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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Riding a Bike is Not a Crime! [LMB]

It was a Friday evening in June when John Lindenmayer left the League of Michigan Bicyclists' (LMB) office in Lansing, MI and rode his bicycle to the City Market. Around 6:30 p.m., he left to head home, utilizing the same route he had ridden dozens of times before.
Traffic was light on Michigan Avenue, a five-lane road, which runs from the front steps of the State Capitol right past Michigan State University. John traveled eastbound in the far right (curb) lane for several blocks, without incident. Then, only blocks from home, he heard a honk imme¬diately behind him, followed by a siren. John turned to find a police car with its lights on. He promptly pulled over and parked his bike.
John was confronted by a City of Lansing police officer who was professional and polite, but told him, "The roadways are made for motor vehicles, and you can ride your bike on it, but you're impeding traffic." As the Advocacy and Policy Director for LMB, John knew that arguing was going to get him nowhere. Instead, he calmly explained that Michigan law allowed bicyclists to be on the road and that he was not violating the law. Amazingly, stating that "we can handle this a different way," the officer called for backup. Within minutes three additional police officers, including a Sergeant, arrived at the scene.
Ironically, the entire eastbound travel lane, the same lane John was traveling in, was entirely blocked by the police. During the 30-minute traffic stop, John documented the situation by taking notes, photos, and video with his phone. Ultimately, John was issued a ticket for "impeding traffic."
Most cyclists would have paid the $115 fine that accompanied the civil infraction, deciding it simply wasn't worth the time and effort to fight it. John, however, was different. While he didn't leave his office that day looking to prove a point, it was now a matter of principle. He was de¬termined to prove that he did not violate the law and to stand up for cyclists' legal right to use Michigan's roads.


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