Sunday Commentary: Bicyclists Who Brazenly Blow Through Stops Signs Put Everyone At Risk

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bike_stop

While these days I am no longer an avid bicycle rider, I have been in the past.  In fact, when I first came to Davis, I did so in the spring of 1996 via bicycle as I trekked from San Luis Obispo up to San Francisco and then cut over to Davis.

I have long been supportive of Davis’ bicycle culture and tradition, and have supported policies aimed at getting more people out of their cars and onto their bikes, whether it is on their way to school or to work.  Moreover, I support road upgrades, such as the Fifth Street Corridor Project, to make our roads more bike- friendly.

While Davis prides itself on being a Platinum City, the home of the National Biking Hall of Fame, and perhaps the biking capital of the US, in recent months a darker side has crept increasingly into my view: the reckless and arrogant approach that *some* bicyclists have to the road.

You have the “Share the Road” crowd who insist, at times, upon riding side-by-side, obstructing lanes of traffic right next to a perfectly viable bike route.  I recall last fall suggesting that they use the bike lane and, if not, at least ride single file.  What ensued was a call by them to “share the road” and then a verbal altercation.

More concerning to me has been a recent number of run-ins with bicyclists not just moving through stop signs, but flying through them as though they were not there.  Twice I have been carrying my young daughter across the street when a bicyclist swerved and flew by us.  This was not me stepping in front of a bicyclist, but rather, they had plenty of room to stop but chose to ignore the stop sign and traffic laws.

The first time, I yelled “slow down,” and the guy actually turned his bike around and returned to confront me.  He first said, “really?”  And when I said, “really,” he continued to lecture to me that he was not about to put my kids in harm.

The most recent one last week: I was walking across Third, at F Street, when a bicyclist whizzed by turning right onto F.  I yelled “stop sign!”  He yelled something back which I could not understand – but it did not appear to be an apology.

Here I was carrying my daughter across the street, and this guy put us at risk by brazenly ignoring traffic laws.

Naturally, the police have some concerns both about the violation of law and what I call the arrogance of the rider, but they are not sure as to what to do.  There have actually been efforts to see about changing local city laws to allow bicyclists to ignore traffic laws like stop signs.  However, those have been blocked by state vehicle code laws.

There are those who argue that bicyclists should not be treated the same as cars.  Idaho’s law, for instance, treats a stop sign as a yield and a stop light as a stop and proceed.

In Minnesota, a proposed law would have: “Bikers approaching a stop sign would have to slow to a speed that would allow them to stop quickly but could proceed without stopping if no vehicles are in the area,” according to the proposal.

“Cyclists approaching a stoplight could make a left turn on a one-way street or a right turn without stopping. They could also ride through the intersection at a red light, but only after coming to a full stop and determining no cars are nearby.”

Proponents of changes argue: “Bicyclists have better awareness of surroundings (better field of vision, higher than cars, no windows/stereo/cell phone obstructing hearing, stereo hearing).”

They add that bicyclists are better able to avoid collisions, since they are smaller, more agile and lighter in weight.

Of course, an increasing trend, and increasingly dangerous, is for bicyclists to wear iPod ear buds.  I recall driving down Third by the railroad tracks and this guy was biking and swerving into the traffic lane.  I honked at him as he nearly cut right in front of me and he paid no mind.  I then drove along side of him and motioned to my ears, he looked at me like he was crazy.

He couldn’t even hear the sound of my holding down the horn.  Other cars were doing the same thing.  He had no clue the danger he was in and the trouble he was causing.

The police have dedicated a few days a year to strict enforcement of such laws, but those days are obviously insufficient to solve what is really a safety threat to all parties that use an intersection – bicyclists, cars and pedestrians.

Moreover, the few times when bicyclists are issued a citation, they are stunned by the uneven enforcement.

I do not have a great answer, myself, to the problem.  I am not a huge law and order person, and putting expensive bicycle tickets on students is probably not the best approach and likely will not work.

Education programs are great, but also too limited.

As a young bike rider in San Luis Obispo, I was taught proper etiquette from a family friend whose family would take extended bike trips.  I never thought to run stop signs until I got to Davis.

So, I offer no suggestions other than the need for those in the bicycling community to change the culture, both in terms of the non-adherence to traffic laws as well as the arrogant attitude that comes with it.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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49 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: Bicyclists Who Brazenly Blow Through Stops Signs Put Everyone At Risk”

  1. Spike

    As both a bike commuter and a driver, I too am very concerned about the disregard for common sense shown by some of the cyclists in town. Ear buds, blowing stop signs — especially on third street — no lights, riding against traffic, riding on sidewalks, are all behaviours I see regularly. These behaviours endanger not only the individual cyclist, but others who are sharing the roads with them.

    Some of this I think is due to ignorance on the part of the riders, some arrogance. Therefore, I am always amazed that there is not a concerted effort at the beginning of the university’s fall semester by both Davis’ and University Police to educate with tough love cyclists that this kind of behaviour will not be acceptable in Davis. So far, the only police officer I have ever seen stop a cyclist is John Neves (SP?), and, although I appreciate all of his efforts, it is obviously not enough.

  2. rusty49

    I have also noticed the arrogance of bike riders in the downtown area. I like David will shout out and let them know. Some seem to think that just because they’re on a bike that they have the right away.

  3. Ryan Kelly

    Pedestrians downtown don’t help. I have seen cars making left turns at a 4 way stop start there turn only to be blocked by peds who walk into the cross walk without even a pause to look, leavIng the car sitting in the middle of the street waiting and all the cars waiting in all directions.

    People associated with the downtown have opposed the redesign of 5th Street, which would provide a more direct and faster route for bikes, for a decade now. Bikers have been specifically told to use 3rd Street, with its many obstacles, moving and unmoving.

  4. David M. Greenwald

    “Pedestrians downtown don’t help. I have seen cars making left turns at a 4 way stop start there turn only to be blocked by peds who walk into the cross walk without even a pause to look, leavIng the car sitting in the middle of the street waiting and all the cars waiting in all directions.”

    Pedestrians do have the right of way.

    However, one of the problems is that there is really do much traffic at peak times to have four way stops. It’s confusing, and with pedestrians, order becomes difficult to maintain. I know they don’t want signals, but if we have people driving through the core area of the downtown (something I question), we need to have something more than stop signs.

  5. rusty49

    Ryan, I totally agree. I’ve been into my turn many times and pedestrians will just walk straight through the intersection without even looking or slowing down. I don’t like the idea of more stoplights though, the ones in town are already a joke in the way that they are set up. Stick with the four way stop signs, they aren’t confusing if you have half a brain.

  6. Rifkin

    One problem in Davis is that our bias is to favor slower (and perhaps safer) traffic in favor of efficient traffic movement. So we tend to force drivers and bike riders to stop over and over, even when they are on the primary street.

    If we had much longer green lights in the primary direction and much shorter greens for the secondary streets, cars and bikes on the primaries would have to stop far less often and traffic flows would be faster and more efficient (though arguably less safe for pedestrians trying to cross the primaries). The same efficiency trade-off happens when we have four-way stops at large numbers of intersections where a two-way stop (only for secondary street traffic) would allow cars and bikes to get through more efficiently on the primary.

    I think a consequence of all the traffic-calming measures–that is, our desire to slow down cars–is that anyone on a bike who wants to go from point A to Z across Davis is forced to stop over and over, making his ride slower and much less efficient. As you surely know, stopping and starting over and over on a bike takes a lot of energy and kills the momentum of a ride.

  7. Rifkin

    Since the majority of people in Davis appear to favor traffic calming, I think the solution to bikes breakinng the law is quite simple. Enforce the law and make it costly:

    1) Have cops monitor intersections where bikes are not obeying stop signs or red lights*. In my nikeghborhood, along Sycamore Lane, cops do this every fall and they catch a great number of bikes and cars going through the stop signs at Villanova, Cornell and W. 8th Streets. (The riders and drivers are very often undergrads who likely are living off-campus in Davis for the first time and don’t know that cops are hiding in wait.); and

    2) If the state law allows it, greatly increase the fine for bikes and/or cars not stopping at stop signs or red lights.

    *I wonder if it would be legal for the police chief to deputize special “stop sign enforcement” officers in Davis, who would ride bikes and be trained to monitor stop signs and red lights and to give anyone who violated the law on a bicycle a ticket for doing so. With a force of say 8 or 10 of these “bike monitors,” whose pay could be drawn from the ticket revenues, we would not have to use our small number of sworn patrol officers for this sort of thing.

  8. hpierce

    [quote]Pedestrians do have the right of way. [/quote]Pedestrians, prior to entering the roadway, have to yield to traffic close enough to be a threat. Your statement is part of the problem, where many pedestrians feel they can enter the roadway at any time without regard to the situation.

  9. rusty49

    “If we had much longer green lights in the primary direction and much shorter greens for the secondary streets, cars and bikes on the primaries would have to stop far less often and traffic flows would be faster and more efficient”

    Exactly, I don’t how they came up with the formula for stop lights that they currently have but it’s frustrating. That law school’s music video said it all, “Davis, where the stop lights drive you crazy”.

  10. medwoman

    I think that hpierce has made a good point.

    One of the keys to passing the driver’s test in this state is that any multiple choice question having the words, “safe” or “when safe to do so” is the correct answer. This would seem to me to be the key to traveling whether on foot, on bike or in a car. Safety should be be on our minds whenever out and about. Part of the problem is that we do not perceive these activities as “dangerous” and they become automatic for us. We have embraced “multitasking” to the point that we consider that safe when we are on the road, a demonstrably false assumption.

    I rather like Rich’s suggestion of “intersection monitors” and would also not mind stricter enforcement of
    “jaywalking” although since moving closer to downtown, I might find myself paying some fines in this category.

  11. David M. Greenwald

    Vehicle code: “This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk. “

  12. westof113

    I am not anti-bicycle. I am in favor of Idaho’s traffic law allowing bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs under certain conditions. That being said, many bicyclists here in Davis are either idiots or asses, and some motorists aren’t much better.

    A most dangerous and and much abused intersection is on eastbound Russell Blvd. at the south-bound Hwy. 113 onramp, where the bicycle lane intersects the onramp. There is a stop sign on the bikepath for east-bound cyclists. Automobiles making a right turn to enter the onramp have the right of way. Upwards of 90% of cyclists ignore the stop sign. Few actually even turn their heads to see if a car is approaching the onramp. When cyclists do bother to look, cars often stop to allow the cyclist to blow the sign. I have seen near accidents when a driver suddenly stops and is almost rear-ended by another driver who was not anticipating the inexplicable stop. This is akin to stopping at a green light. Ironically, at this location you have automobile drivers actually encouraging bicyclists’ disregard for the vehicle code. (yes, bicycles are ‘vehicles’). I have also seen bicyclists exhibit anger at cars for not stopping entering the onramp. This intersection is truly dangerous for both bicyclists and motorists. Can we get some enforcement?

  13. nprice

    Bike riders running stop signs and other actions described above, leave out bike riders who don’t have headlights, who have may have a reflector on the back wheel or back of the bike that you don’t see from head on, and who don’t wear reflective vests. A number of years ago, I was broadsided, yes, broadsided while driving across the intersection at 7th and F; as I got to the East side of F, a bike suddenly loomed in my headlights and neither he nor I could avoid a slow-motion at very slow speed a broad-side collision. Very fortunately the biker, a married electrical engineering Ph.D. candidate and not wearing a helmut was not hurt, though my car had considerable damage. Until my headlights picked up the stealth biker, I had no warning as I he had no headlight or reflectors, etc.

  14. Don Shor

    westof113: if you know of a specific problem intersection, you might contact someone on the Bicycle Commission and bring it to their attention. [url]http://cityofdavis.org/meetings/agenda.cfm?c=29[/url]

  15. David M. Greenwald

    That is a problem (though it’s a yield not a stop). I saw it today on my way on the freeway there, fortunately, I saw the bicyclist coming and anticipated she would ignore the yield sign. Frankly I think that is a case where they should reverse it and make the cars yield, particularly because the bicyclists going eastbound have to look back whereas the vehicle can see the entire area as they approach.

  16. Robb Davis

    Just wanted to jump in and say that the Bicycle Advisory Commission (BAC) had a presentation by Peter Faeth of the Davis Police Department at our last monthly meeting and we will devoting more time to discussing “enforcement” issues. Officer Faeth described targeted enforcement efforts to deal with failure to stop at stop signs (especially in the downtown) and with the problem of lack of a forward facing light and rear reflector. Two members of the public also addressed the Commission about the latter problem.

    The DPD will be having regular announced and unannounced enforcement efforts in the downtown and on key commuting streets (e.g. Sycamore from Russell to Covell). We will also be discussing how to better coordinate enforcement and education with the University (which has some innovative approaches to requiring “bike school”–online for violators on campus).

    All this to say that the BAC (and various bicycling groups such as Davis Bicycles! and the Davis Bicycle Club) are increasing efforts to deal with bicycle traffic violations. We will be examining how to improve education/information and enforcement (using “fixit” tickets for those without lights) and by other means. This is a timely article and we all realize that there is much more we can and should be doing. Please note that these citizen-led groups coordinate and run bike rodeos at the elementary schools with the participation of parent groups from the schools. This is an excellent venue for education but more needs to be done at older ages (junior and senior high ages).

    The BAC welcomes public input and suggestions on any of these issues. We meet monthly on the first Monday of the month in Community Chambers. David Kemp, the City’s new Active Transportation Coordinator is developing some really creative education efforts. Stay tuned.

  17. E Roberts Musser

    Loved, loved, loved this article. It has been a long time coming and addresses many of my pet peeves about those who are arrogant bicyclists. Where do I start?

    [quote]You have the “Share the Road” crowd who insist, at times, upon riding side-by-side, obstructing lanes of traffic right next to a perfectly viable bike route. I recall last fall suggesting that they use the bike lane and, if not, at least ride single file. What ensued was a call by them to “share the road” and then a verbal altercation.

    The first time, I yelled “slow down,” and the guy actually turned his bike around and returned to confront me. He first said, “really?” And when I said, “really,” he continued to lecture to me that he was not about to put my kids in harm.[/quote]

    I don’t know how many times I have been irritated at avid bicyclists, the most guilty parties of arrogant behavior, riding down the street slowing traffic to a stall, when there is a perfectly good bike path right beside them to use. I remember one particular incident involving a bicyclist in full bike regalia.

    The arrogant jerk was riding down Russell eastbound in heavy traffic, at fraternity row, staying to the side but still far enough into the lane that we could not safely pass in our car (I was in the passenger seat). He knew our car was there, signaling us to pass him – completely ignoring /oblivious to the fact that a car was in the lane right next to us. We could not pass safely, without sideswiping the car next to us in the left hand lane or clipping the bicyclist as we tried to squeeze past this clueless nincompoop. When there finally was an opportunity to move into the left lane and pass this idiot, I rolled down my window and yelled at him: “Why don’t you use the perfectly good bicycle path right over there?” He yelled back at me: “I have the right to use the road!” I yelled right back at him: “Then you only have yourself to blame if you get hit!”.

    This is so typical of many of the avid bicyclists’ attitude – I have the right to use the road, I don’t have to use the bicycle paths, so I’m going to do what I want, even if it slows traffic, may cause an accident when people try to get around me, and even it isn’t as safe for me or the drivers and may cause an accident. It is almost as if they are on a power trip to show they “own the road”. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!

    I would love to see an ordinance passed in this town that requires bicyclists to use a bicycle path rather than the street if the path is readily available. Russel Blvd/5th Street is a perfect example, from West Davis to A Street. Don’t know if such an ordinance is legal, but if it is, it should be implemented and enforced. And once the 5th Street redesign is implemented, it will make for a nice smooth shot for bicyclists to use a safe bike path provided for them, all the way from West Davis through the downtown and all the way past the Post Office. And there would be no need for bicyclist to be on Russell/5th if they are traveling from east to west or vice versa.

  18. SouthofDavis

    David wrote:

    > The first time, I yelled “slow down,” and the guy
    > actually turned his bike around and returned to
    > confront me. He first said, “really?” And when I
    > said, “really,” he continued to lecture to me that
    > he was not about to put my kids in harm.
    > The most recent one last week: I was walking
    > across Third, at F Street, when a bicyclist
    > whizzed by turning right onto F. I yelled
    > “stop sign!”

    If you want to keep your kids safe:

    1. Assume bikes never stop at stop signs (most slow down, but few ever come to a complete stop).

    2. Don’t yell at people (it might make you feel better, but it can also set them off so they end up hitting you and/or your kid in the head with a U Lock).

    P.S. If you find it is hard not to yell at people on bikes that go through stop signs you might be able to burn off some of this anger by getting a radar gun and yelling at all the cars that pass under the Russell overpass on 113 that are going over 65 mph. You can still yell at the lawbreakers, but it is highly unlikely that they will hear you (or be on crystal meth like the many homeless on bikes in Davis) and beat you or your kid…

  19. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Naturally, the police have some concerns both about the violation of law and what I call the arrogance of the rider, but they are not sure as to what to do. [/quote]

    It’s called enforcement! If the fines are stiff enough, or the process to reduce the fines onerous enough, the abusers of the privileges of the roads will get the message. Also put ordinances in place that force bicyclists to use the bike paths whenever available and not the streets, if that is legal.

    [quote]Of course, an increasing trend, and increasingly dangerous, is for bicyclists to wear iPod ear buds. [/quote]

    Isn’t it illegal to wear ear buds in a car? On a bike? If not, it should be. Then start enforcing the law.

    [quote]I do not have a great answer, myself, to the problem. I am not a huge law and order person, and putting expensive bicycle tickets on students is probably not the best approach and likely will not work.

    Education programs are great, but also too limited.

    So, I offer no suggestions other than the need for those in the bicycling community to change the culture, both in terms of the non-adherence to traffic laws as well as the arrogant attitude that comes with it.[/quote]

    My youngest daughter, many years ago, had to go to court for a failure to wear her helmet. It was an eye opening experience, since she was in the court with kids involved in hit and runs and the like. She had to pay a fine or enrol in an education program if I remember rightly (not sure – it’s been so long ago). She never failed to wear her helmet again. Impose hefty fines; with an onerous and inconvenient education program to avoid the fines. Repeated and significant failure to address the fines may result in confiscation of your bike.

    And education is key. The city has to make clear that bicyclists do not “own” the road, but “share” the road. It would seem to me every bicycle should be registered, and part of that registration process ought to be the completion of a basic education course on the rules of the road. Of course it has to be agreed what the rules of the road are – can bicyclist wear ear buds? Use the road if a bike path is available right next to a major artery? And frankly, it wouldn’t hurt for drivers to take such a course either! It works both ways.

  20. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Rich Rifkin: If we had much longer green lights in the primary direction and much shorter greens for the secondary streets, cars and bikes on the primaries would have to stop far less often and traffic flows would be faster and more efficient (though arguably less safe for pedestrians trying to cross the primaries). The same efficiency trade-off happens when we have four-way stops at large numbers of intersections where a two-way stop (only for secondary street traffic) would allow cars and bikes to get through more efficiently on the primary.[/quote]

    In the downtown, all the intersections should be 4 way stops. It is the inconsistency that is the problem IMO…

    [quote]Since the majority of people in Davis appear to favor traffic calming, I think the solution to bikes breaking the law is quite simple. Enforce the law and make it costly: [/quote]

    Amen!

    [quote]One of the keys to passing the driver’s test in this state is that any multiple choice question having the words, “safe” or “when safe to do so” is the correct answer. This would seem to me to be the key to traveling whether on foot, on bike or in a car. Safety should be be on our minds whenever out and about. Part of the problem is that we do not perceive these activities as “dangerous” and they become automatic for us. We have embraced “multitasking” to the point that we consider that safe when we are on the road, a demonstrably false assumption. [/quote]

    Well said! Just because you can doesn’t mean you should! Safety should be everyone’s number one priority. Another pet peeve of mine – cars that fail to stop for bicyclists who are trying to cross a street in a designated bike/ped crossing. How many of you have seen cars blow through the bike/ped crossing with the blinking yellow light at fraternity row on Russell. The cars do it regularly in West Davis along Russell.

  21. Brian Kenyon

    We train children from a very young age to stand within a few feet of high-speed vehicles without being afraid. Less than two hundred years ago a screaming locomotive or a high speed automobile would have caused a person to flee in terror for their lives. We have slowly conditioned ourselves to not be afraid of something that is in fact extremely dangerous. Similarly, we know that speed limits of twenty miles an hour would almost certainly eliminate most car fatalities, but we also consider the advantages of getting to our destinations quicker to be worth the resulting death rate.

  22. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Don Shor: westof113: if you know of a specific problem intersection, you might contact someone on the Bicycle Commission and bring it to their attention. http://cityofdavis.org/meetings/agenda.cfm?c=29

    Robb Davis: Just wanted to jump in and say that the Bicycle Advisory Commission (BAC) had a presentation by Peter Faeth of the Davis Police Department at our last monthly meeting and we will devoting more time to discussing “enforcement” issues. Officer Faeth described targeted enforcement efforts to deal with failure to stop at stop signs (especially in the downtown) and with the problem of lack of a forward facing light and rear reflector. Two members of the public also addressed the Commission about the latter problem.

    The DPD will be having regular announced and unannounced enforcement efforts in the downtown and on key commuting streets (e.g. Sycamore from Russell to Covell). We will also be discussing how to better coordinate enforcement and education with the University (which has some innovative approaches to requiring “bike school”–online for violators on campus).

    The BAC welcomes public input and suggestions on any of these issues. We meet monthly on the first Monday of the month in Community Chambers. David Kemp, the City’s new Active Transportation Coordinator is developing some really creative education efforts. Stay tuned.[/quote]

    I was at that BAC meeting, and was ready to hop up and make a number of comments, but I knew it was probably not the appropriate time. It is clear the BAC is going to take up many of these issues and I laud them for that effort. It is long overdue. Also the Safety, Parking and Advisory Commission (SPAC) is another appropriate commission to bring up specific issues on road configuration, etc.

  23. davehart

    I ride three days or more every week to downtown Sacramento from Davis and do my shopping in the core area on Saturdays. I also drive a car downtown when I need to haul, when the weather is bad or when I just don’t feel like riding my bike (I also like driving a car).

    1. I favor big fines for bicycle riders with earbuds in their ears. That is NEVER going to be safe or okay.
    2. I don’t think the timing of lights downtown is a serious problem; it’s what I deserve for driving when I could have ridden my bike. It slows everybody up and that is a good thing. (See #6)
    3. Nobody should blow through a stop sign or red light if there is anyone anywhere within visual range not just because of safety, but because the law is a social compact and it undermines civilization.
    4. Blowing through a stop sign or red light when there is literally nobody around to see it is between me and God and does not undermine civilization.
    5. I’m uneasy with a dual set of laws for cyclists and motorists. There should only be one set of laws that are in effect for a reason: to protect the safety of all and secondly to promote smooth traffic flow.

    I’m just not a fan of using the police as the primary tool for improving behavior of cyclists. I think there are better uses of our limited police resources, like arresting bankers. Generally speaking, egregious violation of the law is a result of peers failing to show their displeasure. Motorists are not cyclists’ peers; other cyclists are and we who ride need to chime in. Maybe the best thing the city can do is come up with a bunch of humorous but effective one-liners for cyclists to use on other cyclists who demonstrate irresponsible traffic violation.

  24. dlemongello

    First thing is to educate at a young age and with some repetition during the formative years at school, so I laud that principle and implementation. Second is for people to be mindful and CONSIDERATE. If we had that we would not need as many laws, we would just do it.

    I am an avid user of bike transportation, it is by far my most usual means of local travel, and also sometimes as a recreational rider. Most cyclists hate to have to come to a complete stop if there is no actual reason to do so. But yielding when it is not your turn is absolutely the key to a reasonable approach to this concept of slowing but not necessarily completing the stop. Many of you above may disagree with me, but STRICT mindless enforcement of that one law, to STOP completely on a bike every time, is just too much. It is necessary for cars because of visibility issues and stopping times, but it just is not strictly necessary for bikes. Would $$$ citations cause us to do it more? Yes, I expect so. But it is super annoying. Not stopping is not what is reckless, it is ignoring the situation as a whole that is reckless and should be punishable. That statement I just made I think is applicable to every complaint in this post.

    As for the arrogant attitudes described above, there is no excuse or justification. Those cyclists are an embarrassment, just like any jerk.

  25. roger bockrath

    By state law, bicycles and motor vehicles share the road and have EQUAL RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES.

    Motor vehicle drivers are required by law to pass a written and road test to demonstrate their understanding of basic traffic laws. You know, stuff like we don’t drive our vehicles on sidewalks designed for pedestrians, we don’t drive down the left side of the street, etc. etc.

    These infractions are something frequently witnessed in commission by bicyclists in Davis. The conclusion I have come to is that many bicycle riders graduated from getting around on a skate board to riding a bicycle and have never driven an automobile much less studied the rules of the road.

    If bicyclists are going to share the road with motor vehicles and truly have equal rights and responsibilities with motorists, how about requiring a license, just like a motorist? And, of course, requiring them to obey the rules or pay the consequences, just like motorists.

    Ignorance of the law is never an acceptable excuse. These bicyclists may actually think they are right. Without proper training of the rules of the road they may end up being [b]dead[/b] [b]right![/b]

  26. biddlin

    How about requiring liability insurance and registration ? A few years ago I was T-boned in an intersection by a bicyclist who had run a four way stop . At 5:30 am, he had no lights or reflective clothing . Relieved that he was unhurt, I pointed out the considerable damage to my quarter panel . He responded with recommendations for a tantric yoga asana, the details of which I must omit. He was quite willing to flee, leaving me holding the bag. Had it not been for a business card, laminated to his laptop case, I might never have found him and let my insurance agent and police deal with him . He was a resident at UCDMC, by the way .

  27. JustSaying

    Why isn’t Capt. Pigcycle here when whe need him? These bike-riding officers kept bikers obeying the laws and educated about the dangers they faced.

    Glad to see the note from Robb Davis about an effort underway to bring back enforcement. It’s not just a minority of bad actors–it’s a fairly large population of cyclists who ride unsafely and dangerously and who have ill-equipped bikes.

    Good article, David. Action from law enforcement and cycling groups is past due.

  28. odd man out

    So much misinformation here to which to respond.

    First of all, I am a Davis resident of almost 30 years, a daily bicycle commuter, rain or shine, and a full-time professional in the field of bicycle planning, safety, and advocacy (since 1987).

    E. Musser wrote: “put ordinances in place that force bicyclists to use the bike paths whenever available and not the streets, if that is legal.”

    It’s not legal. CVC 21 prohibits it: (a) Except as otherwise expressly provided, the provisions of
    this code are applicable and uniform throughout the state and in all
    counties and municipalities therein, and a local authority shall not
    enact or enforce any ordinance or resolution on the matters covered
    by this code, including ordinances or resolutions that establish
    regulations or procedures for, or assess a fine, penalty, assessment,
    or fee for a violation of, matters covered by this code, unless
    expressly authorized by this code.”

    Mandatory sidepath laws in California were eliminated decades ago for good reason. Almost all contemporary bicycle infrastructure planning manuals demonstrate clearly why sidepaths [e.g as found in Davis on Russell, Covell, Lake, La Rue, et al.] are hazardous not only to cyclists but to motorists as well –in particular because of conflicts that inevitably arise where sidepaths cross roadway intersections –as they always must.

    Wearing earphones or earbuds in both ears is illegal for both motorists and bicyclists in California (CVC SECTION 27400)

    In my opinion, the “Idaho law” re stop signs and red lights is dangerous. One analysis may be found here:

    http://www.cabobike.org/2010/02/03/argument-against-an-idaho-style-stop-as-yield-law-for-bicyclists/

    Please note that the fines for any traffic violations committed by cyclists or motorists are set by the Yolo County court. At present, the usual fine for a bike ticket anywhere in the county averages about $200.

    CVC 21202 allows bicyclists to occupy the full lane when the lane is too narrow to share side-by-side with a motor vehicle. Generally, any lane less than 14′ wide is considered too narrow to share. In the city of Davis about the only collector street or arterial roadway without a bike lane that has an outside lane of less than 14′ wide is Russell Blvd./Fifth St. The planned reconfiguration of Fifth between A and L streets should eliminate that issue in 2013. However, Fifth St. from L to Pole Line and Russell from A to the city border will not be reconfigured. Cyclists may use the full outside lane. Motorists are not inconvenienced –it’s two lanes in each direction. They just need to merge left to safely pass the cyclists. How difficult is that?

    Please note: though I am pro-bike, I’m not anti-car. I drive a car regularly around Davis and elsewhere. I am as upset as most of you when driving, cycling or walking and am put at risk by scofflaw cyclists (and motorists and pedestrians). But I have no problem with cyclists who abide by the law. If you don’t like the law as it pertains to cyclists, feel free to exercise your constitutional right to change the law.

  29. Michael Harrington

    How about the DPD using volunteers to wait at the most important downtown intersections and take photos of the worst offending bike riders, and posting the photos up on the web page, with prominent links to other busy sites? Taking photos is ok in a public area.

    What happened to our two downtown bike officers ? I never see them anymore

    But I see everyday that 4thFF riding on those two trucks going to non-injury accidents

    The CC continues frittering our money away while doing nothing about the. CM axing a couple of needed and innocent tree trimmers

  30. Wheelchairuser

    I am a paraplegic who been crashed into twice by children on bike/walk paths (their parents laugh as if it is not a big deal), and almost run off the sidewalk by a cyclist on Poleline, even though there is a well-marked bike lane along the street. The latter was witnessed by a policeman, who did nothing.

    Do we in Davis have to wait for a fatality between a pedestrian/wheelchair user and a cyclist before the police enforce bicycle laws? A few months ago this is what happened in SF.

    Manslaughter charge for cyclist in Castro crash
    Ellen Huet and Justin Berton
    Published 06:08 p.m., Thursday, June 14, 2012

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    Prosecutors filed a felony vehicular manslaughter charge against a bicyclist who was trying to break a personal speed record when he zipped through a crosswalk in San Francisco’s Castro district and killed an elderly pedestrian.

    Chris Bucchere, the cyclist, struck Sutchi Hui, 71, as Hui was walking with his wife at Castro and Market streets on March 29.

    District Attorney George Gascón said Thursday that Bucchere was racing on an informal course that began in the Marin Headlands. A co-rider stopped at the intersection as the light changed, but Bucchere blew through that light as well as previous red lights and stop signs, said Gascón.

    “It was his need for speed that caused this death,” Gascón said. “This did not have to happen.”

    Bucchere’s attorney, Ted Cassman, said his client surrendered to authorities Thursday and was cooperating.

    “Chris believes that he entered the intersection lawfully and he did everything possible to avoid the accident,” Cassman said.

    Three elderly pedestrians have died in collisions with Bay Area bicyclists in the past year. However, this is the first time prosecutors have charged felony manslaughter, which is punishable by up to six years in prison.

    Randolph Ang, 23, was charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter after he biked through a red light on the Embarcadero in July and hit 68-year-old Dionette Cherney, who later died of her injuries.

    Ang pleaded guilty in March and was sentenced to three years of probation, 500 hours of community service and $15,375 in restitution to Cherney’s family.

    Gascón said Bucchere, because he was racing and had allegedly committed several violations before the crash, acted with “gross negligence.”

    John Alex Lowell, a member of the city’s Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee, commended the stiff charge.

    “Vanity kills,” Lowell said. “These are the consequences to vanity.”

    The crash occurred before 8 a.m. when Bucchere was returning from a 25-mile group ride in Marin, prosecutors said.

    Hui and his wife, Betty, were walking to pick up prescription eyeglasses, said Ly Nguyen, 69, a neighbor who lives in the same senior complex in San Bruno.

    Sutchi Hui “fell and vomited blood” after the collision, Nguyen said Betty Hui told him after the accident. “He broke the whole body – leg, arm, skull, jaw.”

    The couple was quiet, Nguyen said, and Hui was a careful man who looked out for his safety.

    “He was walking behind her (in the crosswalk) because he wanted to make sure he was safe, that the light was green,” Nguyen said.

    Prosecutors said Bucchere, who was treated at a hospital for injuries, wrote about the collision that day on a Google group for a cycling club. The post, later removed, describes the author biking south on Castro Street as the traffic light at Market turned yellow.

    “I was already way too committed to stop,” the post states. “The light turned red as I was cruising through the middle of the intersection and then, almost instantly, the southern crosswalk on Market and Castro filled up with people coming from both directions. … I couldn’t see a line through the crowd and I couldn’t stop, so I laid it down and just plowed through the crowded crosswalk in the least-populated place I could find.”

    Ellen Huet and Justin Berton are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. E-mailehuet@sfchronicle.com, jberton@sfchronicle.com. Twitter: @ellenhuet, @justinberton

  31. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]However, Fifth St. from L to Pole Line and Russell from A to the city border will not be reconfigured. Cyclists may use the full outside lane. Motorists are not inconvenienced –it’s two lanes in each direction. They just need to merge left to safely pass the cyclists. How difficult is that? [/quote]

    Motorists are definitely inconvenienced when there is heavy traffic (rush hour) and both lanes are full of cars. There is no convenient/safe way to pass the bicyclist. Then to have the idiot riding the bike signal a car to pass him, when it is not safe to do so/when the bicyclist is completely unaware of the situation and could care less, is beyond the pale…

  32. E Roberts Musser

    To Wheelchairuser: Thanks for sharing. Very eye-opening article. Pedestrians have a chronic problem – w bicyclists who are extremely inconsiderate and unsafe. One thing the BAC plans to tackle is some sort of uniform rule to decide which side of a bike path pedestrians should stay on. Some think it should be on the left, some on the right. I listened to the discussion, and am of the strong opinion it should be to the right, since it is commonly understood by most people to stay to the right unless passing.

  33. Frankly

    The UK did a series of public TV spots on bicycle safety several years ago. The design was to film a small story and challenge viewer to spot the changes in scenery that occurred from beginning to end. For example, a “who done it” murder scene where the suite of armor became a stuffed bear when the camera panned away and then back.

    The point was to educate bike riders that drivers’ the minds of humans focus on what is expected and then don’t register the unexpected. Bikes and pedestrians are the unexpected… they appear out of nowhere and even looking right at them, some drivers will not “see” them (because they don’t expect them).

    This gets to the point that bikes and pedestrians should consider the road as owned by the autos, and they are visitors that need to be more careful and cautious. The reason? There is no benefit in being right but injured or dead.

    Personally, when I am riding my bike or walking on or across streets, I view every driver as some half-blind, unaware, slow-responding dimwit that would take half a block to register a need to stop after running me over. That of course is overkill, but it helps keep me safe when I encounter those drivers that fit that profile… and Davis has plenty of them.

    By biggest pet peeve is the student bikers riding at dusk or at night but lacking lights. Then they blow past and surprise the hell out me as I am waiting to turn. If I had gone a half second earlier I would have run right over them. This has happened several times.

    I also think bikes should not be allowed on Fifth Street except to cross it.

  34. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]I also think bikes should not be allowed on Fifth Street except to cross it.[/quote]

    Amen! But according to one poster, it is against the law for a city to forbid bikes on any street.

  35. E Roberts Musser

    Did some research:

    [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_law_in_California#Bicyclists_are_never_required_to_use_off-roadway_bike_lanes_or_paths[/url]
    [quote]Bicyclists are never required to use off-roadway bike lanes or paths
    Since CVC 21208 applies only “whenever a bicycle lane has been established on a roadway”, there is never a legal compulsion for a bicyclist to ride not in the roadway, but in a bike lane or path that is not on the roadway, or is physically separated from the roadway in any way (like a sidepath).[21][/quote]

  36. biddlin

    As I was taking my morning walk by the river, I heard a raspy voice shreik from behind,” On your left!” . ” Thanks for the targeting data !”, I screamed back, as I raised my cane to 9:00 .

  37. Frankly

    biddlin, that was you? LOL!

    Running last week at the arboretum. Two women walk on to the bike path in front of me… talking to each other… taking up the entire width of the path… oblivious to there being other traffic… I say “passing on the right”, and the woman on the right, startled, steps to the right, stumbles and I actually have to catch her from falling as I bump into her. She was mad at ME! Must have been a common Davis liberal.

    Took off again thinking that announcing from behind is more dangerous than just doing a stealth pass, I came up on a crowd of students congregated on the right side of the path looking up at a tree. Just as I was starting to pass on the left, one kid took a giant step back and I bumped him almost causing me to go down. He said he was sorry. Must have been a rare student Republican.

    Took off again thinking that the stealth move is also not safe. Next student group I tried to pass on the right, and said “passing on the right”, and someone again moved the wrong way. This time I was able to jump off the path and proceed on… just shaking my head. That kid did not say a thing. I think he was an independent.

    My new strategy for my next run is to yell loudly from as far back as possible to give the brains of people time to process the fact that they ARE NOT THE ONLY PEOPLE ON THE PATH AND THAT THEY NEED TO PAY ATTENTION and hopefully move the correct way or just stay still.

    Other than that, I am thinking maybe running with cattle prod is the way to go.

  38. David Suder

    [quote]Personally, when I am riding my bike or walking on or across streets, I view every driver as some half-blind, unaware, slow-responding dimwit that would take half a block to register a need to stop after running me over. That of course is overkill, but it helps keep me safe when I encounter those drivers that fit that profile… and Davis has plenty of them. – Jeff B[/quote]And when driving, also assume that every biker and pedestrian will try to throw themselves into the path of your vehicle. A remarkable number of them will do so.

    Another common occurrence that concerns me is drivers who fail to stop when a pedestrian has entered a crosswalk. This becomes particularly dangerous when the car in right lane stops and an overtaking car in the left lane blows right by.

    It doesn’t take that much time out of my day to stop when I see a pedestrian waiting to cross the street. Most are pleasantly surprised by the courtesy, offering a nod or wave of appreciation.

  39. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Correct Elaine.[/quote]

    Correct that it’s a bummer we can’t make bicyclists use the path? 😉 LOL

    To Jeff Boone: Your liberal/conservative/independent analogy was a hoot! As a pedestrian, I appreciate when a bicyclist from behind warns me he is coming (so many rarely do), and I usually freeze/stay to the right. However, bicyclist should not be whizzing past pedestrians at ungodly speeds either…

    [quote]Another common occurrence that concerns me is drivers who fail to stop when a pedestrian has entered a crosswalk. This becomes particularly dangerous when the car in right lane stops and an overtaking car in the left lane blows right by. [/quote]

    This happens all the time at the blinking light ped crossing on Russell at fraternity row. It is very dangerous to cross there, bc so many cars blow through that crossing even when the light is blinking, one lane of cars is fully stopped, and someone is in the crosswalk. One of these days I predict there is going to be a death there… hope I’m wrong, wrong, wrong…

  40. Mont

    [quote]Other than that, I am thinking maybe running with cattle prod is the way to go. [/quote]

    Jeff;

    You might consider a bike bell. It has a distinctive sound, can be heard for many tens of feet, and usually causes the signalees to look up and take responsibility for their own safety. Worthy of consideration is a Davis ordinance requiring their presence for bikes on shared use paths. Davis Bicycles! now has a giveaway program. Bring your bike to our table at the Davis Farmer’s Market and we will install it on your bike for free.

  41. Frankly

    Mont,

    Good idea. I was running, not biking, but I think a bell is a good idea. Maybe I should just put some on my running shoes.

    I am thinking a big horn on my bike might be a good idea to shake up the ignorant drivers.

  42. odd man out

    Arguments against a mandatory bike path bell (or other audible device) ordinance:

    It will be largely unenforceable. Police aren’t patrolling the paths very often, if at all. My guess is they will not want to write tickets for this infraction.

    What will constitute an “audible device”? Will there be a minimum decibel level?

    What about non-functioning bells, horns? Will fix-it tickets be issued?

    How many race team members and wannabe Lance Armstrongs are going to mount bells and whistles on their Cervelos to ride on the Russell bike path? They won’t even attach 4 oz. of lighting.

    What’s wrong with a vocal shout-out? The problem with bells, horns, etc. is that if you’re trying to alert pedestrians ahead, with their backs to you, the bell doesn’t tell them anything about which way to move (left, right, not at all). Of course, the same problem exists with saying “on your left”. Too many people just hear “left” and that’s the direction they move.

    Pedestrians, joggers, skaters and cyclists listening to iPods will not hear bells.

    I think some people would consider this just another Davis silly law (nuclear-free zone, snoring ordinance, etc.). I know some states (e.g. NY) have statewide bike bell laws, but virtually no one knows that here.

    Here’s what really bugs me: if such an ordinance were enacted, I could potentially get cited for no bell (I do have them on some bikes, not all) even though I probably do more to warn pedestrians and others on the paths than just about anyone out there. That’s wrong. Just because someone has a bell, that doesn’t mean they are going to use it. Perhaps the ordinance should be that no one should pass a pedestrian (or other slower path user) without issuing an audible warning. If a cyclist is mute, than they better have a bell! Otherwise, their voice will do just fine –better than any bell, in fact.

    Of course, being one who tries to avoid paths most of the time, the proposed law wouldn’t affect me much!

  43. JimmysDaughter

    I used to rent a home on Oak Avenue. One day I was returning home with my 2 toddlers. A strange car was parked in our driveway. I sat & waited for a moment, thinking they were just lost & turning around. Turns out it was an SUV full of bicyclists, late for the start of a race in town. I sat there as they unloaded all their bikes & gear, stared at me, and giggled nervously. I finally rolled down my window & yelled at them that they were in my driveway & I had little kids in the car & we needed to get into our house. They giggled & continued to unload their stuff, put on their helmets, etc. Needless to say I have not been a fan of competitive bike sports after that day. And for some reason I’m not a fan of a grown man showing off his junk with tight black bike shorts, while he is giggling, either…..just sayin’….

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