BugMan – 1, City of Frontenac – ZERO

Dear Officer Barron,

I am a respectful and law-abiding cyclist – I believe not only in cyclists rights, but also their responsibilities.  I stop at stop signs.  I ride to the right when it is safe and take the lane when it is not.  I let drivers know my intentions and move in a predictable manner.  I am an experienced, savvy road cyclist, having logged well over 40,000 miles in the past eight years.  Many of those miles were traveled leading group rides done to teach and provide insight to less experienced cyclists, and on any ride, whether I was leading or not, I have advocated for safe, lawful riding by example or, if necessary, by words. 

As a law-abiding cyclist, I am greeted by the vast majority of motorists with whom I share the road with the same amount of respect that I show towards them.  They keep a safe distance behind me until it is safe to pass.  When they do pass, they do so at a safe distance and move well ahead of me before moving back over into my lane.  They grant me my turn at stop signs and wait for me to pass before turning into my lane.  They recognize me as another human being, deserving of civility.  Unfortunately, a small minority of motorists do not share that view.  They are either unaware of or unwilling to accept the rights that I have as a cyclist under the law.  Rejecting those rights, they believe it is acceptable to harrass or even threaten cyclists that they encounter on the road, simply because they do not agree with the law that allows them to be there.  Whether malicious, arrogant, or just uninformed, the result is the same – they are dangerous. 

I worry that you, sir, might be one of those people.  I knew the “failure to yeild” citation you gave me was baseless – I was making a right turn on a green light while riding on the shoulder.  It was the motorist who crossed over the white line and almost hit me that was at fault, and it is she to whom you should have given the citation.  As a police officer, I have no doubt that you understand the law as it pertains to cyclists at least as well as I do.  I must ride as far to the right as is safe.  I must not unduly block traffic.  I must obey all traffic signals.  I must exercise care when passing standing vehicles on the right. And, I am allowed (though not required) to ride on the shoulder.  When you gave me the citation, you must have known it was wrong.  Why else would you state “failed to observe posted yield sign” when, in fact, no yield sign exists – my photographs easily proved it.  Why else would you state that I was making a left turn when, in fact, I was making a right turn – my telephone call to point out that error was not challenged.   If, Officer Barron, I had truly broken the law, why then did you get the citation so wrong?

Southbound on Spoede, downhill to stop sign at Frontenac Estates.  You passed me right here, moved in front of me, and hit the brakes.

Southbound on Spoede, downhill to stop sign at Frontenac Estates. You passed me right here, moved in front of me, and hit the brakes.

Maybe you did it because you were angry with me for reacting to the incident we had two blocks back.  What made you decide to pass me on a downhill leading into a stop sign?  Why did you sit at the stop sign in a dead stop, staring at me in your rearview mirror as I braked hard in the shortened stopping distance?  It was shocking to me that an officer of the law would show such apparent disregard for my safety. Your actions, in my opinion, appeared hostile, and my “What the heck?” reaction as you sped away was reasonable and justified. How ironic it is that you would witness a careless motorist almost hitting me at the very next intersection, and that you would pull me over and yell at me for “cutting off traffic” rather than the motorist. Your first words as you got out of the car were, “I was willing to let it go when you yelled at me back there…” (presumably referring to my “What the heck?” reaction), and at that instant I knew I would have to fight you. What specific statutes did my “What the heck?” reaction violate? The unsafe manner in which you overtook me was, in my opinion, a clear violation of Missouri Statutes 300.411 and 304.678 regarding maintaining a safe distance when overtaking bicycles. Do these statutes not apply to you, simply because you are a police officer?

I am sure you know by now that the Frontenac city prosecutor has dismissed this case, recognizing that the citation was wrong.  My photographs of the intersection, and my long, spotless record as a road cyclist further compelled the prosecutor that the case should not be prosecuted.  This was not a plea bargain, not a reduced charge, no getting off on a technicality, but an outright dismissal!  I was right, and you were wrong.  I knew it, and I believe you knew it, too. Will this change your opinion of me? I doubt it – in fact, I suspect that I will be watched even more carefully now whenever I ride through the city of Frontenac.  But I will continue to ride through Frontenac – my head held high and my chest puffed out.  If I do get another citation, either from you or from one of your fellow officers, it will be as baseless as this one, because I am a respectful, law-abiding cyclist.

Sincerely,
Ted C. MacRae
Avid road cyclist

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2009

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl

Advertisements

About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
This entry was posted in politics, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to BugMan – 1, City of Frontenac – ZERO

  1. Slingen says:

    Good stuff…very well written…it’s great to hear the good guy can still win.

  2. Jim says:

    nanner nanner

  3. Chris Cleeland says:

    bugman wins. you should give ofc. barron a gift of dung beetles.

  4. Brian says:

    Cool!

    I’ve ridden through Frontenac as much as you or anybody has over the past 20 years. Somehow, I was lucky enough to never get a ticket.

    Sometimes, all you’ve got to do to make people understand you is prove that you’re a human being.

  5. Curt says:

    100% with you, Ted. Well done. However, in your last paragraph, in which you state “I suspect that I will be watched even more carefully now whenever I ride through the city of Frontenac” it is clear that all cyclists will receive the same treatment.

    Frontenac does appear to have a “systemic” disregard for the law as it relates to cyclists. Similar harassment has occured in the past. I wish it were easier for me to avoid Frontenac, as it seems only a matter of time…

  6. Chris Cleeland says:

    one thing…I don’t think you’re legally required to ride in a bicycle lane if one is provided. I think the point is moot for Frontenac since they don’t provide any (yes, there are some on Lindbergh, but that’s state maintained, so state laws apply there, no?)

    • Technically you are correct, and I have made the appropriate edit (don’t need to be giving Officer Barron any more misinformation than he already has). This is something that varies from state to state – Kansas explicitly states that bicycles must use bike lanes when available, while Missouri does not. In reality, however, if there is a bike lane available and you do not use it, it can be argued that you were not riding as far to the right as is safe (unless you can demonstrate that the bike lane was not a safe place). In a place like Frontenac, where the police have demonstrated obvious anti-cyclist bias, you’d best use those bike lanes where they exist.

  7. Lynne, Mollie & Madison says:

    Way to go Dad!

  8. Alex/Watcher says:

    Way to go Ted! I love this story- what a great ending. Great job and great post.

    -Alex

  9. Greg D says:

    Whoohooo! Way to go Ted… I loved how you proved all the statements from the officer’s ticket wrong!

    Officer Barron…FAIL!!

  10. sherkat says:

    I’m surprised he didn’t give you the full body cavity. He’s obviously trolling for guys in spandex.

  11. sooo wrong says:

    Hate to tell you……. The picture you took was spoede and frontenac estates and your right there is no yield sign. Tooooo bad the ticket was issued to you for a violation at Clayton and Spoede……where there is a yield sign.

    • You are uninformed. In my post No Yield Here, I showed an entire series of pictures of the approach to the Clayton and Spoede intersection that prove there is NO yield sign—do your homework next time! The photo in this post of the Spoede and Frontenac Estates intersection is significant because that is where Officer Barron short-braked me to initiate the whole conflict.

      Regardless of any supposed yield sign, Missouri law and Frontenac code both contain clear and unambiguous language regarding the right of cyclists to pass vehicles on the right (and their obligation to exercise caution when doing so). Conversely, the driver who crossed over the white line and almost hit me clearly violated Missouri’s Safe Passing law, which requires motorists to pass cyclists and pedestrians at a safe distance. I was already proceeding through the intersection when the driver started drifting towards me while looking the other way. Whether Officer Barron actually intended to “pick a fight” with me two blocks previous is an open question, but his decision to pass and short-brake me at the stop sign certainly raises suspicions, and his follow up decision to ticket me at the Clayton/Spoede intersection rather than the motorist who almost hit me further strengthens those suspicions.

      I don’t know who you are, but my site stats tracker shows your comment was entered using a computer hosted by the City of Frontenac. You could be Officer Barron himself for all I know. Regardless, hiding behind the cloak of anonymity doesn’t earn you much cred. I guess this now makes the score:
      BugMan – 2, City of Frontenac – ZERO

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s