Ask A Cop: The Bicycle Wheels of Justice

Blogger’s Note: Columnist-slash-cop Steve Sutherland, a veteran officer with the Bainbridge Island Police Department, is here to field another question. Feel free to write more questions or responses below. For more past editions, click here.

The question, from blog commenter N. Sizemore: There have been some letters to the editor, re: bicycles recently and I would like to ask a cop if they give tickets to bike riders for violations or if he has any stories to share on the subject. I’m also interested to know if there are laws regarding biking under the influence. I was just reading a site that claims that 40% of bicycle fatalities are caused by the bicyclist being impaired. I find that hard to believe although I know that it does happen.

The answer, from Officer Sutherland, is that bicycle riders are required by state law to obey all traffic laws and yes, they are cited for traffic violations.


The most serious violations I have witnessed are riders running stop signs. If the bicyclist causes an accident, he will be cited just as a driver of a vehicle would be.

A bicyclist under the influence of alcohol and or drugs can be arrested for driving under the influence. I don’t have any information regarding the percentage of bicyclists fatally injured because of driving while impaired, but 40% seems pretty high.

Thanks for the question, and if you ride a bicycle, please obey all traffic laws.

Steve Sutherland has been a Bainbridge Island Police officer for eleven years. He also worked as an officer for the Suquamish Tribal Police Department for almost four years. He’s currently an instructor for the Bainbridge department in defensive tactics, Taser and pepper spray. He lives on Bainbridge and enjoys relaxing, working in his yard, and reading (fiction mostly).

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