From Bruce Kearns
I would like to let you and all of the rest of the SOBs and SF Road Riders know of some things we learned last Wednesday at the BTAC meeting.
Santa Fe Police bike patrol Sergeant McCord was there to present some statistics to the BTAC committee. Officer McCord was quite a big help in illuminating the reasons for what appears to be a lack of enforcement of the City of Santa Fe traffic ordinances when it comes to bicyclists. In a nut shell, it comes down to two reasons: 1st, unless an officer personally sees an incident unfold they cannot typically bring any charges that will hold up; 2nd, the officers prefer NOT charge drivers under any Santa Fe ordinance, think “5′ to pass”, because these are only misdemeanors and anyone cited gets off by paying a nominal fee (I forgot the actual amount but it was something like $86). Instead, IF the officers see a violation (point 1) they will always will charge the driver with a State of New Mexico violation instead because the fines are much higher, points are added to the drivers license and if the violation is severe enough there is a real possibility of probation/jail time. So in the case of the 5′ to pass law, it will never be charged but if it is witnessed there will be a charge of careless driving lodged instead.
While in discussion Sergeant McCord was asked if the force would be willing to use any video evidence of endangerment captured while on a ride. His answer was an enthusiastic, “Yes, we certainly pursue charges if the video documents that!”
Bottom line I think that all group rides should seek to have video recording riders, front and back, to document any harassment and/or endangerment and the police will work with us to enforce those laws.