Police and Aggressive Drivers

Suggestions for Interactions with Police and Aggressive Drivers 

 

These suggestions were obtained from the Ottawa Bike Club. They appear sensible and are presented here for the guidance of BCC members. This does not represent an official endorsement by BCC or a recommendation regarding actions that individual members should take in a given circumstance.

 

  • When dealing with a motorist or a police officer, only one person should talk on behalf of the group - normally the group leader. Other riders should listen but say nothing.

  • Always be calm and courteous even while being provoked - emotions are quickly inflamed.

  • Refrain from remonstrations such as giving the finger to aggressive motorists even though restraint may be difficult.

  • If a motorist endangers the group and someone has a cell phone, call 911 immediately. Report the license number and description of the vehicle, together with a description of the driver.

  • If the incident involved aggressive driving or abusive behaviour but was not dangerous, report it as soon as is convenient. The police still need to know what goes on out there. Barrie Police (705) 725-7025; South Simcoe Police Innisfil (705) 436-2141; Barrie OPP (705) 726-6484; Ontario Provincial Police 1 (888) 310-1122. If this is an emergency situation call 911.

  • If a motorist stops his vehicle and is confrontational, also call 911 immediately. Mention that the driver may be impaired - that likely will get you a quick police response. Tell the motorist that you have called the police and suggest that he remain at the scene, and then say no more.

  • If your group is stopped by police, pull off the road.

  • Be familiar with the jurisdiction you are in and the traffic laws that apply. In addition
    to provincial rules there may be additional municipal and/or federal ones.

  • If in Ontario, and the issue for the police officer is riding two abreast, mention that there is no prohibition against the practice in the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. (apparently, the Ottawa Bike Club has used that group formation for almost 40 years and no member of a group has ever been convicted for riding two abreast).

  • When you get the chance, explain that you ride single file in certain heavy traffic situations but two abreast is normally safer on lightly used rural roads. Point out your primary concern is for the safety of the riders.

  • If the police officer insists, comply with his directive and ride single file but report the incident to the traffic supervisor of the relevant police service.

  • Always obtain the police officer's name and badge number (or if he/she won't give them, note the ID number that is on the cruiser).

  • Some police officers will threaten to write tickets. Remember that tickets can only be written for infractions by an individual. There's no such thing as a group infraction. So if the officer chooses to ticket one person, say the tour leader, as "group punishment" or to set an example then potentially he would have to identify the rider in the pack and describe to a judge what the rider did to break the law. This is not so easy when that person may have been buried or "lost" among a pack of riders.

  • In Ontario, when asked to identify yourself, it is sufficient to give your correct name and address. It is better not to offer a driver's licence as you could wrongly accumulate motorist demerit points if ticketed.

  • If you are in Quebec, be aware that Quebec laws are different from Ontario's and much more restrictive to cyclists on the road, eg: groups are required to ride single file; if there is an on-road bike lane, you are required to use it; groups must be no more than 15 riders (if more does everyone get a ticket?)

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