John B.
Westbrook, ME
Post #: 1,474
I thought I'd start a recurring thread where all notes of this nature can be posted, rather than have them dispersed throughout different threads.

For the record, Scott's comments about his multiple stops in Falmouth and Yarmouth start here­. I won't bother going back further than that, since that is the only set of instances I'm aware of in the last 6 months or so.

Until now... (next message)
John B.
Westbrook, ME
Post #: 1,475
Well, now it's happened to me. I was pulled over by a police officer who though that I was not riding as far to the right as I could have been. I'm writing it down here not so much for discussion as to just have it written down for future reference.

Circumstances: Saturday, June 19, ~6 PM, Westbrook. I had just turned onto Larrabee Road from Main Street (Rt 25), heading south. I was towing my bike trailer containing some pizzas and other things I had just picked up from Little Caesar's on Brighton Avenue. I was riding in the rightish part of the right lane. A police SUV passed me. I turned right onto the "Westbrook Arterial". Soon after making the turn, I decided to ride in the center of the rightmost lane(of two in my direction), because they were narrow lanes. There is ample paved shoulder, but it was fairly littered with pebbles, and at one point, glass shards, so I decided to avoid it altogether.

As I approached the exit ramp to Woodlawn (mid-point of arterial), I noticed the same police SUV sitting in the shoulder with its lights flashing, but as I rode past (in the lane), no instructions were given, so I continued on my way. A few minutes later, I reached Wm. Clark Drive, and by then had merged to the left lane, to make the turn from the left turn only lane provided. Just after I turned left, I signaled and moved into the left of the two lanes in my direction on Wm. Clark, preparing for the left turn into the Hannaford supermarket, where I was intending to pick up some more groceries. The police SUV had caught up with me (no lights or siren) and had turned behind me, but was far enough back to react to my signaling, and my merge was without incident.

By the time I got to the traffic light at Hannaford, it was green, and as I made the left turn, he followed me and turned on his lights, pulled next to me on my left, and asked to speak to me. He turned right into the parking lot proper, and I pulled onto the sidewalk behind and to the right of his SUV.

(Ironically, as I was approaching the Hannaford light, the car in front of me took a left turn into Hannaford through the red. However, the police officer was behind me and showed no signs of wanting to pass me to get him, and by the time our subsequent conversation was over, the red-light runner had long since disappeared into the crowded parking lot.)

Conversation: Overall very calm and rational, and when it became apparent I knew the law, he pulled out his statute book and we went over it. (I was able to help him with the section # where the "Ride on the Right" law is listed.) It ended without citation, the officer simply expressing his wish that I consider riding further right, "for my own safety". He stated that he was himself a road cyclist, even mentioning that he owned a road bike of the same make as mine (Schwinn). His name label was "S. HANLON".

I don't want to try to recall the exact narrative of the conversation, but here are some paraphrases in roughly the order we first discussed them (we revisited some of them several times):

Me: Did you see that guy in front of me go through the red light?

Ofc. Hanlon: It's you I want to talk to at the moment, sir.

Ofc. Hanlon: I thought you were not riding as far right as you should have been, and were impeding traffic.

Me: I'm not sure everyone agrees with my interpretation of impeding, but I think the statute says it only applies to motor vehicles. [We didn't actually look this one up. For the record, traffic was light, there were two lanes in my direction, and I don't see how anyone would have been impeded for any longer than the time it took to check their mirror to make sure it was safe to pull into the next lane, and possibly wait for at most one other car to pass them before pulling out themselves.]

Ofc. Hanlon: Well the law says you should be riding as far right as practicable.

Me: You know that I was in the left lane back there because I was making a left turn, right?

Ofc. Hanlon: I have no problem with that, or with your signaling. But I think you should not have been in the middle of the lane back on the arterial. Cars go fast on that, you were definitely going slower than they were, impeding them.

Me: The lane was narrow. [We look up the statute, and I point out the "lane of substandard width" clause.]

Ofc. Hanlon: Well, there was still plenty of room on the right. There was a fog line and you could have been to the right of it.

Me: Shoulder use is optional. [Point out the statute, where it says "may" ride in paved shoulder.] I had just passed an area where there was a lot of glass, and in general there were a lot of small pebbles all over the shoulder.

Ofc. Hanlon: Well there's always pebbles and stuff wherever you are in the road.

Me: Not nearly so much in the travel lanes, because the cars keep them more swept clear.

Ofc. Hanlon: Well, you obviously know what you're doing, but I'm just looking out for your safety, and I think it would be safer for you to not be so far into traffic, and I'd like you to think about that.

Me: Okay, I will.

We wished each other a good evening and went on our ways.
user 5414356
Brunswick, ME
Post #: 177
Wow, this officer actually sounds pretty good. I've been pulled over many times now and they never once got out the statute book to see what it said. Whenever I've tried to explain the law to them, they usually either say that it doesn't apply here or they make up something that I've never seen anywhere in the Maine statutes.
A former member
Post #: 652
Good job John and good outcome I think!
user 3053132
Portland, ME
Post #: 486
I've always found that Westbrook officers give me plenty of room and have never pulled me over, but on the off chance this officer does I'll be sure to ask "Didn't the guy with the bike trailer go over this with you already?" :)
A former member
Post #: 1
That's awesome that he reviewed the code book and listened to you. Officer Hanlon is good police.
Kenneth O.
Portland, ME
Post #: 387
That's awesome that he reviewed the code book and listened to you. Officer Hanlon is good police.

Not ready to accept this characterization. He was out there claiming to be concerned with safety while pushing the exact opposite of safe bicycling. Plus he made claims of 'impeding' at a location where it is impossible for a bicyclist to do that.

In the present culture the law is as likely to be bad as good. I suspect if the officer could have found any wiggle room he would have pushed his harassement to the next level. I suspect, as in Florida, with the way things are going, the law likely will ebb worse before it gets better, and Officer Hanlon will be handed the power to harass at the next level up of prevent or punishing proper safe bicycling, rather than just making harassing stops at will.

Therefore we need to do better than congratulate a willingness to fine parse crappy traffic code in the middle of deliberate harassment.

We need to teach the paradigm shift.

A former member
Post #: 653
Agreed Ken,

However, I think that the best person to have been pulled over is John (sorry John). I state this knowing John's demeanor. John did just what is being suggested, offer a paradigm shift. John has the ability to calmly, succinctly, and accurately show the cyclists prudent manor in this situation. Hopefully officer Hanlon will take this information away, and the the next time he sees a cyclist acting in a similar fashion, he will respect his/her right to the road.

I say well done.
John B.
Westbrook, ME
Post #: 1,477
We need to teach the paradigm shift.

And that is done how, exactly?

The BCM is doing police officer training. Jim Tasse just did one in York a few weeks ago, and has a few more coming up. He is also aware of Scott's Falmouth/Yarmouth situation and is drafting a general letter to many communites about the program. I know you don't see eye to eye with Jim on some infrastructure issues, nor do I, but I remain open to finding common ground in training police to understand cyclist lane control. I owe him some material adapted from Keri Caffrey's materials here, waiting for Keri to get it to me. He's very open to talking about education ideas, let's you and I meet with him sometime. I'll approach him if you're game. Maybe Scott should be included, too, and others who are interested.

In fact, there's a Meetup idea!
Kenneth O.
Portland, ME
Post #: 390
And that is done how, exactly?

The multi-million dollar question.

I'm only clear on a few ways it can NOT be done. An example: pandering to false paradigm thinking is a sure loser.

[I'll approach him if you're game.


But my point is that too much over-emphasis on hard-a** fine parsing of traffic code as it exists is going to be a losing course of advocacy for a while to come. This will be especially true if bikelanes and big honking shoulder designs proliferate - because law will almost certainly get worse before it gets better due to the cultural pressures and trends building these structures imply.

Jim has not backed off one iota from his 'foolhardy' charge against me for my safe riding style on the Casco Bay Bridge. I worry he is not the best person to take this message to police officers who have the power to harrass us. (I include saying something like "I support your right to be foolhardy" as an example of not backing off one iota, BTW.)
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