Friday, September 10

Colleyville PD Follow-up

On September 1st, I was ordered off the road and onto the sidewalk in Colleyville, as reported here. In that post, I recounted the event and the follow-up I made in talking with Officer Terrell.

After making that post, I sent the following letter to the Colleyville Police Chief, Steve Dye, with a copy to Officer Terrell. This afternoon, I received a call in response to that letter from Lieutenant Cooper, who heads Operations. As was the case with Officer Terrell, Lieutenant Cooper was unfailingly friendly, patient, professional, and frank.

Lieutenant Cooper first ascertained that I was riding during daylight and not in violation of the Texas lighting statutes. He also inquired about my lane position, and agreed that it appeared I was operating in accordance with Texas 551.103 (4) Exception A and B. He noted that Colleyville had experienced some people on bikes that had been hit while riding on sidewalks. I explained why people riding on sidewalks are more likely to have collisions with cars, even if no pedestrians were around, and why the situation was even worse for people riding on sidewalks against traffic. He commented that my reasons made sense to him and he could see why the motorists might not even see the cyclist before impact.

Cooper then inquired about more particulars about the officer. I was unable to provide him with any added information, noting that I couldn’t even honestly remember if he’d turned his lights on. Then things got a little sticky.

Cooper suggested I might want to ride at the right edge of the lane “for your own safety.” I replied that I was riding in the middle of the lane for specific safety reasons; namely so that any motorist coming from behind would see and register my presence in the lane as early as possible, and so that the overtaking motorist would not be in any doubt as to the proper means of passing me (lane change). I did not elaborate on all the OTHER reasons why that is a wise place to ride, nor that a close pass is doubly dangerous to the cyclist during wet and rainy conditions. He mentioned that he’d been unable to pass a cyclist on one of the local two-lane roads and the cyclist had been unresponsive to requests to move over (saying “I don’t have to”) and even to instructions to observe things like signs and signals. I replied that I might well have been quicker to ticket that cyclist than him, but I had chosen Hall Johnson specifically because its four-lane alignment made passing easy and as safe as possible. He noted that I sounded more level headed about rights and safety practices than the other guy. I’m not sure I convinced him with respect to Far-To-Right law application, but I’m pretty sure he understood I had considered the matter very carefully and was not a suicidal type.

Officer Cooper indicated they would brief the patrol officers on the subject.

At this point, I consider the matter closed.

Steve Postscript Note: As I noted in the initial post, if ordered to do something by a police officer, I’m inclined to follow those orders. The officer may be in possession of information I do not know about conditions or incidents. If it turns out the officer was inappropriately ordering me to do something, it can be addressed after the law enforcement situation is over. If it becomes necessary to employ the judicial process to flag police problems, an altogether different approach is called for. I think that unlikely in Colleyville. Per KD5NRH's suggestion, I considered sending a copy of the letter to the city manager, but I'd really not escalate things. Since the initial call was transferred to 911, it would appear in their logs, and city phone records would indicate we talked on two subsequent occasions.
Letter I Sent via Snailmail


Pondero said...

Thanks for the update and insight, Steve. I appreciate the time you spent in this effort.

cafiend said...

I agree with Pondero. I would tend to brush off the officer with immediate temporary compliance and then go about my business. Your way lays more groundwork for future understanding and fewer hassles.

SocialBlunder said...

"unable to pass a cyclist on one of the local two-lane roads and the cyclist had been unresponsive to requests to move over" Do we have to move over on a two lane road? 551.103 says "the person is operating a bicycle in an outside lane...". Does it have to have 4 lanes to have an outside lane or are both lanes of a 2 lane road outside lanes?

Steve A said...

If, when driving a motor vehicle, I were ordered off the road by a police officer in a cruiser, I would comply PDQ. Why should a cyclist behave differently? If the order is wrong, pursue it outside a LE situation. The only time to confront an officer on the road should be when your legal team has concluded it is necessary and timely.

Both lanes of a two-lane road are outside lanes.

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