Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I Scoff

scoff·law - skäf-'lo
One who habitually violates the law or fails to answer court summonses.

Sounds harsh, doesn't it? I am a scofflaw bicycle commuter. This is not because I fail to answer court summonses, but is due to my disregard for many traffic laws while on my bicycle. My friend Jon calls it invoking the bicycle clause, which allows for indiscretions in certain situations. He wasn't that way before, but was led to the Dark Side by yours truly.

Being a scofflaw commuter is not about blatant disregard for all traffic laws. If it were, I would have been dead a long time ago. It's about common sense and an awareness of one's surroundings.

Who will sit at a red light in the middle of the night and wait for it to turn green when there is no traffic to be seen or heard? Who is going to come to a complete stop on their bike at a four-way stop sign when there is no opposing traffic? Who is going to walk their bike through a crosswalk when on the wrong side of the street? A scofflaw commuter isn't going to do any of those things.

What is a scofflaw commuter going to do? They are going to rip right through the empty street red light and four way after looking and listening. What are we looking for? Traffic and cops. What are we listening for? Traffic and cops. If a cop decides to cite you for not walking your bike through a crosswalk, they have some kind of mental issue. Scofflaw commuters operate on the fringe, scoffing at menial traffic laws in as many ways as they can. Is a cop really going to cite someone on a bicycle for cutting through a parking lot to avoid a particularly nasty intersection? I think not.

While I operate on the fringe where I live and work, the cops leave me be. If they catch me by surprise when I'm blasting through a four-way, I'll not try to ditch them as I did so many times with 100% success as a kid. They'll check my ID and maybe bitch at me a little for being such a scofflaw, but will let me go without a citation. How do I know this? It's already happened once and the cop could have cited me for two stop sign and one red light violations. Now they know I'm not some crazed junkie looking for cars to break into, so the probable cause stops will not happen. I just need to look and listen a little more thoroughly when I scoff...



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