Bicycle Chaos Around Town, posted by Local Driver, a resident of the Portola Valley: other neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2011 at 9:16 pm
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?
Posted by cc, a resident of the Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2011 at 12:44 pm
This happens all the time:) I have been involved in a similar situation, and just did not move my car until all the cyclist went away! The other driver's behind me were furious at the cyclists' behavior... I can only hope in the future the cyclists pull this stunt in front of a sheriff!
Posted by A Cyclist, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, 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.
Posted by Central Menlo, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2011 at 12:48 pm
I find it surprising too, how many bicyclists (young and old) sit on their bikes at intersections, waiting for traffic to stop, or clear, so they can cross the street. Intersections AND crosswalks.
The answer here, is as simple as getting off the bike to walk across. The vehicle code is very good to pedestrians and the law says, stop, so they can cross. Of course, bicyclists on their seats should follow the vehicle code. It's a different story if they're walking and pushing their bike.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2011 at 12:53 pm
Cyclist - thanks for a great posting. In particular your astute observation "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."
Posted by Central Menlo, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2011 at 12:53 pm
My last post (above): intended for our school children, more than anyone. If they know the law at intersections (and choose to walk, rather than ride across), this should street-crossing safer. Provided they make sure 1) to look, 2) wait until all traffic stops, 3) watch for end-runs by any impatient drivers.
Posted by jeannine, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2011 at 1:12 pm
Canada Road is AWFUL!!! The bicyclists are a nuisance and ride in clumps constantly running stop signs and then getting upset at the drivers that have actually stopped at a stop sign, with their turn signals on, as they blast through by nearly getting hit.
The final straw:
Driving, when an ambulance and fire engine were coming toward me. I signaled to pull over, (AS IS THE LAW!!!!) but the cyclists? NO. They would not let me over. That clump of riders kept on going, because, you see, the rules of the road do not seem to apply to cyclists in big groups - apparently. Yet they want to be treated fairly? LEARN THE RULES OF THE ROAD.
Posted by Local Driver, a resident of the Portola Valley: other neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2011 at 2:12 pm
Thank you for responding.
1. Yes, it was Saturday morning, so that must have been the Spectrum group. They did spill out into the roadway and they did impede traffic that had the right of way.
2. Actually, I was not pulled way forward. I am a pretty benign driver and I drive a pretty benign car. I had my front bumper at the white line, like you're supposed to. No, though bicyclists didn't seem to be focusing at all on where the cars were. They seemed to be chatting to each other. They ended up in the middle of Portola Rd. (as in, on the centerline, rather than in their lane.) I think they just cut the corner because it was easier. They truly seemed completely oblivious to traffic.
3. It is hard to describe what these folks did. They started to turn left onto Sand Hill, then instead they started to do a u-turn in the northbound lane of Portola Rd. and started biking in circles in the middle of that lane while talking/waving/gesturing to their friends.
The whole scene was so chaotic that it would have been funny, except that it was dangerous. As a driver, I felt like I do when I am driving past a group of equestrians (I always slow down because you never really know what a horse might suddenly do) or when driving near a school with a lot of children walking on each side of the road. Only these people were not horses, nor were they children. They were adults who were acting as unpredictable as horses and as inattentive to their surroundings as children.
I'm glad there was one couple demonstrating that safe biking is possible. I just wish more riders were like them.
Posted by WhoRUpeop;e, a resident of another community, on Jan 10, 2011 at 2:47 pm
First, to Cyclist, you are a marvelous exception to the rule. I now must modify my usual response to cyclists "they are all self-centered jerks" to add "except one". No I don't like cyclists. I do have a suggestion--if the Spectrum Ride goes on every Saturday, and this is typical of the behavior of the [portion removed] that right in it, then everyone, send a message to the SM Sheriff's office and demand that they sit out there next Saturday and every Saturday and write these idiots up until they stop it!
Posted by Fed Up, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2011 at 2:53 pm
To "A Cyclist": 'the group has been around for "ages"? Really? Because I've lived here for 30+ years, which come nowhere close to "ages", and this pack-cycling problem is a relatively recent development - no more than 8-10 yrs. at most in Wdsd., as I used to take leisurely rides on my own bike in Town (no longer!).
To all the other cyclists: why is this always about your safety fears? Do you have any idea how horrific it would be for the driver to hit one of you? I'm sure there are those who fantasize about running you down, but no one in their right mind would want to put themselves in the position of having hit a cyclist, pedestrian, child, horse, dog, - hell, I even brake for squirrels, if possible.
Grow up. Ride responsibly. Realize that you are putting ALL of us at risk. Also, realize that the streets and roads of our towns are NOT your personal training circuits.
And to those cyclists who do ride responsibly and courteously...
Posted by Arch Conservative, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2011 at 3:12 pm
Most, not all, pack cyclists are prime candidates for Darwin Awards. Especially those who dress in those funny outfits advertising almost everything. They are a menace on the roads, because they feel that the "rules of the road" just don't apply to their elitist status.
Posted by A Cyclist, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2011 at 3:56 pm
To "Fed Up": I don't know exactly how old the Spectrum ride is, just that it's been around for at least 5-10 years (I haven't lived here that long, so to me I guess it seems like "ages", since I haven't even been alive for 30 years. Sorry if I'm too young to have an opinion). As for our fears, I think they're justified - yes, it would be horrific for a driver to be in a fatal accident, but it's more horrific for a cyclist to actually be killed because a driver didn't see them. I can't count the number of drivers I've seen just drift into the bike lane, often on curves on the road, and every time I think about what would have happened if I had been 20m up the road where they swerved into where I could have been. And then there are those drivers who use their handheld cellphones illegally - yes, I think our fears are justified. Until drivers stop driving distracted and realize that they are not the only users of the road, I will continue to voice my fears.
To "WhoRUpeople": Thanks for not calling me a self-centered jerk. I wish I could introduce you to the many cyclists I know who are also not self-centered jerks. As for enforcement, this is a tricky one. Personally, I think all states should adopt Idaho's stop-sign law - the one that says cyclists may yield at stop signs, removing the need to actually stop unless there is traffic coming. I also happen to think that most stop signs don't need to be stop signs - if there is full visibility, only a yield should be required from all road users, but that's an argument for another day. However, as you suggested, the cops do like to sit/hide by stop signs along group ride routes and ticket large groups of cyclists. This is actually unfortunate, because they end up ticketing not only the dangerously fast-moving cyclists but also the cyclists who roll through stop signs at less than 5 mph. I say this is unfortunate because it's discrimination - very few cars come to a complete stop at stops signs, most of them roll through. But a cop will sit there and ticket only the cyclists, just because a cyclist didn't put their foot on the ground, even though they slowed to nearly stopped. I think the solution is to either relax stop sign laws or to have strict, equal enforcement.
To "Arch Conservative": Please don't generalize so much. Most of my friends and I are included in "those who dress in those funny outfits advertising almost everything", and we are generally neither a menace or particularly likely to die (unless a drunk driver takes out a whole pack like this: Web Link). Yes, some packs of cyclists feel that they don't need to stop, but when there are other cars at a stop sign or they hit a light that's already red, they almost always stop until it's their turn. And FYI, our funny outfits are simply comfortable clothes for riding that don't flap around in the wind, and they're covered in advertising because we have sponsors who support us in our racing efforts.
Posted by Cocerned, a resident of the Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2011 at 4:15 pm
I have lived here over 25 years and have seen and heard of all kinds of sloppy riding. I'm not sure when the "good" cyclist above says they tend to "bend or break" traffic rules? I'm always curious since cars can kill bike riders. And I happen to know of a young man who hit a bike rider and the rider was found at fault--it didn't matter this devastated him. When you live out here (I take it you don't as it said you were from Menlo Park) you have no idea what we live with really every day as there are the lunchtime group rides as well. The weekends are just worse. I can site so many other times like when two friends of mine were riding horses and the horses got into the. herd mentality as there were so many bikes and both women (expert horse riders) were almost killed. There is no way to limit the amount of riders and finally groups are supposed to post when they are riding through both Woodside & Portola Valley as a result of this near death accident. I have a feeling they "bend" that requirement as well. I of course would never be hostile to a bike rider and in fact drive a Prius and always beep when I am near bikes as they can't hear me, but I've had plenty of bikers hostile to me. The game is in the car driver's favor I just don't get the crazy behavior then the blame goes to the car if there is an accident. I'm curious that none of the bike riders that were on that ride have posted. Seeing a headline like that in the Almanac would get all kinds of responses if the driver had been obeying the law and just going when he could. Suppose they think it's this driver's problem and they are not going to change anything. It just puts a bad taste in my mouth. At least as we say "man and/ or woman up" say why you did it and own it. Clearly you think it's fine. Own it. I also wonder if they would be just fine if their young children rode this way.
Posted by Fed Up, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2011 at 5:20 pm
Back to "A Cyclist": Geez. I never stated you were 'too young' to have an opinion (don't care about your age) or that you couldn't voice your fears. Read my post again - nothing in it about those things. But if you ride with the same attitude you're conveying here, you're probably cruisin' for a bruisin' of your own making.
As for your suggestion that cyclists should be allowed to roll through stop signs, do you even know why there is a stop sign on Canada Rd. at Glenwood Avenue in Wdsd? I'm pretty sure you do; it's the one that so many cyclists regularly disregard, consider a nuisance, just a ticket trap.
It's there because in the mid-80's a child on a bike was killed by a car driving south on Canada (well below the speed limit). My now grown daughter's high school friend was the driver; the mother of the kindergartener was a friend of mine who lived in the Glens. The lasting outcome was tragedy for everyone involved. And you want to undo the small measure of safety that a stop sign can create? You have no idea.
Drop the Road Warrior attitude and think about it. Seriously.
Posted by Old Cyclist, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2011 at 5:24 pm
I ride that part of the Loop every Saturday. Quite often cars are speeding down Sand Hill Road towards Portola Road. Sometimes we have to stop and wait for several cars to go by before we can turn left onto Mountain Home. Drivers can show a little consideration to those of us who are not breaking any laws by slowing down, maybe even stopping so we can cross. Better yet, perhaps some of the drivers can get their fat tails out of their cars, get some exercise, and enjoy the scenery.
Posted by WTF, a resident of the Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2011 at 5:30 pm
Yesterday morning I was driving on Alpine Rd from Bianchini's Market towards my home on Alpine just past 280. I was hoping to go for a bike ride, and as I stopped at the 4 way stop at Alpine and 280 I observed two sets of cyclists. The first set consisted of 4 cyclists who were coming up behind me on my right, and the second set consisted of two cyclists approaching the intersection at the opposite corner headed towards Bianchini's. All were adults, and to my horror I watched the four cyclists on my right side roll right through the stop sign and pass my stopped car, and the second set of cyclists slowed (but didn't stop) and then proceeded to do the same!
I hope that they read this, because I want them to know how angry and disgusted I am at them! It is YOU that are making cyclists look bad, and I'm pretty sick of it!
I want to point out that regardless of what those morons did there are many of us cycling that DO obey the traffic laws, are courteous and share the road. I went for my ride 10 minutes later and you can bet I stopped at that and all other stop signs along the way.
I had almost made it back home and was stopped at the red light at Juniper Serra and Alpine Rd when I was horrified once again. This time it was a car traveling very fast on Juniper Serra that completely ran the red arrow turning left onto Alpine Road. His speed was such that he made the turn very wide crossing the white line in the path where bikes ride.
Had I ignored the red light and rode through, I may have been nailed by the truck blowing through the arrow, who knows, but the point is that we are and there are good and bad drivers of every type of vehicle out there, and we all need to knock it the heck off!
Everyone needs to put their attitudes away and be respectful period. And would it really kill you to be a little nicer too? Seriously.
Posted by Local Driver, a resident of the Portola Valley: other neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2011 at 5:33 pm
I think you're being pretty reasonable, so I'm sorry to see that the rhetoric is heating up on this topic. I agree with you about cars drifting into the bike lane. I've seen it happen on my morning commute - in fact I saw it happen not long ago right where there was a fatal car-bike accident a couple of years ago and it gave me chills (the bad kind...) I think this guy was also talking on his cell phone, so you are doubly right about driving distractedly.
I disagree, however, with your assessment that most drivers roll stop signs. I've lived around here for quite a long time and know that rolling stop signs will get you a ticket, eventually.
I am not a member of the bicycle community, but as you are a member, it would be great if you could use this topic as a way to educate bicyclists on how hard so many of us drivers are trying to avoid you. We really don't want to hit you. The key is to drive, AND RIDE, defensively and courteously, just like we all learned back when we were teenagers.
Posted by Local Driver, a resident of the Portola Valley: other neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2011 at 5:38 pm
Dear "Old Cyclist":
I'd like to ask you to apologize for this statement, "Better yet, perhaps some of the drivers can get their fat tails out of their cars, get some exercise, and enjoy the scenery."
I am not fat. I do get exercise, just not the same way that you choose to exercise. Those folks, if they are speeding on Portola Rd., are going to get a ticket - it is a pretty well known speed trap. If they are not speeding, are you really asking that through traffic stop in the middle of the road and impede the flow of traffic so that you can make a left turn? We all have to wait to make a left turn because that's the safe way to make the turn.
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2011 at 6:48 pm
my statement was that the cyclists seen agregiously breaking the law are probably the same ones that bitch about drivers that are pissed at cyclists. You think maybe there's some likelihood of this being the case? Yes, I'm sure that there are plenty of cyclists that obey the law, unfortunately the behavior exhibitied by these particular cyclists paints all cyclists with a broad brush.
Posted by Zen driver, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2011 at 9:52 pm
I live on a tough road when it comes to cars and cyclists and have adopted several of my older neighbors' attitudes rather than begin to hate anyone (which could be so easy with how we car drivers are sometimes treated). One neighbor, who is in her late sixties, says she views being stuck behind a bike going five miles an hour up our road as an opportunity to practice being Zen. Another, in her mid-eighties, says she takes that time to appreciate all those well-muscled thighs. I have had bikers make me cry, bikers make me scared, and bikers make me angry, but I decided years ago to not let bikers (and this can go both ways) make me generalize or be a person I do not want to be. I offer my wise neighbors' advice in that spirit.
Posted by Entertained, a resident of the Menlo Park: Felton Gables neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm
To all participants in this discussion: Thank you! I appreciate the open and honest sharing of thoughts and opinions. However, moving forward, please re-read your words prior to posting and consider how you would feel if you were on the receiving end of the message. A little respect will go very far. In light of Saturday's shooting rampage in Tuscon and many other examples of rage, I would hate to learn someone snapped due to a statement here.
Posted by Peninsula Committee to build a Segregated Bike Lane, a resident of the Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm
A segregated bike lane of sufficient capacity would keep everyone safe and happy. Why not build one? Surely we have enough money and land.
I, for one, would love to ride my bike on our roads. However since a friend was killed by a motorist i haven't felt comfortable.
Integrated bike lanes aren't the answer. There are studies that show that motorists actually drive closer to cyclists in a bike lane than they did when there wasn't one. It appears that drivers tend to consider bike lanes as an extension of the driving lane and drift towards it.
Posted by skintight, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2011 at 2:02 pm
I used to ride my bike but no more. I don't encourage my kids to ride their bikes either. The roads don't feel that safe for anyone.
Yes, there are some bad drivers, but the percentage of inattentive or dangerous drivers is pretty small, and you can usually spot them from a 1/2 mile away. The percentage of bicyclists that bike irresponsibly (not including solo bicyclists) is well over 90% by my unscientific anecdotal observation.
What irritates me is the moral high ground that some bicyclists seem to take. "We're getting exercise and you're not so we have a right to own the road." Yeah, whatever. Most of these bicyclists are not biking to work (ie taking a car off the road) but rather, enjoying a recreational activity in a manner that distresses others. Many of the rest of us get our exercise in settings that do not impinge upon the freedoms and rights of others. If you want to blow through stop signs, ride your bike in a gym. That's what I do.
Posted by Andreas Fluerlinger, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Jan 12, 2011 at 10:03 am
Although I am an avid cyclist, I see "recreational cycling" as an issue that has not been properly addressed by advocate groups, cycling clubs and racing teams.
Many riders logging countless miles on hazardous roads lose perspective of what is legal over what they may perceive keeps them safe.
And many occasional cyclists perceive themselves of being in a race where they are on a closed course and are unable control their temper.
But there are others out there who don't, so stereotyping is not a good thing, and we should focus on how we as cyclists can raise awareness about the issue.
If I were to sponsor a cycling team, I would make sure that it's member follow the law. As of now I do not shop at businesses that sponsor cycling teams that I have seen break the law).
I would support the education of cyclists (such as when they buy a new bike) on the laws and responsibilities they have. That would go a long way, since more often than not riders have no idea what rules and regulations apply to them (they are not pedestrians).
Lastly, I am all for enforcement. After all, if I am riding my bicycle, I am operating a vehicle and are subject to the vehicular code. So I do not think I am profiled if I do not follow the law. On the other hand I find some rules make not much sense (like the "foot down" rule).
Finally, if you come up on cyclists from behind,please do not honk. This is mostly perceived as hostile and can startle them.
Hope everybody can see that there are only a limited number of roads available to all of us. We should share them like adults and strive for improvement. Such as adopting and accepting alternative ways of transportation and recreation.
Posted by POGO, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Jan 12, 2011 at 7:30 pm
How do tens of thousands of people driving cars and thousands of people riding bicycles interact everyday in close proximity on our roads without problems?
I would humbly suggest that, despite everyone's best efforts and thoughtful suggestions, there will always be irrational, hostile people in cars and on bikes who behave badly. We have arrogant bicyclists who ignore laws that protect them and car drivers who won't pay sufficient attention to guiding their 3,000 pound steel projectile.
Respect and consideration isn't something you can legislate with new laws, signs, stripes on streets, or even overpasses.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community, on Jan 12, 2011 at 7:32 pm
Totally love how the cyclist responding says that Spectrum doesn't stop - those are their rules. Yes, rules that are in total opposition to *laws*. Of course, injury & death trump right of way because, well, they suck.
I'm a cautious driver & drive a lot on Stanford campus (another place that should hand out Darwin awards to cyclists). I'm married to a cyclist who never pulls the crapola you generally see. Life is challenging enough without out bad operators - of any kind of vehicle. I hope the Sheriff's Office does a good ol' bike sting on that group.
Posted by Donald, a resident of another community, on Jan 12, 2011 at 9:58 pm
If this behavior by the Spectrum ride is as dangerous as is claimed, then the cyclists should all be dead and the problem would be gone. The fact that they do it every week and survive means that it is not that dangerous. It is clearly illegal and, for some, annoying and aggravating but apparently not as dangerous as some people assert.
Posted by VIrginia, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2011 at 8:09 am
It is time to register bicycles and enact legislation that requires bicyclists to be licensed with a photo id, to use the state highways. This endless dilemma is primarily caused when people know they can proceed without accountability. Revenues associated with this can assist in bicycle education and bike lane creation and maintenance
Posted by Cautious driver, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2011 at 8:56 am
Most cyclists scare me. They are blithely bold and seem unconcerned about the traffic around them, leaving it to drivers of cars to take care of the safety of both cyclists and themselves. Often I have to skirt a cyclist by encroaching on the lane of oncoming traffic, endangering myself and my passengers. Cyclists are the more vulnerable ones; they should take better care of their own safety. I feel like a super tanker, even in my little car, maneuvering among the guppies. How long before weight and powerful collides with light and weak?
Posted by pedestrian in traffic, a resident of another community, on Jan 13, 2011 at 11:44 am
proposed solution says:
"Why can't we put the bicyclists on the pedestrian / horse trails along Alpine Road, away from the cars? For every pedestrian or rider there must be at least a hundred cyclists..."
a) because riders wouldn't ride for fear that cyclists would scare the horses and they would be uncontrollable, hurt people including the rider or themselves. There is already a controversy involving children bikers on that trail.
b)because pedestrians have a lot to fear from bikers who are in a stronger position and are not known for being road-lawful.
The end result of the Proposed solution would be that cyclists would have the path to themselves since no one else would venture. It is, of course, a solution for bikers and only for bikers.
Let me also correct Proposed solution- I see no hundred cyclists using Alpine Road everyday. I mean, people have jobs other obligations to attend or are bikers on an endless
leisure tim? So, the main use would be Sundays when we all, bikers, riders , pedestrians, flyer wagons, etc, want to be out and about exercising and enjoying the fresh air only the bikers would be able to be on the Alpine road trail. NICE !
Posted by Diane Miller, a resident of the Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm
I witnessed a pack" of cyclists run a stop sign on Woodside road in front of Robert's market. There was a deputy sheriff behind them with his light bar flashing, and made them all pull over. It made my day!
Posted by cyclist, a resident of another community, on Jan 13, 2011 at 1:32 pm
Dear "Cautious driver" - this " Often I have to skirt a cyclist by encroaching on the lane of oncoming traffic, endangering myself and my passengers." is exactly the problem. YOU are the one endangering yourself and your passengers. Cyclists are just like any other slow-moving vehicle, we have rights, we're allowed to use the roads too. Here's the thing - if there's no bike lane, then bikes have a right to use the right-hand side of the road, riding "as close as practicable" to the edge (meaning we can avoid potholes etc, but generally staying right). If the road is not wide enough for a car to pass staying in lane, and there's a double yellow line indicating no passing, then legally cars are not allowed to pass, because passing in a no passing zone is dangerous! Therefore cars passing bikes on narrow roads in no-passing zones is illegal and dangerous, and it's the driver's fault, not the cyclists. The solution for this is to widen the roads, and either increase the width of the lane, or add a bike lane.
Peter Carpenter, the fact that a cyclist has no chance against a huge metal machine also implies that cars should use extreme caution and obey the rules of the road when driving around cyclists (and pedestrians, etc)! It's a two-way street, everyone on the roads needs to be cautious and drive and ride where they're supposed to. The worst incidents usually occur when there's no marked place for bicycles to be (or occasionally a really badly designed intersection with bikes in even worse danger following the markings), and the cars simply assume that they have the right of way.
"Proposed solution" and "pedestrian in traffic" - as I see it, there are a number of huge problems with bike trails. Firstly, they have to be paved in order for most cyclists to prefer them to the road. Secondly, they either have to be extremely wide or prohibit pedestrians/horses, etc (I've had many a frustration ride on trails elsewhere involving clumps of baby strollers blocking the whole trail to somehow navigate around). Thirdly, at least some trails must have right-of-way over roads that they cross. See, as far as I can tell, most cyclists, whether going from point A to point B, or out on a training/pleasure ride, don't like stopping. This means we prefer routes with as few stop signs/lights as possible. It's extremely infuriating to have a nice empty path which can accommodate 25mph bicycle traffic, but have to stop literally every block or two to cross a road that takes precedence over the path. That's why riding on roads like Alpine is nice, because the bike lane there generally allows for high-speed bicycle traffic with few stops (except for the parts where the bike lane shrinks). So I think the best solution is to make sure for all of our sakes, that the best roads for riding can accommodate both bikes and cars, by maintaining and installing bike lanes of proper width.
Posted by Karellen, a resident of another community, on Jan 13, 2011 at 1:43 pm
"Cautious" driver wrote:
"Often I have to skirt a cyclist by encroaching on the lane of oncoming traffic, endangering myself and my passengers. "
Moving over the center stripe when there is oncoming traffic is dangerous and illegal. You're the one who executed the unsafe pass, so why do you blame the cyclist? Next time slow down and wait until it's safe to proceed.
Your post reminds me of a previous "bike vs. car war" on this forum in which a lady hilariously wrote:
"Today I passed a bicycle doing more than 35 mph down Alpine Road - speed limits apply to bikers too. Can the police please cite people who speed on bikes or break the traffic laws in other ways?"
Posted by dan, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm
CVC 21656 states that:
"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."
For bicycles, it is completely safe to TURN OFF THE ROADWAY ONTO THE GRASS OR DIRT and thus when you have 5 vehicles behind you, you are REQUIRED BY LAW TO DO THAT.
(in case you are wondering, cvc 21200 ensures that cyclists are subject to cvc 21656 as drivers of vehicles are)
Posted by Carol, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2011 at 3:04 pm
Yes! In my car, completely stopped at an intersection, my car was run into & over by an out-of control cyclist. All I could do was sit & watch while the lunatic made a bad turn at high speed, hit the side of my car & landed on my hood.
Also recently saw a family bike ride setting a horrible example for its children. Dad blew through a stop sign while making a left turn in front of me with no signal. One child followed. Mom hesitated then followed, towing the tot cart. Next child followed. Oh, & Dad flipped me the bird as he went in front of me.
Last week in rain, 5:15 pm, so'bound El Camino between Stockbridge & Isabella, 2 men side by side, only 1 in the bike lane, neither in helmets. Dumb?
Has anyone noticed that some cyclists wearing noise-canceling earphones with their iPods probably don't hear traffic sounds around them? Seems both dumb & dangerous to me.
I cycle, I drive. I walk my bike across the street at crosswalks or yield my right-of-way to cars. I think the break in momentum & need to start again keeps me from having a fat a**.
Posted by Local Driver, a resident of another community, on Jan 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm
Several people make excellent points about the rights and responsibilities of bicyclists. One cyclist comments that roads should be widened to allow for bike lanes. Some roads, like Hwy. 84 between Woodside Rd. and Skyline and between Skyline and La Honda, Old La Honda Rd., Pescadero Road, Alpine Road between Skyline and Pescadero Rd., are not going to be widened because the topography will not allow it. So, either bicyclists and cars peacefully co-exist on those roads with mutual courtesy, or those roads should be off limits for bicycles.
I know this will lead to howls of outrage, but "dan" makes an excellent point, above. Vehicles traveling on these roads are required to turn out when they impede traffic unreasonably, and the law defines that as 5 vehicles or more stacked up behind the slow moving vehicle. I know bicyclists don't like to stop (except when they want to, in which case, many stop very close to lanes of traffic, which seems dangerous to me), but shared use of these roads means just that "shared." It means that, as a driver, I may have to follow a slow bicyclist for a long way until it is safe to pass, but it also means that bicyclists should not EVER be riding side by side on those roads and should be willing to turn-outo when they impede traffic per the law.
I suggest that if bicycles practice courtesy and motorists practice patience, the problem will be solved.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community, on Jan 13, 2011 at 8:38 pm
Question to cyclists: given how dangerous it is & how many people you piss off & how much you all get pissed off at people, why do you ride?
I have had to greatly change or curtail things I love to do because they are dangerous. Because they weren't necessary to my existence I was able to do so.
I don't understand why so many cyclists continue to insist that their rights make might when they don't. Lobby for your own paths and to change laws since clearly so many feel that breaking laws constantly is the way to behave.
Is riding a bike a privilege as driving is? Can a judge decree a cyclist can't cycle? Or is cycling considered a right rather than a privilege?
Posted by Dharma, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2011 at 9:16 pm
A frequent response to issues like this is, we need another law! when what we need is enforcement of the laws on the books. Our area isn't too into traffic law enforcement except for speeding, the easy hit. Its time we asked the Sheriff to make his presence known a few more places (they are sometimes on Canada Rd on weekends or Portola on weekdays) and send a message - there are other rules of the road than vehicle speed.
Posted by cyclist, a resident of another community, on Jan 14, 2011 at 9:06 am
"Hmmm" - I cannot speak for others, but here's why I ride. Well, first, let me say that for all the fuss, riding isn't that much more dangerous than just driving - I bet that most people know someone who's been injured in a car crash, just as I know people who've been hit on their bikes. I'm careful, so generally I don't fear for my life except for the possibility of drunk or extremely careless drivers, who I could just as easily encounter in a car. Second, I do my best not to piss off drivers - Local Driver and dan, I do pull over as far as possible when the road is narrow, though I don't think I've ever had 5 cars behind me - usually they pass anyway. And third, I only get pissed at bad drivers, and I get just as pissed at them no matter what method I'm using to travel at the time (car, bike, walking). And finally, the reason I ride despite everything - I love it. It's a great form of exercise (and I say this not because I think everyone should do it, but because I've been athletic since I was 6 years old and would go crazy if I didn't exercise), and I also happen to be good at it. Ideally, I'll turn professional and race internationally sometime in the next couple of years. So most of my riding is serious training, though I also ride to work most days. For me, riding to work is about saving money and time - driving to work is slightly faster, but less efficient if I then also have to ride for an hour or two.
Currently, by law, cycling is a right, not a privilege. As far as I know, judges cannot remove cyclists from the road, the way they might revoke a driver's license, just as no license is required to walk on sidewalks. And I think it should stay that way. Think about it - why do you need a license to drive? There might be more reasons, but topmost in my mind is that a car is a deadly weapon, capable of doing serious damage to others on the road. Bikes are not a deadly weapon - even if a cyclist hit a pedestrian at full speed, both cyclist and pedestrian would survive.
Posted by pedestrian in traffic, a resident of another community, on Jan 14, 2011 at 9:32 am
cyclist, i appreciate why you ride and i don't begrudge your rights, but some stuff you say isn't right.
you say "Well, first, let me say that for all the fuss, riding isn't that much more dangerous than just driving"
yes, it is.there are plenty of stats on that.Cyclists are either 3.4x or 11.5x as likely to die as motorists, per passenger mile. these figures are not exact because sources disagree on the number of miles traveled by bike annually.
you say:"... why do you need a license to drive?... a car is a deadly weapon, capable of doing serious damage to others on the road. Bikes are not a deadly weapon - even if a cyclist hit a pedestrian at full speed, both cyclist and pedestrian would survive"
again you are wrong. even children on bikes can kill pedestrians. Impact that makes the pedestrian lose equilibrium is very likely with death or other serious consequences (besides the matter of insurance). Direct impact from a bikes have killed pedestrians and more than a few.
It is true that bikes do not pollute the atmosphere the way cars do but we are talking of primary causes of death.
Posted by dan, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2011 at 9:45 am
i can't speak for you, but i've never actually had a cyclist TURN OFF THE ROAD for me.
at most, they would get to the right, and start waving me to pass them, even while they are still in my lane! What part of TURN OFF THE ROAD do they not understand?
another pet peeve I have with cyclists are cyclists biking across crosswalks and believing they have the same rights as pedestrians. i honk at them and they give me the middle finger even when THEY are the ones who fail to yield.
the lack of respect of the rules of the road shown by cyclists really demonstrates why bicycling should be a privilege and not a right by law. the rules of the road only work when everyone on the road obeys them, and that includes cyclists. cyclists have very little incentive to follow them because they don't have a license to lose. this needs to change. if you want to share the road, you should be subject to the same licensing and registration requirements as vehicles. it doesn't matter if you can't kill someone with a bicycle. making someone inadvertently kill you is just as bad.
Posted by Jack, a resident of the Woodside: Woodside Glens neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2011 at 2:11 pm
I live on Canada Road. Fewer horse riders use the trail less and there is an increased number of cyclist now. Times change. When there were more horses on Canada, drivers & pedestrians knew how to be safe around them without rancor and no one I know ever wants to be involved in a car accident involving a bicyclist. Bikes are not built to protect their riders. Even though I use extra caution when cyclists are present, for awhile, I had to endure being "flipped off" by bikers when pulling in or out of my driveway on the weekends. This has subsided but the problem still is when I am on the road and there are as many as 4 bikers riding side by side in & outside of their bike lanes. When I swerve over the broken or double lines into oncoming traffic lanes to avoid causing possible collisions within their bike groups, or worse, my car, I now signal them, afterwards, with a friendly full hand (like a flight attendant pointing out the plane exits)at the line of their bike lanes. I always check in my mirror afterwards to see if they have "thinned" out enough to ride safely in their bike lane. I still get "flipped off" & cursed even though I just had to cross over the middle line of the road and risk my safety for theirs! I really believe there is an attitude with some cyclists in that they feel somewhat superior to cars & drivers while they are out cycling. Why disrespect someone who is just trying to drive their car safely and not hit you? I love to cycle long distances too. Please bikers, respect the laws on the public roads and stay in lane, stop at stop signs, and watch for cars. The rules are there for everyone's protection!
Posted by hmmm, a resident of the Portola Valley: Westridge neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2011 at 4:26 pm
Like the person above I'm also interested that no one on that ride last Saturday has posted again--why don't you own up to what you are doing and that you think it's fine? And would like your children to ride like that? Just want to echo--
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community, on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:41 pm
Thanks, cyclist, for responding. I hope that you stay safe & can make pro. I actually put safety first w/many of my interests, so I appreciate hearing another side. As a woman, I am cautious about where I go alone, when & that sort of thing. I often have a dog w/me & I no longer walk alone around the hills or the baylands. The nice thing is that w/owning several large dogs, I can sleep w/the windows open when I want. I'm no shrinking violet - I live in EPA but most of the freaks I've had to contend with weren't here - they were in Palo Alto. Love that irony.
My husband cycles to work & was hit last year; it was the driver's fault. I cycled for many years but it just doesn't feel safe in this area to me anymore. I miss the times when there was less traffic, fewer cars. But wait... as a child I was hit on my bike & so was my brother; he was it by a Menlo Park cop. Separate incidents & neither of us were injured. But still, there was less traffic, fewer people, fewer cars & not aggressive cycling by pissed off packs of folks. Seems to me the drivers didn't have that crazy sense of entitlement that they do now. And since most cyclists also drive, that crazy sense also follows them onto the road.
I'd love it if the cops all over the peninsula increased ticketing people on handhelds while driving & cyclists for illegal moves. It would keep the coffers richer. Stay safe.
Posted by local, a resident of the Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley neighborhood, on Jan 15, 2011 at 7:04 am
how scarey it would be if horses & bikers shared the same trails? At least horseback riders have common sence & courtesy - If a herd of cyclists came upon a horse of two on the trails - better call 911 quickly because it would be a scary mess.
Posted by menlo mom, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Jan 15, 2011 at 8:00 am
I have a teen who is a new driver and travels twice daily up Sand Hill Road to get to her horse barn. Although she is careful and conscientious, our greatest fear is that a cyclist will do something dangerous and forever change all of our lives. 90% of my driving instruction with my daughter has been how to drive carefully and defensively around cyclists. Still, that may not be enough. This cycling behavior I have seen on weekends terrifies me. Unfortunately, the people that need to read this thread probably are not. I agree with a previous post, that sometimes the victim is the person behind the wheel. I see increased law enforcement ON WEEKENDS as the best solution at present; violations of code lead to accidents. Pure and simple.
Posted by pedestrian in traffic, a resident of another community, on Jan 15, 2011 at 10:45 am
Cyclists sudden unexpected moves can throw off the most experience amongst us let alone a newly minted driver who by definition hasn't accumulated a lot of experience or an older person who might not possess the reaction time of youth. An experienced drive might anticipate because he/she had seen it before and an older or handicapped driver might not react well , but even experienced people can get a split second of confusion. Trusting that cars will by themselves be mind readers of cyclists strikes me as very arrogant. Unhappily, it's impossible to report a cyclist because bikes do not have license plates. Menlo Mom is right- we need enforcement but I also think we need dedicated trails just for bikes so that they don't need to share the road. Or else, if you share the road be licensed, insured and trained.
Posted by Local Driver, a resident of another community, on Jan 17, 2011 at 9:22 am
This is to "markm": I think you may be referring to my original post when asking how long the drivers had to wait at the intersection. First of all, let's take the driver who had to slow to almost a complete stop on Sand Hill, because of the bicycle pack that ran the stop sign and spilled out of the bike lane onto Sand Hill Road: That person had no stop sign or stop light. He/she was through-traffic on Sand Hill and had to come almost to a complete stop in the through lane because of the bicyclists' behavior.
As for the cars that were waiting at the stop sign to turn onto Sand Hill from Portola Rd., the whole thing happened over probably one minute. But the issue was not how long traffic had to wait. Cars often have to wait at that stop sign for vehicular traffic on Sand Hill to go by before it is safe to turn. The point was the the bicycle traffic (except for the one couple who were obeying the traffic laws) was erratic, not following any known rules of the road, and creating chaos at that intersection (hence the original title of the thread.)
I think that is the point that most reasonable motorists are trying to make to bicyclists. The problem, as we see it, is erratic and unpredictable behavior by bicyclists. If bicyclists (and motorists) follow the traffic laws, including yielding, stopping at stop signs, turning out, and riding single file, traffic would flow more smoothly and everyone would be much, much safer.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jan 17, 2011 at 10:55 am
Bicyclists would do well to consider the implications of this study:
Identifying Unsafe Driver Actions
that Lead to Fatal Car-Truck Crashes
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
"In collisions between passenger vehicles (which include various types of vehicles; hereafter, “cars”) and large trucks, the structural properties and greater mass of large trucks put the occupants of the cars at a disadvantage—98% of the deaths in fatal two-vehicle crashes involving a car and a large truck were among occupants of the car (FMCSA 2001).
"Many crashes between cars and large trucks occur because a maneuver performed by one of the vehicles is unanticipated by the other, leaving insufficient time to avoid the crash. In some cases, a maneuver performed by a car near a large truck may carry a higher crash risk than the same maneuver performed near another car. Similarly, a large truck may perform a maneuver that carries
low risk of a crash near another truck in the traffic stream, but a higher risk when performed near a smaller vehicle. One reason why some car drivers perform unsafe maneuvers near large trucks may be that they simply do not know the risks associated with driving near trucks."
It seems that these pack riding cyclists do not appreciate the risks of riding near automobiles. Hopefully it won't take a serious injury or death to educate them about the risks that they are taking by their illegal and unwise behavior.
Posted by Law-abiding cyclist, a resident of another community, on Jan 18, 2011 at 6:56 pm
I bicycle through Portola Valley on a regular basis. All cyclists should obey the rules of the road, including stopping at stop signs, signaling their intentions, etc. I avoid riding with big groups as "group dynamics" often leads to doing unsafe or illegal things, such as running stop signs.
However, others have pointed out that there is a "foot down" rule for stopping at a stop sign. There is absolutely no such rule in the DMV handbook. A cyclist must come to a complete stop at a stop sign, just like a driver must do, and then can proceed when the intersection/road is clear. The rules for cyclists are identical to the rules for drivers. If there were such a rule requiring "foot down" at a stop sign, then it would apply to motorists, too. It's easy to imagine how ridiculous that would be.
I was ticketed at the Portola/Alpine Rd stop sign even though I had come to a complete stop, but because the office approaching behind me in his car did not see me put my foot down. It seemed that he was just making a statement for the neighborhood, showing he was on top of the cyclist problem regardless of whether or not the law had been broken.
As for which is worse: the emotional distress for a motorist who hits a cyclist or the physical injuries to the cyclist? I think that's a no-brainer.