Downtown bikers take law into their own hands

(Photo illustration by Shiva Balasubramanian) (Photo illustration by Shiva Balasubramanian)

Cyclists balance legality and safety under the watchful eyes of police officers on the busy city streets in downtown Phoenix. In a hotbed of commotion, downtown can be a dangerous place for a person on a bicycle.

City and state laws provide protection for bicyclists throughout Phoenix. Specifically, ARS 28-812 applies all vehicle traffic laws to bike riders when they cruise through downtown Phoenix and across Arizona.

Phoenix Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Steve Martos said if a biker violates the law, a police officer does have the jurisdiction to stop them.

Typically, bikers are not bothered downtown and have many freedoms to weave through the city streets.

Martos said bicycles abide by the same traffic laws as cars and trucks. When a rider runs a red light or hits somebody, it’s the police officer's duty to step in and take action.

Many cyclists downtown feel singled out by police officers, but Martos said this was not the case.

Tyler Greaves, 25, thought otherwise. An Arizona native, Greaves works as a pastry chef downtown.

Greaves said that she was riding her bike when she came to the intersection of Central Avenue and Fillmore Street. Around 10:30 p.m., an officer had already pulled someone over on the side of the street so Greaves rode through the intersection.

What she failed to realize was the light was red. Greaves was pulled over and received a ticket for the offense. It cost her around $300 and lost points on her drivers license.

“It really bums me out,” she said. “I’ve never gotten a ticket in my life.”

Greaves said she felt targeted by the officer on duty and she had no idea that the ticket would affect her driving record.

“There was nobody around,” she said. “It’s really upsetting.”

Safety is always a concern on a cyclist's mind and a bike enthusiast may not like all of the traffic that comes along with riding downtown.

Erick Angermeier is an avid rider and works at the Slippery Pig Bike Shop in Phoenix.

“I don’t want to be anywhere near (drivers),” Angermeier said. “I personally will not always obey the traffic laws for my own safety.”

During the busy traffic times downtown, many riders are in constant danger, fighting with cars for positions on the street and with the crowds on the sidewalks.

“Stopping at the light is very hard on your knees,” he said.

Angermeier said in many other countries bikers have more laws to protect them against the onslaught of cars during rush hour, but Phoenix's laws are less expansive.

Angermeier was riding his bike late at night in downtown when an officer stopped him, he said.

“They pulled me over not because of a light, but because they thought I had drugs,” he said.


Reach the reporter at or follow him on Twitter @JonWilliams_23

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