Where is the Tucson Police Department’s bicycle and pedestrian task force when you need it?

I ran across these two Tucson Police Department officers while riding to work the other day. Just before I took this photo, they were riding on the sidewalk against traffic.

Maybe it’s not fair, but I expect the people who are enforcing the laws to actually obey them. Too much to ask?


45 thoughts on “Photo: Cops riding on the sidewalk”
  1. Especially after their recent special enforcement when  they gave out so many tickets for that same offense

  2. Grant-funded police work tends to reinforce (or at least ignore) and possibly amplify the “do as I say, not as I do” problem of police departments…grants come and go.

  3. They (unless they’re on a call ) obey traffic laws when they’re in their cars, don’t they?  Well. at least they don’t drive against traffic. But, eh, it’s just bikes, right?

  4. They (unless they’re on a call ) obey traffic laws when they’re in their cars, don’t they?  Well. at least they don’t drive against traffic. But, eh, it’s just bikes, right?

  5.  Ain’t that the truth, Zeez. If we did the same thing, we’d be the proud new owners of a traffic ticket.

    Yet another example of the second-class citizenship of bicyclists in this town.

  6.  Ain’t that the truth, Zeez. If we did the same thing, we’d be the proud new owners of a traffic ticket.

    Yet another example of the second-class citizenship of bicyclists in this town.

  7. I can appreciate the photo and article, unfortunately it will not accomplish anything 🙁   They have their own set of rules. 

  8. El Encanto and El Con Mall are in my way when I go home from downtown/4th Ave.  Instead of crossing 6 lanes of traffic on Broadway twice, I ride the wrong way on the North side sidewalk.  Cops have driven by me a few times and haven’t done anything.  I’m sure I’ll get a ticket someday, but until then I’m glad the cops have given me a blind eye.  As for cops themselves breaking the law, It’s only an issue to me if what they do is an actual hazard.  I’ve seen patrol cars sitting at a light and turn on their siren to go thru the light and turn it off again right on the other side.  Maybe they turned it off because they were trying to be stealthy in approaching a hot scene, but I don’t know for sure.

  9. Those look like the same two guys I saw at Campbell and 9th the other morning riding leisurely northward on the west sidewalk. At that early hour, there weren’t any real safety issues about riding in the street, but I got the impression they just felt safer off it. Imagine that.

  10. It is in “breaking the Law” that makes it become a hazard! Otherwise there would be no need for the law. The next time someone gets stopped for speeding on a empty road I guess they can say but there is no hazard, no else is on the road.  When someone runs you over pulling out of the parking lot through the sidewalk remember it was your choice to create that hazard.  If crossing 6 lanes is to much for you maybe you should be driving instead. Just saying…

  11. So it’s okay for bikes to be on the sidewalk, just not going the wrong way?  Just want to make sure!

  12.  Foeago,

    Riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is illegal in Arizona, regardless of direction of travel relative to vehicles and that includes non-emergency law enforcement activity. Tucson Velo probably shouldn’t have brought in the “against traffic” thing.

    Just want to make sure you understand this!

  13. byonikman,

    Red Star understands your frustration and your whole self-indulgent pee-in-the-pants schtick, but isn’t the blog post about supposed law enforcement professionals and how they don’t obey the rules?

  14. Who guards the guards? Let’s hope for more quid pro quo. But remember soon the streets will sprout forth an abundance of students to ticket. Rode south to downtown yesterday morning along Santa Cruz path and found Congress underpass closed so I used the sidewalk  and rode the wrong way across the bridge to find a curb cut just as a pair of TPD bicycle officers rode by.  We exchanged greetings and rode on.  It is becoming more obvious that few civil designers are cyclists and their scale is still set to the automobile. I’ve yet  to figure out how to get from 4th Ave to Snake Bridge. 

  15. Red Star, 
    Yes, point taken, I was merely responding to the justification of 3wheeler’s actions. Cops don’t obey the rules/laws all the time but we all know we can’t use that to justify our doing the same thing. It’s good to see this pic and blog about it because it MAY force some changes/actions on their (TPDBP) part.  I posted the link above stating the bike law. 

  16. Essentially agree: TPD fouls should be called and corrective action by TPD should be taken, given of course that it’s difficult to figure out whether there is an exceptionally dumb officer/team training and awareness problem or rather something systemic, that is, something of the organization’s culture that fosters dumb.

    Anyway, pointing to dumb to justify dumb is dumb.

  17. It gets very confusing because in some jurisdictions in Phoenix you can ride on the sidewalk. 

    In Tucson you can’t ride on the sidewalk, UNLESS it is expressly allowed by signage. There are increasing crossings that are allowing cyclists to use the sidewalk. The issue is it is more dangerous for cyclists to ride on the sidewalk because cars are not looking for bicyclists on sidewalks and might hit them. I mentioned the wrong way riding part because riding against traffic is also illegal and is probably the most dangerous thing you can do. 

  18.  TPD riding on the sidewalk thereabouts, as you report, is illegal and irresponsible and dumb  cyclist practice. Whether those two TPD officers were going against traffic (ped or motor vehicle) is irrelevant; you totally nailed them on the riding on the sidewalk thing.

  19. I think this is the biggest ‘two edged sword’ senario bikes face. We all know that sometimes riding the sidewalk is the most prudent option and the city, through signage, has acknowledged that. But the city can’t keep up with all specific and changing conditions so we ‘break the law’ and hope TPD never adopts a zero tolerance for it.  But we yell when the cops do it and they sometimes ticket us when we do it. 
    Aren’t these are all valid points?
    Trying to force two diverse types of vehicles to operate strictly under a uniform traffic code isn’t necessarily the way to parity.
    I think until ‘the way’ is found,  slack is required. Slack, though, is an uneasy status and hopefully isn’t considered an end-all solution.

  20. I’ve seen a bike cop doing a wheelie down the 4th Avenue Underpass on the wrong side of the road. 

  21. If heading south, hang a left at 9th Street and go over to 3rd Avenue. Go right on 3rd, and the path to Ye Old Snake Bridge is at the intersection of 3rd and whatever that diagonal street along the tracks is called.

  22. zz as usual nails it.  Why do we care if police ride on sidewalks?  You aren’t going to get anywhere in this town if you don’t ride on a sidewalk every now and again.  None of you ride through the 4th St Garage now that University is closed?  

    I’m not quite sure how you legislate tolerance but it sure would be nice if we could somehow get there.  

    Riding against traffic on a sidewalk is really dangerous if you proceed through an intersection or driveway.  Kind of reminds you of the Aviation Bikeway doesn’t it?  

    Now the parking in the bike lane, that was a legitimate complaint.  

  23. “Why do we care if police ride on sidewalks?”

    The problem, Orvis, is that the practice (riding on the sidewalk, in this instance) is generally illegal and stupid. It gets our attention when the authorities routinely do it, as they do. That may be myopic adaptive behavior on their part (until they are called on it, of course) but it can hardly be considered problem-solving behavior in a larger sense, in the sense of community. It’s in that way that Red Star cares and considers the misbehavior just as illegitimate as parking and driving in the bike lane.

    Of course, we realize that it may all be trivial to you.

  24. No Red Star it misses the issue.  It’s not at all trivial to me.  zz hits the nail on the head when he talks about the times we all ride on sidewalks.  Maybe you don’t but even if you said you didn’t I wouldn’t believe it.  Sometimes it just makes more sense to ride on a sidewalk to make a connection.  None of us has a clue as to why these officers were doing what they were doing.  We also can’t tell if they foolishly rode through the crosswalk into the path of a car.  Absent flashing lights and some compelling reason, traffic stop etc it’s a pretty safe bet that anyone parking in a bike lane is just being lazy and worse than that they’re leveraging my safety making me have to swerve out around them. 

    It’s touched on in some earlier comments.  The problem solving part in a community wide sense would come into play if the culture of road design migrated to the point where the engineers employed solutions that were multi modal and successful.  

    So yeah I do the bike census thing every year and where it got me was to the place of understanding that if people are riding  on a sidewalk against traffic there is usually some sort of a road design issue in play.  Not that this is the case here.  I haven’t stood there for 4 hrs counting bikes but the experience changed my focus.  

    Generally illegal yes, I’m not so sure about the stupid part and I don’t see how it furthers the discussion. Illegal doesn’t mean much in a world where pretty much everyone breaks the law on a daily basis and yes I do think that is a problem.

    So where does oh you bad policemen get us as a society or bicyclists?  Personally and subjectively I think it’s just petty and it minimises the larger issue.  Fair?  Who said life is supposed to be fair?  

  25. That statement is factually incorrect. There is no Arizona state law prohibiting sidewalk riding. Some cities like Tucson prohibit it in various forms.

  26. With all due respect, John Romeo Alpha, riding a bicycle on that sidewalk (keep in mind that Tucson Velo stated the officers were riding in the sidewalk prior to the photo) is illegal. It’s difficult for Red Star to understand your claim that the statement is “factually incorrect.”  Can you explain?

    btw, like your yellow single-speed, and your photography and narratives… all very sweet!

  27. Sorry, Orvis. Red Star has a problem with cynicism and rationalization. So, adios to you on this one.  Interested readers can figure what they figure. Thanks!

  28. Not to be a big downer, but Tucson city code specifically exempts police officers from the no-sidewalk-riding ordinance:

    Sec. 5-2. Riding on sidewalks and pedestrian paths, and through underpasses.

         (a)     It shall be unlawful to ride a bicycle on any public
    sidewalks, or upon a designated pedestrian path in any public park,
    unless signs are posted specifically permitting bicycling.

         (b)     It shall be unlawful to ride a bicycle through any underpass when signs are posted prohibiting bicycling.

    (Ord. No. 7276, § 1, 9-11-89)

    Sec. 5-2.1. Postal employees and law enforcement officers exempt from certain riding and parking provisions.

    The provisions of sections
    5-1 and
    shall not apply to U.S. Postal Service employees engaging in the
    collection or delivery of mail or to law enforcement officers while
    engaged in the performance of law enforcement duties. For purposes of
    this section, law enforcement officer shall include local traffic
    enforcement agents.

    (Ord. No. 7276, § 1, 9-11-89; Ord. No. 9046, § 1, 4-20-98)


  29. The “factually incorrect” part was saying the sidewalk prohibition was a state rule. It’s a Tucson rule.

  30. Oh thank you, I knew about the Az. bike law but not the City of Tucson one.  Well worth the $25.00 fine to jump onto the sidewalk when my bike lane unexpectedly ends 🙂  Good to have to correct info.

  31. unfortunately, it is an $80 ticket as I have personally discovered, and the diversion class (which the officer claimed would save me from paying) was full.

  32. But can you appreciate irony?  See Ian’s post below.  A little too subtle for you.  I will work on that.

  33.  Here is the phrase that jumps out at me there: “…while
    engaged in the performance of law enforcement duties.” These two don’t look particularly engaged in any performance of duty. They just look like they are trying to avoid some of the crap construction by taking a sidewalk short cut. Understandable, maybe. Excusable, not.

  34. Looks to me like the pair had just passed by the newish Architecture Building, whose glass facade has been shot at repeatedly over the past five years. Visible cops.

  35. It’s not that you’re a big downer, Ian Johnson. You are something entirely different. The info you provide is useful on its own simple terms but also, and more important, for what it reveals about you and your Tucson/Pima BAC.

    Are we to understand that commonsense, courtesy, public safety and counter productive  law enforcement agency role-modeling goes out the window because of your cherished Tucson city code? Because you don’t want be a big downer? Do you really want to go there?

    TPD is problematic, but can you look at things in a deeper way?

  36. Well, now you see that’s just what Mike should have done….gone over and asked if they were currently engaged in the performance of their law enforcement duties.  Would have cleared this whole thing up.  

  37. One would like to think that they are “always on,” at least while duty (on the clock, as it were) and certainly while in uniform riding COT bikes on COT property. That’s what we are led to believe and expect in the USA culture with common sense, public safety, officer safety, courageous role-modelling . In contrast to Ian Johnson. There was no failure by Tucson Velo.

  38. Johnson didn’t write the ordinance. He cited it to benefit others. Tucson Velo made a rare misstep. Not a big deal.

  39. They were east of Mountain. The architecture building is west of Mountain much closer to Park Ave. 

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