This morning’s Projo had a letter to the editor from a cyclist who was told he shouldn’t be on the streets, by a police officer. The cyclist was out for a ride on New Year’s day and returned through Providence. As he was heading
Down North Main Street, I went up Smith Street, past the State House and then the iconic New York Systems diner, when all of a sudden I’m nearly hit by a moving vehicle. Mind you, this is not the first time I’ve come close to being hit by a driver while riding through downtown or the surrounding areas. I throw my hands in the air in disgust and yell, “Slow down.” Yet to my surprise, said vehicle was a marked Providence Police vehicle, a sports utility van to be exact.
Much to his surprise, the officer turned his lights on and pulled him over. After being stopped, the cyclist
asked why he pulled me over, he responded with an emphatic and irritated, “You shouldn’t be on the road!” I asked, “Where should I be?” And then I tried with all the patience my cold and wet body and numbed mind could muster to explain that I have every right to the road. He responded with, “You’re going to cause an accident if you continue to ride in the street” and immediately called for back-up.
His request resulted in six police vehicles, not including the unmarked vehicle that also arrived momentarily, all of which surround me, while one officer checked my identification.
During the traffic stop, the cyclist tried to
explain my rights as a cyclist I was told that it is apparent that I do not like police officers and that I was trying to tell them how to do their job.
What I find most disturbing about the whole incident, despite having taken over 30 minutes of my time and taxpayers’ money, was that all of this could have been avoided had the initial officer, who happened to be a sergeant, or any of the assisting officers, been aware or at the very least familiar with Rhode Island bike laws, which clearly state a bicycle’s right of road.
This is certainly not the first time I’ve read or heard such a story. Hopefully, someone from the Providence Police Department actually reads the Projo and realizes this is a serious problem. With seven police vehicles involved in the stop, this means there were at least seven police officers who either don’t know that cyclists have every right to be on the road or willingly choose to ignore these laws.