[Breaking news: there is an even newer victory over the city of Flagstaff’s harassment of cyclists legally using the roads: on Oct 29, the cyclist prevailed AGAIN in court… I will be writing up another article covering that in more detail soon. So at trial, the court dismissed 1 count 815A, TR-2010007979; and the 2 further 815A counts were dismissed on a motion from the prosecutor, TR-2010007976. Though i may have the case number mixed up because 2010004702, an 815A and 701E is also dismissed]
Flagstaff cyclist Justin Pryzby is at it again — not riding in the gutter.
Heading home from work on June 9, 2010, westbound on East Route 66 in the vicinity of Switzer Canyon Drive [google maps], he was pulled over by Flagstaff police officer. His offense? “RIDING HIS BICYCLE IN LANE NUMBER TWO OF THE ROAD WAY WHERE A BICYCLE LANE WAS PROVIDED”, according to the strangely detailed police report of the incident (the quotations from the report are for some reason in all caps, underlining added by me).
Officer is obviously fixated on the bike lane, and writes of it often “THE SUBJECT THEN WENT BACK INTO THE BICYCLE LANE AND I ACTIVATED MY EMERGENCY LIGHTS AND SIREN”….”THERE WAS A BICYCLE LANE THAT WAS PROVIDED”…”THERE WERE NONE OF THE EXCEPTIONS… THAT WOULD MAKE JUSTIN HAVE TO EXIT OR GET OUT OF THE BIKE LANE”
The only trouble with Officer’s story is, there is no bike lane there. I confirmed this with City of Flagstaff multi-modal coordinator Martin Ince by telephone, and also with the State of Arizona (this happens to be a state highway) Department of Transportation Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator Michael Sanders. It is self-evident that this is not a bicycle lane. It is not marked with bike lane signage (e.g. R3-17), or ground markings. What about the lane, that is Lane number 2? It’s something under 11 feet — clearly narrow, see Take the lane. As far as I know, no one disputes the dimensions.
I have written before on the problems and confusion these edge-stripes-that-are-not-bike-lane-stripes cause — and this is that in spades, see e.g. Is this a bike lane?
The other charge, 28-701E, is inapplicable to bicyclists because it applies specifically to motor vehicles. See in Bicycles are not motor vehicles, and why it matters
The first sign that something was out of the ordinary was the city exercising its option to be represented by counsel, somewhat (how much?) unusual for a civil traffic matter.
In any event the trial was held in Flagstaff Municipal Court, docket #M-9341-TR-2919994702 before Charlotte Beyal, Magistrate Pro Tempore. The city was represented by Assistant City Prosecutor Consuelo “Celo” Brennan. The cyclist represented himself.
The trial apparently went well. That is to say the judge understood and accepted the defendant’s position both that the lane was narrow and was therefore not responsible for 28-815A because of exemption 4, and that the other charge could not apply to a bicycle. Not responsible on both counts.
The Trouble with Flagstaff PD
Is it poor training? Or is this officer just out to get bicyclists who dare to exercise their right to the road? Or is it something more — is it an institutional bias?
Flagstaff recently was rewarded by LAB with a Silver Bicycle Friendly Communities designation. Enforcement is supposed to figure into that, and they got a “star” in that category. Not from what I’ve been seeing over the past 8 months or so.
I started a new tag: flagstaff-anomolies as there seems to a pattern of law enforcement and justice system problems in Flagstaff. In the wake of the NAIPTA-bus-bike fiasco, “…the police department issued a department-wide training bulletin requiring all officers to review all bicycle laws, (deputy chief) Treadway said”. Sounds impressive? But who knows what sort of training they actually did?