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Sheriff’s video shows scofflaw bicyclists

Some law-breaking bicyclists don’t limit their transgressions to riding in the wrong lane, as seen in a video created by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.

Openly urinating on the side of the road, riding more than two abreast and crossing the yellow line are some of the wrongdoings captured on the video, which contains about 15 minutes of excerpts from Saturday’s Shoot Out ride.

The Sheriff’s Department plans to play the video at Wednesday’s Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting, which runs from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Himmel Park Library, 1035 N. Treat Ave.

“We want to show the bicyclists, ‘This is what it looks like to a motorist,’” said sheriff’s Lt. Karl Woolridge, commander of special operations. He said no citations were issued because the video was filmed for information purposes only.

Woolridge said he hopes the video will help educate the cyclists and encourage them to follow the rules of the road.

The Shoot Out is an informal weekly 60-plus-mile endurance ride by 40 or more cyclists who start at the University of Arizona and loop south to Green Valley and back. The ride has gone on for a number of years but in the past few months the behavior of some cyclists has come to the attention of the Sheriff’s Department.

“We had one report of a bicyclist defecating in a front yard,” Woolridge said. The incident occurred in a suburban area of Green Valley.

“I can’t say that’s not true, but I can say that wasn’t me,” said longtime bicyclist Pericles Wyatt, 49.

Wyatt, who is a regular at the Shoot Out, said it is likely that some in the large group of cyclists may break some laws, but many of the law-breakers may be out-of-towners.

Those people, he added, will most likely not be at the meeting to see the video.

“We do tell these newcomers what they should and shouldn’t do, yes,” he said. “But only when we see them doing it.”

Bicyclist David Swanson, 30, who races professionally and attends the Shoot Out about 10 times a year, said the ride can be a learning experience.

“I know there’s definitely a kind of mentoring going on,” he said. “If people are doing silly things, they don’t always listen to the advice they are given. A lot of people think they know everything.”

He said more education on cycling laws would be a great help. “Some laws have gray areas,” he said.

“That group ride is a very big draw,” he said. “I hope we can find some way to make it amenable to the riders, the police and the people who live in that area, find a way for it continue and have everybody ‘play nice.’”

“We are stuck in the middle,” Woolridge said. “We want them to have fun. But they get together into a group mentality, a mob mentality. The public is calling us to enforce the laws.”

He said following the laws is also for the bicyclists’ own safety. As shown on the tape, cyclists riding across both lanes of traffic at sharp curves on Mission Road could easily lead to a head-on collision with oncoming traffic, Woolridge said.

“We want this community to be bicycle friendly,” he said, “but it works both ways. The bicyclists have to be friendly, too.”

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