2010-09-19-0140Z


OK, I remember I left out: "Ride with the traffic". "You should have lights". And "We've caught you on this road before. Why do you keep doing this?"

Some background. I decided to bike to Sausalito to improve upon the route I've been using; stopped at the Novato Starbucks and the Panera in San Rafael to check the Google maps and do some work. Instead of taking Andersen all the way east to where it meets with Sir Francis Drake, I took a (very steep) shortcut by cutting over to Woodland from Andersen; taking Auburn, Albion, Altena, Tiburon, Via La Cumbre, Eliseo closely following the highway to where Eliseo crosses Sir Francis Drake; then took the bike path over the bridge. Due to having to walk up the steep hills, I probably didn't save that much time, but the views were spectacular from the crest of the hill.

South of the bridge I took a cutting from one of the prickly pear plants that are planted along the path, using a padded laptop case I'd bought at Goodwill particularly for that purpose; one of my other reasons for the trip.

When I jogged at Lake Britton on Wednesday morning, apparently I'd done something bad to my left heel; there's pain in or around my Achilles tendon. And after jogging again the morning of this trip (yesterday, Friday) I had matching pain at the back of my left knee. Both of which persist now, and presumably for a good while hence.

The next improvement to the path is very slight; after passing the Corte Madera shopping center, I took Casa Buena drive instead of Meadowsweet.

Finally made it into Sausalito 5-ish, too tired and in too much pain to do anything else; and besides, I was supposed to be at home at 7 for dinner. Though I'd already figured I wouldn't make it, and had sent an email warning of that possibility, I waited at the bus stop by the Visitor's Center downtown.

And waited. And waited. Eventually I went across the street to the No Name Bar, a local dive right smack in the middle of the tourist area. Tourist prices, too; $5 was the happy hour price for a pint of Boont Amber. Normally $6, which was what the bartender charged me first, before he looked at his watch and saw it was before 6. At least, that's the reason he gave. I think it's more that they just don't want any outsiders coming in. Especially long-haired guys.

Went back to waiting for the #80 bus to Petaluma. By 7:15 or so I gave up. Guess it just doesn't stop there except for a few of the runs. Went to Taste of Rome and had the lamb burger and a pint of Anchor Steam. Took the reverse of the way I came, except entering San Rafael from the south, I tried out a new stretch of bike path along the highway, and ended up on Merrydale. Followed it for a mile or so, then came to a dead end, or what looked like one. Las Gallinas had a "No Outlet" sign; Merrydale had a similar sign, can't remember the wording; and following Gallinas toward the highway and looping north came to a dead end also. Went back to San Pedro and cut over to Ranchitos and back up past Northgate. Stopped at BJ's for a pint of their Nutty Brewnette (very nice) and a Blond (didn't like it very much).

Checking Google maps when I got home, I see that Las Gallinas actually does go through; so why the "No Outlet" sign? And Merrydale might be crossable, on foot, at the tracks. A possible improvement for next time.

It was about half past midnight when I continued north. When I got to the north end of Novato I got on the highway in the southbound shoulder, walking against the traffic. I wanted a good chance at avoiding getting squashed. A couple of cars swerved partway into the shoulder, their attention probably diverted looking at the unexpected pedestrian, but otherwise it was uneventful. That is, until maybe 200 yards past the landfill exit. Cops had backed up behind me, and one was shining a flashlight on me, ordering me to stop. I did. That's when the little prick got in my face and started hollering at me all those things previously mentioned, repeating each lie over and over. I couldn't understand at the time why he bothered; obviously I wasn't going to believe it, and he probably didn't either. I guess the point was, if he caught me again, he was going to trump up charges to match the lies.

"Stay off the freeway": Well, it's not freeway there. Between the last Petaluma exit and the first Novato exit, it's just highway. People have a right to walk and ride bicycles there, obeying the appropriate laws for each activity. I knew I wasn't in compliance for riding a bike, but I don't believe lights are required for pedestrians. I wonder what California law regarding equestrians is; they don't mention horses being allowed, where New Mexico makes it clear that they are.

"I know you're on drugs": He gave me the follow-the-finger test and I obviously passed (it had been at least 3 hours since my last pint), but he had to throw that in several times. I had plenty of adrenalin in me, and told him as much.

"Blocking traffic": Not even remotely, unless the traffic wanted to use the shoulder, and I stayed as far to the left as I could, despite being constantly blinded by the lights of oncoming traffic.

"Next time we'll arrest you": No doubt. And they'll make all these false allegations and make me spend my time and money to prove my innocence.

"Ride with the traffic": blithely ignoring that I wasn't riding, I was walking. I know enough to ride with the traffic, when I'm riding. For sure, they'll just make out the papers to say I was riding. If I ever do this again. Which is likely, considering the dismal state of public transportation, and the lack of any alternate route that doesn't add miles to an already arduous walk.

"You should have lights": Yes, I probably should. But AFAIK, it's not required for pedestrians. And I didn't have mine with me.

"We've caught you on this road before. Why do you keep doing this?": If they had caught me before, they would have arrested me this time. This was another lie. It was the first time I walked this way, and I never rode it in the dark; Last time I waited till daylight before riding north in the north-side breakdown lane. So this was another lie, going to be added to their report to show how enormously lenient they'd been with me.

This guy's anger, whether acted or real, was way out of proportion to having his sergeant interrupt his all-night donut break. I wonder what kind of racket these cops are in that could trigger such meanness. Maybe late-night is when they go collecting "protection" money from the shebeens, whorehouses, and illegal gambling places? The other two officers, his partner and a motorcycle cop who showed up partway through, were mostly silent, letting him do the talking.

I wish I'd gotten his name and badge number. I really wish I'd had a hidden camera and gotten the whole exchange to post on YouTube. He had a tan shirt, which indicates what, CHP? I don't even know what department I'm dealing with.

After I took San Antonio and was headed west, a white pickup truck came barreling down off the highway and passed me. I had a distinct feeling that this was an off-duty cop sent to run me down if I were riding in the dark. But I was walking on the opposite side, and he'd have risked getting his truck all smashed up if he'd tried to hit me there. That got me to wondering if Jeff B's misfortune on July 23rd had really been an accident. He took that route every workday; for sure all the "concerned citizens" with their goddamned cell phones called 911 several times a minute every time he did his commute. Maybe Pokornyy has a record and has to do the cops favors now and then to stay out of prison, who knows? Last I knew he wasn't charged, and I still don't know whether Jeff is alive or dead. After that first news article, no mention (that I know of) was ever made in the local papers about the incident and its aftermath.

I have a suggestion for reducing the quantity of these calls: make 911, when called from a cell-phone, the equivalent of a 1-900 call with a $10 charge automatically added to the caller's phone bill. That will cut down on the bullshit calls of "concerned citizens" who hate seeing bicyclists and pedestrians on "their" highway. If something is really an emergency, people would be willing to fork over $10, and in fact the real emergencies should have the charges reverted. Land-line calls to 911 would still be free.

Well, anyway, in my state of mind now, I couldn't care less about taking the reins of government and softening the public's inevitable backlash against the cops' atrocities. Let them suffer the wrath of the American people in full force, as far as I'm concerned. Fuck 'em all.

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last updated 2010-09-19 15:38:00. served from tektonic