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Caption and dscription of 1984 case


John S. Allen

[Note: Peter Rowinsky was a cyclist arrested (not only cited with a traffic infraction) for riding his bicycle on Memorial Drive, a Metropolitan District Commission parkway on which there was no prohibition against cycling. In his defense, I submitted the affidavit below describing a similar incident I had experienced. The version reproduced here is the last version I sent to Mr. Rowinsky's attorney, Andrew Fischer. Mr. Fischer and I made some changes in the final version. In particular, my description of the John Gregory incident was removed as being hearsay. It does clarify my motives and concerns, so I am retaining it here. The final version is online at Mr. Fischer's site, as is the complaint in the Rowinsky case. A general description of the case also is online -- scroll down to the heading Rowinsky v. Massachusetts State Police on this page, which also links to other affidavits.]


C.A. NO.


Plaintiff *



JOSEPH S. LALLI, Commissioner of Public Safety,

JANE PERLOV, Secretary of Public Safety,

COLONEL JOHN DIFAVA, Superintendent of
the Massachusetts State Police and the


I, John Allen, do depose and state as follows:

1. My name is John Allen, and I reside at 7 University Park, Waltham, Massachusetts. I am a past president of the Boston Area Bicycle Coalition, now the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, an author of numerous articles and books on bicycling and an expert in bicycle safety, bicycle path design and other areas relating to bicycling, having been certified as such an expert in various state and federal courts.

2. I have used a bicycle as a principal means of transportation in the Boston area since 1971.

3. At approximately 11:35 PM on July 26, 1983, I was lawfully riding my bicycle on the shoulder of Soldier's Field Road westbound between the Eliot Bridge and Everett Street in Brighton. I was stopped by Metropolitan District Commission police (now State Police) officers and ordered to get off the road. I identified myself, and was told that I would receive a citation in the mail, however I never received a citation.

3. After this incident, I wrote a letter to William Geary, then Commissioner of the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC), indicating my concern about police misinterpreting the laws and regulations, and that if in fact, bicycles were prohibited from MDC parkways and bridges, it would be impossible to use a bicycle to access many residences, businesses and other destinations or to use the bicycle as a means of transportation in the Boston area.

4. After that, in January, 1984, I was traveling eastbound on Soldier's Field Road east of the Channel 4 studios. An MDC police car approached me from behind, slowed and stopped next to me. I stopped too. I was again ordered to get off the road by an MDC police officer, who indicated that I should use the bicycle path in the riverfront parkland instead. The path was not a convenient route for the trip I was making. Also, I was concerned for my personal safety to ride on this path at night. The path passes through poorly lighted, poorly patrolled parkland, and I knew that it was many times more hazardous than riding on the parkway. Only a few months earlier, and after the first time I was stopped, my friend John Gregory had narrowly escaped being murdered on the path in what was apparently an attempt to steal his bicycle. John somehow managed to keep riding and get away, although one of the two young men who attacked him had taken what John described as a "home run swing" at him with a 2x4. When I saw John a day or two later, his left arm was swollen up to the size of a ham. Fortunately, he was wearing a bicycle helmet; the 2x4 struck that, too, and he avoided head injury. When I politely refused to leave the road, indicating that I was within my legal rights, I was issued citations for riding my bicycle in an area not set aside for such use, and for disobeying the order of an officer.

5. At my trial, Commonwealth vs. Allen, Brighton District Court docket # 27268, on February 8, 1984, I presented a certified copy of the applicable laws and regulations, indicating that the MDC regulation (rule 8), requiring that bicycles be ridden only in areas set aside for such use, applied only to parklands. Bicycles were specifically defined as vehicles in the MDC regulations (CMR 350, definitions page, rule 22) and were permitted on roadways in consequence of this rule and of MGL Chapter 85, Section 11B. Soldier's Field Road was posted "for pleasure vehicles only," and as my bicycle weighed considerably less than the weight limit for this category, it could lawfully be operated on this way. The judge dismissed both counts.

6. After the trial, Lloyd Smith, the MDC prosecutor, indicated to me that he thought I had won on a technicality -- that the MDC hadn't presented the right regulations in court. When I pointed out to him that if bicycles were in fact prohibited on MDC parkways and bridges, it would be impossible to use a bicycle for transportation in the Boston area, and asked him to read my copy of paragraph 22, which defined bicycles as vehicles, he refused. He told me that he would order MDC police to continue to ticket bicyclists.

7. It appears, based upon the experiences of other bicyclists who have been stopped since my victory at trial in the Brighton District Court, that the MDC Police (who have now become part of the State Police) and the State Police are continuing to stop bicyclists who are lawfully bicycling on MDC parkways and other state roads, despite the ruling of the Brighton Court that the police have no right to do so.


___DAY OF___, 2001


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Caption and description of 1984 case