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Ask the deputy

Original post made on May 13, 2009

Q. Do cyclists have to obey vehicle laws?

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, May 13, 2009, 12:00 AM

Comments (17)

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Posted by Jack Lord
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 13, 2009 at 7:06 am

[Post removed due to the poster's continual violations of the Terms of Use.]

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 13, 2009 at 11:33 am

Most of the bikers I come across do not follow the rules of the road. They don't stop at stop signs, they cross the solid white line and more. I wish there were more police officers around to cite anyone who violates the rules.

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Posted by A cyclist
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 17, 2009 at 11:36 am

"Bikers" are motorcyclists.
Bicyclists are cyclists.

I also wish there were more police officers around to cite those who break the laws, such as motorists who while driving, talk on their hand-held phones, drive in the bicycle lanes, turn right in front of cyclists who are in the bicycle lane, turn left in front of advancing cyclists and not to mention the sheriff who fell asleep at the wheel, killing cyclists on Stevens Creek Road.

There are as many rule-breaking cyclists as there are rule-breaking motorists. It's not a perfect world.

Let's slow down, be mindful, observe the rules and leave the cell phones at home.

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Posted by Crash Jenkins
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on May 18, 2009 at 11:52 am

Leaving the cell phones at home goes for everyone, motorists and cyclists alike. It's hazardous out there -- your full attention should be on the road and your surroundings.

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Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on May 19, 2009 at 9:10 am

When you're on your bike, always make sure you stand up for your rights, even if you end up getting creamed. Making sure you get the right-of-way when you deserve it is more important than staying healthy.

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on May 19, 2009 at 10:55 am

Jim's comment perfectly exemplifies the biggest difference between cars and cyclists.
It's unfortunately common for drivers to break laws and/or just stop paying attention and KILL legally riding cyclists, but when was the last time you read about a cyclist breaking a traffic law and killing someone in a car?
The level of risk one is assuming when breaking a traffic law or just not paying attention is VERY different for cyclists vs. drivers.


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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 19, 2009 at 2:42 pm

I saw a pack of bikers, about 20 people, blow through the stop sign at Ladera and 280 in Portola Valley. It almost caused a big accident.

Something has to be done about reckless bikers (not all bikers are reckless... just most that I encounter).

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Posted by Prof. R. Ville
a resident of another community
on May 19, 2009 at 9:24 pm

There are also many motorists who should be sent to Siberia for driving like idiots. That does not excuse dangerous or illegal behavior by anyone, whether in a car or on a bicycle.

The bicyclists in packs often seem to think that they are above the law, and that the rules of the road only apply to motor vehicles. Such an arrogant and elitist attitude! Joanna is right, the packs of miscreant bicyclists need a trip to the woodshed. I suspect that will be coming sooner rather than later, as the residents of Woodside and Portola Valley are generally intolerant of outsiders who go there and cause trouble. I don't blame them one bit. Who wants that kind of nonsense in their community?

Of far greater concern are bicyclists on Arastadero Road between Page Mill and Portola Road. Even the well-behaved bike riders present a significant hazard there. How many injuries and deaths need to occur before bicycles are banned from that stretch of road? Or is this one of those "we'll fix it after enough people die" situations?

Bicycle riding can provide health benefits (unless one does things one should not), is a pollution-free transportation alternative and even *gasp* fun. There are many law abiding, polite and responsible bike riders who are, in my opinion, excellent role models. Their reckless counterparts would do well to grow up and follow their example. The cost of not doing so could prove to be exceedingly high.

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Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on May 20, 2009 at 7:15 am

Didn't anyone else notice that the deputy got it wrong? Bicyclists aren't required to ride as close to the right edge of the road as possible. I'm not surprised he said that, because that is what he and his fellow deputies believe and the basis on which they ticket. I received one of those, took it to court and won. The ticket never would have been issued if the deputy understood what the law really says. Learn for yourself by going to
Web Link

The word "possible" never appears.

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Posted by member
a resident of another community
on May 20, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Here is the code:
"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."

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Posted by Tricia 59
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 20, 2009 at 1:01 pm

I guess I am one of those pretty careful and considerate drivers with a Golden Rule mentality. Being a past cyclist when I was younger, I can respect the Share the Road policy. But what really burns me is sidewalk bicyclists. I was struck by one such bicyclist recently while coming out of Guy Plumbing in Menlo Park. Walked out the door and this guy rode right into me. I fell down, and he rode away. I wasn't badly injured but I notice many such cyclists riding on sidewalks, or even the WRONG WAY on the side of the street too. NO ONE ever gets a ticket for this, EVER. These laws are scoffed at by bicyclists. They really don't care because they never get caught. WHERE ARE THE POLICE then?

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Posted by Jeannine
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 20, 2009 at 1:06 pm

I was driving on Canada Road on a Saturday and an ambulance came by with lights and sirens. There was a group of about 20- 25 bike riders and they would NOT pull over to yield for an emergency vehicle, which, in turn, blocked ME from pulling over. I had no choice but to slow and try to edge over. NOT COOL!

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Posted by steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on May 20, 2009 at 7:02 pm

I would like to comment on the bicycles traveling up and down King's Mountain Road in Woodside. For the most part the cyclists I come across are polite and careful but don't trust them to wave you by on blind corners (I'll take a look myself, thank you) and the down-hill riders have a habit of crossing the up-hill lane at times - usually on a blind corner - right in front of you.

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Posted by KM
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on May 21, 2009 at 6:36 am

Parents who teach their children to cycle the wrong way on one-way streets should not be upset when their children are hit by cars whose drivers could not have expected to see a bicycle coming toward them.

I have observed two very narrow escapes on Altschul (in one case, the child actually collided with an SUV's side mirror). When I warn children that they should obey the one-way signs, some of their parents scream obscenities at me. Others tell me that the signs don't pertain to bikes, or that it's out of the way to ride one block over to the Alameda. I'm just trying to save a life.

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Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on May 21, 2009 at 4:02 pm

One thing that it seems as if most people don't think about is that if there is an accident, and you are the one who was breaking the rules, you are the one who is legally at fault and liable for any damages. That means if I hit you with my car while you're on your bike running a stop sign, riding without lights at night or whatever, you pay for the dent your head makes when it whiplashes into my hood. This is why when I'm on my bike, I stop at the stop sign even when the motorist tries to wave me through. If I stop and
they end up hitting me, they pay for everything instead of me.

While we're on the subject, I'd like to tell a story about something that happened to me while driving my car. I was on a freeway off-ramp making a right turn onto the street the ramp connected to. As I looked to the left for oncoming traffic, I was looking directly into the sun and couldn't see the road. I was able to see reflections on the road surface that allowed me to determine that there were no cars in the lane, so I proceeded to make the turn. Suddenly there was a guy on a bike about ten feet from my door, pedaling right into me with a big grin on his face. I flinched and jerked the wheel just in time to avoid the collision. I came within about one second of the guy slamming into me. He was going to pedal his bike right into the side of my car, head first, because he had the right-of-way. I doubt that he ever figured out that I didn't even know he was there until just before he rammed into my car. What a dope.

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Posted by Local Cyclist
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 22, 2009 at 8:48 am

As a local cyclist who is interested in safe cycling, and encouraging both motorists and cyclists to understand some common concerns, I hope readers of this thread will look at this newsletter from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. Drviers, cyclists, parents, etc. can all benefit from these general tips for bicyclists,safety tips for bicyclists, and safety tips for motorists. Lots of useful links for more information, too.

Web Link

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Posted by driver
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 22, 2009 at 9:46 am

The other night I almost had a head-on collision with a cyclist who decided to cut diagonally across Alma by the library right near the intersection with Ravenswood. I was making a right turn from Ravenswood onto Alma and if I weren't always on the lookout for idiots, I would have hit him.

Just because there are fewer drivers at night does not mean that it's okay to ignore the laws and ride your bike in the middle of the street going the wrong direction.

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

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