Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Share the road

Last week, a regular reader of The Chief's Corner asked me if I'd blog about bicycles and the rules of the road. "Sure," I replied, "I'll put that on my list of future topics." As the price of gas is causing all of us to flinch, I am sure we will continue to see more people consider the two-wheeled option. It is almost certain that bike-car conflicts will increase. I've blogged about road rage before, and t is not limited to car-on-car situations. Lincoln's bike lanes are pretty limited and many of our recreational trails (although nice for a leisurely ride) are not suitable for commuting, so drivers and riders will increasingly share the road.

Sharing the road is not just polite, it's the law. Bicycles essentially enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles on the public streets. Motorists need to accord bicycles the same right of way, following distance, and passing protocol that they would another automobile. I see a lot of impatience here. Some motorists view a slower-moving bicycle as an obstruction. Any avid cyclist has their stories of Beavis & Friend flipping them the universal peace sign, crowding them to the curb, making a right turn directly in front of their path, launching a Big Gulp grenade, and otherwise pestering them with obnoxious and dangerous behavior.

Fortunately, these incidents are mostly rare--at least the intentional type. The unintentional stuff, though is sometimes the result of a phenomenon all bicyclists and motorcyclists must learn as a matter of self-preservation: you are invisible. Defensive driving, for a cyclist, is an issue of survival.

In Lincoln (and everywhere else I know of), bikes basically are treated like any other vehicle by the municipal ordinances. The major exception to that would be the required position in the lane. City ordinance states that bicycles must be ridden "as close as practicable to the right-hand side" of the roadway, if the bike is travelling at less than the "normal speed of traffic." Crowding the curb is a safety risk for a cyclists, so a couple feet to the left is generally what is practicable--but not always.

The seam where a concrete curb joins the pavement is prone to cracks, crevices, and pot holes, so a wider berth may be needed. Some roadways have drainage grates that will swallow a 1" tire and wheel. A row of parallel-parked cars is risky, and cyclists generally need to move out to the left by the approximate length of a 1972 Monte Carlo's door. The right-hand side of the roadway is impractical when you are preparing a lane change, a left turn, or getting positioned at an intersection to avoid right-turning cars from cutting across your path. Moving away from the right side in these circumstances complies with the "close as practicable" rule in the law, and motorists just need to deal with that, treating cyclists with the same respect as any other vehicle.

Trouble is, some motorists don't treat any other vehicle of any kind with respect. Aggressive driving seems to be a common condition for a growing number of motorists. It's not solely motorists, though. Some cyclists seem to think that traffic signals are optional. Occasionally, I will see cyclists in pairs or groups riding side-by-side, which violates the law. From time to time we get complaints about groups out for training rides who will form up into a peloton and basically occupy an entire street. The echelon may be good form, but it is also illegal. For the most part though, cyclists aren't the problem--rather, it's a nincompoop behind the wheel of a gas-guzzler, who views anything that slows his route as an annoyance.

I commuted to work by bike for a decade, back when running and triathlons were among my passions. For a good deal of that period, my seven mile trip home followed a shift that ended at 1:30 AM. That was interesting. Here's some advice for cyclists: When operating your 21 lb. road bike, do not get in an argument with a probable drunk who has poor impulse control and drives a 4,500 lb. weapon.


Anonymous said...


You forgot to mention that folks on bikes need to stop for red lights if they are riding in the street. I see too many that disregard this and almost get hit.

Anonymous said...

This is a serious issue. Probably one of the most important ones on here. The city of Lincoln has had several cyclists injured and even killed mostly due to poor driving skills of motorists. However, I think cyclists should follow basic guidelines. Watch ahead and be aware of what's ahead and make sure they aren't in a blind spot, wear bright clothing, and follow the same rules motorists are required to. I've been riding my bike to work all summer. I have been in scary situations as well. Motorists in a hurry to get to their destination. I am sure these are otherwise decent people. However, killing a cyclist because of negligent behavior is a horrible burden to carry around for the rest of your life. Slow down, stay alert. stay alive.

Beerorkid said...

Nice post. Thanks for clearing up a few things.

I get waved at a lot when I do my hand turn signals. That is always funny.

Tom Casady said...


I didn't forget. Paragraph six.

Anonymous said...

Please, Tom, move to Iowa. We need your foresight here. Thank you for a great perspective and being fair ALL around. Car drivers AND bicycle drivers need to have a bit of patience and not get into the mindset that "I OWN THE ROAD!"

Dan in Iowa

Unknown said...

Morning, Chief!

Very good article here. ;) I am a cyclist in Central Indiana and I only wish our local Chief was as enlightened as you are.

WordsOnSounds said...

Thanks a bunch! This is a very informative post.

Ben said...

Chief Casady,
Thanks for posting this,it's really great to have an "official" word for those of us who choose to travel by bike in Lincoln. In my three years of commuting various places by bike I've only had two "angry motorist" encounters where the motorist stopped and got pretty.. well.. psycho. In the future, I have a copy of this blog post that I'm just going to hand them, and let it speak for itself.

Also, thanks Lincoln motorists. I read constant blog or forum posts about people who nearly die daily in other cities, or are threatened daily. I've had my share of close calls, and jerks in cars, but they aren't even close to others around the country. The vast majority I encounter here are courteous about road sharing, even on busy arterial streets. I'd go so far as to say that now I almost feel I get better treatment as a bike on the road than I do in a car on the road.

Thanks again for taking the time to make an excellent post such as this.

Tom Casady said...


That's pretty much the same experience I had in my many years of commuting to work and college. The jerks were few, the motorists generally courteous--just sometimes oblivious. I hope you're joking about giving a copy of this post to the next bonehead who goes ballistic. Re-read the last paragraph. Grit your teeth and get away.

Cedric Satterfield said...

Is there something that can be done about traffic lights and a cyclist in the front row? Are the lights in Lincoln camera driven or pressure driven in the pavement? Can Traffic Control possible make the lights more sensitive or provide some future input as to how, as a cyclist, I can avoid holding up traffic waiting for the light to register my presence without having to leave the street to hit the crosswalk signal (becoming a pedestrian and confusing motorists more) then coming back to the lane?

Thanks for a great post, Chief!

-kw said...

Thanks for the logic, insight, and faith in law enforcement leadership. It helps.

Anonymous said...


Having commuted by bike for four years in Lincoln, I just want to say thanks for supporting the concept in a realistic manner. It is nice to know the head of law enforcement understands bike commuting (done legally and wisely).


Anonymous said...

Good post,
Evreyones not a rude driver...
We just tend to remember the rude ones.

Anonymous said...

I see both drivers and bikers run stop signs or lights.
We are ALL human and make poor dissions at times.

Good post CC

Anonymous said...

That's funny, no one messes with me when I ride my bike.

Stay in school.

Anonymous said...

Every day, I look at the online listing of the previous day's accident reports. I just like to see where the accidents happened, when they happened, and how they happened.

There are an awful lot of people being rear-ended by the same oblivious drivers you mentioned. If these negligent drivers are too busy fiddling with their phone, ipod, GPS, stereo, cheeseburger, latte, mascara, lipstick, shaver, etc to keep an eye on the car in front of them, then they sure aren't going to be looking for a skinny and silent bike.

Never contest the right of way with anything that much bigger than you are. Being right won't matter much when you're busted up in ICU and can't even move your toes, or when you're cold in a casket.

Anonymous said...


On the topic of bikes, what happened to the downtown dayshift bike patrol? Can you also confirm or deny the rumor that LPD is purchasing a Segway? Thanks

Anonymous said...

Most of you cyclists are good about staying to the right and I applaud you for having the guts to ride on some busy streets.
Unfortunately those cyclists who have no clue about being a bicyclist (other than knowing how to pedal) will never read this blog. :-)

kevin said...

Thanks Chief for a well-written post. It's nice to know that you were an avid cyclist at one time.

I've been commuting by bike for two years now in Lincoln. All-in-all, it's a fairly nice city for getting around by bike.

As others have stated -- I've had a few run-ins with impatient motorists. Best thing to do is assume you are not seen. And when confronted -- just wave, don't further escalate the situation.

As a cyclist though, it is a two-way street (no pun intended). It's frustrating to see other cyclists completely disobey traffic laws. It only infuriates motorists against all law-abiding cyclists.

With continuing rising gas prices, more and more cyclists will be out there so it's important the two groups learn to co-exist.

Thanks again for an informative post.

Anonymous said...

"In Lincoln (and everywhere else I know of), bikes basically are treated like any other vehicle by the municipal ordinances".
Really, I have yet to see a Plate on a bicyle, registration, wheel tax, insurance, rider testing, why does none of this apply to bicycles if they are "basically the same". I am tired of bicycles beleiving they are cars until they pull up to a red light.
Why does anything "green" get a pass card.
And yes, I do ride, on the bike paths where I belong!

CJ said...


Nice write up!!

I would like to add that most of the negative auto/bicycle encounters that I have had over my 5 years of bicycle communting in Lincoln have been the result of the use of cell phones while operating a motor vehicle.

I wish our local, state, and federal governments could all stand together and ban the use of cellular phones while operating a motor vehicle of any type. I think the resistance to this type of law stems from importance that Americans place on personal freedoms. The problem is when one's personal freedom contributes to the injury or death of another citizen.

Finally, I would like to see this write up placed on the front page of the LJS.

Anonymous said...

Very nicely done. The only thing I'd have to say or share with you that you may not know about is this.
The pack riders and why we ride that way at times. When we are side by side it because we are sometimes sharing the wind break off of one another to conserve energy. Also we are more visable thus making it safer then when we are single file.
The pack of 20 riders are more safe when riding as a collected group then if they ride single file as well. If we form into a group roughly the shape of a car then a vehicle coming up behind is made to pass us as it would any slow moving vehicle. When we string out single file. The cars do not move over into the opposing lane to pass us they try to "share the lane" Then when another car is coming at them they try to move over therefore hitting us needlessly. That's the reason for the pack riding.

Tom Casady said...


I'm well aware of purpose and practice of riding in pelotons and echelons, but it's still illegal to ride two abreast or more. The fact that my buddies and I would like to ride in a left echelon with a cross wind still puts some of us in a position that is not "as close as practicable" to the right side of the road. So, keep the cross wind echelon small enough to fit on a paved shoulder or else someone's going to be in violation. Don't half-wheel me, either! ;-)

Cedric Satterfield said...

Why is it not compulsory for cyclists to be provided with safe, direct cycle routes? We are currently suffering the results of 40 years of failed traffic policies that ignored cyclists as an everyday travel group. Meanwhile motorized traffic levels have soared to choking point. Is it any wonder that cyclists often feel the need to use pavements? All this "cyclists should do this, cyclists should do that" is frankly missing the point. Suddenly the US is waking up to the need to encourage cycling, but finds that the infrastructure is utter crap.

The next time you see a cyclist on a pavement, or indeed a busy road, take the time to consider whether or not there is a good quality cycle path alongside, before blaming the cyclist. Sure we should be licensed but quite frankly, I already pay taxes on two cars that barely move through the week because my wife only works part time and I don't drive daily. The wheel tax doesn't go to roads anyway so that it irrelevant.

If we take this idea seriously that only those who pay gasoline taxes can use the roads, then we are going to live in a very odd world. Grade schools will have to be funded entirely from taxes on candy and toys, libraries from taxes on books and magazines, and police from taxes on guns and home security devices. People from one town won't be able to use any public services in another town, and foreign visitors will be out of luck altogether.

And, of course, this argument also ignores that fact that most cyclists are motorists also.

This argument kind of parallels two others: 1) cyclists shouldn't be allowed on the road because they haven't had to pass a driving test, and 2) cyclists don't have to obey the traffic laws, for the same reason.

This argument falls into a class that I've never seem mentioned under fallacies, yet it should be because I encounter it all the time; for instance, if you're not a woman, you can't say anything about gender issues. You never smoked pot? Then you can't speak out against using drugs. We might call it the exclusionary fallacy. This fallacy is halfway true (as most fallacies are). Men, of course, have never had firsthand experience at being women or at having babies. But if men really can't say anything worthwhile about women, why do most women go to male gynecologists and male psychologists? Having smoked pot gives you some insight, but it hardly makes you an expert.

Here the idea is that there are two types of people in the world, motorists and cyclists, and the motorists are being treated unfairly, poor things.

The roads in the United States are Public Roads, kind of like the Army-its a "Public Good". You do not have to pay any taxes at all to use them and you may derive no benefit from them but exist they do. You do not have to buy a license or pass a test either. You can walk, you can ride a horse, you can drive a buggy, and you can drive a farm tractor legally in every state without paying one red cent. On the other hand, owners of automobiles, trucks, and motorcycles are required to pass driving tests and to buy licenses. Why? These vehicles cause a lot of deaths and get stolen frequently. The government wants the operators carefully trained and their accidents recorded, and it wants to help them recover stolen vehicles. If cyclists were killing a lot of motorists, the government would go to the trouble of training and licensing them too.

The answer most of the comments about paying taxes is that they ddon't have to pay any taxes or fees or take any test at all, either. They are free to ride a bicycle. Or, at their choice, they can drive their car wherever they want, just as long as they stays on his own property.

filtersweep said...

To Anon:

I'll bet you don't get very far if you only ride on the paths. You see, bikes were transportation before there were cars-- and they can still be used as transportation. My guess is you cannot ride on the sidewalks in Lincoln. How do you expect to ride anywhere if you stay off the roads?

Secondly, your registration/taxation argument is entirely weak. If you own no vehicle at all, your tax money pays to build and maintain roads regardless-- since a nice chunk comes out of general funds. You are seriously kidding yourself if you believe motorized vehicles pay their own way on the roads.

You might want to lighten up a bit. I know it is annoying when a cyclist keeps catching up at a light, and you need to keep passing him or her. But put it in perspective. When driving, your highly important trip is slowed by other motorized vehicles far more often than a few bikes.

re "Really, I have yet to see a Plate on a bicyle, registration, wheel tax, insurance, rider testing, why does none of this apply to bicycles if they are "basically the same". I am tired of bicycles beleiving they are cars until they pull up to a red light.
Why does anything "green" get a pass card.
And yes, I do ride, on the bike paths where I belong!"

Anonymous said...

For those who's first thought is: "But the cyclists run red lights and stop signs!" I have a challenge for you:

Pick an intersection. ANY intersection that has a stop sign or light. Sit there and count how many people on bikes run the light and/or sign... Oh, and while you're at it, count how many cars do the same. You'll find the number of cars that roll through stop signs or run red lights is orders of magnitude higher than the number of cyclists that you see do the same.

Oh, but that's become so normal that you don't ever even think twice about it!

If you happen to pick an intersection with a good amount of pedestrian traffic, count the number of times that cars violate the right of way of pedestrians during the same time...

Now... which is more dangerous and really should be enforced more, the cyclists rolling through a sign or light, or the multitude of violations by the drivers?

Personally, I'd like to see ALL the traffic laws enforced more, but the police don't have the budget or manpower for the increased patrols that would take.

So... slow down, relax, and enjoy the drive... It really isn't worth risking killing someone to get someplace 30 seconds sooner.

a concerned cyclist AND motorist

slowbiker46 said...

Thanks for your comments. Its nice to know we have a police chief who understands cyclists as commuters. I have biked to work continuously since last July and seasonally for the last 17 years.

I agree with you and other's who commented about cyclists who ignore the traffic signals. It gives cyclists a bad reputation. Every time I observe these cyclists (most are adolescents or young male adults) it makes me cringe.

slowbiker46 said...

Thanks for your comments. Its nice to know we have a police chief who understands cyclists as commuters. I have biked to work continuously since last July and seasonally for the last 17 years.

I agree with you and other's who commented about cyclists who ignore the traffic signals. It gives cyclists a bad reputation. Every time I observe these cyclists (most are adolescents or young male adults) it makes me cringe.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you mean a paceline more than a peleton (or maybe not). We never rode in an echelon in city traffic; we saved that for the open road. I've done a lot of endurance cycling, and did almost all of my training out on the state highways on the paved shoulders (in-town riding was unsatisfactory for me, too many thing to slow you down). If you like commuting on a bike, and it's practical and secure for you to do so, more power to you. Same thing if it isn't, for bikes aren't practical 12-month vehicles in this climate.

There is some dispute over whether city ordinances prevent the carrying of certain cargo on bike trails that go through city parks (as the generally do). Is a bicycle truly a vehicle or isn't it, case law is vague. I've no desire to be a test case, that's for well-funded advocacy groups to tackle.

Anyway, rather than making laws to ban cell phone use while driving (oh nanny, let's have more and more laws), and realistically assuming that people will not keep their in-motion calls down to a minimum, I'd prefer to encourage voluntary use of bluetooth headsets, and better yet, hands-free speakerphones that won't make you into a semi-Borg like a headset does.

Best of all is BT built into your car, so that you don't even have to take your hands off the wheel to take a call. I believe the Chief uses a BT headset in his vehicle from time to time, so he's probably got a few things to say about them.

Anonymous said...


Legal or not to ride on sidewalk? For example is has to be safer for the cyclist (maybe not for pedestrians)to be on the side walk at 64th and O Street than in the street, but is it legal.

Anonymous said...

What is up with the horrible layout of the 'bike lanes' downtown? Has there been any review of these 'afterthoughts' to see if any bicyclists are still using them. My guess would be that they aren't as they are very dangerous to all cyclist with backing cars and buses changing lanes.

Anonymous said...

filtersweep said...
To Anon:

I'll bet you don't get very far if you only ride on the paths. You see, bikes were transportation before there were cars-- and they can still be used as transportation. My guess is you cannot ride on the sidewalks in Lincoln. How do you expect to ride anywhere if you stay off the roads?
*Have you even been to Lincoln? We have one of the top trail systems in the country. Bicycles only banned from walks in downtown area. Walking pre-dates all other forms of transportation, maybe I should be able to use the sreets as my own personal walk way?

Secondly, your registration/taxation argument is entirely weak. If you own no vehicle at all, your tax money pays to build and maintain roads regardless-- since a nice chunk comes out of general funds. You are seriously kidding yourself if you believe motorized vehicles pay their own way on the roads.
*You may want to check Ne/Lincoln licensing fees before dismissing the extras costs to vehicles. Wow, I guess there is no need to pay those fees, my tax dollars already paid for roads! Nebraska roads are funded mostly by user fees such as wheel tax and gasoline tax. Do you carry Insurance on your bike? Are you tested on the traffic laws? What happens when passing me illegaly, at a red, you scrape my door?

You might want to lighten up a bit. I know it is annoying when a cyclist keeps catching up at a light, and you need to keep passing him or her.
*That is the point, they want to be a car until it comes to a light, then they want to pass vehicles using the shoulder and run the red. I have yet to have Granny Blue Hair pass me on the shoulder in her Buick and then buzz the red. I guess when it happens I can at least take comfort in the fact that she has paid her wheel tax and passed her drivers test.

Cedric Satterfield said...

Somebody put your post on Hopefully google blogs can handle it if it gets dugg!

Tom Casady said...

Anonymous 1:57-

No, and yes. It's legal to ride on the sidewalk except in an area specifically delineated as off-limits for sidewalk-riding by municipal code. Basically, it's the downtown core, and the business districts in Havelock, University Place, Bethany, and College view. The ordinance is 10.48.170.

Tom Casady said...

Anonymous 2:03-

The desire of the City and of the majority of the City Council to have bike lanes collided with the desire of the downtown Lincoln business community not to loose valuable on-street parking, resulting in the (shall we say) "compromise?" Personally, I always, always felt safer on the street in my lawful place, rather than on the sidewalk, path, or bike lane.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the best posts I've seen promoting safe cycling and roadway use and it's especially noteworthy to see if posted by a law enforcement officer. Thanks for a great piece of writing, Chief.

Vehicular cycling is the safest way to operate a bicycle. It's my opinion, but it's documented with research as well. A search for John Forester will fill your screen with more reading than your eyes might handle, but it's as enlightening as the Chief's post.

Florida has a bit more tolerant statute regarding operating in the road, specifically two-abreast, but many (most?) people on bikes in this area aren't aware of the laws or choose to ignore them, unfortunately.

Florida has a three-foot-clearance law for motorists passing bikes, but many (most?) vehicle operators are not aware of it, or choose to ignore it, unfortunately.

Those of you who suggest that riding on the sidewalks is safer, please reconsider. Sidewalk riding is second only to wrong-side-of-the-road riding in crash figures. (not accidents, crashes)

Bike lanes are hardly safer than sidewalks. Until the last year, I was a big fan of bike lanes, until I began to operate as a vehicle. If downtown Lincoln does not have bike lanes, operate as a vehicle and you'll be that much safer. That means stopping at traffic controls, not passing on the right, stay in your lane. As the chief says, you'll delay a motorist only for a very small amount of time and you have as much right to the roadway as the person in the big steel isolation chamber on wheels.


Thanks again, Chief, for a great post.

bllloooooooooggggg said...

to the comment about the bike lanes downtown. I use them pretty much every day (or at least every time I have to go to work). The condition of the pavement on those lanes is treacherous. I ride in them so that ignorant motorists don't complain about me being in a lane when "there is a perfectly good bike lane right there." I do know that the lanes are not ideal, and might not even be better than nothing. If they are going to have them, i'll use them.

to the commenter who said "Can you also confirm or deny the rumor that LPD is purchasing a Segway? Thanks"

I don't know if they can officially confirm or deny this, but I saw two LPD officers riding segways on R street about a month ago. maybe test rides? maybe not?

To the Chief,
thanks for posting the blog. I really wish more people in Lincoln would be able to read this (maybe the LJS will print it?).

Tom Casady said...


I can officially deny the rumor that we have a Segway. That was probably the University of Nebraska Police you saw on R Street.

We are, however, currently in the process of acquiring one Segway, through donations from a private foundation and Nebraska Wesleyan University. No City funds are involved in the purchase, and the Segway will be billeted at our Northeast Team Station. The primary use for nowwill be on NWUs campus. Nebraska Wesleyan uses off-duty Lincoln police officers in their employ to augment their security staff on campus.

Anonymous said...

what are the rules for the sidewalk, downtown is a accident waiting to happen. Bikes all over the sidewalks and going wrong ways,running lights.Its terrible and only when someone gets hit will anything be done.Officers downtown are all on the hotdog those vendors,make sure they have permits.Help Chief.....

Anonymous said...

It is legal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalks in Lincoln (a lot of municipalities don’t allow this for riders over the age of 13) but it is illegal to ride across the crosswalk. City ordinance clearly states that a crosswalk is for the exclusive use of pedestrian traffic. The main reason for this is because most (over 90%) Car/Bike accidents happen when a cyclist is crossing a driveway or Crosswalk. Sidewalks just are not as safe as riding in traffic where they are visible to cars entering the road.

When I moved to Lincoln the first thing that surprised me was the number of bicyclist riding on the sidewalks. I can see why people have the perception riding off the road on the sidewalk would be safer but the Local and national statistics just don’t support it. Even in cities like Madison WI (similar size and demographic as Lincoln) witch has hundreds of miles of Bicycle lanes and most people ride off the sidewalk, most of the collisions are when a bicycle is crossing a driveway (Cars are requires to stop before the sidewalk when leaving ALL driveways) or when in the crosswalk.

The bike trail system in Lincoln is phenomenal but for commuting to work, school or shopping it just isn’t practical. The fact they can’t take people the most direct way to there destination and you are required by Law to stop and walk your bike across every street the best and safest option for commuting cyclist is to be in the street where they can be seen.

Thanks for opening the discussion Chief.

BTW I read your last post about the guy leaving his ID/Pants after shoplifting the alcohol to an adult Driver Improvement Class last night at break and they all got a kick out of it.

Tom Casady said...

Alright, alright already. Since apparently every cyclist on seven continents is now reading this post, I need advice. I want to bag the Mavics and the tubulars on my old Bianchi, and get a set of clinchers. How about a recommendation on a good online retailer for new wheels? Nothing fancy, just a decent wheelset without a new mortgage.

Anonymous said...


As to the wheel set check out Nashbar.

Anonymous said...


For a wheelset check out Nashbar.

Anonymous said...

Wow Chief. You've certainly reached LJS status with this topic. Who knew there were so many cyclists out there that needed a forum.

Maybe some politician will take note and add the cyclist to his/her list of people to court during election time (along with the elderly and pirates.)

Who knows, there may be enough interest about this topic to start a second blog about nothing but cycling problems. You could have topics like the best route from point A to point B, or Hemorrhoids, the cyclists worst enemy, or the unspoken truth about bent spokes. The possibilities are endless.

Anonymous said...

What about the day bike patrol officers? What happened to them? You never answwered that ? Chief

Anonymous said...

I think this is the brooks brothers grey suit of road bike wheels:

Cedric Satterfield said... and nashbar aren't bad. The local shops would probably give you a good deal, too. Cycleworks is pretty good.

RE: Insurance on bikes-my homeowners policy covers liability if I cause an accident--I asked my insurance guy.

George said...

My congratulations to the City of Lincoln on the selection and retention an able and articulate chief of police.

Tom Casady said...


I'm not sure if anything has changed. I'll have to ask. Believe it or not, with 422 employees, sometimes stuff is going on or happening that I don't know about.

Anonymous said...

Great BLog today Chief!
I am to hobbled up with arthritis to pedal a two wheeler now but I still have the motorcycle for 90% of my transportation needs. I wish I was still capable of pedaling a bicycle but no can do.

Every time I drive by a High School parking lot or drive through campus at local Colleges I wonder how many millions of dollars taxpayers could save if these young, able bodied kids rode bikes??? The health benefits could save even more millions.

Two Guns

Anonymous said...

Dear Chief,

You make me wish I lived in Lincoln, Nebraska!

I was referred to this blog by a post in and I'm glad I got a chance to read your comments.

It would be worthwhile to share your comments with other police officers nationally. You've said it better than most.

Thank you for responsibly watching out for all the citizens in your jurisdiction.

Lincoln, Nebraskans be thankful you've got a great chief!

Anonymous said...

I think he wonders why the day shift bike squad was done away with.. no more cops on two wheels during day shift.

kevin said...

Chief -- regarding the wheelset. Mavic Open Pro's are a good bet. Nothing fancy -- but extremely durable, 32-spoke. They can be had for around $250. Google 'em, you'll find a ton of info.

commutant said...

Chief, this should be formed into a speech format and delivered at the next IACP Convention. Well done!

CJ said...

Hey Chief-

How about checking out one of the local bike shops in town for a new set of wheels! I am sure you know where they all are located.

Blue tooth or no BT, doing more then one thing while driving a 5000lb vehicle has been proven in scientific studies to be dangerous. People have to pay to license thier dogs and cats due to local laws. And it seems citizens all over the U.S. spend time researching out of date local and state laws that are still on the books that the general population finds amusing. Some laws are dumb, that is right. But I think most laws that deal with public safety are not the laws against driving while under the influence of alcohol. Or hopefully in the future not using a cell phone while driving. One may find my assertion that driving drunk and driving while your mind is focused on something else (a phone conversation) to be an audacious comparison. Here is a simple test you can complete at home. Pick up your kids, or maybe your Sony play station and turn on your race car driving game. Now call your wife or friend or mom on your phone and try to do both things at the same time. I bet you don't do very well at either. My test is very unscientific for sure, but there are scholars in the U.S. that have scientifically studied what most people find to be common sense.

Sorry for the rant...can you tell that I am passionate about this subject.

Have a good day.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Chief, for your excellent post! One major, major point needs to be made. The City ordinance requires cyclists to ride as far to the right as practicable. What this means is that if the lane is too narrow to share, the cyclist does NOT have to ride to the right. It is not practicable to ride to the right, when a passing motorist must move to the left, out of the lane, to pass.Nebraska statutes recognize this fact explicitly, but somehow it got left out of the Lincoln ordinance.
It is dangerous for the cyclist to hug the right side, and encourage the motorist to try "share the lane" when passing, unless the lane is wide enough to share. The cyclist needs space, and so does the motorist.
Lincoln police, motorists, and cyclists need to know this fact.

Anonymous said...

chief- great post. lincoln is lucky to have law enforcement with your insight, particularly at a time when more and more folks are getting on bikes.

-portland bike commuter

ps- get a wheelset from rei. they have a lifetime warrantee.

Anonymous said...

Wal-Mart sells an awesome Huffy for about $89.00.

Unknown said...

Hi Chief,
Your post is getting wide circulation and has reached the west coast already. After all we have been through lately with bike/car confrontations ( )and our police department taking the side of motorists almost always it seems, it was quite refreshing.

It gives me hope.

Anonymous said...

What a great post, chief.

Aaron said...

I would like to thank you very much for the intelligent candor with which you delivered this writeup. You have covered all the bases and provided a realistic picture of what the roadways are like for each user. I'm sure that Portland's Officer Picket is proud of you.
As a lifetime bicycle commuter I've seen just about everything.
One thing that I would like to add is a habit that I have on most rural roads (two-lane no shoulder). When I see that there's traffic ahead of me, I put out my arm to signal that cars behind me shouldn't pass. When I can see that it's clear up ahead than I motion for them to pass. Most people appreciate this, and a very few people ignore my warnings. It's a good habit to share when your cycling on the road.
read more here

Adriel said...

If you continue to have problems with blogspot, I can help you install wordpress on a hosting account somewhere.

I enjoy your posts and will do this for free.

you can contact me through my site:

Either leave a comment (they are all moderated and go to my email) or click on about and scroll to the bottom.

Thank you for the post, we need more law enforcement that understand the day to day problems cyclists have, especially those of us trying to replace car miles with bike miles.

Tom Casady said...

Thanks, Adriel, I appreciate both the advice and the offer! Google unlocked me this morning, and I'm back in business. I downloaded wordpress yesterday, and imported my blog to create this mirror of The Chief's Corner just in case the lock persisted. I haven't kicked the tires on worpress much, but I see some features in wordpress that I like (not to mention the super-easy import from Blogger). The pop-up thumbnail view of hyperlinks is cool. If the blogger-bots get me again, I might have to make the switch. Wordpress makes a pretty nice backup plan.

Adriel said...

Wordpress is also easier to change the look/feel on. My site is wordpress and looks nothing like the standard "blog" (I found a magazine style theme and then made it look the way I wanted to)

My biggest issue was that I want certain posts to stay at the top longer, such as my safety tips, and summaries so I can fit more posts on the home page.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this has already been stated here, but there are 64 posts and I do not have time to read them all. My issue is when many bicyclist get to a red light, they creep all the way to the front of the line of cars. If we are supposed to treat them like traffic, then they should be stopped behind whatever car is infront of them at the light...Make sense?

c-record said...

i'm an avid cyclist (ex racer/now recreational rider/commuter 365 days a year) and have been riding in lincoln since '87. i try to lead by example when i'm on the road. i don't blow through lights and i always share the road. i never take over a lane (because i don't feel the need to). please don't confuse cyclists like myself with idiots on bikes. dave moulton came up with a name for them... POBs.

Anonymous said...


This post would make a great guest editorial for the LJS.

pohl said...

A hypothetical question: If I were walking home from work yesterday and saw 4 riders in a 2x2 configuration downtown, would they be 'cyclists' or 'POBs' — or is lawfulness immaterial to the distinction?

I was unaware of the legality of that before, and I'll probably practice civil disobedience in the future (Sorry, Chief) — but I was wondering how virtuous I would need to be in order to merit the better label over the derisive one.

Mary said...


What about electric assist bikes that go no more than 15-20MPH without pedaling. Are they legal to ride on the sidewalks? I am looking to buy one but do not feel comfortable riding on the street and most of my riding is bike trail. I also walk by bike across streets when crossing. Thanks

Adrian Olivera said...

Chief - how about joining us on a group ride one of these Wednesday nights. 6pm @ the north bridge of hwy2 and s.27th.

Anonymous said...

"You forgot to mention that folks on bikes need to stop for red lights if they are riding in the street. I see too many that disregard this and almost get hit."

and drivers need to stop driving while drunk, distracted, speeding, not signaling, running reds, and causing thousands of deaths a year.

and that cyclist that runs a red and almost gets hit - that could be a little kid running out into the street to get a ball, or a deer jumping out of the woods... the point is that drivers NEED TO PAY ATTENTION and shouldn't be slamming into things in the first place (i'm not suggesting it's okay for cyclists to run reds either).

Anonymous said...

Can we do something about cyclist on sidewalks and bike trails actually slowing down to cross the intersections if not stopping altogether and properply walking their bikes across? Per city ordinance.
10.48.130 Right-of-Way.
(a) The operator of a bicycle emerging from any alley, building, driveway, or road shall,
upon approaching a sidewalk or the sidewalk space extending across any alleyway, driveway, or
road, yield the right-of-way to all pedestrians approaching on said sidewalk or sidewalk space.
(b) The operator of a bicycle about to enter or cross a street or other public way from a
sidewalk, sidewalk space, alley, building, or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles
lawfully approaching on said roadway. (Ord. 18776 §5; July 31, 2006: prior Ord. 15649 §13; July
9, 1990: P.C. §10.64.100: Ord. 10246 §9; September 7, 1971: Ord. 5699 §1510, as amended by Ord.

I realize this slows them down but it is difficult as a driver to see those who have the physical ability to zip along at such fast speeds and seem to appear out of no where just as I am ready tp make a right turn. So then you have to think .... a few more minutes to reach my destination or my well being? And yes I do bike on the sidewalks and bike trails. And I walk my bike across major intersections and slow down for all side street ones. If there is a automobile around I take the responsibility to make sure I am seen. I do not expect the drivers to always see me.

Anonymous said...

Chief: We are still trying to figure out what happened to the daytime downtown bike officers. Any updates??

Havelock Street said...

Tom, thank you very much for the challenge you gave us at 2600 N 70th street this morning. You did a far better job than what we will do in response. I occasionally pray for you guys as will as our firefighters, and other public servants. Keep up the good work, and may the Lord God bless you richly.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that motorists need to pay more attention to cyclists, I have to mention that daily I see cyclists wanting to be treated like a vehicle only when convenient. I almost hit a cyclist that was riding in the car lane on R street last week when the bike lane was open. I daily see cyclists riding in the middle of the lane in downtown, then hopping over the the sidewalk/crosswalk when they hit a red light and crossing against the light. I also NEVER see cyclists being pulled over for these obvious moving violations. If they are the same as other vehicles, should they not be pulled over and ticketed?

twoweeks said...

Get the bikes off the road they are a problem!! Thats why we spent money on the trails.

Anonymous said...

Is is legal for a cyclist to pass vehicles waiting for a stop sign or traffic signal on the left or right side when it is a single lane.

Ian Brett Cooper said...

"a phenomenon all bicyclists and motorcyclists must learn as a matter of self-preservation: you are invisible. Defensive driving, for a cyclist, is an issue of survival."

Sorry Chief, but this is nonsense. If a cyclist is invisible, he is dead. The idea that a cyclist can avoid death by cycling defensively is tantamount to telling him to get out of the way of cars - this attitude will get cyclists killed, just as it has in the past. They will ride in the gutter where they're more likely to get hit by passing cars; they will get struck in intersections after cycling in a bike path or on the sidewalk; they will get doored by cycling too far to the right beside parked cars: they will get hit while cycling against traffic because they believe that traffic approaching head-on can be avoided.

The best way to avoid collisions on a bicycle is to ride assertively while being as visible as possible: by riding well into the lane so that drivers can see the cyclist easily.

Tom Casady said...


I agree. That's what I practice in the right circumstances. See my blog on Monday, as this is what my post will be about. I guess what I mean is this: You can't assume that the guy pulling out from the stop sign sees you, or that the left turning car is going to yield to you, or that the driver exiting the drive won't do so right in front of you. You have to plan accordingly. Pardon me pulling rank, but I've got a lifetime of experience working collisions (mostly motorcycle) in which an automobile driver failed to yield because he simply looked right through the smaller profile of a cycle, and didn't even see it. I also have the personal scars to go along with it. So while riding assertively and taking your place in traffic has its merits, riding defensively and realizing that your visibility profile is weak does too. These are not necessarily mutually exclusive approaches. Asserting your place in traffic is my preferred approach for vehicles approaching from the rear. Assuming my own invisibility for turning vehicles in front of my path and being prepared to act accordingly is my preferred approach for the car that may cross into path in front of me.

Tara said...

@Chief - this is what happened to one of my coworkers recently. He was riding and a car trying to run a yellow light on a left turn, turned in front of him and he flipped over the car. He's lucky, no major injuries. Really lucky though.

Anonymous said...


I realize that this a fairly old post, but I see that you still respond to comments.

You stated in your comment on Jan 6, 2012 that you prefer to assert your place in traffic when you have vehicles approaching you from the rear. How do you handle stoplights that have an inductive loop sensor to trip the light? Recently I've been having trouble with such stoplights--cars behaving badly while I've situated the bicycle such that it will be detected (on the right side of the square cut visible on the pavement). Two times in as many weeks I've been waiting at a red light in the right-turn/straight lane as the only vehicle in the lane and have had cars approach me from the rear, pull up beside me and straddle the left turn lane and the right-turn/straight lane. One of the cars drove around me, turning right on red, the other car went straight when the light turned green. How would you handle such a situation? I raised my voice to both drivers and asked "What are you doing? I'm like a car!" and received no reply or simply a blank stare. If I were to stand in the middle of the lane, and hence the middle of the inductive loop, the light would not turn. Any suggestions? (This is in Lincoln, NE)

Anonymous said...

Tom, I just watched one of your firefighters on Channel 8, doing an interview. Phil Lewiston was in uniform with a WHITE tee shirt under his uniform??? He looked looked like a COP. Has policy changed? Would have looked better with a blue tee. Check on this.