Bicycle Law Enforcement

Police play an essential role in supporting bicycle transportation by enforcing the traffic laws that allow all road users to reach their destinations safely. As bicycle travel has grown in popularity, the public has asked law enforcement to become more involved in bicycling issues. This can present challenges for police, because misconceptions about safe bicycling practices and state law are widespread among the public. The Bicyclist Safety and Law Enforcement in-service training program was developed by the Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists in cooperation with the Glendale, AZ police department to provide the most accurate and relevant information available to Arizona police officers. The program covers relevant traffic laws, common crash types and frequency, best bicycling practices, and effective enforcement techniques so that law enforcement officers can be confident when discussing bicycling issues with the public, and can effectively prioritize related enforcement and outreach activities to promote public safety.

Thanks to BikeWalk NC who developed the original material

This brief e-learning training video that will be used internally for all Glendale Police officers. Most of the material refers to state-wide laws and statistics; and is not specific to Glendale. The material was adapted for use in Arizona by the Coalition from Education Resources for Police created by BikeWalk NC.

Special thanks for Glendale Police personnel for their help in developing and reviewing the presentation: Chief Deborah Black, Detective Dan Mooney, Detective Ted Yoder, Officer Andy Lynes, and narrator Bicycle Officer Brian Ong.

The presentation is available in the following forms



The Fruits of Police Training

News Item February 4, 2017

This is why training law enforcement is so important; beyond sworn officers, dispatchers should be informed as to the laws so as not to waste police resources on such non-issues. Do motorists call police when they are impeded by a slow-moving truck or bus? If they do, are police then dispatched? No, of course not, they would change lanes and pass; problem solved without any police intervention. News Item:

February 4 (2017): Traffic Hazard – 8:33 a.m. — Pacific Coast Highway and Seal Beach Blvd — the caller said approximately 30 bicyclists were taking up the entire no. 2 lane. According to police unit S21, none of the bicyclists were violating any laws. No further law enforcement services were required.

Police undoubtedly found bicyclists were indeed using the entire right-hand lane, and it was narrow; correctly determining this is not a violation, and is in fact the recommended and most safe lane position.


5 Responses to “Bicycle Law Enforcement”
  1. admin says:

    GlendaleBicycleLawEnforcement (20151018) Presentation Errata:
    Slide 9 — the count of No_Injury crashes should be 128 (not 178)

  2. admin says:

    If any other Police Departments would like to have the bicycle law enforcement presentation adopted for their own use, The following will be necessary:

    1) Graphics (Police Logo)
    2) City/County crash statistics
    3) City Map (to identify dangerous intersections)
    4) City ordinances or any other changes
    5) Contacts to work with (Bicycle Advocate, Bicycle Officer, Detective, Investigator)
    6) They will need to identify ‘the voice’ who will record the presentation script
    7) They will need to provide the recording facility

    If invited, a member of the Coalition will come out to meet with the Police team and the local bicycle advocate to go over the script to ensure the material is adapted as necessary.

  3. Ed B says:

    NHTSA Materials.
    There are a variety of NHTSA produced materials related to law enforcment and bicycling. Being federal in scope, the material is of necessity somewhat vague; since each state (and even some localities, unfortunately) has some minor variations.

    Enhancing Bicycle Safety: Law Enforcement’s Role refers to a 2 hour CBT (computer based training course) available on cd-rom (! indicating it may be quite old. I tried to order it but it’s not currently available).

    That page refers to a 7-minute NHTSA video, Enforcing Laws for Bicyclists Presented by Corporal Chris Davala of the Maryland State Police, and VP of the IPMBA. And contains some good, if general, information.
    “First, it’s important to repeat that bicyclists have the right to ride on public roadways, unless it is specifically prohibited”.
    “Second, unless you are under 10 years old, riding on the sidewalk may not be the safest place to ride a bicycle. It’s against the law in some areas”

    In Arizona, the only known prohibitions on roadway use are those on fully controlled-access highways (aka “freeways”).

    The (exact origin unclear, is this the self-paced 2 hour interactive CD?) NHTSA materials appear to be available at

  4. admin says:

    Misconceptions about safe bicycling practices and state law are widespread among the public. Bicyclists are advised to ride near the middle, and not to the right, of any lane which is too narrow to share safely side-by-side. This is explicitly legal. Motorist wishing to go faster must change lanes to pass. Learn more from the Glendale PD’s law enforcement training:

  5. Ed says:

    Arizona State University has produced a video, which appears to be aimed at novice bicyclists, covering a wide range of bicycling issues that bicyclists might face in and around the ASU campus.
    Although it mentions various safety aspects, it also covers parking, and various administrivia specific to ASU.
    The video states well and plainly: “Never ride against traffic, on the road, in a bike lane or on the sidewalk”, and they use the excellent, updated graphic from the Pima County Safety pamphlet. This is good, strong safety messaging.
    The video is almost 9 minutes long. They spent six seconds explaining bicyclist’s position on the road; position one of the most fundamental aspects of bicyclist traffic safety, their entire explanation is:
    “In general, when bicycling, always ride as far right as possible”
    I am not going to go off on the use of the term possible vs. the accurate term, practicable.
    This is the sort of bad advice that permeates these sorts of videos (see, e.g. the Chandler Police Dept’s Safety video where they “forgot” the narrow lane exception). Yes, when conditions are perfect, and the lane is wide enough to share safely, and the bicyclist is traveling slower than traffic, and there is no debris at the right, and no storm drains, and no broken pavement, and the bicyclist is not turning left, and the the bicyclist isn’t passing. When all those conditions are met, yes, the bicyclist must ride as far right as practicable.
    If they’re really that constrained for time, and they’re going to use a weasel word like ‘generally’ anyway, it would be more reasonable to say:
    “In general, when bicycling, ride near the center of the lane, and not as far right as possible”
    Proper lane position protects cyclists both against losing control from edge hazards, as well as being most visible to others.
    See more on where to ride on the road.

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