bike trespassing?
September 15, 2020 6:37 PM   Subscribe

I was waiting for a signal to turn on what was technically the parking lot of private property. Is there any technical case for this to be called trespass?

I'm a bike commuter and I go a long way out of my way to avoid problems with cars and people in general. One of those ways is to not ride on sidewalks and otherwise act like traffic as far as is possible.

I got into a serious hassle with some folks while waiting for a light.

Today I entered this path which is an easement to another property which begins at the white post on the far end. No problems there, I do this every day practically.

I then head left at this juncture onto a sidewalk built for foot and bike traffic which I almost always use. On the right is a small condo style property with parking in front of the units.

I then go to the crosswalk signal and trigger it before moving to the parking lot tarmac for the signal to turn green.

Here is where I wait for the light. I've annotated the area where there is a sensor under the pavement. I set up approximately in the same place a car would be waiting for the signal. I figure I'm safest there, very visible to traffic especially to vehicles on the other side of the street.

While waiting today, property dweller and his partner enter the parking lot in their vehicle to my left, slow down and then begin mouthing off about trespass and private property. They roll down their windows to pursue this train of logic, then exit their vehicle and escalate to curses and other forms of execrable language.

Since I was wearing a respirator given the awful air quality I assume that my physical appearance depersonalizes me in a way so they felt free to attack verbally regardless of any rational sense of what was going on. It was kind of comical in a way. I finally had to tell them to bugger off. Removing the respirator seemed to defuse the situation a bit.

To my way of thinking I am justified to act safely which means acting like a car where possible and using vehicle lanes to move across intersections. Is there any technical justification for 'trespass'. It was more less a stupid and futile way to spend 5 minutes of shouting. What are the legal aspects of this.
posted by diode to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
I'm a cyclist too. These guys are just assholes; it's not worth your time thinking about whether or not they have a legal leg to stand on.
posted by elsmith at 6:52 PM on September 15 [18 favorites]

You probably need to share where all this happened. The answer will depend on the jurisdiction, who owns the various properties, and maybe the signage, if it's answerable at all.

Also: what elsmith just said.

Although it's hard to understand your route from the snapshots you provided, it's equally hard to understand why the assholes accused you of trespassing. For all I can tell, you might live in those apartments. Nothing in your appearance would suggest "I don't live here," right?

SOP where I come from, if somebody actually gets out of their car to curse at you, is to ride off in some direction where they can't follow you.
posted by JimN2TAW at 7:01 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]

Interesting dynamic of are you using a bike path you don't belong on vs. trespassing? Some of the Colorado areas restrict the use to residents of the area. Research on if you were on a private path or open space.
posted by brent at 7:06 PM on September 15

I'm sorry that happened, it must have been very stressful. It sounds to me like you were acting reasonably in your positioning as a cyclist, though. Unfortunately...

It was more less a stupid and futile way to spend 5 minutes of shouting

It was. The minute anyone starts arguing with you from a car is when you can safely assume that nothing of value will come from further interaction. Was it legally trespassing? It hardly matters. Either they call the police on you and they almost certainly don't arrive before you've gone on your wat, or they escalate to a point where there are much bigger problems.
posted by ghharr at 7:22 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

Cursing someone out is typically considered to be unacceptable behavior and I hope that someday we can live in a world where this is no longer normal.

I have been yelled at for bicycling by drivers before. It is a scary experience. There is an unequal power dynamic in which you have someone behaving irrationally and aggressively toward you (and often blocking the safest exit route), all the while in control of a machine that could kill you.

Whatever the legal stance turns out to be, they were not justified in depersonalizing you and treating you the way they did. Remind yourself of that.
posted by aniola at 7:51 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the input and favoriting what elsmith said. I needed to reboot my perception about this as it was very confronting to have this happen in a very short window of time in an area I traverse daily. Doesn't really matter why or technicalities. Moving on. Thanks all.
posted by diode at 8:33 PM on September 15

It's also possible that your respirator was conflated with a medical mask which may have been interpreted as a political (sigh) statement.
posted by lulu68 at 10:56 PM on September 15

I found your pictures and explanation very clear - I can completely understand your path and what happened, so thank you for that.

I have a hard time with the expectation that a parking lot with embedded sensors to trigger a public intersection light could be considered fully private. Not that it matters; I am a cyclist too and agree with everyone else that you'll drive yourself crazy trying to explain driver rage at someone who dares to exist on a bike. They probably thought you rode through the parking lot rather than taking that path to the left of it, but even if you did, their reaction was completely bonkers and not in any way justified. Your other option is to wait on the sidewalk for the light to turn but as I'm sure you know, then you are potentially blocking pedestrians. Or, as much as it sucks, it might be worth crossing on foot at the pedestrian crosswalk at least for a few days in case those wackos are looking out for you in the coming days. Good luck; hope you don't have any more interactions with those people.
posted by misskaz at 4:37 AM on September 16 [3 favorites]

I just want to add that you sound unusually thoughtful about trying to be safe and not disrupt traffic; Thank You.
posted by theora55 at 11:30 AM on September 16

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