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 —the first bicycle violation arrest since police started —has commented on his arrest.

Writing a 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, .) 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, 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."


Alicia Byrd June 26, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Bikes are not pedestrians. I live on Richdale Ave near the corner of School St. Bikes constantly go the wrong way which is a danger to children and pedestrians as well as to unsuspecting motorists who are turning from School unto Richdale and cannot see two bikes flying out the wrong way unto school then turning down School which is one way in the opposite direction. I have almost been hit twice by these bike riders and my daughter, grandson and I have all yelled one way and they respond so. I finally told one guy if he did it again I was calling the police.
Irshad Mecca June 26, 2012 at 03:53 PM
If you want the same rights as an auto you need to be willing to take the penalties as well. People are not often arrested for jaywalking either but if the number of instances increased on par with the cyclists going through stop signs redlights and one ways in the past 2 years I'm sure there would be more inforcement. Crybaby McGee Uyehara needs to change his diapy.
Anne June 26, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Everyone who lives on my end of my street bikes the "wrong way" when they're leaving home - it's the only logical thing to do given the low volume of traffic on our street, the steep hill if you go the other way, the busy street it runs into that way, and the length it adds to almost any journey. And you know what? I don't mind. If I'm out in the garden, or driving into my drive, I smile and wave. But then, when I'm visiting my neighbor, I cross the street diagonally or walk up the middle, so clearly I'm not that interested in fast efficient traffic flow - I prefer slow and cautious and meeting obstacles.
A June 26, 2012 at 04:42 PM
what you're seeing are the symptoms of a system that is poorly set up. Pedestrians have their own system (sidewalks) that work reasonably well. Motorized vehicles have what they consider their "own" system (roads) that works OK for them. Bicyclists seem to be treated as an afterthought, poorly shoehorned into the roads and forced to share with motorized vehicles, which I suppose is better than sharing the sidewalk with pedestrians. It is an extremely imperfect and frustrating system. More thought needs to be given to improving the system... the Europeans do it way better with dedicated bike lanes and paths. Personally I'd like to see a bunch of 2-way roads turned into 1-way roads with the former traffic lane turned into a bike lane, with a bunch of interconnected streets like this forming bike highways. Fix the system and the symptoms will go away.
Matt C June 26, 2012 at 06:23 PM
"overreach as far as bike laws" The issue is that there are not bike laws there are road laws. Anyone using the road needs to follow them. Cars need give bikers the rights they have, bikers to cars and all need to follow the rules of the road.
kevin thomas crowley June 27, 2012 at 12:24 PM
he didn't get arrested for violating road laws.not stopping for police is a stupid act. THROW AWAY THE KEY,BOYS.
Stephen J. Cronin June 27, 2012 at 08:59 PM
No exceptions to the rules of the road will keep cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians safest.
mplo June 28, 2012 at 11:14 PM
Cyclists are also obligated to obey the rules of the road. What is it about that that you don't understand, Rijoyo?
Alex July 09, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Not stopping for police is always a bad idea. However, the time-of-day Do Not Enter Except Abutters signs sprinkled around Somerville do not make sense for bicycles, because the intent of the signs is to prevent cut-through traffic and traffic back-up at rush hour. A bike does not block a narrow street like cars do.


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