Pinellas County, FL
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Stopped by a Cop

Stopped by a Cop

I debated whether or not to write this issue, and was thinking about it before I went on Scooter Patrol, when I saw the same motorcycle cop today, and decided it was meant to be written so here we are.  About a month ago, I was cruising in Old Northeast, a great scootering neighborhood with endless parks along the bay, just on the north of downtown.

I turned right off of Locust Street NE onto 9th Ave NE, which once was a one way road giving folks a quick way to exit the neighborhood and puts you right onto 4th Street.  I think it was this ‘quick’ exiting that got the neighborhood association to turn it into a two way street which is a way to slow traffic down.  A year or so later the city put up a stop sign on 9th Ave and Bay Street NE which has always irritated me because for years that corner only had one stop sign where Bay Street T-Bones into 9th Ave, which makes sense.  However, I assume part of the effort to slow traffic on 9th ave is to put these stop signs in.

9th Ave and Bay Stop Sign

So anyway, after turning on right onto 9th Ave from Locust Street, I notice a guy on a huge motorcycle which was for the most part white coming up from the Beach Drive.  I was trying to see what the motorcycle was more than the guy on it.  I slowed down for the stop sign, but did not even break really, just rolled on through it.  I banged a left on First Ave NE, and headed toward the Mansion B&B on 5th Ave North and 1st Ave to drop off some flyers, but kept looking in my scooter mirrors to see what kind of motorcycle this guy had.  Then I saw his full profile, it wasn’t a Harley at all, but a cop, like what we used to see on CHIPs TV show.

He saw me looking at him and that I had stopped, so he stopped on 9th, back pedaled a few feet and took a left on 1st Ave NE, just like me.  Darn, it looked like he was zeroing in on me but I thought I was just being paranoid at the time, sadly I was not paranoid.  He said something like, “Watch the stops signs, you ran that one back on 9th and Bay”.  I was checking this guy out; his bike looked like it could smoke anything I have seen on the roads around here, car or motorcycle, save maybe the cars at the Indy 500… maybe.  And don’t think you are going to park your car and make a run for it with this guy; he will chase you down.  Everything about him has a sense of speed, like an offspring of Thor.  He looks like he probably ran down running backs, receivers, and quarterbacks as a defensive safety in high school and college.  One of the few folks on the planet that seems like they not only are good at their job, but they actually enjoy it.

He was giving me a break, which I appreciated since I don’t want any tickets, especially on a scooter, now that I have a scooter rental business.  However, I felt like I owed him an explanation, so I told him that the corner he mentioned used to not have a stop sign, which was extremely stupid on my part since he was obviously going to let me go with a verbal warning.  As soon as I said it, I realized that it sounded argumentative.  He just smiled, which is easy for me to remember because he has a gap in the teeth (diastema) like half of my cousins have, and calmly stated, “Well, there is one there now”.  Realizing I might be provoking him to provide me written proof of said stop sign in the form of a ticket, I replied, “Absolutely, you could not be any more right officer”.

The bummer is that now I feel obligated to stop at not only this stop sign, but a few others that I tend to roll through.  If he would have given me the ticket, I probably would just figure it is part of the cost of driving, and continue to ease through three and four way stop signs, rolling through right on red lights and the like.  However, the unspoken understanding between us is that I will not run anymore stop signs.  I guess forever.  Hopefully, I will keep my end of the bargain, and so far I have, save a few times where I forget to completely stop, old habits…

Since then I have seen at least two different motorcycle cops patrolling, responding to calls, and giving tickets to folks in the downtown, Old Northeast area, so for folks like me, be careful to come to complete stops, obey the speed limits, and other rules of the road in this normally unpatrolled part of the city.

Also, realize this, not every cop is a jerk.  A lot of the way they react to you is the way you are reacting to them.  So even if they seem aggressive, don’t say much and maintain a respectful tone – this goes a long way.  So when I saw Baby Thor today he was at the other end of Locust, 22nd Ave, and I said hi and thanked him for not righting me the ticket.  He just smiled his memorable smile and continued on towards Snell Isle.

Most cops are probably pretty cool, like Baby Thor.