Under a banner of “National Bike Month,” one of the bikers for Stick Dog bike delivery service received a ticket on May 15. As the owner, I understand the laws that govern bikes on the sidewalk. I argue that due to lax enforcement of traffic laws, some streets are too dangerous to ride on. To Utah drivers, the yellow traffic light means, “Five more cars may pass.” I have been hit twice downtown by drivers who were either texting or were running lights.
A few months ago, when the police were doing one of their mega jay-walking/bikes-on-the-sidewalk blitzes, an officer said to me they were told not to write tickets to the ‘nice people.’ ” In other words, they could profile the riffraff. “Nice people,” he said, were to be given warnings. I have been given warnings in the past.
The young man who received the ticket on May 15 is Native American. When he told the officer that he was pulling his bike onto the road where he would ride it, the officer said, “Well, I was going to give you a warning, but since you argued, you will get a ticket.” The officer asked if the biker had any warrants and was told no. The officer said, “ Well, if you do, we’ll come looking for you.” While all this was taking place, at least three bikes rolled by on sidewalks.
The police officers who wrote the ticket were riding their bikes on the sidewalk, where they normally ride. I never see them ride anywhere but on the sidewalk. Are they afraid they might get hit by someone texting or running a light? Could law enforcement be more effective if they did not need five cops on bikes to write a single biking-on-the-sidewalk ticket? Perhaps if they spread out they could affect public safety more efficiently.
We do try to ride on the street, but getting to some eateries and business requires brief trips on the sidewalk. We are polite to pedestrians and say “excuse me” and “thank you.” We wait at crosswalks, don’t run lights and never yell at cars.
The city has an obligation to enforce traffic laws. As the traffic laws are not being enforced in downtown Salt Lake City, we are obliged as bikers to consider our safety when deciding where we ride.
If any of the many law firms that we deliver to would like to help us with this ticket, I would appreciate it. I’ll pay for your sandwich!
Salt Lake City