Location: Nebraska

Lincoln's Bicycle-Friendly Police Chief

Cyclists and city officials in Lincoln, Nebraska aspire to make their city more bicycle-friendly, and it seems their police department, or at least their Chief of Police, Tom Casady, is already there.

On his The Chief’s Corner blog, Casady has written a post called “Share the road” that discusses bicycles and the rules of the road in Lincoln.

Here are a few choice quotes:

Sharing the road is not just polite, it’s the law. Bicycles essentially enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles on the public streets. Motorists need to accord bicycles the same right of way, following distance, and passing protocol that they would another automobile. I see a lot of impatience here. Some motorists view a slower-moving bicycle as an obstruction. Any avid cyclist has their stories of Beavis & Friend flipping them the universal peace sign, crowding them to the curb, making a right turn directly in front of their path, launching a Big Gulp grenade, and otherwise pestering them with obnoxious and dangerous behavior.

Trouble is, some motorists don’t treat any other vehicle of any kind with respect. Aggressive driving seems to be a common condition for a growing number of motorists.

Cyclists aren’t the problem–rather, it’s a nincompoop behind the wheel of a gas-guzzler, who views anything that slows his route as an annoyance.

Here’s some advice for cyclists: When operating your 21 lb. road bike, do not get in an argument with a probable drunk who has poor impulse control and drives a 4,500 lb. weapon.

His post is pretty amazing stuff, coming from the top cop in a major Midwestern city, particularly in contrast to the anti-bicycle rantings of fellow lawmen such as Sheriff James Alderden in Larimer County, Colorado.

Casady doesn’t let cyclists off the hook, though, noting that “Some cyclists seem to think that traffic signals are optional.” and “Occasionally, I will see cyclists in pairs or groups riding side-by-side, which violates the law.”

(Incidentally, his last point is a quirk of Nebraska law (“When on the highway, bicyclists must ride single file. This does not apply when riding on the surfaced shoulder.”) and Lincoln ordinance (“Persons riding bicycles upon a street or roadway shall ride single file, except on paths or parts of roadway set aside for exclusive use of bicycles.”) — most other states allow cyclists to ride two abreast as long as they’re not unnecessarily impeding other traffic.)

See also: Lessons for Portland from a police chief in Lincoln, Nebraska from BikePortland.org — it’s interesting to see folks in a city as famously bike-friendly as Portland, Oregon look longingly toward Nebraska as a model for how police can effectively communicate with their community.

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About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web's premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

One response to “Lincoln's Bicycle-Friendly Police Chief”

  1. jim radmall says:

    it ain’t just in the uk then – we thought we were the only cyclists gettin’ a hard time!