Stop signs and cyclists: is there an answer? Around Town, posted by Editor, The Almanac Online, on Sep 14, 2010 at 11:30 am
When a knot of 30 or 40 or even 100 bicyclists passes through Portola Valley and Woodside, as happens regularly, the cyclists tend to behave like a flock of birds: the individuals sense a change in direction or speed and seem to act as one.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 14, 2010, 8:19 AM
Posted by bicycling in groups, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2010 at 11:30 am
People don't bicycle in groups only for speed. There is a perception is that you are much less likely to get run down by a car when you are bicycling with other people. While you do sometimes hear about car drivers running into groups of bicyclists (even head-on), most car vs. bicycle crashes seem to be bicyclists riding alone.
Posted by long time Woodside resident, a resident of the Woodside: Mountain Home Road neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2010 at 12:08 pm
I am sick of the growing infestation of elite racing cyclists, who race through our town, clinging onto timing devices. They are absolutely ruining the peace, serenity and safety of our beautiful town. Many of these people are not about exercise or being "green"- they are about an arrogant assertion of their right to zip through any neighborhood they choose, at breakneck speeds, and to especially ignore the perils of our narrow, twisted and blind-turn roads. Resident youngsters and others wishing to use their bicycles for transportation to our school or to purchase goods and services in town center had better be wary of these self-designated pelotonians; their rude and unlawful cycling behaviors resemble a dangerous, chaotic and frenzied rat pack on wheels. Lately, many out of town cyclists' selfish actions have spilled over into a taking of our limited parking spaces; thus, they have hurt the locals' ability to patronize local businesses. Suggestion to cyclists coming to Woodside: ride your bikes from YOUR home therefore eliminating your gas guzzling ride to Woodside. This act will also eliminate your confiscation of our precious parking places. It really isn't nice to thoughtlessly drive here, park here and then speed off to enjoy your day long trek through OUR home. Second suggestion: Slow the heck Down and Obey the traffic Laws or Stay the heck Away! p.s. Thank You, Lt. Lunny, for your great observations and comments; they were well appreciated.
Posted by BoarderMom, a resident of the Woodside: Emerald Hills neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2010 at 12:27 pm
I have often wondered why the towns of Woodside and Portola Valley do not give way to the bicyclists on some of their roads on Sundays. For example, designating some roads for cars, such as Mountain Home Road and some for bikes, such as Portola Road or vice versa. This would allow cyclists of all ages to enjoy biking and keep everyone safe. As for stop sign as yield law, it should only apply to bikes and not cars. Cars should always have to stop and yield to cyclists on the road if they can be seen approaching.
Posted by camper, a resident of the Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2010 at 12:30 pm
If I am in a vehicle or on a motorcycle, and in order to get around a pack of bycicles must cross over the yellow line into oncoming traffic, I have issue with that. most byciclist are very curtious but the larger packs are not. I have riden my bycicle through the very areas discussed in this article, and I am not an "elite" rider, and was also very intimidated by these large groups, in fact practically ran over by them and then one in the back of the back said" new rider!"...well I am not new...I just am a leisurely rider...I also drive a car and ride a motorcycle through these same areas, and am quite tired of the large number of these large groups, they are usually very arogant and think they own the entire road...and cause a hazard to others. There needs to be further dicussion on this topic. I appreciate the local law enforcement making some riders realize that they too must obey the rules and share the roads with us too! Thanks.
Posted by Chris Webster, a resident of the Menlo Park: Fair Oaks neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2010 at 2:01 pm
I am a professional chauffeur. Each time I drive to Portola Valley I am on high alert. If I committed the number of traffic violations I see committed on the part of the bicyclists during a single visit, my license to drive would be revoked for my lifetime the first day. I see groups riding in the middle of the road every time. If cars were grouped in such a careless fashion there would be the greatest chain reaction crash of all time. Running stop signs is routine. I see a big bump in the revenue stream via the incalculable number citations that need to be issued by the San Mateo County Sheriffs deputies to get compliance. Bravo to the men for taking a stand. I remember in Gilroy years ago when 7 bicyclists were killed by a driver fiddling with his radio and taking his eyes off the road for a split second. Portola Valley is ripe for a repeat. Traffic laws apply to everybody who uses the road, not just motorists.
Posted by a frustrated driver, a resident of the Atherton: West of Alameda neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2010 at 2:02 pm
I often drive out to Portola Valley. Since I do not want crossover the yellow line, I end up "following" the pack of bikers. I realize there is an advantage to ride as they do, but what about the bike lane...isn't that there for cyclists? It's hard enough to go by two cyclists who are talking while riding (one in the bike land and the other outside of it), but does the pack have the right to ride well into the road obstructing traffic??? I always worry that if one cyclists fell or weaved, a large number of riders could go down...right in front of my car.
Posted by Country Bumpkin, a resident of another community, on Sep 14, 2010 at 2:20 pm
Many cyclists seem to think that having a huge attitude problem entitles them to act with impunity, endangering themselves, pedestrians and motorists in the process. Their behavior is akin to folks from Portola Valley and Woodside driving down to the cyclists neighborhoods and street racing - very dangerous, incredibly stupid and sure to lead to confrontation with angry locals.
Posted by Cathy Oyster, a resident of the Portola Valley: Brookside Park neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2010 at 3:30 pm
I was driving next to a peloton and we were co-existing nicely until someone in the middle went down...forcing 3 other riders farther into the roadway followed by about 20 more after AND felling 4 of his fellow riders behind him and those who could not navigate in the pebbly trail off the roadside had major bicyle damage, I am sure.
The ones entering the road right in front of me, are all lucky that I was paying attention, thinking how stupid they were, but paying attention, or someone could have been killed. If it were me, I'd rather be alive to argue my right of way than hoping one of my peloton stood up for me.
Maybe a little roadrash will leave them thinking...JUST SAY "NO" TO PELOTON - it does a body bad.
Posted by long time woodsider, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2010 at 3:41 pm
These comments by Lt. Lunny regarding a peloton, is exactly what the residents of Woodside and Portola Valley dislike. The attitude and middle finger, if you are trying to get around them is so immature.
It makes such a statement to our children in this area, those of us that have lived here 50+ years.
We all know the average person does not like change, but this change in the peloton is the major problem.
Why not limit them riding 2 across, and no more than 10 in a group. That way we can unclog our intersections, and all enjoy this beautiful place we call home. Cycling clubs, it is up to you to get this taken care of as you created this; you need to take charge of your peloton's.
Posted by Big Al, a resident of another community, on Sep 14, 2010 at 4:46 pm
Steve- couldn't agree more....
Interested..."Mow em Down." What a simple solution from such a simple mind like yourself. Whenever somebody does something that you disagree with is this the best you can come up with? Seems to me that violence stems from a lack of creativity, and this is one of the reasons why we are plagued with warfare and bloodshed throughout the globe. Ever hear of the expression, an eye for an eye and soon the whole world will be blind. Don't you realize that he who lives by the sword shall die by it too? It'll only be a matter of time before somebody gets upset with you and decides to take you out for whatever it is you've done to upset them. Try to be a little more thoughtful next time, or next time it might be you.
Posted by anonymous, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2010 at 5:16 pm
I have a soon to be sixteen year old daughter. While teaching her to drive I notice she routinely drifts to the right. These bicyclists that believe riding through a town with tight winding roads en masse is safe. Good luck.
Posted by Joe, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2010 at 5:31 pm
This is a bit off the topic (as is my wont), but is I think still true: cars are designed to drift to the right if the steering wheel is let go of. It's called under-steer and is considered safer than over-steer.
It may be something for bicyclists to be aware of.
I guess having the car just go in a straight line is not viable, given the natural tendencies of things on wheels.
Please, no brickbats for being off-topic. It's not that far off.
Posted by Commander McBragg, a resident of another community, on Sep 14, 2010 at 6:39 pm
I was driving my motorcycle up Page Mill Road just past Foothills Park when I came up behind a couple on a tandem bike. They were going about 3 mph. The woman on the back started gesturing to me as if to say "Stay back; don't try to pass." I whipped around them, in my lane, about 2 seconds later. I thought it was funny that she was trying to be giving directions to drivers on the road, and that she really thought I was going to follow them at 3 mph all the way to Skyline. More and more it seems like "common sense impaired" goes along with bicycling.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2010 at 7:18 pm
Joe states:"cars are designed to drift to the right if the steering wheel is let go of."
A properly designed and aligned car will go straight on a flat road if you let go of the steering wheel. Most roads are paved with a crown at the center line to facilitate drainage - a car on such a road will tend to drift away from the crown, or in the US, to the right.
Posted by Donald, a resident of another community, on Sep 15, 2010 at 6:18 am
Woodside Mom, did you HAVE to pass the pack, or did you choose to do so? It sounds as if you chose a dangerous and illegal place to pass, using a lane that had oncoming traffic. I would be upset, too, if someone passed by coming at me on my side of the road, regardless of what kind of vehicle I was driving.
Posted by POGO, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Sep 15, 2010 at 8:52 am
How can you make such negative inferences from Woodside Mom's post? Whether she HAD to pass the pack of riders or just WANTED to pass them is irrelevant.
You have the right to pass slower vehicles whether you are in a car or on a bicycle and passing necessarily involves encroaching into the adjacent lane. I've been passed by speeding bikers screaming down La Honda Road. They use every inch of both sides of the road (and if you've never seen it, just drive there on a weekend).
Spitting, however, is NOT irrelevant. It is crude and symbolizes this discussion. Yes, there are many inconsiderate drivers. But peletons have raised rude to a brand new level. Not everyone is willing to turn the other cheek and I fear that one day someone's going pay a very high price.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Sep 15, 2010 at 9:07 am
We live in a democratic and relatively tolerant society but persistent behavior that adversely impacts others will eventually result in legal constraints as has occurred with drunk driving and smoking.
Unless the bike riders effectively control themselves then they will also become the target of restrictive laws. And judging from the above comments they will find few allies coming to their defense.
Posted by Cindy, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Sep 15, 2010 at 9:59 am
I'm just wondering why we don't get the same outrage with all the dangerous and ignorant behavior of automobile drivers. Yes, even in Portola Valley and Woodside you see a lot of bad driving. Nobody seems to be bothered by that. Elitist and arrogant cyclists? I worry more about SUVs arrogant 'get out of my way' behaviour.
I'm not excusing when cyclists don't obey the law. But the bashing of cyclists is getting a bit ridiculous.
I also noticed when I talk to residents of Woodside and Portola Valley some seem to think they live in some private enclave. I have a friend who told me: 'We just don't want the cyclists in our town. We were here first.' Sorry, to say, but they are all public roads. It's really simple, drivers don't want to be bothered to have to slow down for anything or anybody.
Regardless, cyclists need to obey the law. They know they are targeted out there and being stubborn isn't going to get them any sympathy. So, just stop when you're supposed to so you don't have to pay $285 for a ticket. You should know by know that the cops are waiting for you.
Posted by POGO, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Sep 15, 2010 at 10:25 am
A lot of us HAVE been talking about bad behavior from both drivers and cyclists.
Have you ever been stuck behind a peleton? You may have a long, narrow, winding road in front of you and you need to get somewhere - a doctor's appointment, picking up your kid, just getting home, whatever - and the bike riders simply won't move over and let you pass by. No, this isn't about drivers "just being patient," it's about cyclists showing ordinary courtesy. It would be just as bad if a very slow moving car or truck refused to yield (and even blocked both lanes) to prevent faster cars or bicycles to pass.
Some Woodside residents have to endure this frustration many times a week. Imagine if you had to deal with that everytime you drove to or from home!
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Sep 15, 2010 at 10:43 am
This is what the California DMV Handbook states:
1 -"The basic rules of the road contained in the California Vehicle Code apply to all two-wheel vehicles"
2 - "Sec. 21656. On a two-lane highway where passing is unsafe because of traffic in the opposite direction or other conditions, a slow-moving vehicle, including a passenger vehicle, behind which five or more vehicles are formed in line, shall turn off the roadway at the nearest place designated as a turnout by signs erected by the authority having jurisdiction over the highway, or wherever sufficient area for a safe turnout exists, in order to permit the vehicles following it to proceed. As used in this section a slow-moving vehicle is one which is proceeding at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place."
Seems like the peletons should observe these rules or they should be cited.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Sep 15, 2010 at 10:58 am
The law is a wonderful means of establishing rules. Here is what the California Vehicle Code says about bicycles:
"V C Section 21202 Operation on Roadway
21202. (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:
(1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
(2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
(3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a "substandard width lane" is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
(4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.
(b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway of a highway, which highway carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of that roadway as practicable."
Posted by La Hondan, a resident of another community, on Sep 15, 2010 at 2:17 pm
I have a 15 year old who is learning to drive on these roads. I find, as I teach him, that I spend a lot of time explaining to him the greatest hazards that he will find on our local roads. "Watch out for bicycles. Give them ample room. Be ready for them to do just about anything as they are very unpredictable in their driving behavior." However, I also need to train him to watch out for motorcycles and cars who take the curves too fast and end up in his lane. So, he needs to stay near the white line as a defense against a head-on, but he also needs to steer clear of the white line, to keep away from bicycles! I think we have a big problem on our local roads and those of us who are simply trying to safely get from home to work/school/the doctor or the grocery store are caught in the middle of two groups of people who use what is to us a lifeline, as a recreational venue.
The roads on the rural San Mateo County coast (and mountains) are many things to many people. But they are NOT raceways. By all means, come on out here for a leisurely bike ride or motorcycle ride or a drive with the family to the beach. But when you do, don't ride like Speed Racer and endanger my family, don't drink at the beach and then drive back to the Bayside through my neighborhood, and if you ride a bicycle, follow the rules of the road and don't behave unpredictably.
And, one more thing specifically to bicyclists: When you decide to stop for a water break, get as FAR OFF THE ROAD AS POSSIBLE! On many occasions I've seen bicyclists stopped by the side of the road (checking a map or swigging from a water bottle) and standing right at the white line. If you are standing in the shade, you are not very visible. Get WAY off the road and then check your map. Stop in places where there is room to get away from the pavement. My new driver, who is also trying not to get creamed by a motorcycle crossing the yellow line, does not want to hit you!
Posted by Joe, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Sep 15, 2010 at 2:42 pm
Are there any bicyclists on this thread? Are you hearing what's being said here?
This is unacceptable behavior, to be standing around on the white line to refresh yourself on a narrow, steep, twisty two-lane road, or making life difficult for new drivers, or potentially blocking someone on the way to the doctor's office. The issue here is driver fear, not your fear -- drivers who are afraid of hitting you because you are not cooperating.
The insurance industry uses the term "standing on their rights" to describe people who don't use common sense in a situation that could cause an accident. It's basically an uncooperative stance that can lead to trouble.
Bicyclists and drivers, but mostly bicyclists, need to drop this insistence on the letter of their rights. Bicyclists need to stay out of the way of vehicles except in situations (as described above by Mr. Carpenter) in which they must move away from the side of the road.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Sep 15, 2010 at 3:41 pm
acyclist states:"However from the comments it seems any one on a cycle is subject to harassment, hate, and disregard of their safety."
Reread the above comments - you are sadly wrong. All that is expected of cyclists is that the obey the laws - no busting through stop signs, no spitting on motorists, riding "as close as practicable to the right-hand curb", riding single file except when passing.
Conducting road racing peletons on roads that are not closed to other traffic is a violation of the law and is dangerous - continuing that behavior will result in serious injuries or deaths and restrictive legislation.
Posted by At Home in Menlo, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 15, 2010 at 3:43 pm
I disagree with your last statement, acyclist. Aisde from Mow Them Down, whose comment was immediately disputed, the entries here seem to reflect frustration about a real problem with the behavior of some cycling groups. Courtesy would call for drivers to give way to a bike's greater vulnerability and lower power when necessary. Courtesy would also call for bikers to ride single file (do you know any car drivers who drive neck and neck so they can chat through the window?), obey stop signs and other traffic laws, and let drivers pass them. But confrontation is the name of the game these days. Guess Sesame Street and Mister Rogers weren't enough, sad to say.
Posted by Country Bumpkin, a resident of another community, on Sep 15, 2010 at 7:14 pm
@ Peter Carpenter wrote"
"The law is a wonderful means of establishing rules. Here is what the California Vehicle Code says about bicycles:
"V C Section 21202 Operation on Roadway
21202. (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:"
The law may be a wonderful means of establishing rules, but sorry excuses and a bad attitude are an equally wonderful means of flouting them. To many cyclists "as close as practicable to the right-hand curb" is in the middle of the road. Kids seem to be able to ride on the side of the road, though. How remarkable that schoolchildren have better riding skills than their adult counterparts. Or maybe they just have more common sense.
You mentioned that the cyclists might become the target of restrictive laws. If they ignore existing laws, what makes you think they willingly obey any new laws? Rather than pass additional restrictions, why not enforce the existing laws instead?
I think the real danger here is that the situation will escalate beyond words. Judging by some of the comments here, it seems close boiling over now.
Posted by Country Bumpkin, a resident of another community, on Sep 15, 2010 at 7:36 pm
"I'm just wondering why we don't get the same outrage with all the dangerous and ignorant behavior of automobile drivers."
You obviously have not read the Mr. Roadshow column in the San Jose Mercury. In any event, motorists driving badly is no excuse for cyclists to break the law. The "but he did it too" whine does not work for kids, much less so for adults.
"Yes, even in Portola Valley and Woodside you see a lot of bad driving. Nobody seems to be bothered by that."
Probably because it pales in comparison to the problems caused by the bicyclists.
"I worry more about SUVs arrogant 'get out of my way' behaviour."
Then ride in the bike lane.
"But the bashing of cyclists is getting a bit ridiculous."
No, it's not. The cyclists behave just as badly in Palo Alto and Menlo Park as in the hills, zooming right through stop signs and expecting pedestrians in the crosswalk to jump out of the way. I though pedestrians had the right of way in a crosswalk, no?
Twenty years ago, cyclists rode through town and country without making complete jackasses out of themselves. Why are they so unable to do so today?
Posted by AllyMac, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Sep 17, 2010 at 9:05 pm
I wonder if it would be possible for Woodside to issue and require daily use permits to cyclists, the same way towns with lakes require windsurfers, boaters and fishermen do?
The funds could defer the cost to monitor cyclists, provide their first aid and clean up the water botttles and "goo" packets that liter sides of the road Sunday afternoons.
The money might take the sting out of the inconvenience of having these riders take over our town. (I would be way more tollerant of their behavior if I knew they were not only paying their way, but maybe underwriting the cost of a teacher, librarian, Town Hall employee.) Of maybe the cyclists would decide to ride in another town.
Posted by Fletch, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Sep 17, 2010 at 9:10 pm
A daily use permit? Great.
These cyclists bring nothing to the community, exept litter and anxiety.
They take over the parking at Roberts so they can fill their water bottles in the tap, use the bathroom and then buy a banana. Meanwhile, I can't find parking to buy groceries and wine for a dinner party. Mr Roberts? Who would YOU rather have shopping?
Posted by Angela Hey, a resident of the Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley neighborhood, on Sep 17, 2010 at 11:06 pm
I suggest that businesses in the towns market HonorTheStop.org wristbands - red and black. I am appalled at how many groups do not know how to drive their bikes like vehicles. I rarely bike with groups but when I do I am nearly always left behind at Stop Signs because bikers think they can go as a group. In part, it is because they don't want to unclip their cycling shoes, and also if there is a group they treat the group as one vehicle instead of riding their bike like a car, where bikes alternate with other vehicles at the intersection.
I suggest the police also ticket people without lights or reflectors - particularly around Stanford and Palo Alto where they bike without being seen.
Also people who bike in bike lanes in the wrong direction should be ticketed.
We have to have people ride their bikes like they ride their cars.
I also request patience from cars when bikers have to share the road and pull out in front of them, particularly going uphill on Arastradero Road (this could be mitigated somewhat by a paved bike trail through the Arastradero Preserve).
I'd like to thank the many careful motorists in Portola Valley who do give people a wide berth. But please - fire engine and postal workers - don't exceed the speed limit on Alpine Road.
Posted by Angela Hey, a resident of the Portola Valley: Brookside Park neighborhood, on Sep 17, 2010 at 11:13 pm
Another issue - towns could enforce ordinances that say Bikers Must Ride in Single File.
Bikers need to learn to ride defensively:
- select a speed so you can stop within the braking capabilities of your bike if a deer jumps out (a real risk when they rut in the fall) or there's a crack in the road that your tire could stick in or a pedestrian steps in front of you
- don't go too close when overtaking another biker fast
- have a mirror and use it
- don't chat to another biker
- ride single file
- don't wear headphones
- use a bell to warn people
- use hand signals (thanks to the lady who chided me the other day when I forgot to signal a left turn at the Ladera Shopping Plaza)
- ensure your bike is in safe working order - Menlo Velo just did a great tune-up job for me
Posted by MB, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Sep 20, 2010 at 10:48 pm
I can't stand it when packs of them get in my way while going from Skylonda to Woodside. They are slow, don't pull over, slam on their brakes for no reason and are unpredictable. Guess who I am talking about? Not the cyclists. It's the Woodside drivers who are in my way while I'm on my bike. Get rid of those arrogant drivers who take up my space! <grin> But of course any bet the drivers will change their story to say the cyclists need to slow down.
Posted by La Hondan, a resident of another community, on Sep 23, 2010 at 10:04 am
I will preface this by saying that I am not a bicyclist and I have never biked on Sand Hill Rd. I do want to point out a very dangerous practice by a motorist that I witnessed this morning on Sand Hill Rd, traveling eastbound, just west of the Horse Park. The driver of a white BMW, CA license #6GYE093, traveled around that curve, entirely within the bike lane, going about 50 mph. As someone who came along just after the terrible accident a few years ago on that very stretch of road, where a bicyclist was struck and killed by a motorist, I was utterly chilled by the behavior of this motorist. I don't know if they were cutting the curve, distracted, or what, and I hope those involved in the accident that killed that gentlemen a few years ago will forgive me for bringing that up, but I've seen other vehicles do this on my morning commute (drive entirely in the bike lane.) Please stop this! It is very dangerous. If you know the driver of this white BMW, please show them this post. Someone else is going to get killed.