News

PV mayor: Time to get serious about bike safety

 

Among the significant topics scheduled for the June 8 Portola Valley Town Council meeting, Mayor Ted Driscoll has prepared a 1,000-word analysis on the issue of bicycle safety in town. Mr. Driscoll's object: to engage the council and the public in a discussion leading to a regular forum, perhaps a bicycle committee, for dealing with the issues.

The council meets at 7:30 p.m. in the Historic Schoolhouse at 765 Portola Road. The bicycle discussion is the first item on the regular agenda.

Other items: a review of the proposed budget for the fiscal year that

begins July 1, and possible adoption of a new ordinance to regulate commercial activity on Town Center property.

Mr. Driscoll begins his paper by noting the international renown of the Alpine-and-Portola-Road loop, which was included in a bicycle touring guide he found in a London bookstore.

Go to this link and turn to Page 28 to review the paper.

While bike traffic on this loop has risen significantly over the past decade and the demographic of the riders has changed, the roads are as they were, he said.

Case in point: No bike lanes. Both roads have fog lines to mark the edges of the traffic lanes, and the distances to the edge of the pavement are inconsistent, as is their potential to be dangerous to cyclists.

As Mr. Driscoll understands the law, he said, no vehicle can be required to travel to the right of a fog line, though bike traffic could have a mandate to be over there if there were designated bike lanes.

Many bicyclists are acutely aware of this distinction and take advantage of it, to the frustration of many motorists who think that the white line indicates a bike lane. In a situation in which motorists and cyclists collide, the cyclists always lose, and "the cyclist's loss is great," Mr. Driscoll added.

Also aware of the fog line niceties are deputies from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office. Lacking the resources to address the nuances of this issue, they concentrate on ticketing cyclists who blow through major stop signs, Mr. Driscoll said.

The town has easements that "extend well beyond the current edge of pavement," he said; perhaps an incremental approach to widening the roads is what's called for.

All the parties need to meet and talk, Mr. Driscoll said. "The goal should be to reduce tensions with the cycling community and seek to maximize safety and minimize conflict."

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by danger zone
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jun 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm

I'm not sure what this "take advantage of it to the frustration of motorists" is supposed to mean. If the width of the shoulder is inconsistent, then bicycling there can be dangerous. All of the bicycle safety guides say that bicyclists should strive to ride in a predictable line instead of jumping in and out of an inconsistent shoulder.

Didn't Portola Valley used to have bike lanes on Portola Road? Back around 1990, someone took down all the "bike lane" signs and scraped all the "bike lane" paint off the road. Why did that happen?


Like this comment
Posted by Cyclist
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2011 at 2:45 pm

The "fog line" designates the legal boundary of the road. A bicyclist (just like motor vehicle) doesn't have to ride to the right of the fog line, as it is dangerous.

This is NOT trying to "take advantage of it to the frustration of motorists". This is self preservation.

I might add that if the lane is not wide enough to safely allow two vehicles to ride side by side (e.g. 14 feet from fog line to center of center line), we cyclists are then legally allowed to "take the lane" to prevent a vehicle from passing us unsafely.

"Also aware of the fog line niceties are deputies from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office. Lacking the resources to address the nuances of this issue, they concentrate on ticketing cyclists who blow through major stop signs, Mr. Driscoll said."

If I get a ticket from a police officer for "blowing through a major stop sign" I will stay there and observe the officer to make sure he also pulls over motorists when they "California Stop" that intersection.

After all, Isn't the law supposed to apply to everybody?


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 7, 2011 at 3:07 pm

As a frequent bike rider on Alpine and Portola roads, I have no problem whatsoever stating to the right of the fog line. None.

The notion of regularly riding to the left of the fog line, in the traffic lane, seems to me to be representative of a bicycling community hellbent on asserting its rights and damn the consequences. The ethic seems to be "Take one for the team" and ride in the traffic lane or on the fog line itself.

Things work much better all around when bicyclists stay to the right of this line.

There is just one place -- on northbound Portola Road near the shopping mall -- where the fog line and road width are so tight as to necessitate riding a bike to the right of the line. I defy any cyclist to argue this point, assuming of course that you're riding single file, or even in pairs for the most part.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 7, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Sorry. I meant that near the mall on Portola Road is the only place where the road/fog line is so tight that the cyclist must ride to the left of the fog line to avoid going off the pavement entirely.


Like this comment
Posted by Not as slow as Joe
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Joe, I have to go left of the fog line to pass you as you mosey along.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 7, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I'll see your point "Not as slow as Joe" and raise you a beta blocker that forces me to mosey.

Of course, people can pass each other. I was referring to situations that don't involve passing.


Like this comment
Posted by Bob Shanteau, Transportation Engineering Liaison, California Association of Bicyling Organizations
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2011 at 5:33 pm

There are two issues here: Slow moving bicyclists who do not turn out on two lane roads to allow faster traffic to pass and motorists who violate the basic speed law by driving too fast for conditions.

Section 21656 of the California Vehicle Code requires drivers of slow moving vehicles on two-lane highways (i.e., all public roads) behind whom there are 5 or more vehicles to turn out at the next safe opportunity to allow the following drivers to pass. It is courteous, however, to turn out even though there are fewer than 5 vehicles following.

At the same time, CVC 22350 (the basic speed law) says that drivers shall not drive faster than is safe for conditions. In particular, a driver shall not overdrive his/her sight lines, such as on a "blind" curve.

CVC 21200 says that bicyclists have all the rights and are subject to the all the provisions of drivers of vehicles (except those provisions that by the very nature have no application) so bicyclists are subject to both the the 5 vehicle law and protected by the basic speed law.

---
CVC 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.

CVC 22350. No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.

CVC 21200 (a) A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle ... except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 8, 2011 at 9:44 am

The idea that because I ride my bike slowly to the right of the fog line, I should be required to do something other than stay to the right when other cyclists come up behind me is ridiculous on its face.

No one said or even hinted that fast cyclists aren't allowed to the left of this line to pass slow bikes. In fact, it is not a bike lane and cyclists can take the traffic lane.

All I'm saying is that, in the interest of getting along with drivers, cyclists taking the lane should be an exception not a regular routine. Yes they are entitled. So what?


Like this comment
Posted by Jimmae
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jun 8, 2011 at 11:10 am

Only thing I'll chime in with, is that if bicyclists had an option of riding on some of the dirt paths that parallel many of the paved roadways within PV, they might utilize these paths to get off the pavement.
One old roadway in particular that is signed as "off limits" to bicyclists is the Alpine rd-Firethorn wy-Los Trancos rd connector.
Another is the trails that parallel the North side of Alpine rd west of Willowbrook..small connectors that could make the beginnings of a difference in thinning the ranks of cyclists inhabiting the paved roadways.
With input from the horse+cyclists communities in how to ensure design(adequate lines of sight,educational signage) features that minimize potential conflicts, these trails could serve as a piece of the puzzle to increase cyclists safety






Like this comment
Posted by in traffic
a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2011 at 6:38 am

I, for one, would like to know what laws is Cyclist referring to when she/he says :

..." A bicyclist (just like motor vehicle) doesn't have to ride to the right of the fog line..."
..." might add that if the lane is not wide enough to safely allow two vehicles to ride side by side (e.g. 14 feet from fog line to center of center line), we cyclists are then legally allowed to "take the lane" to prevent a vehicle from passing us unsafely."

Please, educate us.


Like this comment
Posted by pedestrian
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 9, 2011 at 6:52 am

there is no mention of the safety of pedestrians. Schools is out soon & children will be crossing streets & walking on the roads. Can we address the issue of safety for those on foot?


Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 9, 2011 at 9:37 am

We still don't know what happened with this unfortunate accident.

Was the driver hit (or "buzzed") by a passing car or did the rider just lose control for some reason?

Let's not jump to conclusions too fast...


Like this comment
Posted by be safe
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 9, 2011 at 10:55 am

"traffic" asks about the laws:

since a bicycle is treated as a vehicle (I can cite code if you really need it), it is entitled to the same rights and responsibilities as an automobile, which means that it may use the roadway even in the presence of a lane specifically designated as a bicycle lane. However, as pointed out elsewhere on this forum if 5 vehicle stack up benhind it, the cyclist would be obligated to pull of the roadway at the first safe location.

V C Section 21202 Operation on Roadway
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.
Amended Sec. 4, Ch. 674, Stats. 1996. Effective January 1, 1997.


Like this comment
Posted by be safe
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 9, 2011 at 11:24 am

oops. errata and apology: I was wrong. If there is a desingated bicycle lane, cyclists generally need to use it:

V C Section 21208 Permitted Movements from Bicycle Lanes
Permitted Movements from Bicycle Lanes

21208. (a) Whenever a bicycle lane has been established on a roadway pursuant to Section 21207, any person operating a bicycle upon the roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride within the bicycle lane, except that the person may move out of the lane under any of the following situations:

(1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle, vehicle, or pedestrian within the lane or about to enter the lane if the overtaking and passing cannot be done safely within the lane.

(2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

(3) When reasonably necessary to leave the bicycle lane to avoid debris or other hazardous conditions.

(4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

(b) No person operating a bicycle shall leave a bicycle lane until the movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after giving an appropriate signal in the manner provided in Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 22100) in the event that any vehicle may be affected by the movement.
Amended Sec. 5, Ch. 674, Stats. 1996. Effective January 1, 1997.


Like this comment
Posted by Frusty
a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Jun 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Bikers are yakking away outside the bike lane or fogline whatever you call them regardless of any respect for drivers who have to slow down waiting for them to pass safely . They never stop on stop signs specially school times. They should be ticketed regularly . I have seen them throw trash on the sides and stuff it in the newspaper sleeves. I think the local resident bikers have a different attitude versus from other area . They are rude and mean .


Like this comment
Posted by be safe
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 9, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Frusty --

First, it's not a bike lane unless it is properly signed and marked as a bike lane. If it's just the fogline and shoulder than the cyclist is fully entitled to exercise his legal right to the roadway.

Secondly, I don't think that it is fair to generalize about cyclists any more than it is about any other generic group. Sure some are rude and ignorant, but in my humble opinion that is a minority. When auto drivers are rude and aggressive, they risk causing great bodily injury to others, which is seldom the case with cyclists (where the physical risk of bodily harm is mostly to themselves).

If you want to generalize, I daily see the majority of people driving on the freeway exceeding the posted speed limit. Why aren't you out making a fuss about these rampant lawbreakers risking not only their own lives but the others around them.

Anyway, maybe it's something to think about....


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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