Thursday, June 15, 2006

Right of way in Texas?

You may not want to read this. If you are a cyclist it may make you angry to not only hear what happened, but the way the police responded.

In case there is any doubt regarding Texas law, the police officer is entirely wrong.

At least I know to never consider living in Beaumont Texas or visiting there.

Darren J 6/15/2006 09:44:00 AM

3 Comments:

There's a big discussion about this over on the Bike Touring mailing list. Very sad that anyone would even *think* the truck driver is not at fault because he had the right of way over the cyclist. Aweful...

On the bright side, it doesn't sound like Texas is necessarily all that backwards when it comes to cycling awareness. Quote from the Bentrideronline message board:

"Don't try to smear the whole South with that mostly out of date stereotype. Three of the people that I ride with in Houston are Bill White, (Mayor) Carol Alvarado (Houston City Councilwoman) and Rodney Ellis (Texas State Senator). Rodney (Texas' only Black Senator) has been a great proponent of cycling related legislation in Texas having intorduced severl bills to make cycling safer."
Thanks Vic. I read some of those comments and found a discussion on a Beginner Triathlete forum.

I'm glad people are taking it seriously and confronting the officer and reporter about it.

Update:
The officer made a statement about being misquoted by the reporter. The reporter says "no, the officer definitely said that on camera". The television station made a news story to talk about the issue and cyclist rights, then removed it.

Strange.

Some of the triathlete responses are hard to believe too. One says that the trucker probably "executed a safe pass". If this is safe, then what is unsafe? Even if the cyclist lost his balance, the truck was definitely too close.

And I agree about it not being right to smear the South. Maybe it's not quite fair what I said about the town too, but I would be concerned about cycling there if police actually misunderstand the law so severely.
I don't know much about Beaumont, but I wouldn't be surprised if cycling wasn't a terribly popular activity there, as it isn't terribly popular in many American cities. So it could well be that the police officer simply didn't know the law on this subject because s/he has seldom/never encountered such a situation involving a bicyclist. There are too many laws on the books for police officers to know them all, and in a place like Beaumont (speculating here), cycling laws might be a somewhat obscure topic.

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