My Ride with the Police! (Take 2)

About three weeks ago, I was riding my bike and was joined by a bicycle cop. We had a nice chat as we biked along side-by-side. I wrote a blog post about it that focussed on pace-lines and riding two-abreast. Last week I had a different sort of ride with the police!

I ride along Queen Street in Kitchener to and from work each day. Last Thursday, I was riding past St. Mary’s Hospital on the way home from work. I was riding in the middle of the right lane. A motorcycle and a couple of cars pulled up behind me. The cars passed, in the left lane and then the motorcycle cop pulled up beside me. Here’s a general idea about how our conversation went:

Cop (in an authoritative voice): Hey, shouldn’t you be riding against the curb?

Me: No, it’s safer in the middle of the lane. I have a lot more trouble with drivers, when I ride near the curb.

Cop: What if you run into a disgruntled driver?

Me: I think the odds are higher that I’d have trouble with distracted drivers if I rode near the curb.

Cop: Bike lanes are on the far right, so you should ride on the right.

Me: When they paint bike lanes, I’ll be happy to ride in them. The Ministry of Transportation recommends riding a third of the way out in the lane on single-lane roads, because it increases visibility.

Cop: You were right out in the middle of the lane. Cars had to pull into the left lane to go around you.

Me: Yes. On multi-lane roads, where the lanes are generally narrower, the safest place to ride is in the middle of the right lane (This is my opinion, not an MTO recommendation.).

Me (By this time we were nearing Highland Road.): You’ll notice that, when the road changed to one lane, I moved over and rode a third of the way in the lane, so cars could go around me, in the wider lane.

Cop (in a grumpy voice): Well, at least you weren’t riding on the sidewalk.

Me: I wouldn’t do that. It’s against the law.

After we passed Highland, we wished each other a nice day, and he rode away. My hope is that he’ll be a little more sympathetic to cyclists and supportive to cycling in KW.

6 thoughts on “My Ride with the Police! (Take 2)

  1. Unbelievable an expert isn’t aware of common bicycle safety. By the end of this article I was steaming!!

    I don’t think I would have remained as composed as you did. I like how you handled it, way to make the best use of a teachable moment.

  2. Cars didn’t “have to” pull into the other lane to go around you, they could wait like they’d wait for a tractor or any other slow moving vehicle that has the legal rights to use the road. I generally avoid talking to the police at all.

    1. What you say I’d true Clasher. However, this was on a road with two lanes going in each direction, so cars pulling into the left lane to pass me was exactly what should happen. People are supposed to travel in the right-hand lane, except to pass. When I took driver’s education in the 80s, we were taught that the left lane was for passing. I am not sure why the cop thought this was a bad thing.

  3. The reason a cyclist rides out away from the curb (besides to be clear of debris, the door zone, potholes, etc) is the exact same reason the motorcyclist you where talking to rides his vehicle to the left side of any lane he is in – to be seen by motorists and force them to be more considerate and pass more safely when they can.

    There is no difference in his choice of vehicle placement and yours other than the speed that a motorcyclist can go vs a cyclist. Because of that speed differential, I do take some actions to keep things moving nicely. What I do is move over when it is safe for me to do so when traffic starts to bunch up behind me and they cannot safely pass. I signal to them as I am doing this that it is ok to pass, and that I know that they desire to move along. It clears the log jam behind me, keeps other road users happy and reduces people’s impatience, and allows me to be far safer. I would imagine that people riding motorscooters and mopeds with governors end up doing similar things as traffic backs up behind them in congested areas.

    I have yet to see a cyclist who knows how to ride in traffic have more than a rare issue with other vehicles.

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