I flouted the law, and the law won

Jeff Keeling, Associate Editor

Jeff Keeling, Associate Editor

By Jeff Keeling

Perhaps if I’d utilized an “Idaho stop” at the red light rather than what I’ll deem here a “Johnson City stop,” things would have turned out better for me a couple weeks ago.

It seemed the logical thing to do at the time, but looking back, perhaps it wasn’t the greatest decision after all.

I had bombed down the hill on Watauga Avenue from Lamont Street to State of Franklin Road on my Lemond Buenos Aires road bike. Approaching the State of Franklin light, I engaged in my usual practice of looking both ways, saw what I considered a perfectly safe opportunity to cross, and cruised through the red light.

I saw several cars a safe distance down State of Franklin. The Johnson City police car wasn’t one of them. Turning onto West Walnut Street a few seconds later, I noticed flashing lights behind me. “This cop is pulling me over,” I thought to myself.

Indeed, a minute later I was sitting, forlorn, on the side of Boyd Street, bicycle helmet at my side. As the officer – who had chastised me zealously – was writing me a perfectly deserved citation, the lovely and talented Angela sidled up in her scrubs, having seen me as she headed home.

“Is everything alright?” she said with a wry grin. “Yes,” I answered sheepishly. “Then I’ll head home,” she said.

Have I learned my lesson? Time will tell. My passages through red lights and stop signs have not been unsafe. Travis at the Trek store said a move is afoot in many parts of the country to legalize the “Idaho stop.” I looked it up. It involves yielding for a stop sign, but when it comes to a traffic light, the protocol is to stop, then proceed if the way is safe. Hence I label my actions a couple weeks ago a Johnson City stop.

Next time I bomb down Watauga and the light is red, perhaps I’ll try an Idaho stop. Or maybe I’ll just wait (and wait, and wait) for the light to turn green.



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