• Outdoors Outdoors

Cyclist gets confronted by police on way home from grocery store: 'Did you file a complaint with his department?'

"Police harassing cyclists for no reason is a tale as old as time."

"Police harassing cyclists for no reason is a tale as old as time."

Photo Credit: iStock

Cyclists and e-bike riders often have difficulty finding safe areas to ride in. Unfortunately, city and town infrastructure can cater to gas-guzzling cars rather than planet-friendly bikes.

That was put into stark focus when one person was stopped by the police while lawfully riding their e-bike on a highway.

On the r/f***cars subreddit, the cyclist detailed that they were heading home after a stop for groceries at a local Sam's Club and they typically bring their shopping home on their e-bike, which has a trailer attached. 

They only have to use the highway for a mile stretch on their route, and they had plenty of lights on their vehicle and could reach a consistent speed of 28 mph on a road that had a 55 mph limit.

Despite cars passing them with little issue and moderate traffic, they still saw the flashing lights of a police car while turning off the highway.

"The officer told me that I should have kept to the right side of the lane," the cyclist said. "I explained to him that that was not a correct understanding of the law. Specifically, in my state, cyclists are allowed not to keep to the right-hand side of the road if there are hazards to safe cycling or if the lane is too narrow to share safely with another vehicle."

They noted that their state had also recently introduced a "Slow Down/Move Over" law to keep cyclists safe, requiring cars to move to a different lane or slow down if a cyclist is ahead of them.

"He tried to tell me that he was just looking out for my safety, and I told him that I appreciated his concern," the Redditor continued. "However...if he was concerned about the other motor vehicles possibly endangering me, why didn't he stop one of them? And why didn't he stop any of them for speeding?"

It's a frustrating situation, and one faced by many who opt to leave polluting dirty-fuel-powered cars behind in favor of cleaner alternatives. Whether it's walking or cycling, many areas don't have the appropriate transport systems to keep pedestrians and cyclists from harm. And further, many routes from one place to another don't make it practical to travel by foot or bicycle without the use of a highway for a portion of time. 

That's a real shame because walking doesn't cost anything, and e-bikes are far cheaper than cars. According to Outside magazine, it costs a little over $50 a year to power an e-bike in the heaviest-use scenario. Meanwhile, AAA reported in 2022 that average fuel costs for typical internal combustion engine cars were $2,700 a year if a car was driven 15,000 miles.

Walking also produces zero carbon pollution, while e-bikes are responsible for very little — which can be reduced further if they are charged through renewable sources rather than energy from the grid, which is still overwhelmingly reliant on coal-fired power plants. Cars, by comparison, were responsible for 31% of carbon dioxide pollution in the United States in 2023, according to the Energy Information Administration.

"Did you file a complaint with his department?" one Reddit commenter asked about the cyclist's encounter with the law. In reply, the cyclist said they did for the sake of being on the same page with the statute but that they tried to keep things civil as they believed the officer was genuinely looking out for their interests.

"Police harassing cyclists for no reason is a tale as old as time," another Redditor lamented. "I'm glad you're okay."

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