Town Square

When are bicyclists ever going to get it?

Original post made by Renee Batti, associate editor of The Almanac, on Apr 12, 2007

The following letter by Ted Bache was published in the Almanac's April 11 print edition:
When on the road, car drivers and bikers are under the same rules.
On a recent Wednesday as we were heading to dinner at an Alpine Road restaurant, we came across a gaggle (30-40-50?) of our gaily-garbed cyclists pedaling furiously in and outside the bike lane. When they got to the stop sign at Portola Road, guess what? They flew through the stop sign. I am furious. This has to be stopped.
Ted Bache
Happy Hollow Lane, Menlo Park


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Posted by Donald
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Apr 13, 2007 at 9:15 pm

There is no bike lane on Alpine at that location. There is a shoulder stripe, and bicyclists are not required to ride on the shoulder. Why do you think this has to be stopped? Because it infuriates you, or because it is dangerous? I see many cars rolling through that stop sign also, but I have not seen any serious safety problems resulting from cars or bicyclists turning right without stopping. Perhaps the stop sign should be removed. We have so few peace officers in Portola Valley, I think they should be paying attention to things that are genuinely dangerous, not merely technical violations. There have been two fatal car crashes on Portola Road in the last year, the result of excessive speed and alcohol. That infuriates ME!

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Posted by anon.
a resident of another community
on Apr 13, 2007 at 9:39 pm

good point donald.
ted, try not to get so infuriated over trifle matters.


don't sweat the petty stuff, pet the sweaty stuff!

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Posted by Angela Hey
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Apr 17, 2007 at 10:23 pm

I totally agree. Driving a bike like a serious vehicle means:
1. Have a bell
2. Don't wear headphones when you bike
3. Bike single file - particularly on Alpine Road and don't talk when you bike
4. Have a mirror
5. Have lights both back and front (more than the law requires)
6. Stop at all stop signs
7. Drive on the right hand side of the road
8. Don't exceed bike speed limits (easy to do on the trail next to the Stanford golf course)
9. Give other cyclists a wide berth when passing
10. Use hand signals to signal

When I was at college in the UK the police regularly caught cyclists for biking on the sidewalk, not having lights, cycling when drunk and other offences. Offenders were fined or required to appear before a local magistrate (who might embarrassingly be a favorite professor).

There is absolutely no reason that the police cannot stop cyclists and give them a ticket as they do for drivers. Not having ID or a license is no excuse. Anyone can truthfully give their correct name and address to an officer - to lie would be deceitful and I hope none of our local bikers would trick a law enforcement officer by giving false information when apprehended.

Its not a question of giving police more money - they are often already around. Its just a case of going beyond the call of usual duty to make the place safer and catch scofflaws.

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Posted by Ted Bache
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Apr 26, 2007 at 11:05 am

And the same thing happened last night (Wed, 25 April, around 6:30) and there were even more bicyclists. I dunnoƑ50-60??

When the got to the stop sign at Alpine & Portola, they flew right through it. Then, because of their numbers, they took over the entire car lane of Portola Road! This is insanity!!

(Ted Bache)

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Posted by long time bicyclist
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Apr 26, 2007 at 4:30 pm

Mob behavior is objectionable in any form, even among bicyclists. Critical Mass in SF and the misbehaving Peninsula mob bicyclists do not speak for me. But motorists also comprise a mob, a giant and dangerous one in every city and town on this continent.

So my question for Ted Bache is, when are you drivers going to get it?

Every car trip is slowly poisoning us all, whether from exhaust emissions, tire and brake shavings, oil and fluid drips, battery disposal, or the gallons of water permanently polluted by each automobile during manufacture. Even you hybrid drivers are kidding yourselves.

Ultimate ecological morality is on the side of individual pedestrians and bicyclists, not the mobs of motorists who infect our living spaces. Yes, I drive a car and don't pretend to be better than anyone else when so doing. But every trip I take by bicycle is better than that same trip by car.

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Posted by Donald
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Apr 28, 2007 at 5:54 am

There is nothing illegal, or even unsafe, about a group of 60 bicyclists taking the whole lane on Portola Road. Why does this upset you?

Ted, imagine that a group of 60 bicyclists riding single file approached the stop sign and each and every one of them stopped at the line and looked around before proceeding, taking about 5 seconds each. It would be illegal for you to pass them and turn right across in front of them, so you would have to wait behind them. Would you be happy? I doubt it, because you would have to wait 5 minutes for the group to clear the intersection!

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Posted by One who gets it
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 28, 2007 at 9:46 pm

Some of you bicycle zealots miss the point.

When dozens of you go out riding together, you are participating in recreation. You have no right to hog the road or flout the safety laws. Your sanctimonious rants about your non-polluting bikes miss the point: you're out there solely for your own amusement. When you get your bikes back home, you hang them in a garage, then hop into your Hummers to go to the grocery or to work.

Bicyclists who use their bikes to go to work or school, and who therefore truly are helping our environment, don't ride in packs; they also tend to obey traffic laws. Reread Angela's post about using a bike as a serious vehicle rather than as a plaything.

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Posted by long time bicyclist
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Apr 29, 2007 at 11:48 am

My sanctimonious rant about my non-polluting bike stems precisely from not being out there solely for my own amusement. (There is always an amusement and health component to bike riding, even for errands, but I guess BMW owners feel the same way about driving.)

I ride a bike mainly to avoid driving a car, and for exercise benefits. I do real errands by bicycle, as much as 20 miles a day in good weather.

I don't own an SUV or any late model car, to my significant financial benefit. I do use my car when necessary, because our foolish society decades ago chose automobiles as its primary and heavily subsidized transportation system.

Americans are blind to the dangers and negative consequences of molding society around automobiles. I wish I could say that the rest of the world laughs at us, but in fact the rest of the world is racing to emulate our motoring folly.

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Posted by Frank
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Apr 29, 2007 at 5:05 pm

Wow! "One who gets it" has shown us some good old-fashioned, unvarnished bigotry: sweeping generalizations, outrageous exaggerations and fabricated falsehoods. All this is used to justify an attack on civil rights, claiming that the group in question has no right to use public facilities. Does this pattern sound familiar? Thank you, "One", for making your prejudice so clear.

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Posted by Learn to read...and think
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 29, 2007 at 8:02 pm

Whoa, Frank, that's quite a leap. Where's the attack on your civil rights? Of course cyclists can use public long as they obey the same rules of the road as drivers do.

You sound like the kind of cyclist who likes to throw water bottles at pedestrians "but I was trying to hit a car!" The road out of town is thataway...

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Posted by Donald
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Apr 29, 2007 at 9:04 pm

Learn to read,
Wrong. Bicyclists who break the law are ticketed and fined, not prohibited from using public roads. Drivers can lose their driving privileges, but pedestrians, skaters, skateboarders, scooter riders and bicyclists have a right to access public roads regardless of whether it is for transportation or recreation.

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Posted by Citizen A
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Apr 30, 2007 at 9:11 pm

I think we should stop using any vehicles at all. We should just walk everywhere. Bicycles are polluting our air and roads and our lungs because of all of their rubber tires and polymer brake pads being shed into the air.

And running should be illegal too because running shoes are subsidized by offshore poor workers.

Okay..everyone wake up. and just follow the legislated laws of the road that you are on. No matter what vehicle you are in/on ...including your sneakers.

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Posted by James
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on May 2, 2007 at 7:29 pm

Bikes, cars (walkers and runners too) share the road if all simply follow the law and common sense. Habits such as stopping at stop signs and red lights or keeping within the bike lane are inconsistent practices across all Bay Area cyclists, which is unfortunate for those individuals who do follow the lights and signs. However, this does not warrant "corrective" behavior by motorists. While I feel that allowing slower cyclists in automobile left-turn lanes is a senseless allowance, no "group" has any rights to obey or disregard laws by their own choosing.

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Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 2, 2007 at 11:48 pm

Comments from "hard-core" bicyclists like Donald remind me of the best summary description I've read regarding Critical Mass which appeared in a letter to the editor to the SF Chronicle:
"Critical Mass is bicyclists monthly "temper tantrum" at the world."

And when it comes to temper tantrums, experts say that it is usually best to just ignore them if at all possible.

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Posted by Citizen A
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on May 3, 2007 at 1:02 am

Observer and James - i totally agree with you.

Lets all be more respectful of each other.

And yes, these emotional temper tantrums are the same that propel mobs at soccer games in Europe. Basically, group empowerment of individual frustration in a dangerous way.

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Posted by Dave
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2008 at 10:45 pm

spend just 5 mins on a Sat/Sun on Sand Hill and you'll see 10, 20, 30 bikes running the red lights. Anyone who thinks there are this many cars running/rolling through red lights is denying reality.

These guys pretty much ensure the "oh noes, evil crazy drivers!!!11!!" cries get ignored or laughed at...