Texas Judge Deems Cyclist Guilty for Riding on the Road

A decision handed down yesterday by a judge in Ellis County, Texas calls into question a bicyclist's right to ride lawfully on the state's roads.

Reed Bates, known to frequenters of bike advocacy sites by his handle "ChipSeal," has promised to appeal after being convicted of "reckless driving" for riding in the right lane instead of on the shoulder of Hwy 287 in Ennis, Texas.

Reed_192x300.jpgReed "ChipSeal" Bates. Photo: Let Him Ride

Bates has been arrested twice before, once for "riding a bicycle on a roadway" and more recently for "impeding traffic." Network blog Commute Orlando points us to a story about yesterday's decision in Cycle Dallas:

Reed Bates (AKA ChipSeal) has been found guilty on a charge of reckless driving for not riding as far right as possible in a 12' lane with 70 mph tractor-trailer trucks, and for not riding on an inconsistent, broken and even nonexistent shoulder when directed to ride there by local law enforcement officers, contrary to the requirements of Sec. 551.103 of the Texas Transportation Code. Oddly, the fact that other vehicles were being allowed to exceed the posted speed limit was considered a reason to force a lawfully operating vehicle off the roadway.

Part of the case against Mr. Bates was that he was riding at dusk, even though police detained him prior to dusk for almost 40 minutes (from roughly 5 to 5:40 pm) before letting him proceed. He was then handcuffed and arrested.

In finding Mr. Bates guilty, the judge stated, "You may be right that it is safer to ride in the middle of the lane instead of the shoulder, but it is reckless of you to do so"... at which point a white rabbit was seen going down the elevators at the Ellis County Courthouse.

Commute Orlando, Baltimore Spokes and Cycle Dallas are all referring readers to Let-Him-Ride.com, a support site for Bates that is collecting money for his defense in the appeal.

Also on the Network, Cyclelicio.us introduces a public awareness campaign in Fort Collins, Colorado to humanize bicyclists: "You know me, I ride a bike;" and the Raleigh Connoisseur tallies up the cost of parking lots on some of the city's prime real estate.