Those Scofflaw Cops…

January 25, 2014 at 11:58 | Posted in bicycles | 2 Comments
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copsonfootpathI came out of work at lunchtime the other day to see two bicycle police officers riding on the pavement outside our building. The ground slopes away a little bit, and one of them instead of being on the pavement proper rode up on the paved area outside the office block. When he got to the end he realised that the pavement had dropped away, and there were a few steps down back to that level – so he just rode down them, clatter clatter. The two officers then continued their leisurely ride along the pavement, through the throng of people on the pavement of the CBD at lunchtime.

Now, for sure, they were riding slowly and I’m sure carefully, and not really inconveniencing anyone. And I’m not really averse to careful pavement riding – I do it myself sometimes. But, technically, they were breaking the law – road rule 250, to be precise. I know that the police are able to break the rules in an emergency, or when attending an incident – usually with sirens wailing and so on. But these officers were just meandering along chatting, with no sense of urgency.

Now, on the one hand I don’t really mind. After all, I think careful footpath riding should be legal, as it is in for example Japan (where, despite the hectic streets, it all works rather well). But I can’t help feeling a bit piqued when those same cops pull me up later in the day for flouting rule 256 – one that it seems to me creates less danger and inconvenience to other road users than footpath riding. I didn’t get a ticket – my magic indemnity saw to that – but it was annoying just the same.

Actually, I have to say I have never ever seen a bicycle police officer riding on the road.  I think it’s  pity – it seems to be bicycle cops would be ideal for catching motorists using mobile phones, blocking junctions, driving through red lights and the myriad other dangerous behaviours that can be seen on the city streets every minute of every day. Perhaps they think it’s too dangerous…

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  1. Saw cycle cops biking on the footpath recently too the other day, along regent street. Can’t really blame them, though I ride on that road. I wonder if their mountain style bikes don’t help them keep pace with traffic. I would want a racer if I was a cop.

    As to the danger, I spoke to a cop once wearing one of those bright yellow tasers on his chest, and asked him if the training for using a taser was the same in the US, in which cops must first be shot themselves with the taser in order to know what it feels like, which seems perfectly sensible to me…. Anyway, he said he would undergo that training if he could, but he can’t – OH&S. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if there exists an internal memo advising cops not to cycle on roads.

  2. PS. I agree with you about riding on the footpaths being ok in general though – I lived in Japan too, and though I often rode on the road there, think ultimately bikes are so safe that the less regulation the better. People should the freedom to choose based on their skill level.


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