Just like bikes are real vehicles, it’s important to remember that RTA cops are real cops. And they can give you real tickets.
Cleveland’s burgeoning Critical Mass ride—that “organized coincidence” that brings cyclists together at Public Square the last Friday of every month to show that they’re traffic too—reached what must be record size last week with estimates from 200 to 250 riders taking part. That’s definitely “critical mass”—enough riders that the pack can pedal down the street without worrying that passing cars won’t see them or will crowd them off the road.
But if your critical mass group hopes to make the point that bikes are traffic, too, you’ve got to obey the laws. Even if the law wears an RTA patch on its sleeve.
“We did run a red light,” said Daniel Lake, proprietor of Simple Yard Care—a very quiet, Tremont-based lawn service that uses push mowers delivered by bicycle. “It was an RTA cop that was apparently frustrated with the group. He did a u-turn and separated the pack. We both got tickets for running a red light and riding in the bus lane.”
What really seemed to up the ante, though, was when he questioned whether RTA police can write real tickets. He recalls the policeman telling him “Now you’re definitely getting a ticket. I’m sick of this group. You want to go to jail?”
It’s not likely to cost him time, but RTA confirms that their police force does have real ticketing authority along bus routes and in transit facilities. RTA spokesperson Mary McCahon says when RTA police write tickets, the money goes to the city. — Michael Gill