Police Should Know Better



Police Should Know Better

Perhaps I’m just being utopic, but in my world, I expect police to know the laws, understand the intent of the law, and to be upstanding examples of how other motorists should behave.  In the past two days, I’ve had two separate incidents that, unfortunately, had police shaking up my utopic view of the world.

I rode home via the East Bay Bike Path last night.  As I was passing the Providence port area, there were two tugs out maneuvering a freighter into the dock.  Since 9/11, any time a big ship is being maneuvered like this, there is now a police presence on the bike path.  Sometimes it includes swat teams, other days like yesterday it involves a single cruiser.  The cruiser yesterday felt it was within his rights to park on the bike path, covering the entire paved area.  Uh… no…  Last time I checked the bike path didn’t allow motorized vehicles, why don’t they send out bike cops?  I know, crazy idea.  Could they at least send out an officer who has some respect for the users of the bike trail and is willing to pull off onto the grass?  I find the whole act a waste of taxpayers dollars.  Seriously, what are they trying to prevent that this small show of force will actually achieve?

The second incident ocurred as I was riding into work this morning.  As I was passing through Barrington, a police officer felt it was appropriate to park his/her cruiser on the sidewalk.  The officer was nowhere to be seen, was not parked in front of a house, and the cruiser did not have it’s lights on as if the officer were responding to a call.  In fact, my gut tells me it was a cruiser parked there to slow down traffic.  Unfortunately, it also caused a child using the sidewalk to ride to school to get off and venture into the road and a pedestrian trying to walk on the sidewalk to also venture into the street.  I’m sure glad the police were there to help these two.

I completely understand that police, at times, during the course of their work must park or drive places where normal cars should not go.  However, this should not be the norm, it should not be done lightly, and it should never be done when they are not responding to an emergency.  I’d be happy to have an officer comment on these observations and explain why such behavior makes sense.


  • Apr 24, 2009 at 7:30 am

    Perhaps you could start snapping a couple pictures when you see things like this? I know you're riding, but if you've already had to be inconvenienced by getting off the trail, take a picture of the offender and post it to the site. 🙂

  • Emily
    Apr 24, 2009 at 7:54 am

    I second what Matt says and encourage others to do the same, but additionally making a formal complaint to the police dept.

  • Dennis
    Apr 28, 2009 at 7:33 am

    I found that e-mailing photos works rather well, if they find the right part of the Chain of Command.

    While this is likely an Abuse of Power issue, it brings up another point. I think that most of the Law Enforcement folks are blissfully ignorant of laws and practices of the bicycle world. I thought you were headed in that direction when I saw this item.

    I've been seeing more police bike patrols in the Providence Downcity area and on Atwells Ave (a good thing). The problem is that these patrols are doing a bunch of bad riding. I watched, jaw agape, as two officers rode against traffic for a couple blocks and then moved onto a crowded sidewalk to continue their mounted patrol. I could recount all the dangerous police bicycling example, but you get my point. Now for the solution…

    Could we provide the Providence Police Dept. a class on urban safe cycling? It would be a good way to establish a positive relationship with the PPD, start letting the PPD set the good example for cycling, and do an important community service.

    Whether they actually use the information, however, goes back to the photo idea.


  • Apr 28, 2009 at 10:20 am


    You are spot on! I see police bicycle patrols regularly breaking the law, this goes for Brown bicycle patrols as well. I came back from the National Bike Summit with a copy of the Washington Area Bicycle Association Police MOU. It is an effort they recently completed, which creates an understanding between WABA (i.e. the cycling community) and the local police. I'd like to see us do something similar in Providence. We spoke about taking on this project after B2WD passes.

  • Alan Barta
    Apr 28, 2009 at 10:43 am

    How about a few years ago the State Trooper who, doing 90 mph down Dawley Park Road in Richmond, wiped out a mom in a minivan, dead. He was in a hurry to get home for a coffee and donut.

    You SHOULD expect those you grant authority to set examples of good citizenship. That goes for city hall clerks, elected officials, police, school teachers, and so forth. Politicians here don't even obey laws that have been on the books for decades. They don't provide ADA compliant corner ramps and sidewalks. They just spent a billion dollars putting in 4 miles of I-way and Q-way (not even done yet), both of which illegally ban cycling. Yet they're talking about eliminating federally mandated 1% for art projects, which the feds pay for, and pocketing the chump change for more waste. They only spent $3 million in the last decade on art, a small fraction of 1%. Nobody seems concerned about the 99%. State's 1,000 artists, welfare recipients, and working populace aren't being represented, only small special interest groups, like bankers and insurance companies.

  • Apr 28, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Bad cop behavior where bikes are concerned seems pretty widespread. But RI is the only place I have ever seen a cop car parked front end in.