On Friday night I observed a tweet from my friend and fellow Atlanta rider Michael Wozniak (Woz) that chilled me to my very core, and then ignited a firestorm in the twitter universe. Woz reported that a policeman had pulled him over on his bike for riding in the street. That’s when all hell broke loose.
Cyclists across the city typed hurriedly into their iPhones, shaking with rage and updating their Twitter accounts with a lot of wrong words thanks to the spelling auto-correct feature. “Banana housing in the roadway chips!” raged one enraged Atlantan.
Okay I’m making all that up. There wasn’t really a firestorm. No one actually got enraged, and in fact it sounds like the entire exchange was pretty polite if a little bit surreal. It is true that I was chilled to my core, but that’s because I wasn’t wearing a jacket and I was outside all night.
Here’s the scene where Woz’s ordeal “went down”:
Wait, my bad. If I’m going to reconstruct the events, I need to make it seem a little scarier somehow.
I’m also going to add a few details to the story to spice it up a bit because honestly the truth is a bit dry and can be related in a single sentence. That would be “A policeman pulled Woz over for riding in the street, then he and Woz talked about it for a while and ultimately agreed to disagree.”
See what I’m saying? That account needs some pizazz in the worst way. You know, like the real journalists do! Here’s what I’ve got:
Woz, a poor pregnant migrant farmer on his way home from visiting his nine sons in the hospital was knocked off his bike on Friday night by an Atlanta policeman at the wheel of a jet powered motorcycle constructed entirely from machine guns. The policemen then laughed heartily, produced a flamethrower from under the deathcycle’s seat, and burned the tires off Woz’s bike.
“That will teach you to ride in the street!” the cop boomed, then roared off into the distance.
Then Woz died. Twice. Of measles (both times). And then exploded.
Seriously, it happens from time to time that police mistakenly tell cyclists that they should be on the sidewalk. It has happened to me once. It’s an honest mistake on their part, I’m sure, but its a little bit concerning that our law enforcement officers don’t know the law. In their defense, though, how could they? Lawmakers are making new laws every day and rarely if ever repealing the old ones. No one in the world could possibly keep up.
I tried to think of how I would have handled the situation had it happened to me, and I think I’d just have tried my best to respectfully disagree with the cops as Woz did. The only time I’ve ever really disagreed with cops I ended up in jail, but the point that I disagreed with them on was the one about me going to jail to begin with and it did not seem to be on the table for discussion.
It’s not easy some times, but I think if we keep our heads we can all talk calmly about our disagreements and ultimately live happier lives. That goes for cyclists, drivers, cops, and anyone else. Let’s all try to know where we’re supposed to be, let’s ride safe, and for god’s sake lets not end up like poor pregnant measley Woz, exploding in the black and white street like a weird meaty firecracker. Rest in peace, Woz!
DISCLAIMER: Woz is not dead, does not have measles, is not (to my knowledge) pregnant, and has probably never exploded.