Call

Blog

Law
02

Blog

In Alabama, some police officers don’t know bike law

A few years ago, a bicyclist was pulled over in Shelby County by a sheriff’s deputy. He was threatened with a ticket for “obstructing traffic.” Apparently, the sheriff had not passed the cyclist as he cycled up a hill and, not surprisingly, no one had passed the sheriff, so a few cars were, in fact, backed up. The deputy told the cyclist that the law required the cyclist to pull over and walk his bicycle up hills or on narrow curvy roads. When the cyclist tried to tell the deputy that the law required no such thing, the cyclist was threatened with a ticket.

Of course, this is not the first nor, unfortunately, will it be the last time this sort of thing happens. A few years ago a very similar incident happened and the cyclist in that case told the officer to give him a ticket. The officer did so; the cyclist notified bicycle advocacy groups; and after meetings with City officials – the ticket was dropped.

Alabama Code Section 32-5A-260 very clearly states “Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle [with very limited exceptions].” The most obvious exception, of course, is limited access roads, like interstates, which have a minimum speed of 40 mph. Almost without exception, no other roads have minimum speeds.

A bicyclist is just like a car or truck – it is traffic. Albeit slower than most cars or trucks, but traffic nonetheless. A bicyclist going up a hill at 10 mph when the speed limit is 45 mph is no more “obstructing traffic” than the little old lady traveling 20 mph in a 45 mph zone, or a large truck laboring up a hill at 30 mph in a 65 mph zone. Aggravating to be behind – sure. Guilty of obstructing traffic – absolutely not. Of course, a bicyclist is much, much easier to safely pass than the little old lady or the large truck in the above example.

Whether the police officers who have cited or threatened cyclists with tickets for “obstructing traffic” truly are ignorant of the law or, as I frankly suspect is sometimes the case, know, but don’t like the law and want to “cleverly” ensure the world is safe and convenient for motorists and motorists only – does not really matter. The result is the same. No one wants to deal with the hassle of a ticket, whether the ticket is justified, or as is the case here, entirely unjustified. I hope that cyclists and cycling advocates use this recent example to let their elected officials, the Sheriff, city councilors, mayors etc. know that police officers must be properly trained in knowing what the law is as regarding cyclists, and perhaps even more importantly, in enforcing the law in an even-handed manner such that the rights of cyclists are recognized rather than denigrated.

If you ever get a ticket while cycling, give me a call to make sure that the officer knew the law.

Comments

Atlanta Bike Crash
Peter Wilborn Oct 25, 2021

Many of you have heard about the horrific multi-victim crash from October 7, 2021, in which a Chattanooga driver brutally plowed her car into a group of 5 pedestrians as they were crossing a street, causing catastrophic and life changing injuries. In the chaotic aftermath of running a red light and almost killing an entire […]

Read More
Waller Bike Crash Carnage
Rachael Maney Oct 02, 2021

PRESS RELEASE FROM BIKE LAW’S NATIONAL DIRECTOR RACHAEL MANEY In light of the recent Waller Bike Crash in Texas, and in an effort to help untangle and unpack some of the emotionally-charged comments, questions, and inaccurate assumptions being made, we want to update you on the parts that we can share. I hope that this […]

Read More
Brother James
Peter Wilborn Sep 29, 2021

23 years ago today, the world lost my brother Jim. He was killed on his bike by an under-aged driver who blew through a red light. While the years don’t really blunt the loss, they foster gratitude for the gifts left behind. My brother blessed me with so much, but 3 things stand out:   […]

Read More
Family bicycle charity
Bike Law Aug 17, 2021

GUEST POST BY BIKE LAW AMBASSADOR KURT AREHART The bike charity Raleigh Community Kickstand, or just Kickstand for short, is a four year-old project organized under Oaks & Spokes, a 501(c)(3) engaged in fostering cycling in Raleigh. Kickstand channels donated bicycles to low-income and homeless members of our community whose lives can be improved with […]

Read More
Contributory negligence Bike crash
Ann Groninger May 08, 2021

If you’ve met me, you’ve heard talk about contributory negligence many times, including here and here and here. My vocation and my passion as a bike crash attorney is representing injured bicyclists and families of bicyclists who have been killed by careless drivers. Contributory negligence severely impairs the right of these individuals and bicyclists to […]

Read More
Asian-American Triathlete
Rachael Maney May 04, 2021

Bike Month 2021 is setting the bar pretty high. Two days ago, Sika Henry became the first Black woman to earn her pro card in the sport of triathlon. And today, Bike Law and I are honored and excited to announce our sponsorship of the only Asian-American racing on the professional triathlon circuit, Clarice Chastang […]

Read More
Cycliq video close call
Rachael Maney Apr 22, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 23, 2021 Jon Korin, President Bicycle Advocates for Annapolis & Anne Arundel County (‘BikeAAA’) 443-685-4103, [email protected]   Rachael Maney, National Director Bike Law 410-382-7803, [email protected]   DRIVER CONVICTED ON CYCLIQ VIDEO EVIDENCE Christopher Lee Bradshaw of Lothian, MD was convicted of violating Maryland’s 3-foot bicycle passing law and negligent driving on […]

Read More
cycling friendship
Ann Groninger Apr 21, 2021

Cycling friendships are wonderful benefit to our sport and community.  A major part of our work as bicycle “accident” lawyers means putting a value on losses that our clients suffer as a result of injures from crashes. When it comes to past and future medical expenses, lost income and other financial losses, the job is […]

Read More
Contributory Negligence
Ann Groninger Apr 08, 2021

There is finally a positive development in the fight against Contributory Negligence in North Carolina. Last week a bill called the “Victims’ Fair Treatment Act” was filed in the North Carolina Senate. If passed, the bill would finally bring North Carolina into line with all but 3 other states by eradicating this deeply unfair law. […]

Read More
Load More