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Original post made
by Local Driver, Portola Valley: other,
on Jan 9, 2011
Yesterday, at about 10:30 AM, at the intersection of Sand Hill Road and Portola Road, while I was waiting to turn left onto Sand Hill from Portola, I witnessed the following:
1. About 20-25 bicyclists heading south on Portola Road blew through the stop sign while turning right onto Sand Hill. I watched a car that was traveling west on Sand Hill (with no stop sign and having full right of way) having to slow to almost a stop in the middle of Sand Hill because the clump of bikes blowing through the stop sign were spilling out of the bike lane into the road right in front of this car.
2. A couple of bikes were heading east on Sand Hill, evidently planning to turn left onto Portola Road (they weren't signalling, but since they were in the middle of the road, it could be assume that a left turn might be in their plans). Instead of staying in the lane, they cut across the intersection so that they ended up to might right, instead of to my left, in the middle of the road, instead of in the lane or bike lane where they belonged. They seem oblivious to the fact that their maneuver was unpredictable and dangerous.
3. Another couple of bicyclists were turning left from Portola Rd. onto Sand Hill, but instead of turning, they made a goofy little circle in the lane, gesturing to someone (us? finally I decided that they and another set of bicyclists were waving at each other to indicate where they wanted to go next.) Finally that "jay-rode" across Portola and headed onto Sand Hill westbound.
4. A pair of bicyclists actually stopped at the stop sign, looked for on-coming traffic, and then proceeded safely into the bike lane heading west on Sand Hill.
All of this happened in rapid succession, within about 30 seconds, while the cars just sat at the stop sign trying to figure out how to proceed.
All of the bicycle riders looked to be fully mature adults.
What's wrong with this picture? There was absolute chaos at this intersection. No one could tell what any of these bikes were going to do, except for the couple who actually FOLLOWED THE VEHICLE CODE.
Again, except for the 2 who followed the rules of the road, none of the bicyclists seem to even notice that there were other vehicles using the road.
I have not seen such a display of utterly self-absorbed behavior on our roads in some time.
The cars were all trying to stay safe and none of us could move because the bicyclists behavior was so unpredictable (not to mention dangerous.)
Comments? Particular from bicyclists? How about from some of those folks who were in that big clump of bikes that just blew through the stop sign and made that through-driver come to an almost complete stop in the middle of the road?
I was (and am) aghast.
Posted by A Cyclist
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 10, 2011 at 12:46 pm
I'd like to respond to each of this incidents, so please hear me out. I'm not necessarily defending the actions taken, simply trying to explain what the cyclists were probably thinking. Disclaimer: I do not speak for all cyclists, these are just some of my thoughts.
1. Was this on Saturday morning? Because what you probably saw was the Spectrum ride, which is a regular group ride that has no leader, it's been around for ages. People show up and do the same route every Saturday. Unfortunately, because of the lack of organization, and the fact that it's meant to be a fast ride (no stopping and regrouping, as many organized club rides have), they tend to bend or break traffic rules. There are a couple of stops signs that they will run if there is no traffic, sometimes they go through stoplights as a group if the first one made if through on the yellow, etc. Turning right onto Sand Hill from Portola is something of a special case. If there are no bikes coming in the bike lane, there's no practical reason for bikes to stop when turning into a bike lane (yes, the letter of the law requires a full stop, but it should be treated more like a yield since turning into the bike lane does not hinder oncoming traffic in the main lane). So, normally it is safe for everyone for cyclists to turn at speed into a bike lane. However, it seems that this group of cyclists was either going too fast to take the turn safely in the bike lane, or that some of them were simply being selfish jerks by taking the lane when a car was coming. Either way, they're at fault and it was stupid of them to ride in such a way.
2. It's a little harder to get in this group's head, since they were unpredictable, but I'd guess they did it for one of two reasons - one, they were cutting behind you so as to let you make your turn sooner, or two, they were afraid that you'd run them over and thus took the safer route behind you. I'd say that the latter is probably more likely, since you were likely pissed off at the first group of cyclists and getting impatient, probably pulled forward as far as possible waiting to turn. I probably would have turned in front of you (in the correct lane) anyway, but I have to say, when I'm out riding, the scariest thing is cars making turns. Turning cars are often in the path of bikes, or are inching forward while looking the other direction, and in my experience most accidents and near-misses happen when cars are turning into bikes who have the right of way.
3. I'm not really clear on what the issue here is. You were stopped at the stop sign, and presumably cars were going by or you would have gone already. Did the cyclists come up beside you before turning in front of you, or did they just do a U-turn, and maybe a second u-turn? Your description is a little hard to understand. It sounds to me like they didn't do anything wrong except piss you off for having maneuverable vehicles (u-turns aren't illegal, and it sounds like they weren't blocking any traffic), so I don't know how you think they "jay-rode".
4. As you said, perfectly respectable, law-abiding cyclists.
Now, to PV Mom and Menlo Voter, PLEASE try to have an open mind and realize that not all cyclists ride poorly! I do my best not to loathe every person that I see driving a car, since I realize that for all of the countless incidents that make me want to take away peoples' drivers licenses (I manage to see quite a few drivers who driver very poorly and unpredictably, both from the vantage point of driving myself and being a cyclist), there are actually plenty of drivers out there who drive relatively safely. It's always the bad apples that we remember, cyclists and drivers, so try not to take it out on all cyclists (and all drivers). I do not approve of cyclist's bad behavior any more than you do, but also for the much more personally relevant reason that other peoples' bad behavior can make drivers hate all cyclists, and that puts me in a very vulnerable position.