Sunday, March 28, 2010

Altercation With A Motorist

If you have been following my blog, you will remember an altercation I had with a Phoenix police officer back in February: A Real Jaw Dropper. Originally, I was corresponding with an officer in the public relations department. She escalated the incident, turning it over to the precinct commander for my precinct.

He and I have been playing "telephone tag" ever since. He would call my home telephone number when I was not there, I would get the message and return his call when he was gone for the day. If only I could have given him my mobile number, but I was hesitant to do that because my three-year-old Motorola Q had started giving me problems. Finally, I acquired a brand New Communication System and was able to leave a voice message and an email with my cell phone number.

I didn't think anything about it for about a week, and then last Friday (March 26, 2010) my mobile phone rang and I saw “Private Number” as the source of the call. My own home phone number shows as “Private Number,” so I answered it fully expecting to hear my wife's voice. Luckily, I didn't answer it as a “Reverse Obscene Phone Call” (as I have been known to do) because the voice at the other end of the line was that precinct commander. He and I exchanged pleasantries and we both expressed how happy we were we could finally talk.

He continued by saying he hoped I would accept the apologies of the Phoenix Police Department, and his personal apology, for the actions of his officer that day. He explained that his research into the incident showed that I was correct about being in that lane, that was where I was supposed to be stopped in order to continue east across the street when the traffic cleared.

That answered my first question, which had been “Where was I supposed to be if not there?” My second question was “What training do Phoenix police officers get regarding the traffic laws pertaining to bicycles?” The answer to that question exposed the heart of the problem regarding the officer's mistaken instructions to me and his belief that I “didn't belong there.”

At the academy, police cadets get twenty hours of training regarding Title 28 – Transportation of the Arizona Revised Statutes. Title 28 covers ALL the laws regarding vehicles, licensing, traffic laws, truck transportation, fees, etc. It is a section of the ARS which takes up about 619 pages of the “condensed” version available at the local libraries. The academy emphasizes those sections which deal with the most important parts to policemen: DUI laws, rules governing traffic stops, search and seizure, licensing penalties, etc.

The precinct commander said when he got my email, he was almost embarrassed to admit he had to pull out Title 28 and review the portion of the ARS to which I had referred in my message. The fact that bicycles were historically such a small percentage of the traffic, and that these issues rarely came up, was what caused the incorrect actions on the part of the police officer I encountered.

I responded to the commander by saying I fully appreciated how important the other jobs were for the police, and when he asked if I wished to speak to the officer I assured him that my intent was certainly not to have him call some officer on the carpet about this; my concern was for my safety as a bicyclist and support by the police for my rights on the roadway as a bicyclist.

I then asked if he would like me to check around at the various area bike clubs, and with The League of American Bicyclists, for any training they could provide for the police. He replied he would be happy to champion my efforts with his department, would keep me informed about progress on the subject and looked forward to hearing from me.

I guess I have really stuck my foot into it now! LOL! I'll probably have to renew my membership in the League and track down one of their trainers in the area. Actually, I feel good about it.

Now THAT'S a Pothole!

So, last Thursday (March 25, 2010) I'm riding Bluetiful to work. Minding my own business ... and ...


Jeez! I thought a tire had exploded! Whatever I hit knocked one of my taillights right off its connection on the back of the rack bag and rearranged my headlights so they were pointing down towards the front tire.

I stopped the bike, put down the kickstand and popped the Blackburn headlight off the handlebars to use as a flashlight. I picked up my taillight about ten yards behind the bike, and used my Blackburn flashlight to see what I had hit in the road. I couldn't believe what I saw, so returning home that afternoon I took a picture of it in the daylight:

Here's a closeup of the edge of the pavement that I hit:

I think that little "pond" of water is covering a hand-hole next to the manhole. The top edge of the "pond" is around an inch above the surface of the water, and the "pond" is over an inch deep.

Checking the bike over, I don't see any sign of damage. I got so busy on Friday that I forgot to call the City and report it. They're usually pretty good about fixing these things.

New Communication System

I've had a Motorola Q smartphone for almost three years. It has been a dandy mobile phone, and if they still made them I wouldn't hesitate buying another one. I would have kept the one I have except for the fact that after three years I have dropped it enough times that it was starting to get cranky and unreliable.

I have been interested in the Motorola Droid ever since it came out in late 2009. I was always put off by the $300 price of it. Even though the final price at the Verizon store would be $150 after a $100 discount and an additional $50 discount for renewing my contact, I would only get those as mail-in coupons; I would still have to come up with three hundred bucks up front.

A buddy of mine and I were walking through Best Buy one day a couple of weeks ago, and we passed through their mobile phone department. They had the Verizon Motorola Droid for $99. There was no catch, I could simply renew my present Verizon contract, not have to mess with any silly mail-in coupons and save fifty bucks off the price at the Verizon store.

Here's my old phone and my new phone (on the left, you can see the scotch tape holding the face plate onto the front of my old Q):

And here's the new Motorola Droid with the slide keyboard opened:

I've always liked a genuine QWERTY keyboard over a virtual keyboard such as the one on the iPhone. I have to say, though, that when the Droid is in the sideways mode --- and the slide keyboard is closed --- the wide virtual keyboard which pops up is actually very good.

The screen on the Droid is fantastic. The applications available for it make it almost a computer workstation in your hand.

(Last thing: the wallpaper is Sarah Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades from the Blizzard game StarCraft.)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Two Bike Trip

So, I rode Bluetiful and Hardiboi over to the Starbucks around noon today.

The tall, pretty barista suggested I try the Grande Cinnamon Dolce Latte with White Mocha. So I did and I have to say it is a very good change of pace for a coffee fix.

Beautiful day to ride, it was room temperature out with scattered clouds and a light breeze.

On the way home, I zoomed through an intersection right across the bow of a fat indigent chick pushing two stolen shopping carts from a local mall --- along with having three or four snotty nosed kids in tow --- who called me an (expletive deleted).

Did I mention the unusual drink I got on my Tour de Starbucks was a nice change of pace?