Thursday, October 02, 2008


This morning I got a ticket. While riding my bike.

A cop stopped me and another biker on New Hampshire Avenue, for going the wrong way down a one-way block. We've each been fined $25. I just cannot believe it.

I took a new path this morning, because I wanted to swing by K Street Bagels for some homestyle nourishment. In fact, I even looked at my route before I left, and noted the single block of NH Ave that is one-way. Bah, I thought, one measly block, shouldn't be a problem. And it wasn't; there was no traffic on it-- just a couple bikers going the wrong way. And a cop, fat ass parked on the back of his car, waved us both over and asked us for I.D.

My co-conspirator tried insisting he hadn't seen the signs (clearly false), and I thought about denying that I had any ID on me (what would they do?) but didn't want to run the risk of being hauled downtown. I thought also about high tailing it in the opposite direction, but again, I'm an honest soul, and the only other time I'd been flagged while on my bike (also in D.C., of course) I just got a stern verbal warning. Then I thought about pointing out that I was saving the world while he-- his car idling in the street-- was destroying the world even as he wrote us our tickets. But I didn't.

And now I owe $25 to the city. I guess I can take some solace in the fact that, even over the past 24 hours, I've probably committed enough moving violations on my bicycle to work it down to about a dollar a pop.

I discovered recently that you can offer anonymous police tips by texting to 50411 (give the 5-0 the 4-1-1!). So I'm going to spend the rest of this week texting in tips every time I see a bicyclist (myself included) commit a moving violation. I invite you to join me in this undertaking.

View Larger Map

And the bagel, if you're wondering, was pretty good.


Anonymous David Alpert said...

How about instead reporting every time you see a driver committing a moving violation? Those are more dangerous, and might get MPD to start actually enforcing some laws against unsafe driving instead of harassing cyclists.

2/10/08 3:07 PM  
Blogger Anthony said...

Reading this made me angry. How can they compel you to pay short of an arrest warrant?

It's not like they can give you grief next time you try to get insurance or registration or anything.

2/10/08 3:31 PM  
Blogger Livy said...

I agree with Tony. What would happen if you didn't pay? You should attempt to ignore/fight it and see what happens

2/10/08 4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

File an appeal. The ticket will most likely be cut in half.

But you broke the law and you were caught. It happened to me but I accepted responsibility and luckily only had to pay half of my fines.

Don't waste police resources either by "anonymous" texting. That's childish. They know who you are anyway.

2/10/08 6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You realize you can be prosecuted for filing a false police report if you send a text message reporting a crime did that not occur, right?

You are upset with the fact that you got a ticket while breaking a seemingly petty law. Welcome to... Adulthood.

And don't hate the cop that wrote the ticket, hate the law that made your act illegal.

2/10/08 8:42 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

well, strictly speaking, i'm talking about filing reports of actual laws broken-- the same laws i was caught breaking this morning.

i'm not protesting the cop (though i think hanging out on that corner arresting cyclists is a crappy move) it's my small (yet strangely satisfying!) way of protesting the law.

not that i'm sending very many of these. i fear texting charges.

2/10/08 9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

first off, as a cyclist commuter, biking the wrong direction on a one way is simply dangerous. secondly, if you are dumb enough to stop when the five O told you to, you deserve the fine. keep cycling next time, dumbass

2/10/08 11:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Passive/Mostly Aggressive Response:

Bravo. And they should ticket every fucking cyclist that runs a stop sign. The fucking chip cyclists carry on their shoulder is absolutely nauseating. And FUCK YOU to the fucking Darwin cyclist on 2 -lane roads, such as Beach Drive, during rush hour. FUUUUUUCCCCKK YOU. Share the road? Then SHARE THE LAWS.

Seriously! I am a jogger… I go jog on 395 and hold up all types of traffic?? NO!!! WHY YOU ASK???? Because I’m NOT AN ASSHOLE. Fucking bikers, not drivers, need to learn how to share the roads….and jogging trails…..

FUCK YOU BIKERS…..ya fucking pricks!

3/10/08 12:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bikers who do not obey the law deserve a ticket. pay it and obey traffic laws

3/10/08 12:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You broke the law and got caught. So pay the fine. It's the grownup thing to do.

3/10/08 2:02 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

don't worry folks. i am, as has been suggested, an adult, and i plan, irrelevance of the previous point notwithstanding, planning to pay the fine i have been issued.

3/10/08 2:21 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

For all those brave souls who so believed in their views that they decided to post under the name "anonymous," might I remind you of the concept of civil disobedience.

Having faced the consequences of his actions (as he pretty clearly stated he would pay the fine), Sam is perfectly justified in protesting against the law. This is how awareness of unjust laws is created, and is in fact the exact thing that a grownup would do.

And anyone who thinks that laws protecting bikers are adequate is exposing a deep ignorance of urban transportation issues. I'm not one to force my lifestyle on others, and if you want to drive to work thats your perogative, but frankly we should be incentivizing biking instead of perpetuating laws that allow drivers to bully bikers off the road.

3/10/08 2:43 AM  
Blogger dano said...

wow, i had heard a couple of accounts like this, but this makes it seem more personal. the funny thing is ive coasted stops, caught the very end of lights, and flat out gone through reds(after stopping for safety's sake, of course) in the direct view of the MPD and never been hassled at all. maybe i should be more careful, but ive always seen it as my risk.

and to the anonymous jogging guy, i have to agree that riding on a road like beach drive is dumb. especially when theres a path a yard or two away. technically cyclists have all the same rights and responsibilities of motorists, but sometimes you yield to sense rather than cite the letter of the law.

oh, yea, and next time, keep riding. i doubt the cop would have chased, and even so, find another one way and lose his ass. adrenaline is way better than coffee.

3/10/08 8:02 AM  
Anonymous Clay AIken said...

I saw that happening and thuought it wa sridiculous, because the entire block is basically a parking lot. They should focus their efforts where there is a lot of traffic. FWIW, my bf was going the wrong was down M Street and a car pulled out of a garage and hit him because the driver was looking only for oncoming traffic and didnt see us. He was almost killed. AND -- he got two tickets (no helmet, wrong way) which counted as points on his license...AND GET THIS -- Zipcar wont let him join because they wont rent if you have two traffice tickets.

3/10/08 8:33 AM  
Anonymous SER said...

As someone who walks, drives and bikes throughout the city, I have to say that I support the MPD's (admittedly lame) effort to make bikers obey the traffic laws. People are welcome to make whatever choices they want about their own safety, but bikers in this city regularly risk MY safety and MY ability to make choices about being a safe driver when I'm driving by biking the wrong way down the middle of one way streets. If you think twice about biking the wrong way down a one way street the next time you see one, the MPD will have achieved their goal.

3/10/08 9:17 AM  
Blogger Taazie said...

That is ridiculous. Riding in D.C. is DANGEROUS unless you break the law. Rolling stop signs and red lights is the only way to set the pace of traffic and not get trampled, and often riding wrong way on a bike lane is the only way of avoiding dangerous traffic on bigger roads. Damn motorists piss me off when they attack bikers out of sheer road rage.

Don't pay the fucking ticket, or go back to the spot and give the cop a GLOBAL WARMING TICKET for 'Useless Consumption of Fuel' (Idling) and 'Terrorizing Commuting Alternatives'

3/10/08 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the chip cyclists carry on their shoulders?! yeah well, in an age in which we're fighting wars for oil, in an economic crisis, starting to see disturbing and possibly irreversible signs of damage to the environment, I say FUCK YOU, driver. yeah I ride a bike, it's the socially responsible thing to do. why not get your fat ass on a bike and see how many people have shitty, dangerous attitudes like yours. cyclist = 1 person, you in your gas guzzling (but I caaaan't walk! it's too faaaaar. public transport is diiiirty.)car = 1 person. we have equal rights on the road. how many more cyclists are going to be killed by self-righteous drivers just like you? too many. you make me fucking sick.

3/10/08 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Jesus Christ said...

Hey, we can't see who you are even if you used your blogger ID so it's sort of stupid to call out other people for posting anonymously. Just thought I'd point that out.

By the way, yeah, pay the fine, don't text and don't go the wrong way on a one way street. If a car did that, they'd get ticketed. The rest of you can make this into a larger debate about the ongoing bike v. car battle or about saving mother earth, but it's simple. He broke the law, he got fined, he pays the ticket.

The whole "cars break the law all the time so we should be able too" argument is just so childish and it really displays your unwavering ignorance.

3/10/08 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, no sympathy. As a pedestrian who walks to work every day, I regularly encounter bicyclists who disregard their safety and mine by breaking every traffic law in the book. I have had way more close calls with bikes than with cars, and I am tired of it.

3/10/08 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The gall of auto drivers in this city is amazing. I'm breaking the law by slit laning past you at a stop sign? You idiots! Ever heard of proper lane usage? Every time you blow past a cyclist on a two lane road, or a 4 lane where the inner lane is in use, you BROKE THE LAW! I'll stop passing you at the stop sign when you stop passing me on the road.

3/10/08 10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah i ride a bike, it's the socially responsible thing to do. = chip carrying cyclist.

This issue comes up in DC area blogs ad nauseam with the same half-sensical arguments being made.

So here are the facts we can all agree on:
1. Act like an adult
2. Take care of yourself always without breaking the law.
3. Don't be selfish.

Beach Rd. = not for cyclists

WABA states the area in the city of which you cannot ride on the sidewalk as a cyclist. Abide by that.

If you can't ride with the speed of traffic from the stop position at a stop light/sign and beyond, then train in a parking lot while cycling next to your friend in a car. Everyone with a driver's license probably got their feet wet by driving in a parking lot at 15-16 years old. Just because you learned how to ride a bike as a child doesn't necessarily grant you amateur Lance Armstrong status when having to share the road with vehicles. Drivers make mistakes on the road, don't see cyclists all the time, aren't used to sharing the road with them. But some cyclists make mistakes too (consciously or not). It's in a cyclist's best interest to ride along with half ton moving brick's of steel and horsepower at a non-hazardous speed or get out of the way . Drivers learn about how pedestrians (or kids darting out into the street, even) and cyclists can be in their path while in driving school and are taught how to act accordingly. Amateur commuter cyclists simply don't. If in doubt, contact WABA.

3/10/08 11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cyclists in DC have to be the biggest group of arrogant, dangerous, un-nerving assholes ever. Get a clue: EVERYONE HATES BIKERS EXCEPT OTHER BIKERS. Everone! Joggers hate you. Drivers hate you. Pedestrians hate you. NO ONE LIKES YOU AND YOUR SPANDEX COVERED ASS. And when bikers get hit, and 80+% of the time it's their fucking fault, we are supposed to be all sad about it? Hell no. You ride like an asshole on the narrow street of DC then you need to accept the risks. Here are some simple tips for our less intelligent biker friends:

*Ride your bike on BIKE TRAILS. This city is amongst the tops in America for bike trails. USE THEM!!

*Stay the fuck off roads like Beach Drive or you can enjoy the feeling of wheels going over your body. And no, no one will feel bad when you get hit if you ignore this bit of “courtesy”.

*Don't ride your bike to work, METRO. Then you don't die.

Fucking ignorant bikers! Go ride in the fucking country or some shit! Ugh.

3/10/08 2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it bad that when I see a biker coming in my side mirror, I want to open my door? I would never do it, but I do think about it. lol.

3/10/08 2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Where have you been? I don't even ride in that part of town and I know you'll get a ticket for going the wrong way down that street in the morning.

This has been "news" for the past two months. You should have your fine doubled for being unconcious.

3/10/08 3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"cyclist = 1 person, you in your gas guzzling (but I caaaan't walk! it's too faaaaar. public transport is diiiirty.)car = 1 person"

If you're so concerned about the environment, then ride Metro or the bus - each of which holds dozens of people with little impact on the environment. Then there isn't 1 asshole on 1 bike holding up dozens of cars thus making everyone hate bikers!

Last point, there are many ways that we can go “green”, conserve and save the environment. It’s misguided and ignorant to think that all drivers are not concerned about the environment. Oh yeah, just because you ride a bike, and screw up the flow of traffic, you’re single-handedly saving the world. Piss off, get a life.

I think it’s obvious – 85-90% of the population hates bikers.

3/10/08 4:33 PM  
Blogger David said...

The law is good, don't protest it. Bicyclists have all the rights and responsibility of other drivers of vehicles, and if that were to change, it would undoubtedly be bad for bicyclists.

Send texts when MOTORISTS break the law too, like when they speed or when they don't yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.

7/10/08 8:45 AM  
Blogger Ikon O. Klasst said...

Simple solution without all the drivel: next time, don't stop.

7/10/08 9:16 AM  
Anonymous ibc said...

Stay the fuck off roads like Beach Drive or you can enjoy the feeling of wheels going over your body. And no, no one will feel bad when you get hit if you ignore this bit of “courtesy”.

Cyclist here: I ride Beach Drive all the time. I'll probably be riding it tonight. I'll make sure I take the full lane tonight, so you can eat the peanuts out of my shit, Mr Car Driver.

Beach Drive is a National Fucking Park. The whole point of the National Park system is to provide a place for cyclists, hikers, roller-bladers, etc...

If you have a problem with this, here's what you want to do: take your infantile, arrogant, self-absorbed ass, and get on either Connecticut or Georgia Ave where you can ride unobstructed by other users of the roadways.

Otherwise, catch my motherfucking vapors.

7/10/08 11:30 AM  
Anonymous ibc said...

screw up the flow of traffic

The speed limit for pretty much the whole of Beach Drive is 25 mph. I ride my bike at about 20-22.

That's plenty fast enough for you, buddy.

7/10/08 11:33 AM  
Anonymous nord said...

So sad - yes against the law to ride one way for one block, but oh the traffic violations cars make on the intersectin of U St. and 16th -- speeding, running and sitting in lights, refusing to yield - what a joke.

7/10/08 4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i bike, walk, drive and take the bus/metro. my main concern is actually as a pedestrian. i see drivers use bike lanes as turn lanes (just an hour ago, in fact--no cops around to enforce those new higher fines, either!!), and i see cyclists regularly run down pedestrians and startle drivers. at any rate, if everyone recognized that there are other people out there--walking, riding, driving--we might just be able to make get through the day without rage, or worse, accidents.

regarding the cop, a warning would have been enough...and again, where are the cops when you have all the cars driving through the bike lanes or mowing down pedestrians? they're usually all hanging out near the 7-11 on 17th and R.

10/10/08 5:43 PM  
Blogger ezflyerbikes said...

We need practical bike routes for bikes to be used as regular personal vehicles, they are not only for recreational purposes. That means being able to ride all around the city. Since every street is available for cars but not many were designed to safely accomodate bike traffic, the main thing needed is to add bike routes and bike lanes. Some suggestions for Beach Drive:

1) There should be a full-width, well maintained bike route along the ENTIRE length of the park, to provide a practical alternative to the roadway. "Anonymous" may not realize that the bike route currently "shares the road" along parts of Beach Drive, officially.

2) Parts of Beach Drive already become 1-way at rush hour and/or are closed to cars on weekends. The entire length of Beach Drive could become one-way INTO the city for the morning and one-way OUT of the city in the afternoon/evening. On sections where it is a 2-lane road, cars would use only 1 lane (at 25 mph) and the other lane could become a permanent 2-way bike route. This suggestion has the advantage that the park is uniquely suited to a bike route (quiet, clean, away from the worst car fumes and dangerous multi-lane and cross traffic, etc.) and cars could still access the park at any time.

3) The weekend closings could be reversed so most of the time the park roads would be for BIKES and scooters only, and during limited weekend hours cars could be allowed to drive thru the park (slowly). There should also be a 20-mph mini-bus service through the park every day so that people who can't walk or don't bike could still access the park, and people who may not even own a car would have increased access to the park.

4) Automobiles frequently drive way over the speed limit on Beach Drive, compounding their difficulty in safely sharing the road. In many places, the auto lanes could be NARROWED and still easily carry 25 mph traffic. Then the widened shoulders could become bike lanes. I find a 3-foot wide shoulder lane is wide enough for cars to pass a bike comfortably at 25 mph, without the drivers feeling so frustrated.

5) Let's keep all our travel lanes smooth, not covered with "chips" that fell off people's shoulders!

29/1/09 11:35 AM  
Blogger clark said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


1/4/09 1:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ride my bike to work most of the time from April until sometime in November. I hate playing chicken with morons going down the wrong side of the street or up a narrow one way street. I have no sympathy for you. Although, I could probably get one for going thru red lights often enough. I don't blow thru them, and if someone is going through, I stop. But I fully realize I could get a ticket.

7/8/09 12:22 PM  

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