Bicycling has an interesting–and lengthy–article on the subject of the rights of a cyclist when confronted by a police officer. At least, that’s what the subject of the article implies the article is about, but it’s more like a verbose episode of Cops.
The short version (you really should read it yourself though) is that two cyclists riding two-abreast on a backcountry road were either harassed by a cop or legitimately told to stop, depending on whose story you believe. At this point, things started to spiral terribly out of control, with a taser and baton being called into play.
The cyclists feel they were abused, the cops feel they were taunted and that the cyclists were evading arrest. Personally I think the real story is somewhere between the two, and that the entire matter could have been avoided if the riders had stopped and talked to the cop in the first place. I’ve been approached before by police officers who don’t know what the laws are regarding bikes (but think they do) and the conversations have been enlightening, to say the least.
Bob Mionske, the author of the piece says “I suspect it’s easier to just quietly comply with a law enforcement officer’s misguided attempts to enforce laws that don’t exist. Sure, we know the officer is wrong, but do we really want to go to jail to make that point, instead of wherever it is we happen to be going at that moment?” Personally I’d rather be in jail than shot. A nice wrongful arrest suit would go a long way to setting precedent in a state, and it wouldn’t require a trip to the hospital or the morgue.