Tag Archive for probable cause

Morning Links: Alhambra police stop bike rider and search his belongings, for the $5 crime of riding in a crosswalk

It’s like playing Whack-A-Mole.

Once we deal with cops misapplying the law in one area, it pops up in another.

Longtime bike advocate Stephen Box, now Director of Government & Community Affairs for the Transit Coalition, witnessed Alhambra police stopping a bike rider on Saturday in what he calls “overkill for an infraction… that carries a maximum penalty of $5.”

This is how Box describes what he saw.

I watched the entire process, from Officer Alvarez chirping the cyclist and pulling him over to Officer Vega joining the stop to the officers searching the cyclist and his backpack and his bike. When it was over, the cyclist left and I asked the Officers what happened and found the explanation implausible. A westbound motorist (Officer Alvarez) in a stopped car can’t almost hit a northbound cyclist riding in the crosswalk.

Box stopped to talk with the two officers, then called their watch commander. But rather than getting a clear explanation of the officers’ actions, he discovered none of the three seemed to be clear on the Alhambra Municipal Code that laid the basis for the officer’s actions. So he looked it up himself.

Apparently it’s illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalks of Alhambra. (Alhambra Municipal Code 10.04.020) I looked it up and I have three comments:

  1. I’m not a fan of sidewalk cycling, I think it’s dangerous for the cyclist but I understand it
  2. I’m not a fan of local traffic laws that aren’t posted. In this case the public can hardly be expected to know of un-posted restrictions when law enforcement is also unclear on the specifics of the code
  3. If Alvarez pulled the cyclist over for riding in the crosswalk, wouldn’t the appropriate action have been information on safe cycling instead of the three-way search?

His research also led to a couple of discrepancies in the city’s municipal code.

While researching Alhambra’s unposted sidewalk cycling ban, I found two instances where the City of Alhambra appears to be in violation of the State of California’s Uniformity Code which states “no local authority shall enact or enforce any ordinance on the matters covered by this code unless expressly authorized herein.”

  1. Alhambra’s Bike Licensing Law (10.04.040)is a violation of CVC 21. The City of Alhambra does not have the authority to require bike licenses from non-resident cyclists.
  2. Alhambra’s “Five feet from the Curb” law (10.04.030)is a violation of CVC 21. The City of Alhambra does not have the authority to establish a specific distance from the right-side curb for cyclists. Further, the courts have held (Mauchle v. Panama-Pacific Int’l Expo. Co., 37 Cal. App. 715, 719 (1918)) that “The provisions of the law are elastic. They do not attempt to lay down a definite and rigid rule as to the distance which the slowly moving vehicle must keep from the curb.”

As you may have noticed, Stephen Box know his way around state and local traffic laws and enforcement, particularly as it pertains to bicycling.

He co-founded a number of bike advocacy groups, including the now-dormant Bikeside LA, the city’s first — and so far, only — bicycling nonprofit group registered with the IRS as 501(c)(4) to engage in political activity.

He also led the 2009 march on the LA city council that marked the unofficial start of the modern bike advocacy movement in Los Angeles. Setting in motion the events that would eventually lead to adoption of the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights (informally, and sadly forgotten), the Cyclists’ Anti-Harassment Ordinance, and the 2010 LA Bike Plan that’s now under attack in city hall as part of the Mobility Plan 2035.

And he was one of the original founders of the LAPD’s bike liaison program, helping to develop the department’s bicycle training module that was required viewing for every street-level officer.

Box followed-up his repeated, and apparently unsuccessful, phone conversations with the watch commander with an email to the Chief of Police for the Alhambra Police Department, asking for a review of the events he witnessed and the municipal code discrepancies he uncovered.

So, here is the formal request conclusion to this email:

  1. I request a review of the Fremont/Mission traffic stop of a male cyclist that took place on Sunday, June 18, 2016 at approximately 5pm by Officer Alvarez who was then backed up by Officer Vega. Specifically, was the search warranted (reading paperwork in the cyclist’s backpack can hardly be construed as a search for weapons due to safety concerns) for a minor traffic infraction or did it exceed the standard?
  2. I request a review of the Watch Commander’s instructions that I come to the station to file a complaint and that I come to the station to request a record (the field incident report taken by the officers at the traffic stop).
  3. I request a review of the two Alhambra City Municipal Codes (10.04.040 and 10.04.030) that are a direct violation of the State of California’s Uniformity Code.

There is little question from what he describes that the officers’ search exceeded what is legally allowed under the circumstances; the courts have repeatedly ruled that a simple traffic stop does not provide probable cause for an invasive search, whether you’re in a car, on foot or on a bike.

Even if they were legitimately searching the backpack for weapons, let’s not forget that the officers had the rider under their control, and presumably unable to access that backpack, whether for a weapon or anything else. If he could, they need some serious retraining.

And let’s not forget that you have the legal right to refuse an officer’s request to search your belongings.

Box concluded by thanking the chief for all he does to make the streets of Alhambra safe for everyone, “including motorists and pedestrians and transit passengers and cyclists.”

Which is a sentiment I share, having worked with police departments on various bicycling issues over the years, I truly appreciate the job they do to keep us all safe on the streets and in our homes.

But sometimes, as we’ve seen, they get it wrong.

And sometimes, local governments overstep their bounds.

………

On the other hand, the Alhambra police deserve a round of thanks for recovering an apparently stolen or misplaced silver Condor bicycle. If it looks familiar, contact the department at 626/308-4875.

And either way, let that be a reminder to always register your bike, whether here through Bike Index, or with some other organization.

Thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up.

………

Twenty-two-year old Columbian Miguel Angel Lopez won the nine-day Tour of Switzerland; American’s Tejay van Garderen and Andrew Talansky finished fifth and eighth, respectively.

World champ Lizzie Armistead finished second in the final stage to win the women’s Aviva Tour.

British cyclist Simon Yates gets a four month ban for doping, but swears it was just an honest mistake.

British cycling great Chris Hoy trades two wheels for four, finishing 17th in this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

………

Local

Richard Risemberg offers advice on how to ride in today’s 100-plus degree weather.

Former American Idol winner Phillip Phillips is one of us. Or at least he was, since his bike just got stolen from a Burbank recording studio.

Santa Monica’s long, dark California Incline hell may soon be over. And with bike lanes.

 

State

A bike-commuting Tustin math teacher has a shot at making the US mountain biking team for the Rio Olympics.

Over 300 people rode to the new Pedego headquarters in Fountain Valley in an attempt to set a world record for the longest ebike parade.

Two dozen San Diego bicyclists ride to Tijuana to preserve a downtown mural.

The only form of human scum lower than the person who stole a disabled 10-year old San Diego girl’s handcycle is the jerk who took her wheelchair. And probably the same person.

A 64-year old Pt. Loma bicyclist was seriously injured when he was left-crossed by the driver of an SUV.

The San Francisco Chronicle looks at the monthly East Bay Bike Party.

Nice move from the East Bay park police, as they donate nearly three dozen unclaimed bicycles to an Oakland nonprofit to replace several dozen that were stolen.

A seven-year old Shasta Lake boy is a double bike-theft victim, as someone stole the bike he was given to replace his stolen bike.

 

National

Bike Radar says e-MTBs could ruin it for the rest of us.

A Portland writer says the rapid spread of bikeshare systems allow travelers to see more of a city at a lower cost.

Maybe it moved while we weren’t looking. Shinola’s bikes and watches may be Built in Detroit, but apparently are not made in America.

Thanks to a local Kiwanis club, an Ohio boy is able to ride a bike for the first time since he was severely injured in a car crash.

A Philadelphia cop completes a 3,000-mile journey from Venice to Atlantic City to raise funds after a fellow officer was shot and killed; so far, he’s brought in over three times his original $5,000 goal.

 

International

A Winnipeg thief hacked a cyclist with a hatchet to steal his bicycle; the thief was arrested with the bike 20 minutes later.

A UK court tells a bicyclist he should have a “completely clear conscience” after a fatal collision with an elderly pedestrian; the rider tried to hug her as they both fell to the pavement in an unsuccessful attempt to protect her from injury.

Former Boomtown Rats singer and sidewalk cyclist Bob Geldof doesn’t have anything good to say about London’s popular bicycle superhighways.

Grief is worldwide, as a Belfast bike club rides in honor of ‪Kalamazoo.

A Danish moped rider learned the hard way not to snatch a purse from a 75-year old woman on a bike, who chased him down – and into a car — to get it back.

Caught on video: A Malta cyclist was flipped off and nearly run into a rock wall for the crime of riding a bike on a narrow street.

A woman is suing an Aussie state after colliding with a cyclist after she unexpectedly found herself riding in the middle of a bike race.

 

Finally…

Every few years, someone invents a bike you pedal with your hands as well as your feet; why should this year be any different? It’s okay to bite your tongue when someone nearly doors you.

And bicyclists find a lot of things while riding their bikes. Fortunately, a badly decomposed body is hardly ever one of them.

 

Support LACBC with Clif Bar 2 Mile Challenge; is NYPD ignoring probable cause in stopping cyclists?

Here’s your chance to make a sizable donation to support cycling in Los Angeles. Without spending a single cent.

That’s because this month, the Clif Bar 2 Mile Challenge supports the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. Sign up now, and for every trip you log, Clif Bar will donate one dollar to the LACBC, up to $10,000.

Which means, as long as you’re willing to give them your personal contact information, you can make a donation just by riding your bike.

Or better yet, taking part in this Sunday’s L.A. River Ride.

………

New York police have begun what looks like a series of summer cycling checkpoints.

Now, I’m not a lawyer. Especially not the Constitutional kind.

But stopping riders at random to look for legal violations certainly raises the question of how they can make a traffic stop without probable cause, when courts have repeatedly ruled that the Constitution prohibits them from doing the same to motorists.

Police need a legally justifiable reason to stop and search a car — whether they’re looking people driving under the influence, hidden contraband or safety violations. They can’t just stop random vehicles to cast a net for possible violations.

That’s why police are required to announce the time and location of DUI checkpoints, and why you have every right to turn around to avoid a checkpoint. And why you also have the right to refuse a search of your vehicle.

So can someone please tell me why those rules don’t apply to stopping cyclists?

Or does the Constitution not apply for us?

And yes, you do have a right to ask an officer why he or she stopped you. And just like motorists, you have the right to refuse a request to search your back pack or seat bag.

………

A one-year old child is killed in a ride-by shooting by a suspected gang member. Downtown cyclists can expect new bike lanes and multiple bike racks in the new Grand Park. Help map South L.A. for CicLAvia with RideSouthLa on June 17th. Crossing the 405 can put your life at risk. Bike lanes continue to sprout in South L.A. Buffered bike lanes come to Montana Ave in Santa Monica, while the city scales back plans for the planned Esplanade on West Colorado Ave. Ryan Gosling rides a Schwinn in Studio City, or more precisely, loads one into a van; then again, he’s not the only classic Schwinn lover. The proposed bike route upgrades for PCH north of Malibu could morph into separated bike lanes. A Long Beach cyclist is blogging from this year’s AIDS Lifecycle ride; note to CHP, it’s not a race.

The first attempt at sharrows is always a learning experience. The Santa Ana River Trail gains national recognition. The OC Weekly looks at Charlie Gandy and the biking renaissance in Long Beach. Cathedral City cyclists will soon get bike lanes over I-10. A Ventura County driver can’t understand why any cyclists would want to risk their lives by riding in the roadway rather than on the white line, or why they got upset when he honked for them to move over; would anyone care explain it to him? Barry Bonds rides a $16,500 Pinarello. A Modesto woman is killed when a driver doing 10 mph runs over the children’s bike trailer she was riding in; how a collision like that could happen at that speed defies explanation.

Now they say endurance cycling can kill you. Members of my fraternity will ride across country to raise funds for people with disabilities. Oregon cyclists have been taken in by a bicycling con man. Seattle wants to attract more willing but wary cyclists, as opposed to unwilling and scared shitless, I suppose. Utah cyclists ride for road respect. The author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People has finally returned home over a month after a solo cycling collision. A Denver cyclist slams into a rollerblading woman and rides away without stopping. An Iranian student is killed in a Denver hit-and-run while walking his bike in a crosswalk. A Chicago area writer says don’t trust drivers like him. Indiana bike collisions are on the rise. Sheboygan cyclists and drivers seem confused by city’s bike lanes, while Massachusetts drivers claim to be hopelessly confused by bike-friendly back-in parking. A North Carolina cyclist is blamed for his own fatal collision after riding with a BAC of .38. Charleston police arrest a pantless bike rider. Even though 80% of Panama City FL residents don’t have a car, virtually no attention is paid to the city’s cyclists. A cyclist shares the lessons learned on a journey from Seattle to Patagonia.

Canadian cyclist Ryder Hesjedal’s victory in the Giro results in an uptick in cycling interest north of the border. Bike lanes aren’t cool, they’re necessary. A Canadian mother poses topless to promote bike helmets, while Copenhagenize’s Mikael Colville-Anderson says promoting helmets is keeping riding rates down. A remarkably auto-centric look at bike riding scofflaws on the streets of Ottawa. A Brit cyclist rides around the world in record time; on the other hand, there’s no need to race. A UK writer says angry, stupid, stinking bike thieves just aren’t human. A six-year old British boy rides 113 miles to raise funds for a local hospice. A Sussex cyclist leaves a pedestrian with a black eye in a dispute over who had the right to a pathway; seriously, pedestrians on bike paths can be annoying, but it’s not worth getting violent — or mad, even. Hugh Jackman rides the streets of London on a Brompton. Norway’s recent mass murderer blames his violence on a hatred of Muslim’s stemming in part from a broken bicycle. Bicycles are the new status symbols on the streets of Jakarta.

Finally, an anti-bike New York City Council Member is widely derided — and deservedly so — after calling for a mandatory helmet law, while the Deputy Mayor clearly gets it, saying mandatory helmets won’t save lives but protecting cyclists from drivers will.

Now if he could just explain the constitution to the local police.

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