The Third Hadley Encounter: Relapse

On Saturday, 03/20/2010, at about 10:45AM, I was traveling West on Route 9 in Hadley, just East of Bay Road, when I heard a siren behind me. I had been recording video of my trip with a camera attached to the side of my helmet. I looked back, saw a police patrol car, and pulled over. Mitchell Kuc, whose name I found out is pronounced like "cook", emerged from the patrol car. Due to imperfect memory some events might be out of order in my account.

He asked me if I had any ID. I asked what kind of ID he had in mind. He said he meant a driver's license or State issued ID. I truthfully said I did not have one with me. He asked for my name and mailing address, which I gave. He said that he was writing me a ticket for failing to keep right and went back to his car.

After some time, another patrol car approached from the East and stopped behind Officer Kuc's patrol car. An officer from the second patrol car (I'll call him Officer II) talked with officer Kuc for some time. Officer Kuc approached again with a ticket. Another patrol car approached from the West, made a U-turn and stopped near us. I think that Officer II had left by that time. Officer Kuc handed me my ticket. An officer from the third patrol car (I'll call him Officer III) approached.

Officer Kuc noticed my camera and asked me if it was a camera and I answered yes. He told me that by recording his voice without explicitly warning him of it that I was violating Federal wiretapping law. Him and Officer III said that Federal law prohibited secretly recording someone's voice. (I believe this is State law and that Federal law only prohibits secretly recording someone's voice if you are not part of the conversation.) I said that I was not being secretive since the camera was in plain view, right next to my face. Officer Kuc said that I was being secretive because I did not explicitly warn him that I was recording and because he had no reason to suspect that it was a camera. He demanded that I turn off the camera and hand it to him so he could hold it as evidence. I asked him for a receipt several times but he refused to give me one. I handed him the camera.

Officer Kuc and Officer III informed me that they were aware of my having hired a lawyer (who had sent a cease-and-desist letter to the chief about a month earlier) and made disparaging comments about it. Officer Kuc said that he had spoken to the district attorney, who supported his position. Officer Kuc and Officer III continued to talk to me about how serious a crime I had committed with the camera and how I was begging for death by riding in the middle of the lane. Both officers threatened to arrest me for disorderly conduct the next time either of them saw me in the middle of a lane again. Officer III said that he would have arrested me right off if he had been the one to pull me over. Officer Kuc showed a book that said something about a particular section of the Massachusetts General Laws (I don't remember which one) that required drivers to "keep right" when being overtaken. (Chapter 89: Section 2 says to "give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle", but I don't think that this was the section that he mentioned.) I said that "keep right" does not mean stay at the far right of the lane. Neither Officer Kuc nor Officer III acknowledge the distinction. (I could also have said that it does not mean staying to the right in anticipation of being overtaken, only when it is necessary, sufficient, and reasonable to facilitate a particular overtaking, but I did not.) Officer Kuc told me that the same rules apply to everyone and that he enforced them the same for everyone; He was not specifically targeting me as a cyclist (which is pretty outrageous considering the circumstances). I said that I would be happy to discuss this further under different circumstances. Officer III said that he had no interest in discussing it further under any circumstances.


Officer III asked where I was coming from (I said Amherst), where I was going (I said Northampton), and why. When he got to the third question I said that I did not think it would be appropriate to discuss that. Officer III asked if it was because I thought it was a violation of my privacy and I said yes. I asked if I was free to leave. Officer Kuc said not yet. He consulted with Officer III out of earshot. Eventually both officers returned and Officer Kuc told me that I could leave. I went into the adjacent parking lot. Both officers left.

I arrived at the bike lab at about 11:30AM, so the encounter must have lasted about thirty minutes. (On the up side, I got to teach some cycling skills to a kid at the bike lab.) Anyway, I am still not safe in Hadley and I am especially worried about the wiretapping accusation.

At some point, Officer Kuc accused me of having lied about my name, saying that he had identified me as Eli Damon Cooper rather than Eli Damon. I do not know how he identified me as Eli Damon Cooper or how he justified to himself the accusation that I was lying. I told him that Eli Damon was my true, full, current, official name but that I had formerly held the name Eli Damon Cooper. Despite this, he wrote the ticket to "Eli Cooper".

On 04/01 I found a notice in my mailbox summoning me to court on 04/27/2010 to be arraigned on charges of disorderly conduct and unlawful wiretapping. The charges were brought against "Eli Cooper".

 
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Comments

  • 3/21/2010 10:30:04 AM fred_dot_u wrote:
    Take a look at Photography is not a Crime at http://carlosmiller.com/ and you'll find that courts have ruled that a police stop is considered public and as such is not subject to "right to privacy" statutes such as wiretapping.

    The officer did not have the right to take your camera, nor to threaten you with an imaginary violation.

    You are also not required to provide origin and destination information, unless you are under investigation. If you are under investigation, you do not have to answer questions without counsel, unless you choose to do so. I'm not a lawyer, I don't play one on television and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express, but I've done quite a bit of research on the situation in which you've found yourself.

    I was stopped by law enforcement, told to stop recording, until I discovered I did not have to stop, nor am I required to inform anyone that cameras are running, in a public environment.

    Carlos' site has a tremendous amount of useful information, with links to legal references as well.

    I ride in the traffic lane, and FL law permits such safe cycling practices. Uninformed uniformed law enforcement officers are a different matter. Intimidation and harassment is unacceptable.

    If you've already hired a lawyer, he can provide foundation to the alleged wiretapping problem and perhaps another visit or exchange with local authorities is in order.

    False arrest is a serious consideration here and your lawyer should be able to assist you in preventing any arrests by suggesting to the local authorities that such action may be necessary if your harassment continues.

    Good luck. As a fellow traffic-cyclist, I hope you are able to resolve this successfuly.
    Reply to this
    1. 3/22/2010 9:25:13 PM Gary wrote:
      Great reply from fred.u. Thanks for sharing your experience.
      Reply to this
    2. 4/10/2010 3:53:20 PM Charlie Knight wrote:
      I am of the understanding that the bicyclist in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has from the right hand side of the road to the middle of that lane as his/her line of trafic and can vary as is needed for road conditions through that lane. That is that no citation can be issued for "failing to stay to the right" if you did not cross the middle of the lane when proceeding in the direction of the lane of travel.

      To we need to post signs just outside of certain towns warning that the police in such an are are often ignorant of the Commonwealth's traffic laws?

      We, cyclists, do NOT have the right to go beyond the middle to the lane of travel we are in, unless the roadway is not safe to drive in, or if we are changing lanes to get to the lane of travel for a left turn (this happens in Springfield often).

      I am not certain we need to have the population bowing down to worship the almighty petroleum guzzling idols we call a car. Maybe we need whole sections of our city and towns where it is very illegal to go above 25 miles an hour, hence making the ride in a car more of a nuisance, and an expensive one at that, than the bicycle.

      All I know is that we need to fight for positive lanes of travel for bicyclists and enact measures to penalize the usage of the automobile when not warranted. The easiest way is huge chunks of the city where the speed limit is under 25 miles an hour. And the police can have a virtual field day writing out tickets. Should keep some busy for years.

      And sections of roadway limited to bicyclists (call them bike paths if you want to) where no cars can go would not need to be repaired, outside of some filling of frost heave cracks, for many years.

      I think we need a new way of looking at things and that it is the car that needs to be seen as the evil in short distance travel, even in moderate travel as under 50-75 miles.

      I am pro police person, anti "boss hog" type of thick heads. But it is nagging me that maybe some people think we have the entire lane of travel to drive in. We do not.
      We have only from the right edge of the road to the middle of that lane of travel. There is no such thing as a "failure to stay to the right" as you can weave around potholes and debris at will as long as you stay on the right half of that lane of travel.

      So, if Eli strayed across that right half of the the lane then he might be a fault. But he would not be at fault, in my opinion, if he strayed to avoid a large pothole, etc.

      I think someone is just going after Eli. Sometimes they might get it right, and often I think they are getting it wrong.

      But remember folks, it may be Eli today and you tomorrow. We need to stand together for what is right, We need to insist on it. Bicycles are not a weekend novelty like jets skis, they are a very valid and in many cases the ecologically sensible means of travel.
      We need to all band together so our law enforcement people perceive this fact to be the will of the people.

      charlie
      Reply to this
      1. 4/25/2010 6:48:45 PM Eli Damon wrote:
        There is no rule about cyclists staying in the right half of the lane. In fact cyclists must sometimes use the left half of a lane for proper destination positioning at intersections, as well as when overtaking or avoiding a stationary hazard. Riding in the center of a lane that is too narrow to safely share is necessary and very important. but there is rarely a reason to ride on the left side of a lane when not near an intersection (unless you subscribe to Serge Issakov's technique).
        Reply to this
  • 3/21/2010 10:36:22 AM Brigit wrote:
    WTF? Wiretapping? I thought that applied to recording conversations held via wire (telephone, telegraph {are those still used at all?}, internet?) I could have sworn that recording with a visible video camera in a public space was legal and you only had to get people's permission if you were going to put the video up for public viewing and not disguise/hid people's identities. If this is not the case, then half of what is on YouTube is illegal.

    And staying to the right to allow others to overtake you, means being in the right lane on a road with 2 lanes in each direction. Now if they are going to enforce this one on route 9, then they need to start ticketing all the folks that are slowing down in the left lane to get in the turning lanes to turn into the mall.

    This really appears to be harassment. They have decided they don't like you, and possibly don't like cyclists in general.
    Reply to this
  • 3/21/2010 1:40:15 PM Eli Damon wrote:
    Here is an article I was pointed to concerning charges of illegal wiretapping in Massachusetts (<http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/01/12/police_fight_cellphone_recordings/?page=1>). Apparent the State Supreme has rules that it is illegal to secretly record someone's voice, even in public. This ruling seems highly unconstitutional to me. However, it only applies to secretive recording. Failing to give an explicit warning that you are recording should not be construed as secretive. In many circumstances it is not possible or practical to warn everyone in the area that you are recording them. Being confronted by a police officer is very scary and interrupting them is dangerous in general. So it did not occur to me to interrupt Office Kuc to tell him that I was recording the conversation, especially since I thought it was obvious.
    Reply to this
  • 3/21/2010 11:50:20 PM Eli Damon wrote:
    Do you want to hear something funny? I just looked closely at my traffic ticket. Officer Kuc cited Chapter 89: Section 11B of the Massachusetts General Laws as including the law that I allegedly violated. What is funny about that? Well, there is no such section (<http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/gl-89-toc.htm>).
    Reply to this
    1. 3/22/2010 1:23:07 PM Pat Mitchell wrote:
      Eli, a bit different circumstance, but I won a speeding ticket in part because I cited that the officer did not have me sign the ticket he gave me, which is required by law. The judge asked me what the point of my citing this was, and I told him that it pointed to "procedural error" and lack of knowledge of such, by the officer. The judge agreed. There were other things I cited where the officer was incorrect, but this one thing did help. So, you could point to "procedural error" that he wrote the wrong law/section, bringing into questin the officer's knowledge, etc. Not sure I have explained quite what I mean, but it's worth a shot if you fight the ticket, to point out whatever the officer did wrong. I kept saying "with due respect to the officer", and then put forth my argument of how the officer was wrong. I didn't think the officer was due any respect at all, but you can't tell the judge that!
      Reply to this
  • 3/22/2010 7:30:46 AM Eric P. wrote:
    Omigosh! I cannot believe this. I know Hadley is a sleepy rural town but are the cops really that BORED!? I have never read something so ridiculous. I could understand (a little) if the cyclist failed to yield when vehicles approached but that does not seem to be the onus for the traffic stop in the first. This smacks of a couple of cops abusing their power because they can.

    I believe we should respect law enforcement, they do a tough job. However, there are far too many (and growing) instances of cops abusing their power or flat out voilating the very law they are sworn to protect. I am from Chicopee, we are afraid of the Springfield cops. Who's policing the Police?
    Reply to this
  • 3/22/2010 8:08:44 AM Mr. Smith wrote:
    Eli - sorry to hear you are still being harassed. There does seem to be an 11B section: http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/85-11b.htm but it does not really seem to apply to your circumstance. On another note in the early/mid nineties I had been repeatedly harassed by a State Police officer for frivolous charge (improper use of fog lights). I challenged the citations each and every time (and won) and in so doing I established a documented pattern of harassment by this officer. He continued to cite me and pretty much pulled me over whenever he saw me (stubbornly still using my fog lights when I deemed appropriate) - feeling powerless against this harassment I began recording our exchanges (on tape - it was the nineties) . He ultimately saw that I was doing this and, in addition to infuriating him, it did actually bring the situation to a climax that ended up in court. Because I had established the pattern of harassment the audio recording charge was summarily dismissed. I explained I felt I was being harassed and felt powerless against the harassment, and the trooper was ultimately actually removed from the force. In the modern day most traffic stops are recorded by the officers anyway, so this is really just another harassment in your case - and something they do themselves, but still (unfortunately) something you should take seriously until this is definitively resolved.

    The downside of all this, even though I essentially "won", is that I have a rather long recorded history of all of these traffic stops incidents that any officer can see if/when I get pulled over for any reason - so depending on the disposition of the officer - this often results in a strong prejudice (against me) independent of whatever might have caused the current traffic stop and that is something that will follow me for the rest of my life
    Reply to this
  • 3/22/2010 8:19:24 AM rick wrote:
    Police harrassment lawsuit, anyone?
    The Police stated that they were aware of a cease and desist order being filed by a lawyer that you hired, this sounds like pure harrasment on the part of the Hadley Police Dept. However knowing Hadley that doesn't surprise me.
    I do wonder, however, if seizing the camera could be considered illegal search and seizure. If this happened to me I'd be talking to a lawyer about filing charges agaist both the Police and the town of hadley.
    Reply to this
  • 3/22/2010 11:00:25 AM Eli Damon wrote:
    Hello Ann. You are apparently confused on a number of topics including traffic law, traffic safety principles, and civil rights issues. (You seem to misunderstand of the meaning of the word "liberal" as well.) My behavior was entirely legal as affirmed by Chapter 85: Section 11B of the Massachusetts General Laws (<http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/85-11b.htm>). As a cycling instructor, I am incessantly reminded of how pervasive the myths are about traffic law and traffic safety as the relate to cyclists. If you would like to learn more you can start by reading this (<http://groups.google.com/group/bicycledriving/web/faq>). Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss the issue in a calm and rational manner. Also, while I have no problems with dissenting opinions, I cannot tolerate hostility and irrationality. Thus, I have deleted your comments. Again, my offer of a calm and rational discussion stands.
    Reply to this
  • 3/22/2010 1:57:51 PM l.l. wrote:
    certainly the stop appeared to be too lengthly.however, i suppose the pd have a right to verify ur id and of course see if any warrants are in effect......the actual stop or reason can be reduced to a "safety" issue, both on the part of the rider, and of course to protect the motoring public.....boston has an abundent amount of riders each day, the paths and riders all know the laws pertaining to the streets and paths....its taken much more serious, all in order to protect the rider, and the public....perhaps you should take riding a little more serious, and not in the middle of the road......rte 9 can be a very, very dangerous road to travel, and the paths afford a much better riding experience and view(s0.....good luck on your fighting your violation.and be safe out there!!!!!
    Reply to this
  • 3/22/2010 4:19:34 PM Paulette wrote:
    Eli, if safety was your number one concern, why don't you tell people to use the bike path. Hadley has one. I've seen enough car accidents on Route 9 where people are hurt, nevermind a vulnerable bicyclist. I would never wish injury or misfortune, but I hope your are not teaching your "students" to do so. If you are, you are opening up yourself to a huge liability if someone you told to drive down the middle of a travel lane gets hurt. I don't see anything in your posting that specifically says that "bicyclists can occupy an entire travel lane". I hope that your continued problems with law enforcement teach you to stay out of the road before you get run over.

    In closing, I know Officer Kuc from around town, he is a professional, smart and caring officer who I am sure only has your safety in mind.
    Reply to this
  • 3/23/2010 10:44:50 AM GlocksRule wrote:
    Did the camera look like a camera? No it looked more like a light! Yes you can video tape in public, but not with a hidden camera. Also, video can be taken any time and anywhere. Its the audio recording that can't be taken without notice.
    Reply to this
  • 3/23/2010 11:30:40 AM Maureen wrote:
    I drove by when your were pulled over. That thing on your helmet looked like a light to me.
    If you wanna preach where its safest to ride, why don't you preach the bike path. Cars aren't allowed there because it is made for bikes. Vice versa, the road way is not constructed with bicyclists in mind, unless there is a bicycle lane.
    I never wish injury upon anyone, but if someone that you instruct gets hit by a car because they are occupying the whole travel lane, they will own your house and bicycle.
    This politcal position of yours has got you in a lot more trouble then its worth, because now you have a criminal record. And if you look into the wiretapping law, it is a FELONY. Good luck with background checks for the rest of your life with a felony on your record.
    I think you should bow out and realize that occupying a whole lane is your mis-interpretations of the laws that you list. No where does it say that a bicyclist can occupy a whole travel lane.
    Oh and lastly, I have known Officer Kuc since before he was a police officer, he used to run a local business in Hadley. He is nothing but courteous, respectful and caring. I can only assume that he doesn't want to see your mangled body and bicycle under a car.

    Ride safe, Maureen
    Reply to this
    1. 4/2/2010 12:01:14 PM Neil wrote:
      Bicycles have been on the roads since before there were cars. In most states bicycles are classified as vehicles with all the rights and responsibilities of any other vehicle. Would you tell a tractor driver to stay off the highway, because it's only for cars?
      The point of being "in the lane" is to be seen. If you are seen, then traffic will slow, you pull to the right to allow them to pass, then go into the lane again. Riding in the lane is the safest place to be, though it is counterintuitive.
      Officer Kuc is exceeding his authority. He may be a nice guy, but that's irrelevant. You may know him, but apparently you know nothing about bicycle driving.
      Reply to this
  • 3/23/2010 12:28:07 PM Eli Damon wrote:
    Paulette and Maureen:

    It is, in fact, legal for a cyclist to control a lane just as it is legal for a motorist to do so. It is a pervasive belief that it is dangerous for cyclists to ride among motor vehicles but this is merely a myth. It is perfectly safe for a cyclist ride of even high-speed roads as long as they have the right equipment and training and as long as they are sufficiently assertive and obey the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles. The bike path, in addition to providing far less convenience and flexibility than the road, also presents many hazards which make it more dangerous to ride on at comparable speeds. For more information on this see <http://groups.google.com/group/bicycledriving/web/faq> and <http://cycles.eli-damon.info/2010/03/09/the-need-for-cyclists-to-use-assertive-lane-position.aspx>. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in discussing these issues further or, if you would prefer, I can put in touch with Ralph Sturgen, the other cycling instructor in the area.

    I am sure that Mitchell Kuc's interactions with you both have been consistently respectful and legally appropriate but his interactions with were not. Even ignoring the fact the he has attempted to enforce non-existent laws, he has gone far beyond his authority as a police officer in enforcing those laws. He has also made clear that he is unwilling to even consider the possibility that my training, experience, research, and consultation with other experts might give me some insight into the situation that his uninformed intuition does not. I have offered to discuss the issues with him but he has refused. I have also offered to teach him some cycling skills.
    Reply to this
  • 3/23/2010 2:29:24 PM ChipSeal wrote:
    Hey there Eli!

    Does Officer Kuc have a dash camera? Is his voice and others around him being recorded on a “body mike”? This is a common device in law enforcement, and it is primarily used to protect police officers from frivolous and slanderous accusations.

    As I say to the officers I have been taking pictures of (before they arrest me) when they object; “Your taking pictures of me!”

    I have been somewhat dismayed in my encounters by how much/many police resources are consumed in putting down uppity cyclists who insist on obeying the law. I would wish that property taxes be more responsibly used.

    Tailwinds! Reed Bates, ChipSeal, The Menace of Ennis
    Reply to this
    1. 3/23/2010 5:25:50 PM Eli Damon wrote:
      I'm pretty sure that they did not have a camera or microphone.
      Reply to this
  • 3/23/2010 3:38:40 PM Maureen wrote:
    Can you show me in the law where is says that a "bicyclist can occupy an entire travel lane"? If you are taking bits and pieces from one law and saying that it is the "spirit" of the law to intend for that, I don't think you are going to come out on top.
    You are putting yourself and other drivers in a "hazardous" situation for "no legitimate purpose", like in your posting of the disorderly law. And if you read further into the disorderly law you are going to need to overcome if a reasonable person would think your activity is hazardous and if it serves a purpose. Good luck with that.
    I have never seen a cyclist, including professional long distance cyclists occupying an entire travel lane like what you are describing. I think that you have some obscured perspective of the laws and really need to use common sense and not some mish-mash of opinions and theory's you subscribe too.
    Wait, let me guess, every other cyclist is wrong and you are right? If you think that, there are some issues.
    Reply to this
    1. 3/23/2010 6:04:41 PM Brandon wrote:
      Maureen, I am not a lawyer, but can you show me in the law where it says that a "bicycle can *not* occupy an entire travel lane"?

      Section 85-11b, which as I understand Eli is alleged to have violated, states in part "Nothing in this clause shall relieve a bicyclist of the duty to facilitate overtaking as required by section 2 of chapter 89."

      Section 89-2 states "if the way is of sufficient width for the two vehicles to pass, the driver of the leading one shall not unnecessarily obstruct the other."

      So, the burden of proof is to show that the width was sufficient. I suspect (as a cyclist and driver on Rt 9) that Eli would assert that, no, the width of the right lane and shoulder was not sufficiently wide to be shared with passing vehicles. Again, I'm not a lawyer, but if it's unsafe for both lanes of traffic to pass alongside a cyclist on that stretch of Rt. 9, then Eli hasn't violated any law.

      FYI: nationally, it's common for cyclists to occupy the full lane. Indeed, many states have laws that are quite explicit about this. Google "bicycles allowed use of full lane" if you'd like to learn more.
      Reply to this
    2. 3/24/2010 1:02:48 PM Eli Damon wrote:
      My response was too long to put in a comment so I have created a new post for it. <http://cycles.eli-damon.info/2010/03/24/response-to-maureens-comment.aspx>
      Reply to this
  • 3/24/2010 9:44:31 AM Geof wrote:
    Hi Maureen,

    I recall Massbike has a summary page with references to the law ...

    Here you go.

    http://www.massbike.org/resourcesnew/bike-law/

    While state laws vary, the typical law is that cyclists should ride as far right as practicable (FRAP). So what does that mean? Bob Mionske is considered an expert on bicycle law. Here is a short article written by him.

    http://bicycling.com/blogs/roadrights/2009/08/31/where-you-belong/

    Have a good day!
    Reply to this
  • 3/24/2010 11:32:46 AM Maureen wrote:
    It just so happens that I am a criminal defense lawyer and it is because of mentalities like yours that a disorderly law has to be in place, but luckily there is one on file for low speed vehicles.

    Ch. 90 sec 1F, although it states low-speed motor vehicles, a bicyclist must abide by the same laws as motor vehicle operators,

    "Section 1F. Every person lawfully operating a low-speed motor vehicle shall have the right to use all public ways in the commonwealth except limited access or express state highways or any public way with a speed limit of more than 30 miles per hour, and shall be subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth and the provisions of this section"
    Reply to this
    1. 3/24/2010 1:00:53 PM Brandon wrote:
      Interesting. Section 90-1 has a rather narrow definition of a "low-speed motor vehicle":

      "Low-speed motor vehicle'' or "low-speed vehicle'', a motor vehicle as defined in 49 C.F.R. § 571.3 [which says nothing of cyclists] as a vehicle that is 4-wheeled, whose speed attainable in 1 mile is more than 20 miles per hour and not more than 25 miles per hour on a paved level surface and whose gross vehicle weight rating is less than 3,000 pounds. All low-speed motor vehicles shall comply with the standards established in 49 C.F.R. § 571.500, as amended, and pursuant thereto, shall be equipped with headlamps, front and rear turn signal lamps, tail lamps, stop lamps, an exterior mirror mounted on the driver's side of the vehicle and either an exterior mirror mounted on the passenger's side of the vehicle or an interior mirror, a parking brake, a windshield that conforms to the federal standards on glazing materials, a vehicle identification number that conforms to the requirements of 49 C.F.R. pt 565 for such numbers, a Type 1 or Type 2 seat belt assembly conforming to 49 C.F.R. § 571.209, installed at each designated seating position and reflex reflectors; provided, that 1 reflector is red on each side as far to the rear as practicable and 1 reflector is red on the rear. A low speed motor vehicle that meets the requirements of 49 C.F.R. § 571.500, as amended, and is equipped as herein provided, may be registered in the commonwealth, subject to inspection and insurance requirements."

      I find it hard to believe that a bicycle could ever meet that definition, but again, I am not a lawyer. Nonetheless, let us assume, for the sake of argument, that you are right -- that bicycles *are* low-speed motor vehicles. Then, by law, bicycles have no right to any road with a public speed limit of more than 30 mph. My residential road happens to have a posted speed limit of 35mph, so, as a cyclist, this means I only have a right to ride to the end of my *driveway*. Either the law is absurd, I've misunderstood you, or one of us has misunderstood the law.
      Reply to this
  • 3/24/2010 12:05:44 PM GlocksRule wrote:
    Vehicle owners must pay excise tax, which is a tax to use the roadways, this goes to maintenance of these roadways. Bicyclists don't pay any tax, so use the bike trails, or stay to the right. I just love it when these bikers, dressed in their fancy outfits ride side by side, and take up half the road.
    Reply to this
    1. 3/24/2010 1:20:38 PM Brandon wrote:
      Instead of arguing whether it is legal, you're arguing whether it should be legal. Nonetheless, take a look at:

      http://www.mass.gov/bb/h1/fy11h1/exec_11/hbuddevcost.htm

      This is just the state budget, but you'll be surprised to learn that even people who don't drive pay taxes to maintain our transportation infrastructure. (Some of them might in turn ask why they are forced to subsidize your driving! This is, of course, just the nature of paying taxes.) You may also be surprised by the number of bicyclists who also own and drive cars.
      Reply to this
    2. 3/24/2010 1:24:40 PM Gary wrote:
      To Glocks Rule,
      Almost every cyclist is also a motorist and pays taxes, buys fuel, pays employment taxes etc. and since they are fitter, they are less taxing on our health care system. Your point is pointless. If people want to change the state law, then get involved but for now cyclist have the right to use the lane. They have the right to travel safely within the whole lane when it is unsafe for a vehicle and another user whether a cyclist, motorcyclist or vehicle must travel within a lane that is substandard in width. Ignorance is not an excuse.
      Reply to this
    3. 3/24/2010 8:24:54 PM Eli Damon wrote:
      See the following articles for more information.

      * Whose Roads? Defining Bicyclists’ and Pedestrians’ Right to Use Public Roadways (<http://www.vtpi.org/whoserd.pdf>) by Todd Litman (Victoria Transport Policy Institute, 11/30/2004)

      * Who Owns the Roads Anyway? (<http://www.cyclingutah.com/march/march99/advocate.htm>) by Rob MacLeod

      * Should Cyclists Pay to Use The Roads? (<http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/advocacy/free.htm>) by Ken Kifer

      * America's Autos On Welfare (<http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/articles/subsidies.asp>) (subsidies to motor vehicle use reported in eight important studies)

      Also, GlocksRule, please look up the definition of "vehicle".

      Reply to this
  • 3/24/2010 5:17:35 PM Maureen wrote:
    "shall have the right to use all public ways in the commonwealth ... and shall be subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth ...”.
    Which one is it Eli? Either you have to follow the same rules or you don't. This is quoted from your answer then you said that you don't have to follow regulations for motor vehicle operators?
    All or none. You can't follow one because it suits your need, then the ones that go against you, aren't for cyclists?
    Brandon is correct in that, a bicycle doesn't qualify as a "slow moving vehicle" by statute. I think by the pure definition of the words, it certainly does. But why was that put into effect? So not to inconvenience the rest of the motoring world by getting stuck behind a vehicle doing 20 mph, nevermind a bicycle doing 15 on a roadway.
    I wish you luck and safety in your endeavors, I cannot say that I would take your case, I don't believe that traveling in the middle of a travel lane on a bicycle meets a level of common sense safety because it is clearly hazardous. I hope also that neither you or anyone you teach this method gets hurt or killed.
    Furthermore, both you and Officer Kuc seem to be very certain of your views, but, my only advise to you is to not push any buttons while this case is upcoming and/or pending. It will only hurt you in the end.

    Best Wishes-Maureen
    Reply to this
    1. 3/24/2010 5:33:26 PM Eli Damon wrote:
      There is a difference between general traffic regulations and regulations that are specific to drivers of motor vehicles. Clearly, a bicycle is not a motor vehicle and so is not subject to those regulations, only to regulations that apply to all drivers of drivers of vehicles.

      Both me and Officer Kuc are very certain of our respective views but his view (and yours) are based only on intuition and popular myth whereas mine is based on training, experience, and research and represents a consensus of experts in the field and, regardless, the opinion of a police officer is not law. I do urge you to look at the material I linked too or even consider talking to me or Ralph about some lessons.
      Reply to this
  • 3/29/2010 8:18:31 AM KT wrote:
    Bike paths are for walkers, skaters, and little kids on bikes, not for high-speed adult bicyclists. If you were walking a dog or on an outing with your kid, would you appreciate a bicyclist zipping by you at 25+ miles per hour? I'm betting that kind of danger would tick you off more than needing to slow down a little in a vehicle to safely pass a bicycle on the road.
    Reply to this
  • 3/29/2010 11:26:31 AM Geof Gee wrote:
    We probably should not call them bike paths. Instead, they are multi-user paths or MUPs.

    Maybe Maureen would be more interested in what a lawyer writes regarding these issues. Check out Bob Mionske, columinist for Bicycling Magazine now, who has written on cyclists' legal issues for years now. Below is a single link. But there is more on the topic.

    http://www.bicyclelaw.com/road-rights/a.cfm/road-rights-where-you-belong
    Reply to this
  • 4/1/2010 9:50:38 PM Ray wrote:
    Eli, hang in there and maintain your courteous and professional manner.

    You may indeed be annoying the officers, but given what they often have to deal with, I'd bet you are a piece of cake.

    Maureen, I would never hire you. Your legal research seem very haphazard.
    Reply to this
  • 4/3/2010 4:24:59 PM Eli Damon wrote:
    A few updates:

    * When Officer Kuc demanded that I hand him my camera, I asked him for a receipt several times but he refused to give me one.

    * At some point, Officer Kuc accused me of having lied about my name, saying that he had identified me as Eli Damon Cooper rather than Eli Damon. I do not know how he identified me as Eli Damon Cooper or how he justified to himself the accusation that I was lying. I told him that Eli Damon was my true, full, current, official name but that I had formerly held the name Eli Damon Cooper. Despite this, he wrote the ticket to "Eli Cooper".

    * On 04/01 I found a notice in my mailbox summoning me to court on 04/27 to be arraigned on charges of disorderly conduct and unlawful wiretapping. More on this later.
    Reply to this
    1. 4/3/2010 4:28:01 PM Eli Damon wrote:
      Also, the charges were brought against "Eli Cooper".
      Reply to this
  • 4/7/2010 5:21:26 PM racerx wrote:
    A Hadley cop is messing with me now, a charge of something like Corruption, and he is flat out fabricating words that he attributes to me. Is there a website or a group anywhere that is a watchdog on this corruption of Democracy?
    Reply to this
    1. 4/7/2010 8:06:55 PM Eli Damon wrote:
      Hi Racerx. My response was too long to put in a comment so I have created a new post for it. <http://cycles.eli-damon.info/2010/04/07/response-to-racerxs-comment.aspx>
      Reply to this
  • 4/11/2010 5:19:41 PM American Citizen wrote:
    Regardless of any state or city law, you are Constitutionally guaranteed the right to video and audio record events that happen in public. You do not need anyone's consent to record video/audio in public. You do not need to advise anyone that youa re recording. This is for anywhere and everywhere in the U.S. In addition, you are allowed to observe and record police activity (and they have no right to order you to leave if you are a reasonable distance away (20 feet) and not interfering).
    Reply to this
  • 4/25/2010 5:29:59 PM Eli Damon wrote:
    I just discovered that, while many comments on my blog were being posted automatically, some were flagged by the server and not posted. I have gone through all of the flagged comments and approved those that were not spam or personal attacks. I apologize to those of you whose comments were delayed in being posted. I will be sure to check for flagged comments regularly from now on.
    Reply to this
  • 5/17/2010 6:22:23 AM giochi del casino in rete wrote:
    You may indeed be annoying the officers, but given what they often have to deal with, I'd bet you are a piece of cake.
    Reply to this
  • 5/17/2010 6:32:01 AM giochi del casino in rete wrote:
    Maybe Maureen would be more interested in what a lawyer writes regarding these issues. Check out Bob Mionske, columinist for Bicycling Magazine now, who has written on cyclists' legal issues for years now. Below is a single link. But there is more on the topic.
    Reply to this
  • 5/17/2010 1:54:24 PM Underground Guitarist wrote:
    Massachusetts General Laws (I don't remember which one) that required drivers to "keep right" when being overtaken. (Chapter 89: Section 2 says to "give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle" but I don't think that this was the section that he mentioned.)
    Reply to this
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