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on Jul 2, 2009
Thank goodness! Finally!
So many bicyclists demand respect on the road yet fail to obey stop signs. I hope now they will figure out that they, too, need to obey all the rules of traffic, as do automobile drivers.
I can't believe that a campaign to target cyclists was started "in memory" of a cyclist killed (and another seriously injured) by a Deputy - one that has since pleaded guilty to manslaughter - while riding legally. The irony can't be lost on everyone.. I'd be quite pissed if I was a member of their families.
I agree with Ed. Moreover, many of the citations issued yesterday will not hold water in court. Yes, cyclists should abide by the California Vehicle Code, in addition to using common sense, good judgment, and a "do unto others" mentality when interacting with other vehicles.
But nowhere in the vehicle code does it state that a cyclist must have one foot on the ground when stopping at a stop sign. Nowhere does it state that a cyclist must at all times be riding to the right of the fog line (an area which is in many cases littered with glass and debris). And cyclists riding two abreast within a legitimate bike lane should also not be ticketed.
Again, I do not defend cyclists who run stop signs, surround cars, or ride in huge packs that obstruct traffic. But to target orderly riders who are quietly minding their own business, doing their part for health and the environment? And to do it in the name of two cyclists who were KILLED while doing just the same, and by an officer of the law at that?????
For shame, Portola Valley. For shame.
I agree with Ed from Atherton.
This is an insult to the cyclists who lost their lives while obeying the law. I am appalled.
Experienced bicyclists stop at red lights, stop at STOP signs and signal when turning left from the left turn lane. Bicyclists do not kill people. Motorists kill people whether they are pedestrians, bicyclists or other motorists.
This campaign may have created at an emotional time in Marc Evans's life. However, it is insulting to all of us who ride our bicycles on a regular basis rather than drive our cars.
Hey Local Driver;
Find a 4-way stop.
Pick a time with light traffic.
Observe what happens when a car approaches when there is no other traffic.
As a fellow car driver, accept responsibility for these drivers violation of the letter of the law.
Allow me to hold you personally responsible for all the stupid drivers I have ever seen or heard about.
Since the police seem to have a sudden interest in making the roads safer, I'd really like to see them stake out the intersection of Sand Hill and El Camino Real during morning rush hour. Car, after car, after car, after car runs the red light heading southbound on ECR to turn right on Sand Hill. A few stop (myself included) and proceed when safe, but sadly, most do not. I have seen many pedestrians in the crosswalk nearly get hit, and I have seen many cyclists proceeding across the road from Alma (with a green light) almost get hit.
Drivers of automobiles break the rules just as often as cyclists. It would be nice to see tickets written for actual laws being broken, especially ones that are so dangerous. Riding bicycles two-abreast is not illegal in many situations. I do hope the cyclists ticketed for this particular offense fight the ticket when the law is on their side.
Does seem ironic that this crackdown on bicyclists is being done after a motorist-caused fatality, however, I also find it interesting that a bicyclist says that "only motorists kill people". There's the attitude that justifies a bicyclist taking inordinate risk on the roads. Is it only the cigarette that causes cancer or the cigarette and the risk-taking behavoir of the smoker? I think it is entirely possible for a bicyclist to kill him/herself(even if it the accident involves a motorist)! A bicyclist cannot take the position it is only the motorist that needs to drive with care. Too often, that attitude is what you encounter as a motorist in Woodside or Portola Valley. When I first taught my kids to drive, I thought the scariest conditions would be in the city-centers or on the freeway. To the contrary, Portola, Sandhill and Alpine Roads can be far more frightening.
As a concerned citizen, cyclist, and physician, let me remind everyone that cars kill cyclists not the other way around. This crackdown does not follow the vehicle code of California and is completely off base for having everyone become more safety conscious in using our roadways. Bikes and cars are not going away no matter how many tickets get written or how many cyclists get threatened or killed.
I don't Marc Evans has done any good with this bizarre campaign.
How many tickets were given for talking on the cell phone while driving? Hopefully more than that given to cyclists...
I agree 100% with Ed and Katie. I have no problem with citations being given to people who are actually breaking the law, but I know that many of these are being issued in error by deputies who don't know the law. What a waste; it will just breed more animosity between cyclists and PV/Woodside residents.
Thom's argument is weak and unconvincing. It is not OK to be a crappy driver just because most everyone else on the road has gotten sloppy.
I also hope that awareness is brought to the dangerous driver of a Silver/Blue Mercedes SUV with a license plate starting in WRG, or WRG. He swerved his car at us on 7/1 and also again 6 weeks ago. Be on the lookout for him. He lives (likely) on Old La Honda Road, about 2/3 up the road off to the left. He has tried to assault us with his car twice, and I was told that San Mateo Sheriff won't do anything unless you:
Call 650-363-4911 (This will get a deputy faster than dialing 911)
Get entire license plate (They were unwilling to do anything without a FULL license plate)
This guy swerved at us, tried to hit one cyclist, and then almost got out of his car right in the middle of a blind curve on OLH Road.
He usually drives up OLH road on weekdays between 6:45 and 7:30
I'm for anything that makes bikers follow the rules of the road.
I assume the peace officers writing tickets know the law and cite a section of the vehicle code on the ticket itself. So will one of the "ticket-ees" for an infraction noted above as "not being illegal" (such as no foot on the ground stopping, not in the bike lane, two abreast, etc.) post the code section noted on his/her citation? It would be enlightening.
I for one think that not enough tickets get written for all sorts of violations: speeding (especially truck/trailers exceeding 55mph on the freeway), failure to stop, failure to signal (especially lane changes), failure to yield, following to close (that's actually a speeding violation: driving to fast for conditions); a few of these apply to bicyclists, mostly failure to stop and failure to yield.
But sadly, when bikers make errors, either they become the broken body, or damage is minor; when motorists mess up, 3000 pounds of metal in motion can do a lot of damage!
Pathetic campaign by the police department to try and shift blame from the cop who killed those two bicyclist - as if they weren't following the rules of the road. Gimme a break.
I find it truly ironic that this campaign is being waged to ticket cyclists for nono-existent laws in the name of increasing safety. In truth I expect this may in fact decrease safety because it diverts attention from the fact that cyclist are killed or injured when motorists pass in an unsafe manner. This publicized "crackdown" also gives some wreckless drivers the impression that their illegal and dangerous behaviour is justified and acceptable. To make it even worse, many of these tickets appear to be for things that are not even illegal such as riding two abreast, or not putting a foot on the ground when stopping at a stop sign. I don't recall ever seeing a car driver put a foot on the ground at a stop sign and yet cyclist are expected to?
I ride through Portola Valley and Woodside often and while some cyclists may be discourteous or even rude, some motorists are threatening or absolutely wreckless. I have often been passed by cars on a blind corner or approaching a blind hill where they crossed a double yellow line at well above the speed limit. I have also been buzzed, passed closely at high speeds intentionally to scare me. This is the dangerous behaviour that should be targeted. Twice recently a car passing unsafely almost caused a head on collision with another car and once with two bicycles coming the other way. The real issue in this campaign is not safety, it is about delays for motorists of a few seconds to get around legal slower traffic with every right to the use of the roads.
To my knowledge no motorist has ever been killed by a bicycle running into their car, or by the delay of not being able to pass. Cyclists on the other hand are frequently killed or injured by cars, the latest one just this week, hit from behind and killed in the east bay.
Let's just be rational here and compare the impact of these issues. If a cyclist is rude or discourteous, a motorist may be insulted or delayed for several seconds. When motorists pass unsafely or drive wrecklessly, cyclist die or suffer severe traumatic injuries.
Most cars obey stop signs. Most cyclists don't. There is no irony in this campaign. The point is that bicycles are dangerous and having bicycles stop at stop signs would make them a lot safer.
Bicycles don't kill drivers, but they force drivers to assist their suicide. Drivers don't want to kill people but cyclists make drivers into killers, causing emotional harm that is as great as any physical harm done by running over a cyclist.
Bicycles should be illegal on roads without bike lanes. Sharing the road is not a solution. It is much more dangerous than cocaine or heroin.
Cyclists are the most vulnerable people on the road. Its like kids running around a factory full of people operating chainsaws. When you are vulnerable, you should act that way. PULL OVER when you see a car behind you. You are blocking the car and creating a dangerous situation. DO NOT run stop signs or red lights. Do not right turn at red lights without stopping fully. we drivers have 3000 lbs of metal and would prefer not to kill anyone.
There are many more motorists exceeding the speed limit than there are bikes running stop signs and the threat to public safety is vastly greater from a speeding car. All road users should observe the rules of the road, but the police should focus their limited resources on protecting the public safety; eliminate motorist speeding first, then worry about cyclists who run stop signs.
Let's take sfdg's logic a bit farther and make cars illegal anywhere except on freeways which are exclusively dedicated to them. That will leave all the other roads safe again for pedestrians and horse-drawn carts the way they have been for millenia.
And Joanna, are you really for ANYTHING that will get cyclists to stop at stop signs, even illegal harassment and issuing of tickets for non-existent violations (like not putting a foot down)? I want cyclists to stop at stop signs, too, but this is not the way to accomplish it. How about trying some education, or using the carrot instead of the stick?
Let's be reasonable here, folks. I used to be an avid bicyclist, but do not ride much any more.
Bicyclists DO have a right to share the road. Along with that right, however, comes the responsibility to ride with care. If you aren't going to stop at that stop sign, at least slow down and make sure that there are no cars coming into the intersection. As a driver, I expect to be given the right of way by a bicycle as any other car driver would be expected to give the right of way. Several times, I have come close to hitting a cyclist who did not stop or even slow down for a stop sign. (The Alpine Rd exit from NB 280 seems to be a particular problem. Also, there is a tendency for bicyclists to not even slow down for the stop sign at University and Middle in Menlo Park.)
Also, if you are riding, and can do so safely, move over onto the shoulder or bike lane. If it is not safe for you to move over (e.g., not much of a shoulder, debris in the shoulder, etc.), then I have no problem sharing the lane with you. I will patiently follow until it is safe to pass you. This is the safe and reasonable thing to do.
If we can all be a little patient, be aware of each other, and not be so adamant about our "rights," we CAN safely and enjoyably share the road.
I have treated enough people in emergency departments who have been severely injured by motorists to seriously advocate for mandatory engine modifications to prevent any motorist from exceeding 25mph. The simple fact is that motorists speed, act stupid, and endanger pedestrians, bicyclists, and other motorists hourly--and then get very righteous about their right to go fast and unimpeded, like sfdg and Joanna above.
I'm a pediatrician. Cars are the number one cause of death for my patients. Not bikes: cars. That's you, motorists. You're killing my patients. Slow down. Better yet, take the bus.
I would really like to see those who are passionate about this issue come together more.
Given the following facts:
1) Bicycles and cars are here to stay--neither will disappear from the road any time soon.
2) We both have rights and responsibilities as we use the road.
3) Most of us have no desire to harm anyone else.
I love to ride my bike. I think it keeps me healthy and sane. I am one of the people who you see out on all those roads in the hills, both busy and isolated.
When I am on my bike, I try to think like a driver and anticipate ways to both keep myself safe and, where reasonable, not offend or irritate fellow cyclists and motorists. This means that when I am "stuck" behind a slower cyclist and a motorist is approaching from behind, I chill out and wait until it is safe to pass (just as I hope that a car would chill out and wait until it is safe to pass me on a narrow road). When I am climbing a narrow, twisty road such as OLH or King's Mountain, and I see a car or cyclist coming down the hill, I use hand signals, etc. to let any vehicles behind me know. I have a bell on my racing bike and I use it. I stop at stop signs and am careful to let drivers who have right of way go first. I signal whenever possible.
That said, I have been riding my bike for years and a lot of this knowledge of where to ride/how to ride comes with experience. There are going to be cyclists out there who are new to the sport, as I once was, who may not be as skilled or savvy. This does not negate their right to ride.
Cyclists, please do your part and be sensitive and sensible. Consider that if YOU were behind the wheel of a car and were trying to get somewhere, possible with a crying baby in the backseat or a babbling teenager next to you, you would want any cyclists you saw to be law-abiding, predictable, and considerate.
Drivers, please consider that it could be YOU or your child on the bike seat. Even if you could never imagine riding your bike on the road (it's certainly not for everyone), please acknowledge that it is our right to do so, and please refrain from attempting to scare or harm us. The more we pay attention to each other and treat each other as we would ourselves be treated, the better this scenario can get.
Its called technological progress. Roads now belong to cars. Pedestrians and bicycles should stay off the road. If you don't want to drive, ride the bus. This sharing road nonsense is making drivers into killers.
Get over it. 45 people were given tickets for violating the law. Big deal! Every day I drive, I see many violations and wish there was a cop around to see it. The cops were doing what we pay them to do. If it makes people drive or ride better, I'm for it.
Ticket on Wed. morning, my "violation" is stated as "21202a VC tandem," for riding just to the left of the fog line on Portola Rd. near Windy Hill while another rider was to my right on the shoulder. Look up 21202a. There was no other traffic in the area. I was as far to the right of the roadway as practicable, as is required. I am not required to ride on the shoulder. Also, look up the word "tandem" in the dictionary and in the Vehicle Code.
To SFDG, bicycles have a right and will continue to have a right to use the road. Driving on the other hand is a privilege. Bikes were there first and are the most fuel efficient form of transportation out there. Cars are very convenient and in our society today almost indispensable. Neither is going away and we have to coexist on the road. That is the way it is and that is the way it will stay. Bikes are typically not allowed on freeways but otherwise may not by state law be prohibited from other public roads.
Most drivers are reasonably safe and patient, but some are not. Just this morning I was riding north on Arastradero from Page Mill to Alpine. Six of us were riding safely and courteously at the right side of the road, single file, just past the visitors center. A car came up behind us and with no hesitation passed us all by crossing 6 feet over the centerline of the road right before the blind hill there. If a car or bike was coming the other way it could very easily have caused a head on collision. This is clearly reckless driving and the drivers defense would almost certainly be "those bikers made me do it". It would have delayed him/her about 10 or 15 seconds to wait until we crested the hill and he could see whether the road is clear and it is safe to pass.
Most drivers that come up behind me going uphill wait patiently for a safe place to pass and I often try to wave them by if I can see farther up the road or let them know if someone is coming the other way with hand signals. Most cyclists will also try to move over to let cars by when they hear them behind, but some drivers are too impatient to wait a few seconds for this to happen.
Also this morning, a full sized pickup truck pulling a trailer passed me going the other way as I was riding up West Alpine from Pescadero to Portola State Park. He was going fast on this narrow road, probably over the speed limit and as he passed by me on a left curve he was 5 or 6 feet over the center line of the road. He was taking up more than half of my lane. Another example of dangerous driving that could easily kill a cyclist.
The majority of cyclists killed by cars are not hit at intersections. They are more often hit from behind by cars on a straight section of road, or have an oncoming car turn left into them. The cyclist killed in Danville this week was hit from behind, the cyclist "Mark ?" killed in Martinez last year (hit and run) was on a two lane road not near an intersection, an acquaintance was hit last year from behind in a bike lane (hit and run), another had a car turn left in front or her (no stop sign for the cyclist). Kristy Gough and Mark Peterson were killed just because got in the way of a sheriffs deputy crashing through their location. John Peckham was also killed by a car coming the other way that crossed the center line. There are many other examples.
To "local driver", the real issue here is the slight inconvenience of motorists weighed against the safety of cyclists. While I have no problem with people obeying the law, I do have a problem with people being cited for non-existent laws such as not putting a foot down or "riding tandem". Yes I think bikes and cars should stop at stop signs and red lights. Also keep in mind that if a car passes bikes in an unsafe manner crossing a double yellow line in excess of the speed limit, that is not the fault of the cyclist regardless of what they say. No one forced them over the double yellow line, over the speed limit, or to pass in a blind corner or on a blind hill, that is their poor choice. The police are being paid to protect the public safety and to enforce the law, not to harrass law-abiding cyclists with unlawfull tickets. I am sure they have more important things to do.
The county police were only warning cyclists and drivers before July 1? I rode the Giro de Peninsula on June 27, a local fundraising ride. I certainly did not get the feeling they were out there warning us. I saw many tickets being written. Wouldn't it have been nicer to feel that they were there trying to assure our safety?
The original news story says that the enforcement campaign targets both motorists and bicyclists. Does anyone know the proportion of tickets given to each group? Maybe the Almanac could follow up with the police and report the statistics. I don't have a problem with this campaign if it treats all violations equally--assuming that the police officers actually understand how the California Vehicle Code applies to bicyclists and that they enforce the Code fairly.
By the way, the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition web site includes a "Share the Road" page with a lot of useful information for both bicyclists and motorists (Web Link). There is also a link to an "Incident Report" page where examples of road rage and other dangerous behavior can be reported. The best defense against violent drivers is to expose them and hold them accountable for their actions.
A negligent officer kills two cyclists who were riding lawfully and legally in Santa Clara County, and is found guilty of the crime. A coach and friend of one of the dead cyclists starts a campaign honoring the dead rider, and one aspect of his campaign is the color red. San Mateo police seize upon this single aspect to hijack the coach's campaign and use it as a ploy to harass cyclists who roll through stops in the anti-cyclist communities of Woodside and Portola Valley. Despite their best efforts, out of thousands of cyclists who ride in this area, they only net a paltry 45. The overall costs of this action, at a time when California's budget is deeply in the red, are unknown. Also unknown were the number of motorists in the area who also rolled through the stop signs, were speeding, and were changing lanes without signaling.
My take on how this story should have been written...
I'd love to see more tickets written for motorists who roll through stop signs. They've taught me to walk across intersections very carefully. Who will teach them the perils of their recklessness before they mow someone down? Cyclists riding in packs through stop signs can be annoying, but they're not deadly.
A long thread has been running on the Portola Valley discussion board on Yahoo in the last 2 weeks, about bikes vs cars: some of this enforcement may be based on that. There's strong passion on both sides: riders are upset about near accidents and dangerous drivers; drivers are upset about being stuck at 15mph behind big packs of riders, who yell at drivers and hit cars with their fists, etc., all the while blowing through stop signs and otherwise not obeying laws that are inconvenient.
It seems both sides have a "I have a right to the road" attitude and there's no middle ground.
The bicyclists who ride side by side in a bike lane, with the outer rider frequently weaving out into traffic, are the ones I'd like to see ticketed more often. It's not only dangerous riding, it's obnoxious.
As for drivers, stop sign cruise-throughs are rightly targeted by these types of enforcement efforts. Ticket the entitled, I say.
I would like to clarify some misconceptions about the Honor the Stop program addressed in the article and some of the comments herein:
1) It is NOT accurate to say these institutions "took over the idea"…I've spent hundreds of hours in meetings, handing out bands, attending town meetings etc at my own expense, working with the officers (CHP, Sheriff, Police, CalTrans etc) in the field showing them how to pledge, and paying for the wristbands. We have personally pledges a few thousand individuals (cyclist, pedestrians, motorcyclist and mortorists alike). Honor the Stop is for all roadway users.
2) And it was my idea to organize the enforcement scheme which was implemented. It is accurate that I was not informed of the specific date(s), but it was discussed at length a few months ago. The wristbands were donated to sheriff's office from the Town of Woodside who purchased 5000 bands.
3)The idea for the wristband began a year before Kristy and Matt were killed. There was an article in the San Jose Mercury News about a concept I had be thinking of for some time with regards to the increasing tension among cyclists and motorist. As a coach, I have always required full compliance in obeying the roadways laws. And every client I've worked with knows my insistance on this is not casual. The deaths of Kristy and Matt caused me to take the action of creating Honor the Stop.
4) The Honor the Stop program is a simple message for all roadway users. And unfortunately, many people attempt to categorize the program as anti-cyclist and a power play by the law enforcement agencies. The truth is the Town of Woodside and surrounding areas are a magnet for cyclists of all skill levels. It is however, my goal that everyone who uses the roadways display respect for one another by obeying the roadway laws. Cyclists for a vasy majority do not obey the laws and perhaps, no more or less than motorists, but it is my concern for their safety that I advocate obeying all roadway laws.
I would like to offer to the pelotons for the locat bike clubs, teams and other groups of individuals who do not obey the laws a respectful challenge. That is, STOP and OBEY the laws and I believe we will all eventually find a way to share the roadways with courtesy for all users. The clubs, teams and groups of cyclists who regularly disregard the stop signs are setting a poor example for others and creating a environment whereby mortorist do not know whether you are going to stop or not. If the team, groups, and clubs agree to stop at ALL signs and lights then the not so fast riders will not not so inclinded to run the sign to bridge the gap to the peloton.
Again, Honor the Stop is a simple message and if children who I've pledged "get it" then, perhaps there's a chance adults will too.
I hope people will come together to obey the laws not matter what mode of transportation they use. Honor the Stop is NOT a divisive program, but rather an opportunity for everyone to respectfully share the roadways.
All the best,
Founder, Honor The Stop
Being safe on the roads is dependent on other drivers/riders behaving predictably.
I don't panic when I go through an intersection because I operate under the assumption that everyone on the road knows which side of the road to drive on, how to stop at a red, go on a green, etc. There are the occasional distracted or negligent exceptions, but for the most part, drivers are pretty predictable.
I think the problem for most drivers is that bicycles are not predictable. Will they stay in the bike lane or veer into the road? Will they signal if they're turning? Will they stop at a stop sign? Do they want me to pass them, or do they want me to creep along behind them? Should I treat the bicycle as another vehicle, or as I would a pedestrian?
That uncertainty causes a lot of problems. If bicyclists obeyed the same traffic rules as motor vehicles, I think it would help improve safety and reduce road rage a lot.
Three cheers for that last comment about the importance of bicyclists being predictable.
That uncertainty about what a cyclist is going to do is a big factor in what irritates me as a driver sharing the road with cyclists, and I ride my bike to work every day. Who do they think they are? Where is their concern for the well-meaning person who happens to be behind the wheel of a potential killing machine while they ride on with impunity?
I like to think I'm predictable to drivers because I behave as if I were in a car and stop at stop signs. But then, maybe I'd be more predictable if I blasted through them because I see that all the time.
I agree that bike riders need to be as predictable as possible, including stopping at stop signs. But I am alarmed by an increasing number of motorists who roll right through the stop bar and marked pedestrian crosswalks at intersections, look in only one direction, and don't stop fully at all. This includes in the middle of town. Part of the problem is bad driving. There should be a lot more ticketing.
Another part of the problem is lack of enforcement of city requirements to trim vegetation at corners so that there is a safe view triangle. Unfortunately, even the city is negligent in this regard - look at downtown intersections, the library parking lot entrances.
The title of this article is incorrect. It was not a "fatal bike accident". It was not an accident at all because it was predictable and preventable (that is why the department accepted blame and settled the family's claim out of court). Also, it was the car that caused the fatality, not the bikes or bicyclists. A better title would have been "fatal car collision". The resulting "safety" campaing is a non-sequitor when the article is titled correctly.
I think we all can agree that yapping on cell phones is not conducive to good driving. But what about cell phone-using cyclists? If you're on the road, you need to be extremely aware of what's going on around you, something that's even more important for a vulnerable bicyclist.
Maybe there should be a ban on hand-held cell phone use on bicycles as well as cars.
I drive the Skyline Blvd/Woodside Rd/Potola Rd/Sandhill Road everyday up and down and I think cyclists give way to much credit to drivers. You are trusting your lives to drivers who are not all rocket scientists. I don't think people are trying to brush you or run you off the road, it is hard to judge on these windy, narrow roads the speed the bike is going, how far away the next curve is in the road is the bicyclist somewhat steady not swerving all around, will the bicyclist move over when the road gets a little wider up ahead, should they, pass shouldn't they, is there enough time? You have beginner drivers, people who hardly ever drive in the mountains, people who just have poor judgement...I wouldn't trust my life to those people.
On the other hand many cyclist aren't that great riders they go over the center line, they go too fast, they seem oblivious to what is happening around them. The good rider who is aware of his surroundings, sees there is a good place ahead for the cars to pass him and actually moves over a bit, is rare and far between.
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