News

Crackdown targets cyclists, drivers

Deputies from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office and nearby police departments visited Portola Valley and Woodside on two recent days and cracked down on bicyclists riding through stop signs and drivers talking on cell phones without hands-free devices.

Officers issued 90 tickets -- 48 on Saturday, June 27, and 42 on Wednesday, July 1 -- at several intersections, including Alpine and Portola roads, Canada Road and Jefferson and Glenwood avenues, and Portola Road at Sand Hill Road, Sgt. Craig Denton of the Sheriff's Office said in an interview.

The deputies had help on July 1 from police departments in Menlo Park and Redwood City, which contributed two and four motorcycle officers, respectively, Sgt. Denton said. There were more cell phone citations on July 1 because it was a weekday with fewer cyclists out there, he said.

The community had been warned. On Saturday, June 13, Sgt. Denton and three other deputies spent the day informing cyclists and drivers of the rules of the road, warning them of upcoming enforcement days, and asking them to participate in a local campaign to "honor" the stop sign.

"Our primary goal is the safe and courteous use of the roads by everyone," he said. "The inattention, the multi-tasking in the vehicles, is when bicyclists get hit."

"It's extremely important that we get people in vehicles doing less and paying attention to what they're doing," he added. "At the same time, it's dangerous to ride (a bicycle) around people who are multi-tasking."

It was not uncommon to see cyclists with ear-bud headphones in both ears, he said.

The year-old honor-the-stop campaign is the work of cyclist, triathlon coach and Daly City resident Marc Evans, who urges cyclists, drivers, equestrians, pedestrians, joggers, and motorcyclists to obey all traffic laws and symbolize that commitment by wearing a red and black wristband.

Go to www.honorthestop.org for more information.

Not many cyclists honored the stop sign at Portola and Sand Hill roads, Sgt. Denton said. He said he'd be ticketing one rider and 20 more would breeze by without stopping.

"It was just epidemic," he said. "Nobody stopped."

Some cyclists who were stopped weren't carrying identification, so their thumbprints were taken, a standard procedure, Sgt. Denton said.

Others tried to hide their identity by giving phony names, including one cyclist who asked what would happen if he gave a false name. "I just looked at him and wondered if he was serious," Sgt. Denton said.

Several passing drivers gave him a thumbs up for ticketing the cyclists. The typical reaction was positive, he said.

More such enforcement days could be ahead, he said.

Comments

Posted by Julie, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jul 7, 2009 at 12:27 pm

I am personally happy to know that there has been a crack-down on cyclists. I am personally very courteous to the bicycle riders on the road, but it has perturbed me to no end, that they fly right through stop signs.
When I grew up and learned the 'rules of bicycle riding', we were always taught to acknowledge the stop signs, just as cars must.
By not acknowledging the stop signs, it can possibly mean the 'end' for someone.


Posted by menlores, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 7, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Have them come to downtown Menlo Park and do the same. We need more enforcement. Think of all the revenue that can be generated. There are a lot of "rule busters" in the downtown area.


Posted by Rick, a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2009 at 1:31 pm

I am in agreement that there needs to be respect for the stop sign, but it is a two-pronged problem. I can sit at any stop-sign controlled intersection in San Mateo County on any given day and if 2% of the motor vehicle drivers make a full stop then it is above average. Motor vehicle drivers are quick to malign the cyclists, but they are just as bad. Plus 25% of them are violating the cell phone and/or texting laws. Everyone needs to clean up their acts!


Posted by Dan Connelly, a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2009 at 1:31 pm

I work in Palo Alto and often cycle in the area. It's true people often fail to follow the letter of the law, whether they're driving, walking, or cycling. However setting traps for cyclists making a right hand turn from Alpine to Portola, or for failing to ride single file on the shoulder (which they are not required to do under any law) on Portola fails in any way to promote the public safety. It's simply a cynical program of revenue generation and intimidation.

We can all conjure stories of reckless riders (and drivers, and pedestrians) compromising others' safety. If the police focused enforcement on these egregious violations, it would certainly help. However, they do not, instead going for easy targets who in many cases aren't violating the law at all, or in the case of that stop sign, are violating the law only in the most technical of ways. This arbitrary enforcement only breeds disrespect not only for the law, but for those hired by the people to enforce it. It does nobody any good.


Posted by Jeff Baker, a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2009 at 1:34 pm

What was the number of people killed or injured by bicyclists in San Mateo county last year? The number killed by drivers?


Posted by murphstahoe, a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2009 at 1:51 pm

If the biggest problem is inattentive drivers talking on the cellphone, why should the presence of cyclists cause less cellphone tickets to be issued? Are the cops treating a cyclist rolling a stop sign as a higher priority issue than the issue that they claim is the root of the danger?


Posted by someguy, a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2009 at 2:04 pm

What is completely ignored here is that cyclists almost always respect the order of right of way at stop sign intersections, whether or not they actually come to a complete stop instead of rolling slowly. Anyone not respecting the right of way deserves a fine but that is an incredibly small minority of riders. These cops claim to be looking out for public interest. Nailing riders on a technicality when they are respecting the intent of the law is not in the public interest and is complete BS.


Posted by Richard M, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 7, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Evan's "Honor the Stop" campaign was motivated by the death of two cyclists who were -- wait for it -- obeying the law. They were hit by a SLEEPING driver, an on duty sheriff's deputy, no less.


Posted by Chad, a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2009 at 4:33 pm

I am certain that the valuable time of our law-enforcement staff (oops, shouldn't that be "public safety" officers?) could be more effectively used if focused on those who are actually exhibiting *dangerous* behaviors. Right-turning cyclists, and others neither impeding nor endangering other traffic, don't fit that description.


Posted by Kelly, a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Jul 7, 2009 at 4:41 pm

I got to see one of the cyclists pulled over by an officer on a motorcycle dirt bike. He was writing her a ticket, it was awesome! Made my day!! Finally, justice prevails.


Posted by Eric, a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2009 at 8:20 pm

A police officer in Carmel was interviewed in one of their local papers awhile back. He estimated that 50% of drivers out there are impaired in one way or another. Old age, young age, drugs (legal and illegal), alchohol, cell phones, food, radio, are just some of the impairments he mentioned. The sad truth is that these impaired drivers have the power to end the life of a cyclist in an instant. Yes, cyclists who run lights irritate me, but it's just an irritation. For those of you who believe ticketing cyclists is justice, you should go ride your bike a few times and meet some of these impaired drivers. Not very fun....


Posted by Centurion, a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Speaking as a regular bicycle commuter and as a weekend cyclist who rides through all the cities of the Peninsula, I am fine with this stop sign enforcement.

I strongly feel that if you expect to be treated as an equal, you must act like an equal. If I expect cars to stop at every stop sign (and I certainly do) then I must also stop at every stop sign.

Cyclists who feel that we are entitled to different treatment are implying that we are lesser entities on the roads. This is wrong-headed. The vehicle code actually states that we are equals to all motor vehicles.

That said, law enforcement often does not treat us as equals, especially in cases were motorists intimidate/harass cyclists. Still, I will continue to act as an equal and demand that I be treated as one.


Posted by PVMom, a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 7, 2009 at 11:16 pm

I was delighted to hear that deputies were enforcing the rules of the road -- but that was before I learned they were only enforcing stop-sign rules for cyclists!! How disgusting. There has been a lot of discussion about cyclists vs. cars recently in PV and it's very disturbing to see how entitled the car drivers feel in treating cyclists like vermin. I think it's another symptom of "affluenza" -- PV people are so over-indulged due to their status and wealth that they think they own the local (county) roads and can tax or exclude cyclists. The attitude of the general population seems to be that there is a war between cars and bikes and since the cars are bigger and more dangerous, they have all the rights and bikes have none.

It's very sad to see PV residents showing their nastiness and selfishness in this way. We all pay taxes, bikes are vehicles equal to cars in law, the white line is not a bike lane or a restriction on use of the road. Pay attention, and calm down. That goes for cyclists, too, who often carry a big ole chip on their shoulders and get too aggressive.



Posted by Scott, a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Jul 8, 2009 at 7:58 am

Many cyclists do pause or even trackstand/stop at stop signs, just as many drivers to. Conversely, many blow through them, and many cars just shift their weight but never actually stop. Try it sometime-- just sit and watch a stop sign intersection and see how many cars actually come to a full stop, especially when it's an out of the way intersection with little traffic. From my house, I can see an intersection like this and I'd say about 1 in 50 cars actually come to a full stop.

Bikes have a right to the road. They're actually less of a problem for drivers than other cars because at least with slow moving bikes, you can usually pass. Slow moving cars = traffic, can't get by.

Cyclists aren't your enemy. Cyclists are taxpayers. They are healthy and fit, saving you money and taxes by burdening our healthcare system less. Not using any gas or polluting the environment.

It is a much bigger deal for a cyclist, clipped into clipless pedals, to stop and a stop sign and then make the effort to get back up to speed, than it is for a driver to move their foot over to the brake and hit the gas again -- it's a totally self-centered view to not look at it from the point of view of the cyclist that is actually out there busting their butt, not just sitting on it.

What's more--- the stakes are much higher for a 2,500lb car to not stop, than a 175lb bike+rider. Cars kill people. And, drivers are in enclosed space, unable to hear, unable to see very well due to obstructions in the car, vs. a bike has much better awareness of the world around them and thus overall it isn't apples to apples -- bikes should be given leeway to make judgment calls at stop signs -- I'm not saying they should blow through them, but certainly slow down, pause, etc.

I think drivers are just taking out their frustrations on cyclists by directing their energy on this one particular issue instead of accepting that bikes are and will always be a part of the road. Please operate your 2,500 pound vehicle safely no matter how irate or inconvenienced you may be by all the "annoying" cyclists out there.


Posted by David, a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Jul 8, 2009 at 8:00 am

"I got to see one of the cyclists pulled over by an officer on a motorcycle dirt bike. He was writing her a ticket, it was awesome! Made my day!! Finally, justice prevails."

How small of you to take pleasure from someone else's misfortune. You must be an unhappy person.


Posted by Mary, a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 8, 2009 at 8:06 am

Cars kill people. Bikes don't. You take responsibility for this fact when you accept the privilege of driving a motor vehicle. Whether it be a kid running out into the street to chase a ball when they shouldn't do that, a j-walker, a pedestrian not paying attention, a cyclist running a stop sign or what have you, no amount of finger pointing the blame off of you to them will change the fact that your 2,500 pound car can easily kill a person and that you will have to live with that act for the rest of your days. So either accept the responsibility, drive attentively, or don't drive. But finger pointing solves nothing.

The cyclists I see running stop signs do so when there are no other cars at the intersection. When there are cars present, every cyclist that I have ever seen follows the rules of right of way and the road. Doesn't make it right, but cyclists who run stop signs when no cars are at the intersection are not the problem (other than an annoyance to certain rigid drivers).


Posted by Steve, a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2009 at 9:05 am

Keep up the enforcemnet SMCSO. The emergency responders will sleep much better at night not having to deal with bike riders being envolved in accidents. It doesn't make any difference who was at fault, dead is dead!


Posted by YS, a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jul 8, 2009 at 10:50 am

The Sheriff should sit at the intersection of Alpine and 280 - I have seen many near-misses between bikes and cars, often the fault of the cyclist who rides through the intersection ignoring the cars, and the motorists who don't realize that the cyclist isn't going to stop.

While most of the comments here have been about the cyclists, I'm delighted to see some crackdown on the yackers who have their cell phones and hands glued to their ears. Even my children can spot them because of their driving habits, and then are not surprised to see the reason for the inattention. El Camino in MP (and I presume other areas) is a spot where you can sit and count them.


Posted by cg, a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 8, 2009 at 12:44 pm

Please keep up the good work especially ticketing the cyclists at Portola and Sand Hill roads...THEY NEVER STOP AT THE STOP SIGN...


Posted by Steve, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jul 8, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Kelly, I wish I could have seen it too! I'm glad that bikers are being pulled over finally!


Posted by Kate, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jul 8, 2009 at 11:46 pm

It's funny that you folks want to villify cyclists for not stopping at stop signs just because.. fill in the blank.. they annoy you... they inconvenience you. But you're probably not mad that any failure to stop at a stop sign could cause them harm, right?

Who do you think loses when a cyclist fails to yield right of way? They do. Not you. They pay with their life. You pay with your ego -- having someone inconvenience you.

In reality, how many cyclists aren't yielding right of way? I doubt many. So if they're yielding right of way to you and following the rules of the road, and any failure to do so is detrimental to them and means little to you (especially since they'd be found to be liable too) *** what, exactly. is your problem? ***




Posted by observer, a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2009 at 9:36 am

At the Portola Sand Hill intersection: bikes on the shoulder / bike lane don't appear to be required to stop for right turn since the stop line does not extend beyond the vehicle lane.

in contrast: the intersection at Alpine and Portola does extend the stop line into the shoulder.

Portola Sand Hill Web Link

Portola Alpine Web Link

of course, bikes (and cars) turning left from Portola Road onto Sand Hill Road are required to stop at the stop limit line.


Posted by Steve, a resident of another community
on Jul 10, 2009 at 4:40 pm

Kate: What exactly is your problem. The gist of the messages deal with autos and bikes stopping at stop signs and peope using cell phones without hands free devices. I believe enforcement is for all that use the roadway and everyone has a responsibility to use the roadways safely, and comply with all provisions of the vehicle code, not just the ones you agree with.


Posted by ed, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jul 20, 2009 at 1:05 pm

"I'm glad that bikers are being pulled over finally!"

Bikers? You mean the Hell's Angels are being pulled over finally?


Posted by Gordon, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Dec 16, 2012 at 8:37 am

Cyclists that violate stop signs are annoying. Packs of cyclists that take up the ENTIRE lane on Portola and Alpine make me livid!! I wish a bulldozer would scoop a group off the road and maybe other cyclists would learn from the example and lose their arrogance and find some manners and consideration. And how about not yapping/yelling at 4AM when RESIDENTS are trying to sleep. No wonder cyclists are hated and considered to be vermin in Portola Valley/Woodside...


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