Sunday, November 11, 2007

To Protect and Serve?

This is a Letter to the Editor I just submitted to my local newspaper, The Cape Breton Post:
From: John A. Ardelli
Subject: Misguided Law Enforcement
Date: November 11, 2007 1:35:33 PM AST
To: Cape Breton Post Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

"Bicyclists may occupy as much of a traffic lane as their safety warrants." This is a direct quote from the Bicycle Safety brochure published by Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. It means, if there’s no room to share, cyclists have the right to take as much lane space as they need. Unfortunately, this fact does not appear to be a part of the training given to officers of the Cape Breton Regional Police.

Several weeks ago, a police constable in an unmarked cruiser squeezed by me within centimeters as I traveled east on Kings Road just past Kenwood Drive. When I honked my horn and yelled after him, he pulled me over and accused me of "impeding traffic" (all the while his cruiser, stopped on the road, was doing just that) and that I should be riding at the extreme right.

This past Friday, a police officer honked at me as I traveled west towards Kenwood Drive. I pointed to the lane next to me to signal him to go around me; he did. However, when I got to work, he caught up with me and told me the same fallacy about "impeding traffic" (and accused me of making a "left hand turn signal" when I pointed to the adjacent lane) and said I need to move over more. This officer, unlike the other, was at least polite about it and didn’t impede traffic himself.

In both cases, the officers claimed they were doing this for my "safety."

I've only ever had one collision on Kings Road, with a cyclist riding on the sidewalk at the Kimberly Drive intersection.

If these police officers truly want to increase the safety of cyclists, it's the cyclists on the sidewalks, not the law-abiding ones on the road, that they need to address.
That was as much as I could say within the Post's 300 word limit. I did, however, publish a bit more detail on the story on Cyclelicious; click the title of this entry to go directly to the article there.


  1. Recommend Bicycling and the Law: Your Rights as a Cyclist by Bob Mionske, JD, page 61-63, 2-15 Impeding Traffic: Uniform Vehicle Code (UVC) Section 11-805: Minimun Speed regulation, discusses "Steven Selz" case in Ohio

    Velonews has article of about the "Steven Selz case"

    While the law and case history is based in the US, Nova Soctian Motor Vehicle Act possiby share some common law principals or UVC, eh?

    Take care!

  2. Good letter, John. Your post on Cyclelicious generated quite a bit of comment also.


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