Arrested Bicyclist Calls Sign Enforcement 'Draconian and Petty'
Ryoji Uyehara said, "I deserved to be arrested" but thinks police are overreaching in their enforcement of bicycle laws.
Ryoji Uyehara, the 28-year-old Allston man arrested June 22 and charged with a bicycle violation—the first bicycle violation arrest since police started enforcing traffic laws for bikers in April—has commented on his arrest.
Writing a comment on Somerville Patch, Uyehara said "I deserved to be arrested," but he thinks police are overreaching in their targeting of bicyclist, and he called the enforcement of a "Do Not Enter 7AM-9AM" sign for bikers "draconian and petty."
This is what Uyehara wrote:
Yeah it's not so much that I think that I can get away with whatever I want so much as I believe that I shouldn't have to answer to a bunch of policecops who want to suddenly equate cyclists with motor vehicles. I've been riding a bike since I moved here ten years ago and I've never seen this kind of overreach as far as bike laws. I suppose it's a good way to get some money and keep people in line, but I wasn't having it and I don't see how the cops saw my entering of that intersection as some equitable traffic violation. I deserved to be arrested, sure, but maybe if they actually used their brains and said "hey, this probably should only apply to motorists". I just see this as Draconian and petty on their part. I'd love to see half of you cross the traffic @ Washington + Tufts. It's four lanes of impatient commuters and rarely do motorists ever let me through, even when I'm stalling in the middle of the crosswalk. OR better yet, try going up along McGrath, cos motorists would just looooove that right? -Ryoji Uyehara
In regard to the idea that arresting bicyclists is a good way to make money, Deputy Chief Paul Upton of the Somerville Police Department, speaking about the arrest Monday, said bike riders can be issued a $20 ticket for violating traffic laws. (If riders refuse to give their name, they can be arrested and fined up to $50.) It costs more than that to process the arrest, Upton said, emphasizing bicycle traffic enforcement is not a revenue generator.
"Most of what we've been doing has been [verbal] warnings," Upton said.
He said police wanted to issue a verbal warning to Uyehara, but after he refused to stop for police and led officers on a short chase he was arrested.
In response to Uyehara's comment, some were not sympathetic.
"Police tell you to stop … you stop … it's really as simple as that ... case closed!" commented Jim B.
Others commenters felt Uyehara had a point. Commenting before Uyehara did, Charlie Denison wrote, "It seems like the intention of the time-based do not enter signs are to prevent cut-through car traffic at rush hours, not bike traffic. The Somerville Bicycle Committee actually just discussed this issue earlier this month, and will be asking the City to add 'Except Bicycles' signage to these signs."
Others wrote about safety. Donal Waide commented, "On Friday morning in Cambridge I was coming down a one way street with a cyclist coming against me ... not so bad, but it's a tight street (Warren) AND he had his toddler on the back of the bike."