Bicyclist Brad Mercel, who was cited by a Tampa police officer for impeding traffic last November, called me this morning to say he lost his case in court today.
Brad argued that because his road lane was "sub-standard" in width -- that is, less than 14 feet wide -- he had a legal right to be in the middle of the lane because the lane is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side. That is one of four legal reasons that allow a bicyclist to be in the road.
The police officer testified, according to Brad, that if 14 feet is sub-standard, then all Tampa's roads are sub-standard.
You are correct, officer.
The officer also testified, according to Brad, that a bicyclist could have biked on the sidewalk at the location where Brad was cited.
It's tough to fight a legal and police system that thinks sidewalks are the correct place for bicyclists.
Brad argued his case before the judge without a lawyer. If you are a bicyclist and you are cited, my suggestion is to consider enlisting a lawyer.
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In another bicyclist citation case -- this time in Pasco County -- Tom Jackson of the Tampa Tribune's Pasco County office made the same cliche jokes about bicyclists in bike shorts and slammed cyclists in his column.
Thank goodness, Tom and friend of Bicycle Stories, Bret, are protecting the interests of drivers. Hardly a day goes by in Florida where some bicyclist or pedestrian doesn't slam into a car and kills the driver.