Not once, not twice, not three times — but four times on my commute today I encountered vehicles blocking the bike lanes and shoulders.

To be fair, however, only two were particularly egregious and both of those happened to be police officers.

I found this police officer taking up half the striped shoulder on Limberlost while there was a nice wide section of dirt just to the right. Seeing me ride up befind him with a camera, enter traffic and then merge back into the shoulder did not seem to encourage him to move.

A few blocks later on Mountain Avenue the bike lane is closed. This time however crews are tearing up the road for utility work on a new container house being built.

About a mile later another police officer uses the Mountain Avenue bike lane as a parking lot. This was after the officer drove through the bike lane for several hundred yards before coming to a stop.

On my way home I ran across this truck in the bike lane on Mountain too. I am not positive what it was doing there, but it sounded like there some sort of pump or generator that the worker was using.

I’m not sure how the people who are supposed to keep people from parking and driving in the bike lanes are going to enforce the rules if they are breaking them.

15 thoughts on “Cops driving and parking in the bike lane”
  1. Three things:

    1. Mike, you’re lucky that the cop-parkers didn’t arrest you for exercising your First Amendment rights. There’s a lot of that going around these days.

    2. I saw that shipping container house too. Was tempted to open The Troublemaker (aka my mouth) and say, “Dude, how are you going to heat and cool that thing?”

    3. The truck in your final photo is from Graffiti Protective Coatings. They’re under contract with the city to remove the lovely tags and other bits of “artwork” around town. Every time I see one of those guys out working, I holler “Good job!”

  2. The worst one I’ve ever seen is a UPS truck taking up the entire sidewalk and bike lane on Speedway. It was one of those moments where you wonder if the “we don’t need bike lanes, just use the road” philosophy might be more right…

    Also, Can we talk about how about 90% of the time I see bicycle cops they are riding wrong way on sidewalk? Doesn’t TPD do lots of ticketing for that move?

  3. I’d be okay with the police parking (temporarily) in the bike lane if it was in service to a greater mission: arresting a pedophile, stopping a burglary in progress, or whatever.  But, from my experience on the road, it’s evident that car drivers — include police officers — think of the bike lane as a equivalent to the shoulder of a highway, or even as some sort of extra margin ADOT threw down just because they had some left over asphalt and wanted to give the city a tip, or something.  I really don’t know what goes on in their heads; I can only speculate.  Whatever the rationale, the bike lane is clearly perceived as anything but a bike lane. 

    This speaks to larger biases in the community, as I have mentioned time and time again.  I refer to it generally as the “car culture”: the arrogant belief that anything operating outside the dehumanizing logic of people moving rapidly to and fro in metal and glass boxes is aberrant and should be marginalized swiftly and with great cost to those outsiders who stand in opposition to the status quo.  Consider, if you will, the multi-thousand dollar grants TPD has won in order, it appears, to target cyclists and pedestrians — two of the least politically powerful entities in the land, who cause virtually no damage to the roadway or the environment and yet are forced to pay an unequally high proportion of city and state taxes (relative to use and maintenance costs) for the privilege of being second-class citizens.  Is it any wonder, then, that the same police who work hard to attack non-car traffic are also using the bike lane as a personal parking lot? 

    I’m not surprised in the least.  They don’t give two shits about the alt transportation community.  If only the BAC (among others) would wake up to that fact.

  4. Regarding the two TPD cars, unless it’s an emergency they should use side streets or parking lots to do paperwork, fool with the computer, radio, cell phone, etc. Is there such a policy? In any case it’s difficult to disentangle individual and organizational arrogance, stupidity and lack of awareness/training/supervision when it comes to TPD.

    Regarding the two trucks,  seems to Red Star some cones placed well in advance of the work site would help.

  5. That’s why we need a separate bike path with curb in Tucson like Amsterdam so cars/trucks can’t drive/park in there!  

  6. If the bicycle lane was viewed as an actual lane nobody would park in it.  Imagine a police car parked in the automobile traffic lane on Mountain Ave.  It’s not that this never happens it’s that if it does their flashers and lights are going and there’s a reason for them to be there.   It’s not about there not being a curb.  
    Police of all folks ought to understand this.  They worked hard to pass a law making it illegal to drive or park in any part of the gore area on a freeway on ramp.  Why, because a DPS officer was killed as a result of a person driving through the gore area and striking an officer conducting a traffic stop.  When you approach a stopped emergency vehicle on a highway you are required to move over a lane to pass.  A vehicle parked in a protected bike lane forces an approaching bicyclist to move into traffic to pass.  So when we pass a police officer making a stop we go wide but if the police officer is parked in a bike lane we get forced to do something dangerous.  Doesn’t make sense to me.  Again thus isn’t about cubs, it’s about somebody making a deliberate choice to sacrifice your safety for their convenience.  The convenience being completely disproportionate to the sacrifice in safety,  Mere minutes in trade for somebodies life.  

    And yeah, what Ryn said.

  7. I also forgot to mention the many many times I’ve seen UAPD just sitting in their cars parked in the middle of campus bike paths.

  8. I encountered a private communications truck working on a box on the SE corner of the Rillito Bike Path at La Cholla, his ton-n-half or two ton truck was parked smack dab in the middle of the path with both doors open blocking access to La Cholla. He could have just as well parked on the street minimizing the impact on both cars and traffic.

  9. Not that it does much, but you can report these people to the non-emergency police line (520-791-4444) 8a-10p, or just call 9-1-1 outside of those hours.

  10. 28-815. Riding on roadway and bicycle path; bicycle path usage

    C. A path or lane that is designated as a bicycle path or lane by state or local authorities is for the exclusive use of bicycles even though other uses are permitted pursuant to subsection D or are otherwise permitted by state or local authorities.
    D. A person shall not operate, stop, park or leave standing a vehicle in a path or lane designated as a bicycle path or lane by a state or local authority except in the case of emergency or for crossing the path or lane to gain access to a public or private road or driveway.
    E. Subsection D does not prohibit the use of the path or lane by the appropriate local authority.

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