You know how some business hire police officers to direct traffic in and out of their parking lots during busy traffic times? Well yesterday, I was visiting such a business on my bicycle. While I was inside, I noticed that every time someone tried to leave the business in a car, a police officer would walk out into the middle of Peachtree Street and block all four lanes of traffic so that the car could enter the roadway. I see this all the time in Atlanta and didn’t think much of it.
Well now it is my turn to leave. I hop on my bike, cruise up to the edge of the street, signal a left turn, and wait… and wait… and wait…
Traffic is miserable (I think Paul Ryan was in town or something), there is no way that I’m getting into Peachtree Street without a little help. That’s when I look over to the police officer and ask him for a hand.
[Paraphrasing] He says “No, you are on your own.” This doesn’t surprise me, but it does pique my curiosity. I’m in no hurry, so I dismount and walk over to the officer and ask him why he can’t help me.
He says, “Because you are on a bike.”
I say, “So, what difference does that make?”
He says, “If you were in a car, it would be different.”
I ask, “How so?”
He says, “If I helped you into the street, and you got hit, then I would be held liable?”
I said, “But if I was in a car or on a motorcycle, you wouldn’t be held liable?”
He says, “I don’t know, I can’t help pedestrians cross the street.”
I say, “I have to follow all the same rules as a car, and it is seems stupid to me that I wouldn’t be given the same treatment as a car in this case. Especially considering that I am much more vulnerable than someone in a car.” It really irritates me to have to explain the law to a police officer, but he was being friendly, so I tried not to get riled up.
He says, “Sorry, I can’t help you. I wish I could. It’s policy.”
I say, “I know you don’t make the policies, but if that is the actual policy, then it is absolutely stupid. Is there something I can do to get that policy changed?” I tried not to be a prick, but I did want him to consider the absurdity of that policy (I highly doubt any such policy exists.)
At this point, he was getting a little tired of answering my questions. He walk into Peachtree Street stops all four lanes of traffic and lets me through. It was awesome.
I thanked him as I rolled past. I hope I didn’t come off as too much of a jerk. He has a very difficult job, and I didn’t want to show any disrespect, but it is crazy that bicyclists are asked to follow the same rules as motorists, but aren’t given the same assistance is situations like this.
I know cyclists are guilty of riding on sidewalks, going the wrong way in traffic, blowing past stop signs and a host of other bad behavior. But I almost never do any of those things. I try to behave as any other vehicle on the road, and I expect to be treated as such. Anyway, it was a small victory.
My next challenge…Getting service at a Drive-Thru. Seriously, if McDonald’s closes their dining room at midnight, purchasing a $10,000 car suddenly becomes a prerequisite for ordering a delicious McDouble. That doesn’t seem right.