Just received in my email a photo from an anonymous source (to be known as "Deep Vs"), a photo of myself getting the ticket! The wonders of the internets never cease to impress. After applying some CSI magic, it is pretty clear that the bike I was riding 1) had fenders 2) had a transverse bag and red Ortlieb on the right. I'm not sure of how many brakeless riders ride with fenders or like to put English bike luggage on their bikes in Long Beach, my guess would be none.
This would be the bike in question. My touring bike and yes, it has brakes, two of them in fact.
I have to admit, my first reaction when I got the photo was a real sense of humiliation and frustration. I was doing nothing wrong and got pulled over and taught my lesson in public. I have more sympathy now and will make less assumptions of others that I see that are getting pulled over.
I'm also frustrated at the message this public dressing down gives to motorists. I'm sure quite a few drivers and people at the restaurant were thinking, "oh finally, those crazy bicyclists riding on the street are getting what they deserve...they shouldn't be in the street anyway" Hey, it's a fair assumption. We all think these things to greater or lesser degrees.
When those in the position of authority don't know the laws, it becomes pretty much impossible for any lawful cyclist to defend their rights. We depend on those in authority to KNOW what is right and to be the just arbiter in a dispute.
Let's complicate the situation a little further. Let's say my incident involved a motor vehicle. I was riding lawfully in the street and there was some sort of accident. The motorist keeps shouting "he was riding in the middle of the lane, he can't do that, it was HIS fault!" If I get stuck with an officer or a judge that knows nothing about the laws and bikes, then I would be as they - S.O.L. I would have no one to appeal to without going through the hassle and expense of hiring a lawyer.
I have no doubt that this happens more often than we suspect. It is critical that law enforcement be involved in creating a bicycle friendly community. ABSOLUTELY critical! It makes no difference if Long Beach has 10 or 10,000 miles of bike lanes if the most basic and fundamental rights we have as cyclists aren't respected or understood. What good are all the stripes, if you turn down a street without one and are automatically put in the position when your rights are questioned, where you are treated like a 2nd class road user, where you are ticketed and ridiculed for doing nothing than lawfully riding your bike in the middle of a day trying to do some shopping?