A cop in Marble Falls chimed in, "I routinely stop bicyclists at night for operating without a headlight, I actually had my first one a few weeks ago that DIDN'T have a warrant "
A prosecutor from Fort Bend County added these examples:
We handle a lot of these in narcotics too, as you can already see the trend. There are some areas of town where bicycles (not cyclists) are the primary mode of transportation. Even worse, handling stops for walking on the wrong side of the road. Again, usually occurs in areas where there are no sidewalks nor road shoulder so there is a more legitimate safety concern. For both types of stops, communicating that biking and walking are more common than auto-related traffic issues is key for a jury to accept that this wasn't just chicken you-know-what. Although, in these same (urban) areas of town, you will find chickens freely roaming the streets/yards.It's one thing to ticket cyclists violating traffic laws, but ticketing people for walking on the wrong side of the road? That can only be a priority when police have WAAAAY too much time on their hands. It's nigh unbelievable to me that any case of walking on the wrong side of the road ever makes it all the way to a jury! What an outrageous waste of time and taxpayer dollars! These examples show how a small town like Corsicana might end up locking people up for 3,000+ bed days last year for fine-only Class C offenses.
There was some sentiment on the other side of the coin. One prosecutor admitted that, as a cyclist:
Of course, having spent three years as a bike commuter in Washington, DC I almost never stopped at stop signs. Momentum is the key to all avoidance techniques on a bicycle, and coming to a dead stop makes you very vulnerable. The one time I was hit by a car was when I was sitting still and couldn't get out of their way.From a safety perspective, that's completely true. There are times when it's more dangerous for bicycles to follow the law because the laws (and transportation infrastructure) are made for cars, not them. Nolan County Attorney Lisa Peterson is a cyclist. She declared that:
My experience with motorists is that they want a cyclist in the gutter with the broken glass - even when turning left off a road with a turn lane. They do not understand the part of the regs that gives us the same rights and responsibilities as a motorist.Awhile back I read a law review article - I cannot now recall the title or author - which posed the question, if it were possible to construct a machine that would allow detection of every law violation and ensure 100% enforcement, should the machine be built? The fact that so many petty offenses exist on the books (not to mention 2,383 separate felonies in the Lone Star State) argues against it.
At least you rarely catch a cyclist talking on a cell phone in a school zone!
I'd be pretty grumpy if I were called for jury duty and arrived to find the state putting somebody on trial for walking on the wrong side of the street! It would leave one with the sense that criminal law has become more about job-security for cops and lawyers than justice or public safety.