Wrong Way? More Like Wrong Code

Friday, September 16, 2005, at 10:50AM

By Eric Richardson

So on my way to Long Beach this morning I got a ticket. It was an MTA Sheriff's officer (I guess... the ticket has MTA on it), and I was on my bike pulling into the San Pedro Blue Line station.

Now it doesn't surprise me overly much to get a ticket while biking. Some of the things I do on a bike probably aren't 100% legal, though I'm a very safe rider and would never do anything crazy. But in the course of the day there are things you do, like making a left turn onto a crosswalk when transitioning from riding as a vehicle to riding as a pedestrian, that are perfectly safe but probably violate some law.

And that, actually, was what I got ticketed for today. If you're not familiar, the Blue Line runs down the center of Washington Blvd from Flower St. to Long Beach Ave. In that stretch are two center stations, at Grand and San Pedro.

If you take a look at this MSN Virtual Earth view you can see the San Pedro station in the bottom right corner, the intersection of San Pedro and Washington in the top left. You can also see the crosswalk in brown with white outlines.

I had ridden down Main, taken a left onto Washington, and was just approaching the station after crossing San Pedro. I made sure traffic was clear, moved to the left lane, and when I came to the crosswalk to enter the station turned onto it and dismounted the bike.

Two sheriff's officers were sitting on the ramp to the station, one on a motorcycle. They were looking the other way and just talking, but apparently a third officer was sitting on his bike at the corner of Washington and San Pedro and took offense to my move. He radioed to the other two and had them tell me to stop and wait.

He said I had done two things illegally: ride a bike in a crosswalk and "cross against the hand", which I assume is jaywalking. I sort of protested that I was not crossing the crosswalk, but instead exiting the roadway, but I didn't feel like getting into an argument so I didn't press the point. He said he was only going to write me up for one, but if "I see you again I'll bust you for both of them." Whatever.

In the time he was writing the ticket only the Willow train had passed, so I still caught the next train down to Long Beach and worked down there for a few hours.

Now I'm back at the apartment where I can actually look things up. Turns out he wrote me a ticket for violating CVC 21650.1, which says

A bicycle operated on a roadway, or the shoulder of a highway, shall be operated in the same direction as vehicles are required to be driven upon the roadway.

Ummm... Depending on your interpretation of the law, I may be guilty of the things he mentioned. I see that. But how was I going the wrong way? I can't see how that applies at all. Bikes riding the wrong way on a street is one of the things I most hate. I'd love to see everyone who does that get ticketed. But how I was guilty of it while riding with traffic, that I can't figure out.

So I guess I'll go have my day in court and see what happens.