A 59-year-old Belmont woman was arrested by police in Arlington this week after she failed to stop her bike at a stop sign along the Minuteman Bikeway and refused to pull over for a bike-mounted officer. She said she ignored the officer as a kind of protest.
Karen Cady-Pereira, who says her charges were later dropped, said she just wanted to get home Monday night when she slowed her bike at the Lake Street intersection before deciding to cruise right through.
“My impression that I have is the cars were already stopped because there was somebody [crossing],” she said. “I said, ‘I’m clear,’ and I went.”
But a police officer stationed on a bicycle nearby was less casual about Cady-Pereira’s traffic maneuver.
According to a police report, the officer tried to stop Cady-Pereira by stepping into her path, putting out his hand, and telling her to pull over.
The report said Cady-Pereira made eye contact with the officer before steering her bike around him, and continuing on her way. After telling Cady-Pereira a second time to pull over, the officer got on his bike and proceeded to chase her down the path.
“This officer drove next to the bicyclist and tapped her on the shoulder and stated to pull over and the bicyclist again ignored this officer’s commands,” the report said.
The chase lasted approximately 50 yards, police said, before the officer “had to drive his bicycle” in front of Cady-Pereira, cutting her off and forcing her to stop.
At that point, the officer asked Cady-Pereira if she had heard his repeated commands.
“She stated she did hear and see this officer,” the report said. “But she doesn’t think that it’s right that the police stop bicyclists and the police should stop cars not bicyclists.”
Backup was called to the scene, and Cady-Pereira was placed in handcuffs, police said. She was charged with disorderly conduct, failure to stop, and a stop sign violation, and escorted to the Arlington police station.
In a telephone interview Thursday, two days after the charges were dismissed in court, Cady-Pereira said she disobeyed the officer because she was set on her destination and felt “annoyed” that an officer tried to stop her — and then followed her — for riding through a stop sign on the path.
“I let it take over me,” she said, adding that she is more careful when traveling on main roads. “I’m also a person who has a hard time not changing direction. If I’m doing something, I have a lot of inertia.”
Cady-Pereira said when she was finally forced to stop because the officer had pulled in front of her on the path, a route she is familiar with as a daily commuter, things escalated quickly.
“I was totally out of line, but I think he overreacted,” she said. “He came after me, and he was just exploding with anger. I felt like I was on a kind of movie.”
The incident marked the second time in recent months that an Arlington police officer pursued a cyclist on the bike path who had disobeyed traffic laws, before eventually arresting the person. Charges in that case were also dropped.
Cady-Pereira was open to talking about her own situation because she believes cyclists should be treated more like pedestrians — not vehicles — when it comes to certain traffic laws. She said her choice to ignore the officer’s requests was a form of protest — albeit one she didn’t execute well.
“I would like to see the laws change. I don’t think this ‘bikes are equal to cars’ thing should stay on the books,” she said. “We need a separate set of rules. . . . There are more and more bikes out there, and the rules need to change.”Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.