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The guy doesn't know the law, but he does have a gun. Maybe they can request $8 million to make a replica Beach Drive so that they can receive training on it.

It is because of stories like these that I almost always ride with a front&rear camera in DC. 99.99% of the time the footage is entertaining at best. But there is always that tiny chance that it can be evidence.

Actually, I wonder if the SS would have confiscated the cameras if they have been used here... Probably for the purposes of "national security"

I also suggest people be prepared to tell the officers: "That law only applies to roads with speed limits above 25 mph".

The SS officer might have a dim awareness and thus misconstrue the mandatory sidepath law that Congress actually did pass, but which requires NPS to implement (and would apply on Rock Creek Parkway but not Beach Drive).

Here's an old take on the federal mandatory sidepath law:


More reason for GoPro camera.

According to NPS, cyclists are permitted to ride on Rock Creek Parkway.

This is what happens when you give a low IQ, former high school bully a badge and some authority.

The incompetence of the SS in recent months makes me wonder if they can even keep to their original mission.

Now I'm tempted to ride that way home. The sidepath there is horrible, it's part of why I quit going that way. At one spot, the bumps are so bad everyone rides off the MUP onto the dirt nearby. At another portion, the sand is so bad that you have to almost stop to avoid sliding (of course this is at the bottom of a huge hill). And at yet another spot, there are literal 90 degree turns in the path to cross a bridge. But the SS knows what's safest... evidence by their drunken debauchery and mysterious camera footage deletion.

Apparently, this is not the Secret Service in the scandals, but the Secret Service Uniformed Division. Standards are a bit lower.

My natural inclination to ride that way out of bloody-mindedness is overruled by my longstanding goal of never having any contact with law enforcement officials.

Just another bully with a badge. This needs as much exposure as possible (thanks for blogging about this, washcycle)

These are the folks in charge of security for the various embassies, consulates and embassador residents, of which there are many in the leafy part of NW DC. So really, they are just headed to their jobs through the park, not any different than any commuter. Which makes their use of their badge and sirens even more egregious.

Just another @$%^& cyclist in their way they can bully. They may not even have the jurisdiction to actually issue any tickets in the park. One time, when a friend was pulled over by one of them while driving, they had to call MPD to issue the moving violation ticket.

I should add in fairness, that my experiences cycling near those on the first kids' detail has been only positive. So I suspect this is some rogue d-bag.

They're usually pretty nice about it when I'm going past the White House and they've closed part of the pedestrian area off, but I do turn around and run away immediately.

I question whether he even HAS jurisdiction to do anything.

SJE -- yes, this. How do we know the guy is for real? Yes, comply with what he says because he has a gun. But yes, have your camera rolling. Because I guarantee the folks higher up in SS do NOT want this to go viral given their recent press.

I had a run in this this jerk who should be fired, a few years ago. I was riding down the Rock Creek Parkway at about 25mph and heard the police horns, looked back to see red flashing lights and a "get off the road" order. Assuming there was a real emergency, I hopped the curb and crashed, managing to keep me and my bike from going into the traffic or hitting anyone on the trail. Realizing the guy was just abusing his power, I got up yelling at him to get back here and gave him two one finger salutes.

I rode into DC and talked with a DC officer. He said that bicycles were allowed on the Parkway but that he wouldn't ride there. I told him I was going too fast for the trail so I was on the road and he just shrugged.

Because of this and being hit by cars twice and having the police blindly side with the drivers, I also use cameras front and back.

Thankfully I've had more positive than negative experiences with the police so I'm still respectful.

Has anyone contacted the SS about this? Or Park Police? Venting on a forum isn't going to do anything,the people who were messed with need to contact the authorities and lodge a complaint. Given the description,it can't be that hard for them to find the individual responsible. Wash,you apparently know who these folks are,have you suggested they take action?

Arrest or detention by a law enforcement officer without sufficient reason is a violation of the 4th Amendment and other laws. If the victim is certain that the Secret Service is responsible, a complaint can be filed with the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. If they don't take satisfactory action, the victim can contact a civil rights lawyer.

How ironic given the Secret Service Police have their own bike patrols. Had a pleasant conversation with two of them a few weeks ago. You can try complaining to the IG but don't expect much because the DHS IG does not have a great reputation in the accountability community.

This is yet another reason to mount a camera or two on your bike. Eventually I think we'll be able to stream camera output to a remote computer or even the internet. Then no one will be able to confiscate the images we record.

John A., Civil Rights for cyclists? Now you're just being dramatic (sarcasm).

I had a similar incident with an Arlington cop about 10 years ago. I was riding (legally) in the street near Four Mile Run at mid-day when traffic was light. Cop rides besides me and tells me I need to get on the path. I said "huh?," which didn't go over too well. So he sped up to get in front of me, got out of the car to confront me, and screamed at me that it was mandatory that I use the bike path. His aggression made it clear that if I didn't comply with his order (legal or not) that nano second, he was going to beat the living life out of me. Bully with a badge.

Sounds to me like this person can't even be sure that the original instigating cop was actually in the Secret Service and that the two other guys in marked cruisers who backed him up didn't just happen upon his encounter with the cyclist and decide to stop and help. It shouldn't be that difficult to identify the agency for whom the unprofessional officer works based on his uniform and possibly the license plates on his car, even if it's unmarked. If this story is true, then a formal complaint absolutely should be filed with the proper agency. Was the original instigator even wearing a uniform, or was it a suit? DOI vehicles, including Park Police, have Federal government license plates starting with "I". MPD vehicles have DC government tags starting with "DC". Secret Service vehicles should have standard GSA-issued Federal government plates starting with "G", or "DHS". Many officers from many different agencies have cause to be passing through Rock Creek Park on a daily basis, and SS officers operating marked cruisers could have been assisting any one of them. Uniformed Secret Service is also one of several Federal agencies with full DC and Federal policing authority, and it does not, and never has, required MPD or any other agency to write traffic tickets for them. They can do it themselves.

The instigating unprofessional cop was also clearly using his lights and siren to pull over the cyclist, as is the proper way to initiate a traffic stop. Nothing about that use of emergency equipment indicates it was being abused simply to get to work.

There seems to be a lot of animosity here against the police given the fact that the police ignore massive amounts of flagrant traffic violations committed by cyclists right in front of officers. Let's be honest, the ratio of cyclists who actually follow every bicycle law to cyclists who do whatever they know they can get away with isn't that great. Just a thought.

The car in my situation was a black unmarked sedan. The flashing lights were only red, no other color.

I agree, the police do ignore a large about of traffic violations by cyclists but they also ignore a large amount of violations by drivers and pedestrians as well.

The major issue here is that a person in an authority position is abusing their position and possibly making up rules to discriminate against citizens.

Police are there to keep the peace. Not to be militant and escalate what should be a simple conversation in to an aggressive conflict. They are suppose to be helpful. While they might not know all the rules they should be open to a discussion when an informed citizen explains what the rules are.

Thankfully the vast majority of police officers are very friendly and helpful.

@DC cyclist and cop: "There seems to be a lot of animosity here against the police given the fact that the police ignore massive amounts of flagrant traffic violations committed by cyclists right in front of officers."

First,I've seen alot of DC officers ignore cars breaking the law,including twice almost being clipped walking in a crosswalk and once myself and a driver almost being hit in an intersection while an officer just sat there watching. I've also almost been clipped twice by MPD,and my friend came within inches of being doored by an MPD officer,who just shook his head after seeing how close he came to hitting my friend. So it seems that just letting things go is SOP.

As to the animosity you're seeing here,have you read these?

We're routinely treated as second class citizens by MPD. There have been plenty of reports of MPD officers citing cyclists that have been struck by cars while they were in the hospital,after they only spoke to the driver at the scene. People have even received tickets for not having a helmet,despite the fact that they were obviously older than 16. I know several people that have managed to recover their stolen bicycles,but not one case of where MPD helped out. I had an expensive bike stolen;a pro used power tools to cut two locks and did this in front of multiple security cameras. MPD took a statement and did nothing else. And finally,get yourself a copy of _Pocket Guide to Washington DC Bike Laws_. It's indorsed by DDOT and MPD,and includes a section entitled "Common Enforcement Errors". This is basically DDOT and MPD acknowledging things that MPD gets wrong.

We don't ask for special treatment from MPD,we just want to be treated like regular citizens. MPD,PP,SS,and other local LE have a long track record of treating cyclists badly.

@Joe: I agree with you entirely regarding unprofessional conduct. Police agencies have rules regarding the conduct of officers, but supervisors will never become aware of violations in many circumstances unless valid, substantiated complaints are filed. Cops need to be held to the highest standards of accountability and I'm all for making sure officers who don't live up to that receive punishment as a result.

@dynaryder: In many circumstances officers don't have the time to do traffic enforcement unless that is their specialized assignment. That obviously applies to both cyclists and motorists.

Obviously I'm aware of specific situations in which cyclists were incorrectly cited, but I appreciate your linking to those stories. I think the focus of the cycling community in the city should be just as much on holding fellow cyclists accountable for their actions and the resulting stereotype of cyclists held by not just law enforcement, but also motorists and pedestrians as well. The Pocket Guide to which you referred is an example of what MPD and the District government is doing to ensure officers are better educated; hopefully there will be the same amount of initiative on the part of cyclist commuters and couriers as well to actually obey the DC Municipal Regulations. Incidentally, I do already have a copy of the Pocket Guide and know much of it by heart; I doubt most cyclists in DC could say the same. Your condescending attitude notwithstanding, I'm glad you're aware of the Pocket Guide and I hope you yourself have also read all of the DCMR's pertaining to cyclists and obey them all, even when you think no one is watching.

@ DC cyclist and cop

Let's get this straight: you read about a federal agent who, twice, pulls over a cyclist for breaking a nonexistent law. Not once, twice. This agent is showing signs of serious anger management issues and looks to be trying to escalate the situations.

And your response is that many cyclists break the law sometimes, and you don't get the animosity toward police?

That's messed up.

I think the focus of the cycling community in the city should be just as much on holding fellow cyclists accountable for their actions

And of course the "pedestrian community" should hold their fellow pedestrians accountable, just as the driver community holds their fellow drivers accountable.

What a wonderful world it would be.

@ David R. I guess if you ignore most of my responses which were focused on holding him accountable for his actions then yeah, that is my response. But if you think baseless, personal attacks against an entire agency and profession is the appropriate way to address that issue, then I don't know what to tell you.

@ oboe: I don't where anyone but you used the phrase "pedestrian community", so I assume your use of quotation marks coupled with quoting me was an attempt to refute the existence of a cycling community, which is evidenced by this is exact website which we both care enough about to post on. There is obviously no pedestrian or motorist community in DC. Likewise, there is obviously a cyclist community.

Police need to be better than average citizens, not worse.

One policeman abusing his power ruins the reputation of the whole department. Unfortunately, this does not happen in the vast majority of departments; I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of departments in the US which routinely fire unprofessional cops.

DC Cops' insights suggesting some of the police cars may have been from different and explaining their plates was helpful and adds color to the discussion.

As a cyclist I sure do feel like a second class road user. All kinds of appalling things have happened to me on my bike in DC. And I have a very healthy distrust of the many DC police agencies after two incidents in which their unprovoked unprofessional behavior toward me on my bike was stunning (wish I had a camera...).

Now whenever I interact with a cop on my bike I'm on guard. I'm questioning and I'm much less likely to give them the benefit of the doubt.

If DC cop pulls me over on my bike, even if its 100% legit, I'm less likely to be cooperative than if I were in my car or walking. I am wary of the police when I'm riding because I know what they can do.

I'm really glad DC cop is on the force and appreciate his posts. We got another side to the story, he's not going to be pulling cyclists over for bogus reasons (it will be another officer) and I'll bet he provides a positive cycling voice to his colleagues.

So DC cop please keep adding your comments.

@Dc cyclist and cop: "In many circumstances officers don't have the time to do traffic enforcement unless that is their specialized assignment."

I totally understand that you're not going to pull over every person that's going a little over the limit or talking on a cell phone. But when someone does something egregious,in terms of both violating the law and almost causing harm to others,then they need to be dealt with. What do you think that other people are thinking when they see a cop ignore someone almost taking out a ped or another car? If people can get away with breaking the law in front of officers,then why bother following it when they're not around? It sends a horrible message to the general public.

"I think the focus of the cycling community in the city should be just as much on holding fellow cyclists accountable for their actions and the resulting stereotype of cyclists held by not just law enforcement, but also motorists and pedestrians as well."

And this is where my condescension comes from. Cyclists are supposed to keep other cyclists in line. The fact is,peds,cyclists,and motorists in this city all break the laws with regularity. The difference is,we don't get internet flame wars started by columns written about bad drivers or lemming peds,we get them about cyclists,sometimes not even breaking the law. I've watched local news reports from Pat Collins harping on cyclists(obviously over 16) not wearing helmets. And I've seen him railing about cyclists running lights,when the cyclists were leaving with the ped leading signal,which was made ok under the law the other year. I've been honked at numerous times for "being in someones way" when I was taking the lane. Not only is this perfectly legal,but it's the proper thing to do in many cases for my safety. I've even had this happen in the bike/bus lanes in Chinatown,where cars aren't allowed to travel. On local blogs,people feel free to post things,that if they were said about blacks/gays/women,would get deleted and the poster banned. But instead they get "+1" and "me too". The reality is,we're actually the least to blame. No-one has been killed by a cyclist since 2009;drivers have trouble going more than a week. Of the groups peds/cyclists/motorists,we have far fewer traffic fatalities;we even managed to go a full year in 2012 without a single death. So we're not killing people,and we're not dieing in numbers as high as other groups,but we get the brunt of everyone's anger and get told we need to straighten out our fellow cyclists. This is why we have attitude,we're not the biggest problem,but we get most of the blame.

I really appreciate the input of the police officer in this thread. I'm not going to get defensive if someone says cyclists break laws, because we (cyclists) break laws a lot. I do get defensive if that's all a person ever says about cyclists, because then they clearly have an axe to grind. But no one on this thread is doing that.

dynarider, I have suggested they take action, but I don't yet know the results of that.

What's sort of interesting is that cyclists and the police have something in common - in that the bad behavior of a few tend to mar the public opinion of the whole. [Though a difference is that any jackhole can be a cyclist, but police officers are chosen, trained and pass some sort of testing so it may be a little more fair when bad policing brings that process into question].

I do feel like, when a case seems to be handled unfairly, it is almost exclusively NOT in the cyclists favor, and that the errors are not balancing out, but that may be just a PR issue or a failure of drivers to make a stink about it the way cyclists do.

I also appreciate DC Cyclist and Cop participating. I think his comments are reasonable, although I don't agree at all that cyclists should be expected to police other cyclists' behavior any more than a driver on the interstate should be expected to police the behavior of speeding motorists. It's neither practical, helpful, or safe.

He seems like a decent guy, as doubtless most law enforcement officials are. It's just that we all know of or have experienced cases of rogue, power-mad officers who seem bent on violence. Washcycle is right that both the police and cyclists probably have the bad behavior of a few to coloring their general perception.

I, too, appreciate DC Cyclist and Cop participating. In the contexct of perception and attitudes, there are always two sides to anything. And to the extent there is any generalized anti-cop attitude among cyclists, that's not a great thing. Of course, the flip side is true as well. Police should not regard cyclists as essentially a lawbreaking group, as that verges toward excusing actions directed at the group based on presumption of collective guilt. It's not really much of a response to anger at a particular incident, with seemingly egregious facts, to say that cyclists break the law at some presumably unacceptable (but unspecified) rate. Nor ought the law enforcement community be encouraging cyclist vigilantism against other cyclists. Take my word for it, no one ever listened to me telling them to stop running stop signs, etc. I usually got some choice language shouted at me, and so I decided that it wasn't really my job.

My interactions with MPD have all been very professional. But if someone pulled something like this, I'd like a thoughtful response rather than finger-pointing.

@DC Cyclist and Cop
I think the focus of the cycling community in the city should be just as much on holding fellow cyclists accountable for their actions

I see Crickey7 pretty much made my point. Cyclists (like all citizens) should hold the police (and other public officials) accountable. To the extent that illegal cycling is a problem, the police should enforce the law as appropriate.
Cycling organizations do enforce compliance with safety laws during organized rides; and police should similarly enforce compliance with the law by all who wear a badge.

@Crickey7 According to NPS, cyclists are permitted to ride on Rock Creek Parkway.

Correct, and that will probably be the case until the Rock Creek Trail is rebuilt for normal traveling speed. I would not be surprised if cyclists are never banned uphill.

The reason I suggested telling cops "That law only applies to Rock Creek Parkway" is that it is a possible way to disarm the cop with some information that tells him, in effect, "You have a point that there is a law like that, but I am not breaking that law."

I would not be surprised if cyclists are never banned DOWNHILL.

I am glad to see the cop's perspective too, and it is good to be reminded that the actions of one should not be imputed to the whole.

At the same time, some name-calling and misbehavior by a few cyclists, while not good, is in an entirely different league from a misbehaving officer.
An officer works for the people, and represents the state. We SHOULD expect more. An officer also carries a gun, a badge, and the power of the state, and we need to trust that the power is used responsibly. Misuse is a serious concern.

While I appreciate the perspective of the police officer commenting here, I fail to see what some cyclists' scofflaw behavior has to do with the actions of a public servant abusing their authority.

I had this happen a few years back and I stopped in the Park Police office up by Military. The desk sergeant said next time to bring her the car # or badge ID and they would file a complaint with the SS. Apparently its a common problem.

such a common problem that a uniformes park police officer in a marked park police car just did the same thing to me today and insisted that if i ride on the road, i have to stay within three inches of the curb so that cars can pass me in the same lane (forget about the 3-foot law, forget about the taking-the-lane law).

i asked him to hold on while i pulled a copy of the law out of my saddlebag and while i was doing so, he jumped in his car and drove away.

this is the third time this has happened to me personally

I believe there is a sign stating on the road saying that bicycles are prohibited on the road in Rock Creek Park. Whether or not Federal Law prohibits riding is beside the point. I once saw a girl who rode a Bikeshare cycle get stranded on the far side of the road, too scared to keep riding and too scared to cross the street to the path with cars screeming down the hill.

I know of no such sign, and after years of covering this, it is the first I've heard of it. I think this claim requires a photo.

And when the issue is a law enforcement officer directing someone to do something because of a misunderstanding of the law, what is and is not legal is exactly the point.

Park Police at it again.
See video at YouTube for confirmation. This incident happened yesterday 17th of December 2015 near Thompson's boat house. It is the second time I had a interaction with this guy. First time I gave him a pass but this time was too much.


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