decided to go despite the fact that I have the same cold. :) And so that she'd have the car and since it was a nice night, I biked to the game.

The commute went very well. It's actually a little bit shorter than my ride to work, but a little more crazy. This is because I have to get onto Silver Drive, which is a service road next to I-71 and also handles a lot of the traffic onto and off the expressway. But I navigated the entire trip with no issues.

The trip home was also a success - despite it being dark, my lights work really well (if you want to see which lights I have, visit my Amazon.com store - I list both my headlights and rear flasher).

Now the disappointment: I pulled up to the gate to go in, waiting for an opening, and was chatting with a police officer briefly while I waited. He then informed me that I was supposed to go to another gate to enter as that was the gate for PEDESTRIANS. I quickly informed him that I wasn't a pedestrian, and offered to show him where it says so in the Columbus traffic code, which I carry with me when I ride. He gave me a disdainful look and beckoned me on to the other gate anyway. I left after asking him to refresh his knowledge on the traffic code (which I probably shouldn't have done) and went into the stadium.

The police have one job: to enforce the laws of the city. And in order to enforce the laws they have to KNOW the laws. This guy obviously didn't. One person who I related the story to suggested that maybe the law had changed and he didn't know it. But I've always been told that ignorance of the law is no excuse. And that is the case for the enforcers just as much as it is for the enforcees.

It wouldn't even have bothered me if he'd said something like "We'd like bikes to use the entrance further down," as that wouldn't be his displaying of his lack of knowledge about the status of bikes as vehicles.

I do my best to always follow the law when I ride, and obviously have made the effort to understand the traffic code here in Columbus. And cyclists fight pretty hard to be recognized as vehicles (and not as pedestrian traffic), which the law says we are. When something like this happens, it's disappointing. It means we still have a long way to go in order to get true acceptance. And when the attitude toward traffic has a preference for a form of traffic that is destroying our environment, killing upwards of 40,000 people a year, destabilizing our national security, and contributing to skyrocketing obesity rates, that acceptance can't come too soon.

2 comments:

  1. Since the stadium is "quasi private property" the owners can tell bicyclists to enter where-ever. Tell stadium owners your disappointment and likelyhood to skip the game and they might wise up?

    On the subject of laws your right sidebar has links to Bicycle Laws, Ohio Revised Code [January 21, 2005]
    http://www.dot.state.oh.us/bike/New%20Downloads/Bike%20Laws.PDF

    Please include the HB 289 "Better Bicycle Bill" revisions: Bicycle Law Revisions, Ohio Revised Code [Effective September 21, 2006]
    http://www.dot.state.oh.us/bike/New%20Downloads/BikeLaws%20Effective%2092106.doc

    Keep up the good work!

    Dan C

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  2. That really wasn't the problem: my problem was with the police officer who didn't consider bicycles to be vehicles, and told me to go to the "pedestrian" entrance. I seriously doubt that anyone even considered bike parking at Crew Stadium since there aren't any bike racks.

    Thanks for the link to the Bike Law Revisions! I'm changing it now.

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