Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Where are the cops when we need 'em?

Today I sent this letter to Boise's police chief and a couple of his colleagues, and copied the City Council.

Dear Chief Masterson and colleagues:

As a year-round transportation cyclist here in Boise, I've noticed a huge increase in the number of bike riders on Boise's roadways in the last month or 6 weeks. The nice weather has much to do with it, but this year the numbers seem significantly higher than in years past, and I'm confident it's the result of $4 gas.

I think it's FANTASTIC that more people are riding bikes. There's really not a down-side... as long as they are riding legally and safely.

Last autumn, I submitted a request for public records. I wanted to know how many citations had been issued for bicycles being ridden against traffic (illegally) - City Statute 10-14-06. Because I see that violation very regularly; it's particularly irritating (and downright scary in many circumstances) when a cyclist is coming directly toward me on a "chicken collision course," riding illegally and against traffic.

I was disappointed, but not very surprised, to learn that five (!) citations had been issued, in the period November 1, 2002 thru November 20, 2007. Less than one per year, average... and only one citation since 2003.

Is that number up at all, since November?

I've been told, time after time when calling to complain about it, that "bike violations aren't a priority for the department."

Obviously! But I'm hoping that as the numbers of road-going cyclists increases, for the sake of our safety you will focus a little more on safe bicycling, and practice some vigorous enforcement of bicycle-related traffic laws.

(You can probably imagine the reaction I get, when as a civilian I try to educate my fellow cyclists. Like Mr. Dangerfield, I don't get much respect, and I usually get an ignorant and vulgar response. I'm confident a uniformed officer would fare much better.)

PLEASE! Before (more) people get hurt.

Thanks for your attention.

Mr. B. Nazi (a pseudonym - surprise!)
Lifelong Boise Resident, Taxpayer, Transportation Cyclist
Boise, ID


Anonymous said...

Nice letter Bikeboy.

Short of issuing citations, I think that it would help if whenever a police officer sees a wrong-way cyclist they would get on their PA system and tell them to either get on the sidewalk on on the correct side of the road. This would take very little time and might make a big difference.

Clancy said...

I thinks education could be the best. Start at the homeless shelters and then into the schools.

Here is some excerpt on a POST related to this:
"So I say to you, the knowledgeable, don't let your neighbor go forth to wreak havoc in the public arena alone with his inexperience. Engage him. Offer him your experience and wisdom. Avoid telling how much he needs to buy because his stuff is junk. Avoid pressuring him to ride every day, and under no circumstances make light of his fear of riding in traffic. Make sure he has the tools and knowledge to repair a flat tire. Failing that, make sure he knows where the buses go and how to use the front bicycle rack.

To him, you are Yoda. You know the ways of the Force. You may not look like much to the rest of the motoring world, but you are the master of cycling. Teach him to be safe, and in turn you will help keep me safe. You are my only hope."

Bikeboy said...

I agree with both of you that 80% of the existing deficiency is lack of education, and 20% lack of enforcement.

It would be nice to be Yoda. (As I recall, Yoda was respected for his knowledge.) When I say "Wrong way!" - which is often the only thing I have time for as we pass perilously close - the response is almost always either being totally ignored, or the oft-repeated "Be fruitful and multiply!" admonition (only not in those words). Who needs THAT? I bet the cops wouldn't tolerate it. Yeah - if I could conjure up some Yoda-force to slap 'em upside the head and get their attention, I'd definitely be much better off.

(If it weren't for them involving me by their bad behavior, I'd be happy to let nature take its course. Which is what the Missus always advises me to do.)