ticketed while riding

I was ticketed earlier in this afternoon for running a red light on my bike in Charles Village.
I was coming back from a 3+ hour ride that started in Fells, with a turnaround out in the County on Tufton, and the ride back home. I was in Charles Village at 40th and University, stopped for the red light, no cars were turning left in front of me, and a car was maybe 100 yards to my right slowly for the right turn. I had a comfortable amount of time and space, so I pulled out across the street and was making my way down University when I got pulled over by a police car. This was getting well into the third hour of my ride, I was tired, hungry, and just wanted to get home, so I was a little standoffish to the cop, but I didn't use profanity, shout, or even raise my voice. I really just didn't buy his argument that he was trying to keep me safe by giving me a ticket. He then tried to contend that I had in fact run two red lights, which was completely incorrect, which he furthered by saying "I bet you didn't even know where the second one was," and of course, I didn't because he was next to me when I ran the light. At this point a second squad car pulled up and another officer got out. The first officer asked for my license, and I gave it to him immediately, although I did ask what would have happened if I did not have my license because I was not operating a motor vehicle, and he really didn't give me a substantive answer.

He then went to look at what appeared to be the cross street, which was Linkwood, so I said "the street is Linkwood" and the second officer immediately snapped "Let him do him job!"

He then wrote me up a ticket anyways. He implied that the ticket might have been avoided if I had agreed with his lecture on bike safety and bicycling needing to follow the exact same rules of the road. I tried to argue that some of the laws of the road don't make sense to biking versus driving, and that if I had been running instead of biking, nothing would have come of the "running a red light". I literally ran 75% of the red lights on Calvert out of the city, but I always initially stop at each of the red lights to make sure no cars are coming before I cross. I had done this in front of at least three cop cars on today's ride, and none of the other cops even lifted a finger. I asked what would have happened if I was out for a run, and ran across the street in the same circumstance, and he said "we have citations for that too".

I understand that some rules are meant to be followed, and traffic rules are in place for the protection of drivers. I'm on a 20 pound piece of carbon that is in contact with three inches squared of pavement. I stay as far to the right as possible, and cars still blow by me a foot away. If I really had to follow the same rules, I would take up a whole lane to myself and ride under the speed limit (since its a limit after all). But that's not the way the world works. When I'm in my car driving, cyclists often piss me off by riding a few abreast or riding on an unusually busy road, and when I'm on my bike, I get aggravated by cars. It's just the nature of the sport.

The officer handed me my license back, and I took it from him and put it in my wallet. He then said "if you take this citation out of my hand the same way you took your license, we're going to have some real issues".

I'm just a graduate student at JHU, so the $140 ticket is quite a blow. I didn't put anyone else other than myself at potential risk, and I initially stopped at the red light to gauge the situation. I'm definitely going to fight this because it's completely ridiculous.

I'm also considering filing a harassment claim for the officer's treatment of me, including his alleged claims that I ran multiple red light, and the way he handled handing me my citation. I was completely reasonable, did not refuse a single request asked of me, and did not swear or yell. I was obviously pissed off, but I had just gotten pulled over. There's no law that says I need to be friendly to officers who pull me over for no good reason.

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I'm sorry about the ticket. They're frustrating, especially where there are obviously bigger dangers than graduate students riding bicycles. When I lived in Cambridge, MA I got 3 tickets for riding my bicycle but had to pay none of them. I've learned that the best way to deal with police is to be sincerely deferential. And I am sincere about it: they do a really hard job that I wouldn't be willing to do, risk their lives, and don't get paid very much. Their only pay is in respect from others, so as long as you give them that respect including calling them "officer" and "sir" and avoid self-righteousness, the encounter will end as soon as possible, and you'll avoid further trouble. Hard to do, especially when you're tired and annoyed, but that's the only thing you can control since often they're also tired and annoyed. They do have discretion in what they enforce, but ultimately they are just doing their job. Even if their job involves meeting quotas or whatever unfair tactics, they're not the one responsible for those policies. They know how to come right to the edge of the law, however, and you can do the same. My understanding is that one is not required to produce ID if asked for it, and police can't search you unless you are arrested. Most states don't require that a person give any information other than a name. I checked wikipedia for stop and identify laws and it looks like Maryland doesn't even require a name. Of course police have discretion in deciding that they have probable cause for arrest, so you skirt a thin line in failure to give full or accurate information: you can only get away with it if you do it extremely deferentially so that the encounter ends as soon as possible. As for how I got out of the tickets: For the first, riding on the sidewalk (I coasted 6 feet from the curb cut to a parking space), I told them that I did not have a driver's license and I gave a false name with real address (a 3-flat). That's not a good strategy because it's illegal to misidentify oneself to an officer. Better might be to give a real name, false out of state address. Not sure. For the second, running a red light (but following the pedestrian signal that was a walk), I apologized and explained that I didn't know that bicyclists weren't pedestrians. In that case, I think he let me off with a warning. I don't remember if I was asked for ID or not. For the third, I gave my out of state license and apologized and said that I didn't live in town and didn't know the local laws, and I think he let me off with a warning. It certainly doesn't hurt to go to traffic court for the ticket and plead hardship to see if they could reduce the fine. If the cop doesn't come, it's possible you would even get off. The right attitude with police is deference and agreeableness. They live under strict policies that they can ignore but can't change. There's no reason for you to expect any differently. I have a friend in California who has gotten dozens of tickets with his car and only paid one of them because he went to court and always found some crazy law that was on his side or the ticketing officer didn't go to court or something. Best of luck.
If you ride on the road the law applies to you. If you think its not fair when applied to you, then work to change the law. I think cyclists that run lights, stops, and ignore the laws they are supposed to follow cause a great deal of harm to the reputation of cyclists that do obey traffic laws. I am glad you got a ticket.
When you get over your initial reaction to this and reread your post, you will agree that your "excuse" is pretty lame. If you had seen a car doing the same thing, wouldn't you expect the officer to ticket him?
I was initially caught off guard by being pulled over; I've never heard of anyone getting pulled over while riding and rarely see bicyclists completely stop and wait for green lights. I know my excuse was lame, but I was completely compliant with the officer, and as soon as he began taking down my information, I knew I wasn't going to get off with a warning. Sometimes, I won't stop completely at a red light because I'm in an area that I don't deem safe, like East Baltimore. Other times, I'm not sure that the cars next to me can see me unless I get out a little ahead of them by going through a red light. Also, it's not like cars even stop for red lights in this city, I can't even count the number of times that a light turns green for me, and some car speeds through a red light from my right. I'd rather just take my chances when the road is clear.
I hope we can find a way to adjust and clarify our laws regarding bikes. We obviously do not follow the same rules as motor vehicles. We often move over to the side of our lane so that cars can pass. Cars do not pass other cars or even motorcycles this way on roads such as Falls Road where the lanes are narrow. In some places we have specific bike lanes that cars can not use. We are not motorized, so often, on roads we go slower than the acceptable rate for cars. Most roads were not built with bicycles in mind. I agree that irresponsible zipping in and out of traffic, going through red lights haphazardly and other behavior is bad for bicyclists and I get angry when I see it. But red light running by bicyclists after a safe slow down or stop makes much more sense than sitting there, often in an unsafe place. And my experience with Baltimore City Police is unfortunately not very positive in this regard. They are not the "Officer Friendly" that I learned of during my elementary school days of "Dick and Jane". I have had an encounter on my bike and one in my car where 2 different officers approached me in an argumentative and demeaning way. I am a grandmother, a 57 year old female and basically very polite and difficult to frazzle. But it took all the diplomacy I had to get through both situations without the police escalating the situation to the point of giving me a ticket. They were both quite rude in their approach, so much so that my first thought was "I'm paying my tax dollars for this moron to treat me like this?" Sometimes they just seem to want to take out their anger on someone. Maybe they spend too much time with hard core and rude obnoxious criminals and just can't adjust to respecting people. Anyway, in order to avoid tickets and other consequences, it seems easier to be extremely humble and definitely do not match your attitude with theirs. It is a shame the one with less "power" has to set the example of civility for the one with the badge, gun, and the citation book.
Cops go through a lot of crap. They get shot all the time. These people are putting their lives at risk every day in this city. I have nothing but respect for them.
Dear Anonymous, In the past 5 years, I have been beaten up 5-6 times with rubber bullets/ fists/ rocks while stopping at red lights on my way to JHMI. I dont stop at red lights anymore while in East Baltimore. Should I also get a ticket? will you be happy at that also?
Was it 5 or 6,or just BS?
more times than I care to recall. dare to bike to east balt dude? just try it for a week and we shall see....
From a pragmatic point of view, it is ridiculous to expect and require bikes to follow "the exact same rules" as cars. That said, if an officer wants to enforce the letter of the law to the point of absurdity, he actually can get away with it. You're the first person I've ever heard of who got stopped in Baltimore for red-light running on a bike. I do it myself everytime I ride and even in direct view of officers. I guess this means that they're going after cyclists now when they aren't running back and forth from 911 calls. A bit of advice... You're a grad student and probably from out of town. I would recommend that if you're stopped by police in Baltimore the best course of action is to be completely compliant, apologetic and say immediately that you weren't aware that you broke the law. A police stop is NOT a good time for any persnickety debate about anything, including rules of the road. Doing so is a good way to end up spending a day and a half at central booking-- no joke, I know someone who landed there after an argument with a cop and it is a traumatic experience if you're not a street person.
They are going after cyclists because the city is BROKE.
Here's some advice that I can offer (sorry it's after the fact). Instead of using roads that have stoplights (especially if you know it's a long light), jog over to a secondary street and cross with a stop sign. Many times at a light you have to sit and wait even when the intersection is empty. However if you are at a stop sign, once you've stopped and looked, you're free to go at any time and nobody can fault you. Usually going a block out of the way is still faster than waiting at the light.
[I thought some of you might find this comment I found on the net interesting:]

Honked at for NOT running a red light

I had a new one today. On my inbound commute, I came to an intersection in the downtown area. It was still early enough that the traffic wasn't really busy, but there were a few cars around.

I stopped at a red light on a 2 lane road the intersects with a 4 lane road. There were enough cars on the 4 lane road that I didn't want to just ride across, so I stopped and unclipped.

A city bus pulls in behind me and starts honking his horn. Mostly, I ignore honking things behind me (I worry much more about the ones who don't see me, and the honkers must have seen me or they wouldn't be honking). This time, I turn around and look at him, and point at the red light. He opens his window and starts shouting "Right on Red!!! Right on Red!!!". Of course, I was going straight, but that didn't seem to be important to him.

There was really no place to go to get out of his way. A full size bus turning right would take up most of the intersection. A few seconds later, the light turns green, and I pedal across the intersection. The bus turns right behind me (I checked the mirror to be sure).

My theory about all of this is that for all of the anger about cyclists who run red light and stop signs, terrorize little old ladies and go up one way streets the wrong way, there are really only 2 important facts:

1) On average, a bicycle is slower than a car

2) Occasionally there will be bicycle in front of a car.

Personally, I don't think I've ever held up a motorist for more than 30 seconds. Of course, by second number 12 or 13, the driver is ranting and fuming (and/or honking). I think we have to recognize that we cannot change these facts, we just have to smile and wave and ignore the idiots.