Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 25th, 2013 at 10:12 am Source: Bike Portland
Just after 6:00 pm on August 15th, 35-year-old Medford resident Dallas Smith was riding in the bike lane on Main Street in Ashland when he was pulled over by Ashland police officer Steve MacLennan. The offense? Officer MacLennan claimed that Smith was riding his bicycle outside of the bike lane. “Why are riding on the white line and actually going over into the traffic lane when you have a bike lane here?” the officer asked Smith as he approached him during the traffic stop. When Smith replied that he was avoiding glass and other debris near the curb, which often gives him flats, Ofc. MacLennan dismissively replied. “Nope. No, that doesn’t cut it.” After issuing the $110 citation, Ofc. MacLennan repeated to Smith that there wasn’t a sufficient amount of debris in the lane to warrant him riding several feet to the left of the curb. As he rode away, Smith asked the officer, “What am I supposed to do up here where there is no bike lane?” “You better ride off to the right then,” Ofc. MacLennan replied. The entire traffic stop and verbal exchange between the two men was recorded by the officer’s on-board camera and the video was posted on YouTube last week.
This is one of those “protest” videos that always leaves me wondering why it was ever made. Here in Chicago we have a fairly strong cry out for Protected Bike Lanes. The sentiment seems to be that bicyclists are not safe taking the lane and should instead be allowed to have a lane all their own from which cars are barred. So when someone protests not being allowed to take the lane, it always makes me ask “why“? Most non-Vehicular Cycling types seem to be confused on just what it is they want. I am a Vehicular Cyclist and feel that the lane is mine and in fact all of them are.
I prefer what we call here in Chicago a buffered lane rather than a Protected Bike Lane. The former are easier to maintain by the city and work well in allowing cyclists to ride to the right of traffic without having to hug the Door Zone too tightly. But many if not most of those here in Chicago who consider themselves cycling commuters tend to want more of the Protected Bike Lanes.
This sentiment leaves the municipalities a bit confused when they find bicyclists not staying in their “self-proclaimed lane ghetto“. You clamor (I can just hear the cops and motorists saying) to have a lane all to yourselves and you still want to take over the others as well. Make up your minds!