Commentary: As City Upgrades Bicycling Infrastructure, Concerns About Safety and Conduct Continue

Davis has long been known as a bicycling mecca, it houses the US Bicycling Hall of Fame, and it continues to move toward “Beyond Platinum Status.” At the same time that Davis has finally finished renovations to make major east-west arterial Fifth Street more accessible to bikes, and is spending several millions on bike lane infrastructure inspired by European design techniques, there is also a growing backlash among sectors of the town.

This week, a story on CBS 13 in Sacramento highlights the Davis expansion of bike lane infrastructure with the European-Inspired design plan.

They report, “Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis says the improvements will be built along Covell Boulevard, a major road in Davis. Instead of white paint to distinguish a bike lane, barriers will be built to separate bikes and cars.”

“It’s about visibility and creating safe spaces for the crossings and also making cyclists prominent and in front of vehicles,” he said.

CBS 13 reports, “Two intersections will be transformed into Dutch junctions, which Davis says will help make bikes more visible to drivers.”

“The whole concept is really designed for bikes and pedestrians to be able to move across it and along it without coming into conflict with the vehicles that are traveling at higher speeds,” the mayor pro tem said.

CBS notes, “The infrastructure is needed, he says, to keep riders and drivers safe. He hopes it will also attract more bicyclists. Davis hopes the improvements will help more vulnerable groups like kids and the elderly feel safe enough making the switch to use bicycles as their major form of transportation.”

But there has long been concerns from the non-biking residents who are angered by what they see as the blatant disregard for traffic rules by bicyclists, mostly those who come to town while attending UC Davis. They blow through stop signs and occasionally traffic lights, and create a number of road hazards.

As one long-time resident told the Vanguard recently, who walks around Davis every day, the behavior of people using bikes is truly, in general, rude at best and dangerous at worst.

A recent letter to the editor noted, “Vehicle vs. bike problems have been increasing over the years, and it is time for the city of Davis to step up and take action to merge these two road users together.”

The writer noted a litany of complaints, starting with the failure to use lights after dark.

“I believe this is just the tip of unsafe riding in town,” they wrote. “It is obvious that riders are not following the rules of the road, yet they’re treated as equals when using our roadways.”

They suggested, “A license plate and registration should be required to own a bike and use it in town. Also, bicyclists should have to pass a written test on rules of the road and bike paths in order to obtain a license.”

“Our community is exposed to many students from UC Davis who are from different counties that do not have the same laws and requirements as we do. Let’s get everyone on the same page.”

While I am not sure the city can implement these types of changes, this letter illustrates what seems to be a growing or least persistent frustration that many drivers in Davis have.

A someone who works in the downtown, I see bicyclists ignoring pedestrians and stop signs, and sometimes dangerously cutting in front of oncoming vehicles in their haste or the desire not to hit their brakes.

Once, on a police ride-along, the officer simply stood at the corner of F and 3rd and pulled over countless bicyclists running the stop sign (with a uniformed cop standing on the corner). They were fortunate to get warnings, but obviously the problem continues unabated.

The city has taken a number of steps over the years to protect bicyclists. More than 90 percent of Davis roads have bike paths, which was one of the original progressive era innovations in Davis.

In recent years, we have seen the Fifth Street Redesign, which, while encompassing far more than just bicycle accommodations, remains a critical component.

We have seen the discussion of green waste containerization. There were and frankly remain concerns about bicycle safety when avoiding debris in the bike paths. The city temporarily attempted to accommodate those concerns with double stripping. There are accompanying concerns with storm water drainage, but the city is now moving toward a more full containerization.

In addition to the hundreds of millions that the city needs to invest in road maintenance, bike maintenance remains a critical need as well, with deferred maintenance costs in the tens of millions.

Finally, the city is investing millions into the Covell Corridor project which has a heavy component on bike safety.

However, if the bicycle advocates wish to see the public willing to pump further money into upgrades on safety and other infrastructure, the concerns laid out by many about rudeness, safety and following bicycle laws should be addressed.

If not, there will be a growing backlash by many non-riders that may impair future efforts to add infrastructure and safety features to our roads. As strong believers in multi-modal transportation and bicycling, we hope this can be avoided.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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    1. Miwok

      Brings up one of those fantasies I have always had, when the Downtown like Davis reforms as a village like Whistler where no cars or trucks are allowed, EIRI (except in Rare Instances), all “commuting” and transportation is restricted to small electric or human powered vehicles.

      Everyone parks outside of town, and changes over to a pool of vehicles suitable for their needs of the day. Delivery trucks unload to smaller loads and local employment booms to service this economy. Noise and pollution go down considerably. Parking lots accommodate larger numbers of these smaller vehicles alleviating the need for more parking.

      Either that or elevate the whole downtown and park underneath it..

  1. Alan Miller

    The implication in this article is that there is backlash against investing in safety for bicyclists, because “bicyclists” don’t obey traffic laws.  Such as:

    “there is . . . a growing backlash among sectors of the town.”

    This is a ridiculous statement, attempting to relate two unrelated issues.  Investment in bicycle infrastructure is incredibly important, and unless you are a selfish “car-ist” the city, however stellar, still is built for cars and there are a number of major infrastructure projects to even begin to put the two modes on equal footing.  And yes, they should be.

    The percentage of dumb-asses who blow through stop signs and don’t wear lights at night are a problem for bicyclists and pedestrians as much as for cars.  Those on bikes hate those dumb-asses as well.  Not that I stop at stop signs, I am a believer in a practioner of the Idaho stop, and it’s time Davis said (and I have testified this before the City Council):  “F— he state of California”, our bicyclists can stop and proceed with the right of way”.  Stopping at stop signs is as stupid as the 55mph speed limit, because no-one does it.  The problem is people who blow through stop signs, and steal the right of way that isn’t theirs.

    Now, as for the suggestions of doing something about it, let’s GET REAL people, there is like half a bike cop in town.  If we double the budget, which we won’t, enforcement will cover 2% of the town, if that.  We must instead change our culture and everyone, cars, peds, bicyclists, must yell, “YOU F–ing DUMB-ASS!” whenever someone blows a stop sign, and “DUMB F—, no one can see you, get a light, F— HEAD!”.  This has to become part of our culture.  We simply don’t have the police.  SHAME and CURSE our way to enforcement. Do you have a better idea?  I mean one that is REAL?

    I’ve been in this town for 35 years.  Guess what, about 25x as many people have bike lights as did 35 years ago.  It’s MUCH BETTER.  It’s just there are a lot of dumb-asses out there.  And there always will be.  Get over it.  You can’t control them, you can swear at them and shame them.

    As for all the bikes that disobey the laws?  Guess what?  There are tons of cars that break laws and make it hell of dangerous for bicyclists.  I don’t go blaming all the cars and ask that we don’t invest in roads.  I blame the dumb-asses in the few cars.  Like the guy who did a U turn in downtown (illegal) and came across the road and almost hit me, or the a-hole who almost doored me last week because he didn’t look opening his door.  So get off your high-horses, car driving “sector”.  You aren’t one amorphous blob, and neither are bicyclists.

    The problem for all of us is DUMB ASSES.

  2. Jim Frame

    More than 90 percent of Davis roads have bike paths

    I think you mean bike lanes; to my way of thinking, a bike path is separated from the street and off-limits to cars.  But even with that change, I’m skeptical about the 90% figure.  Perhaps it’s a matter of definitions.  How are you defining “roads” — arterials only, or every street in the city?  And how would you define “bike lane” — room on the street for two cars and two bikes, or an actual striped lane?


  3. PhilColeman

    As one with an approaching half-century of road cycling experience, I naturally become defensive with a pronouncement like what is found in this column. The tone and content embarrasses, shames, or offends folks like myself, and which combination of these emotions rise up depends on the individual cyclist.

    In my case, I’m embarrassed and shamed–because the criticisms of cycling compliance with intersection as described above– is totally accurate. Within the cycling culture, my views are shared, but they are more often rejected outright or mitigated. Defensive responses include irrelevant and irrational issues like motor vehicles consume natural resources and pollute the air, while we don’t. Motor vehicles are many times heavier and faster than we, so that gives us special dispensation in obedience to traffic laws. Because we use muscle power, we don’t have to complete full stop. It’s not energy efficient and discourages others from becoming cyclists. Like I said, “irrelevant and irrational,” but cited shamelessly all the same.

    I’ve had a open bet within our bike club that we go to a major downtown intersection controlled by stop signs. We count the number of traffic violations by bikes and motor vehicles. If the ratio was not 20-1 or more, I’d buy dinner. No takers.

    This comment is certain to bring wrath on me, but I’ve said it before, publicly: Too many cyclists are arrogant, feel a sense of entitlement while on public roads, and exceedingly sanctimonious when it comes to road courtesy and law compliance and comparison between bikes and cars. Frankly, I await with some perverse pleasure the organized powerful reaction from other road users to correct our collective inexcusable road behavior and blindness to common courtesy and safety. We deserve it.


    1. Barack Palin

      Thanks Mr. Coleman, my feelings exactly.  Every time I drive around this city I hardly if ever see any car driver completely blow through a stop sign, yes you will see some Hollywood stops.  On the other hand I see bikers blow through stop signs all the time.

      1. darelldd

        It is “more legal” to “not completely blow through” stop signs?

        How many cyclists do you see speeding through school zones? Heck we could go about this all day. I guess I’ll never understand why cyclists need to be held to the exact letter of the law, when ALL road users break the laws that are convenient for them to break.

      2. DavisBurns

        Barack, you don’t live on my corner.  I rarely, if ever, see a car come to a full stop instead they do a ‘bicycle stop’ which is to say slow down, look both ways and carry on.  The dangerous ones are just like the dangerous cyclists: they just blow through the intersection.  Lived here 26 years–seen countless non-stops..

        1. Barack Palin

          Then take Mr. Coleman up on his bet, go downtown with him sometime and do a comparison of how many cars run stop signs compared to bikes.  If you’re so sure of yourself you’ll get a free dinner out of him.  Mr. Coleman is waiting.

      3. tribeUSA

        Barack–as a daily cycler to UCD and back to east davis thru downtown; in my experience about 1/3 of bikers do come to a complete stop (or less than 1-2 mph) at stop signs, about half slow down substantially and do a kind of ‘California’ stop; and will yield right of way to a car coming thru crossways (or left turn); and about 1/6 do blow thru without slowing down much (or at all) and do not yield to cars that arrived at the intersection first.

        I don’t know, its kind of a wild mix, but I kind of enjoy it (I’m in the middle 50% of california stoppers, and I do make a point of yielding to cars that arrived first at the intersection). Perhaps we’ve been lucky there haven’t been many serious accidents lately (or have there?). I kind of like the sense of people relying on their intuition & temperament to guide their stop-sign style; even though I don’t really feel at ease around bikers that blow thru stop signs without slowing down or yielding–seems pretty rude; on the other hand if they hit a car, the fault (and injuries) is theirs and they must take ownership of any injuries to themselves!

    2. darelldd

      And do you then agree that until cyclists start obeying the infrastructure and laws that are designed for automobile drivers, that we should withhold proper cycling infrastructure (and laws)? Isn’t that a bit circular?

      The beatings will continue until moral is improved.

    3. Alan Miller

      I couldn’t disagree with Phil Coleman more.

      Stand on the corner of Third Street and J Street with a radar gun.  You will find almost NONE of the cars driving by are going 25 mph or less.  Some are doing 45 -50 mph in the middle of the five blocks between G and L with no stop signs.  Cars are dumb-asses too, and there is no collective, it is what individuals do.

      Your premise is flawed.  “We” deserved a collective nothing as bicyclists.  There is no collective.  I “go through” but do not “blow through” stop signs.  I always give the right-of-way.  Always.  But if there are no cars or peds, I slow, look twice, and then proceed, AS DOES EVERYONE ELSE.  We don’t deserve to be lumped into law-breakers because we go throught stop signs.  In fact, it was a Davis cop 30 years ago who gave me a ticket at 3rd and A streets, because I “blew through” the stop sign, and I deserved that ticket.  He said, “slow down, look both ways, and I don’t know a cop in this town that will give you a ticket.”  And in the years 1984-2014 I have NEVER got another ticket on my bike, even thought I have “proceeded without stopping” through stop signs TENS OF THOUSANDS OF TIMES, JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.S

      So stop beating yourself and all of us up in your own mind.  The problem is people who blow through stop signs without stopping, period.  Blaming courteous people and lumping us in with dumb-asses is not constructive.

        1. darelldd

          Read again what Phil Wrote. Here, I’ll help you:

          “We count the number of traffic violations by bikes and motor vehicles.”

          There are many ways to violate our traffic laws at intersections besides “blowing through stop signs.” Why do so many folks consider stopping at stop signs as the ONE metric of cycling traffic violation?

      1. DavisBurns

        That may be true for non organized cycling. I’ve been on the Davis Double and had police cars posted at stop signs to make sure we unclipped pedals and and put a foot on the ground.  It’s been a while so maybe they don’t do it anymore.  I always thought I’d be happy to put my foot on the ground as soon as car drivers opened their doors and put a foot on the ground.

    4. Frankly

      Well said.  I agree.

      If you think about it, this is just the good-guy, bad-guy PC-pop-culture filtering that we see.

      Bikes = good

      Cars – bad

      You see, if you align yourself with the good stuff, you get a free pass for bad behavior.  That is how it works.

      What happens when a Prius runs over a biker?  Is that slightly worse guy versus mostly better guy?   Or what about the bike that runs over the pedestrian?  Or how about a runner knocking down a walker?

      Is a Prius with two car seats equal to an expensive racing bike?  What about my truck loaded up with bikes in the back… I would see that at last giving me a few good-guy points to offset the very bad guy badge given to me by the PC police.

  4. DavisBurns

    spending several millions on bike lane infrastructure inspired by European design techniques, there is also a growing backlash among sectors of the town.

    The only reason the city is spending money on bike lane infrastructure is the development of the Cannery housing project. No one just thought it might be a good idea to improve safety for cyclists on Covell.  I don’t even think we are doing this for cyclists in general.  We want parents who live in the new project to  feel like its safe to let their kids ride bikes out of the new housing development.  Even the ingress and egress for motor vehicles is problematic.  New intersections are necessary because of the new housing so do not pretend the money is being spent just for the benefit of cyclists.  Intersections must be improved.  Shall we accommodate cyclists and pedestrians or ignore them and build for automobiles only. The Dutch junctions will allow cyclists and pedestrians  a measure of safety AND THEY ARE LESS EXPENSIVE THAN OTHER ALTERNATIVES. If the public prefers to spend more money for an American style solution, we can add a couple of very expensive crossings not-at-grade.
    When pedestrains disobey traffic rules and are rude, do we stop building sidewalks and crosswalks and tell them they can’t walk in the public roads because they are built for cars only?  This is an example of General Motors mentality.  Public roads are NOT primarily for the use of cars.  They are public roadways paid for by the public and intended to be used by the public.  As long as we assume the roads belong to car drivers we allow ourselves to believe the cars have the rights and all other users have to beg for the privilege of using the roads.  Can you say ‘separate but equal’?  I assure you automobiles are the white separatists and the bike and walkers are the n***ers who get the outdated textbooks.  The question is not about the need for infastructure to improve bike safety, the question is do bikes have equal rights under the law to use the public roads.  Except for freeways, the answer is yes, they are public roads.

    1. odd man out

      Davis Burns wrote: “Except for freeways, the answer is yes, they are public roads.” And, in fact, of California’s roughly 4000 miles of restricted access freeways, about 1000 miles are perfectly legal for cyclists, including our own State Hwy 113 between Roads 29 and 25A. Note that there are only “Pedestrians Prohibited” signs at the on ramps and “Bicycles Must Exit” signs at the off ramps.


    1. Alan Miller

      “i think bicyclists risk turning off the population through poor behavior.”

      What a stupid, selfish, self-important, car-centric comment.

      I think cars risk turning off the population through poor behavior.

      But you are probably don’t see my point, do you?

  5. DavisBurns

    Regarding cyclists been rude and ignoring traffic laws; since the problem has been identified as primarily a problem with university students, they city needs to work to get the university to provide MORE mandatory instruction on how to use the roads legally. They do offer some training.  The city could do the same but really it’s a policing problem.  Have the police enforce the laws, give them tickets starting with $25 and increasing with each violation.  I agree cyclists should carry ID and have their bikes registered so tickets can be tracked.  We live in a university town.  When students create problems, we deal with them but we look for constructive solutions.  If student renters are a problem, we don’t consider providing less housing or refusing to upgrade rental housing.  Your article is just wrongheaded.

    I, too, am bothered by cyclists without lights who disobey traffic rules but I see pedestrians do the same thing–they wear all dark clothing, have no lights and dart in front of cars and bikes.  Shall we have a black lash against pedestrians?

    Regarding cyclists running stop signs, if we used Dutch junctions at all intersections, they would not have to stop because they have the right of way.  Now there is a change I can support because I resent car drivers who are rude, who cut me off, who put my life in danger by ignoring the rules of the road because their vehicle is more dangerous than mine and can inflict more damage than mine.  I resent the way drivers run cyclists off the road resulting in serious injury or death and get a slap on the wrist because they always claim the cyclist came out of nowhere or swerved in front of their car.  When a car hits a cyclist it is assumed they aren’t at fault but that isn’t my experience.  Car drivers feel entitled to the road and believe they are being generous to share it with cyclists and when they don’t feel generous, they just take a little more room than is safe for the cyclist and we get hurt and they step on the gas.

    1. Alan Miller

      “Have the police enforce the laws, give them tickets starting with $25 and increasing with each violation.  I agree cyclists should carry ID and have their bikes registered so tickets can be tracked.”

      Impossible.  There isn’t and never will be a budget for the bicycle-cop army this would require.

      1. Barack Palin

        $20 license and traffic violation fees would create a big pool of money to pay for bike cops.  I’m personally against that but watch what you say is impossible.  Remember, a town full of liberals love taxes and fees.

      2. Barack Palin

        Let’s see, $20 a bike license at let’s say @ 60,000 bikes in Davis gives us a nice little tidy sum of $1,200,00. That’s got to be good for at least a dozen bike cops.  Add to that the extra revenue from the tickets they write and maybe we could knock off a big chunk out of our city budget deficit.  A new fee and a liberal’s dream.

        1. South of Davis

          BP wrote:

          > Let’s see, $20 a bike license at let’s say @ 60,000

          > bikes in Davis gives us a nice little tidy sum of

          > $1,200,00. 

          UC Davis already makes the kids pay $10 (per bike) for a license, I wonder where all that money goes?

          “All bikes on the UC Davis campus must have a current California Bicycle License. A new license costs $10 and a renewal is $5.”

        2. Alan Miller

          “Let’s see, $20 a bike license at let’s say @ 60,000 bikes in Davis gives us a nice little tidy sum of $1,200,00.”

          Yes, but could illegals get bike licenses?

  6. Barack Palin

    Regarding cyclists running stop signs, if we used Dutch junctions at all intersections, they would not have to stop because they have the right of way. 

    Dutch junctions look very dangerous and will result in more accidents.  Bikers blowing through intersections will create havoc.


    1. Davis Progressive

      “Dutch junctions look very dangerous and will result in more accidents.  Bikers blowing through intersections will create havoc.”

      they won’t be able to blow through intersections.  you don’t see a whole lot of bikes going against traffic lights, just stop signs.

      1. Barack Palin

        Did you see the Dutch junction video at a four way corner?  Even in the video that was promoting the Dutch junction one car had to come to a somewhat abrupt stop because a biker blew through the intersection right in front of the car while they were making a right turn.  That format looked like an invitation to death.

        1. DavisBurns

          That is because the cyclists have the right of way.  The car has to stop for the cyclist because it is safer that way, the driver of the car doesn’t have to expend his energy to get the car going again and the point of the Dutch junctions is to keep the cyclists moving, giving them right of way and encouraging more people to use bikes.

          Car drivers are going to hate them because for the first time in their lives they will have to regularly yield to bikes.  Welcome to my world where so far it’s been bikes yielding to cars.  Your turn to take second place.

        2. Barack Palin

          Car drivers are going to hate them because for the first time in their lives they will have to regularly yield to bikes.  Welcome to my world where so far it’s been bikes yielding to cars.  Your turn to take second place.

          There will have to be a re-education of drivers in Davis who will now have to be on the lookout for bikes darting into the Dutch junction intersections if they get implemented.  Even if Davis drivers get acquainted with them how about out of towners driving into or through Davis?  Talk about a recipe for accidents.  BTW, the “Your turn to take second place” statement is precisely what’s going to get the Dutch junction shelved.

        3. dlemongello

          The car is supposed to let the bike/ped who is going straight go first anyway/already.  This is ridiculous to be pitting one against the other. Same with the right turn pocket format, the bike/ped goes first.

          P.S  There is no reason for a bike to come to a full stop, yielding and then going when it’s your turn is what matters.

  7. 2cowherd

    I have lived in Davis since 2004. There was traffic enforcement in Davis then – more for cars than bicycles. There is virtually no traffic enforcement now  – I am not sure why, but I suspect budget problems. Aa a result, cars and bicyclists feel free to get away with traffic infractions. Check out the intersection of Hampton and Shasta in West Davis to see examples. I wonder if a concerted campaign to fine those who don’t obey the traffic laws might help to remind drivers, bicyclists AND pedestrians that Davis is serious about safety on the roads. AND – think of the revenue it might generate!!!

  8. Miwok

    I show the respect I am given by the bicyclist, whether I am walking or driving, or riding a motorcycle. I could care less about a person who is riding on the wrong side of the street, they will die soon with that kind of stupidity.

    I do distinguish between a kid on a bike and an adult, however. Ignorance of the unwritten rules can be mitigated by signs, much like the new greenie signs I see on the lanes around town. And even when there is a “Bike Road” separate from the “Auto Road”, many of the “professionals” group together three and four wide and ride all over in their little spandex uniforms on the Auto road. Their example is a comic representation of how far common sense has departed.

    Like the pedestrian who walks in front of a truck because “they have the right of way”, bicyclists are risking much more than respect behaving as they do. I have seen many of them riding with no hands on the bars, texting away with headphones in their ears. And when one of them flips me off because I cause them to stop at a stop sign, I am following the rules of the road. If they were in a car, it would not be much different.

    I agree with Alan!

    1. DavisBurns

      And even when there is a “Bike Road” separate from the “Auto Road”, many of the “professionals” group together three and four wide and ride all over in their little spandex uniforms on the Auto road. Their example is a comic representation of how far common sense has departed.

      First of all, it is perfectly legal for cyclists to use the public road even if there is a separate bike trail available. That is because they are public roads.  Really, really a difficult concept to comprehend, for otherwise intelligent people.

      You say they lack common sense.  You are wrong.  Those professionals in spandex are likely traveling in excess of 20 MPH and there are several of them. Those experienced cyclists know they safer and less of a hazard on the public road. Should they ride single file? Maybe but so the cars need to pass them with caution the same as they use caution when passing a slow moving car? Yes, so if they ride single file, cars are more likely to figure they can pass with oncoming traffic.  If the motorist misjudged, who goes in the ditch?  Who gets hurt? Who gets the bejesus scared out of them? Not the negligent motorist and if someone is run off the road, the motorist doesn’t need to stop and almost never does anyway.  Nope, those folks in spandex riding in a group, are behaving rationally.

      Let’s take Russell Blvd as an example.  It isn’t safe for several people riding in a group (or even one cyclist traveling fast) to use that bike trail, in fact, when you’re riding fast bike trails aren’t usually a safe place to ride.  Users of separated bike trails include walkers, runners, roller bladders, children in strollers, children on tricycles, children of all ages on bikes and adults on bikes traveling about 10 to 15 miles an hour.  Those users straggle across the bike trail and unless you’re going pretty slow, someone will get hurt or at least scared.

      1. Barack Palin

        So walkers on a bike trail can walk four abreast and block the entire path and not let bikers pass for fear that the biker will knock them off the path and into a tree?  Are you good with that?

        1. DavisBurns

          It’s a kind of dodge, accommodate, yield, move over, slow down and pass with care.  When four people are walking abreast on a bike trail, cyclists generally say “passing on your left” and folks move over.  If they don’t or are slow to respond, the cyclist slows down and says it again.  But this does require the cyclist not expect to go very fast.  You should check out the bike trail from 113 west on Russell on Sunday morning.  You will see what I mean.  It is quite pleasant to see so many different users managing a shared space with respect.  Sometimes it’s not even four abreast–it’s two families with kids of different ages going a different speeds sometimes stopping in the middle of the road to chat and wait for the stragglers–and yet everyone is reasonably courteous and it works because those professionals in spandex aren’t part of the mix.

  9. darelldd

    Ah yes. The tired refrain of, “cyclists must earn the right to use the roads,” with the implicit message that automobile drivers have a god-given right to this same infrastructure regardless of their law-abiding track record. I keep hoping that Davis will prove to be more enlightened than the general public when it comes to transportation options. And I am once again, sadly, disabused of my hope.

    Proper transportation infrastructure is not contingent upon abiding by the traffic laws for a particular mode share. If that were true, we’d have to rip out all the roads and signals and parking that are designed for automobiles. Why do the people who speed through school zones, tailgate, drift into the bike lane to pass left-turning cars on the right, fail to merge into the bike lane before making right turns, turn right without stopping at stop signs, text and talk while driving, drop school kids off in the bike lane – why do they feel so strongly that a person on a bike must abide by all traffic laws in order to be granted proper infrastructure and even the very USE of our public roads?

    All road users break the laws for their own reasons. It might be for safety, for courtesy or for their own convenience. Cyclists don’t break traffic laws because they’re on a bike. They break some laws because cyclists are drivers faced with the same challenge of getting where they wish to go, using the transportation choice they’ve made, in convenient fashion. Just like the drivers of automobiles who decide which laws make sense to them at any given moment.

    The oddest part for me is the contention that we should withhold funding for proper cycling infrastructure – and thus force cyclists to use roads that are designed almost exclusively for automobile travel, as well as force cyclists to abide by laws that are designed almost exclusively for automobile travel – until such a time when cyclists become perfectly adept at abiding by our improper infrastructure and laws. When do you suppose the circular argument will stop? How long do we keep trying to pound the round peg of cycling through the square hole of automobile infrastructure?

    Proper cycling infrastructure (and by that I do NOT mean substandard width bike lanes in the door zone, as so many of Davis’ bike lanes are) is the solution to the complaints of traffic violations by cyclists. Relevant infrastructure is not a reward to be dangled just out of reach until all cyclists in town toe the line and blindly follow the rules that often make precious little sense for the cycling mode. Feel free to flip things around and see how it looks from the other side. Imagine that we were to marginalize the automobile drivers into their own too-narrow lanes off to the side, in the gutter pan and against the curb or parked cars. These lanes will disappear at intersections, onramps and anywhere else where they won’t easily fit. Have drivers step out and press a button to cross certain busy streets. Then we’ll leave some bikes parked in those “car” lanes. We’ll dump our green waste in them. Heck, we should probably even spent untold million$ on a new bicycle parking garage in downtown. And then… THEN… if automobile drivers can manage to abide by our bicycle laws (20 mph max speed everywhere at all times, for example) then maybe we can discuss opening up a few more automobile lanes with more appropriate widths and conveniences. But if we find people trying to speed along at 25 mph, or speeding up to cross an intersection on yellow, then the deal is off.

    We are supposed to have equality in transportation modes. Obviously, that’s a lofty goal that is far, far away. And until we reach that goal, let’s refrain talking about how the existing improper infrastructure is treated.

    1. Alan Miller

      “The oddest part for me is the contention that we should withhold funding for proper cycling infrastructure – and thus force cyclists to use roads that are designed almost exclusively for automobile travel, as well as force cyclists to abide by laws that are designed almost exclusively for automobile travel – until such a time when cyclists become perfectly adept at abiding by our improper infrastructure and laws.”\\

      That was the premise of the article.  And what a dumb premise it is.

      1. David Greenwald

        That was not the premise of the article. The premise of the article is that there might be a backlash against bicyclists if a way is not found to change some of this. I’m not an advocate of doing that. I remain a very strong supporter of bicycling and bike infrastructure.

        1. Alan Miller

          OK, I believe you.

          The way you set it up, however, was to talk about infrastructure needs, and then transition to a letter in the Enterprise complaining about bicycle behavior as an amorphous blob.  That setup painted all bicyclists as the problem while cars are individual, perpetuating the stereotype that, of course, cars are the norm on roads and bicycles are the odd man out.  Reading other comments here, I wasn’t the only one who saw it that way.  I purposefully exaggerated my comment at you, because that journalistic technique was divisive as the starting gate, and not needed to start a discussion that could have been more productive.

  10. dlemongello

    First of all, problems with people ignoring existing laws and infrastructure that are already in place is a separate issue from what infrastructure is best to put in place.  With that said, I want to address the latter.

    The Mayor Pro Tem, Rob Davis, cares, really cares, about bike safety.  As do I, he rides rather than drives a car just about everywhere.  And the safeness of a configuration does not differ by the age or capability of the rider.

    I quote from above: CBS 13 reports, “Two intersections will be transformed into Dutch junctions, which [Robb] Davis says will help make bikes more visible to drivers.”

    Really, has this decision already been made?  I thought they were “studying” it.  And I  disagree about what configuration is more safe.  The 2 main choices are the 1) the Dutch junction and 2) the configuration we already have in place with the separate right turn pocket.  And there is another factor as well.  I was wondering what the cost to make the change will be if we change to the Dutch, this article says “millions of $$$”.    I will get into detail in a moment why I hold the opinion I do, but I believe those “million of dollars” will be spent to fix something that “ain’t broke” if we go this route.

    Mayor Pro Tem, Rob Davis says above “Instead of white paint to distinguish a bike lane, barriers will be built to separate bikes and cars.”

    Both of the 2 choices I mention above have this feature.  What is NOT possible in any at-grade configuration is to separate a bike (or pedestrian) going straight from a car turning right, ultimately they must emerge from their barriers and cross paths.  It is the configuration of those barriers that differ in the 2 scenarios.  The other thing that differs is that 6 of the 8 corners (2 four corner intersections) in question already have the right turn pocket configuration in place, necessitating only 2 corner retrofits.  The Dutch would need all 8 corners to be rebuilt.  There would be a big difference in cost.

    Now, we are talking about safety so we are talking about what a life is worth?  We all know the answer, you can’t put a price on it.  So if I believed spending the millions of dollars was safer, I would not be writing this.

    So, to compare the features of these intersections and their affects on function and safety:

    With a right turn pocket, the crosswalk has 2 parts, first where the right-turning motor vehicle and Bike/ped have to cross paths, then the motor vehicle is already gone when the bike/ped is actually  crossing the main part of street.  There are 2 components at play here that contribute to safety, the visual and the mental cues.  Both the Dutch and the pocket create an angle where the car and bike/ped can easily SEE each other if they are looking.  But separating the right-turn step from the going-straight step in the case of the pocket creates a MENTAL reminder for the bike/ped going straight that there is very likely  a right-turner to pay attention to.  Also, once the right-turners and go-straighters in the off-road bikeway have already been pre-separated in the case of the right turn pocket, a cyclist choosing to use the on-road instead of off-road bike lane will also have been pre-separated from a car/truck, and free to just proceed at that point.  This is the feature that would have avoided the tragic death at Poleline and Covell some years ago.

    In the Dutch, there is no pre-separation of bike/peds and motor vehicles, so when it is time to go straight and the way looks clear ahead, actually there can easily be a motor vehicle  about to turn right.  At that point the eye and mind of the bike/ped is looking straight and has lost the clear awareness of the possible right-turner with whom they are sharing the intersection. The visual angle is good for the motor vehicle to see the bike/ped, if they are paying attention, but the bike/ped has to REMEMBER to look back to make sure the way is clear.  Again, the MENTAL cue in the case of the separate turn pocket is much more intense.  The one place the pocket needs further addressing is motor vehicle SPEED.  For that I would suggest equipping the pocket with those FLASHING lights to YIELD that seem to be appearing around town quite a bit lately.

    1. Miwok

      It is funny to me that Davis reconfigured the Downtown with the design elements at many intersections that this shows, but they planted a tree in the island supposed to improve visibility, and thrust the bikes into the auto lane where the road juts out for the stop sign. They also made a small sidewalk ramp that a wheelchair cannot negotiate, nor two people walk side by side.

      I also note NO conversation about the two different but arguably closest intersections resembling these Dutch Intersections, which have included bicycle lights and restrictions on car movement. I speak of the Russell and Anderson/La Rue intersection, which need improvement as they tweak to get it right, and the Russell and Sycamore/Trader Joe’s intersection.

      Any opinion there as to the success of those designs?

      1. dlemongello

        I am not as intimately familiar with Russell/Andersen/LaRue and Russell/Sycamore, but I have used them many times. Whereas I use Covell Poleline and Covell/J EVERY DAY.

        Covell/Syc has no R turn pockets and is only 3-way for motor vehicles.  The striping does a pretty good job of separating out the different path choices, when the users follow it, Ahem.

        Russell/Andersen/LRue is a real mish mosh, R turn pockets on the La Rue (south) side, striped separation on the north side, major intermingling of go-straighters and R turners there.

        I’ll tell you where they made the real mess, L and Drexel.  They put in barriers that forced cars and bikes to use the same through lanes, peds have a lane and concrete islands fill up much needed space where crowds gather as kids try to get to and from Holmes. These islands block flow of where bikes should be able to go.  What they must have spent to make that mess could make one’s head spin.

        1. Barack Palin

          I drive down L a lot and you have to be very careful in the morning and when school lets out.  For the most part the kids on bikes pay no attention to the stop signs.  Maybe Holmes should stick a monitor out there once in awhile and do a little education on what that 8-sided red sign represents.

        2. Alan Miller

          That I agree with.  Islands and bulb-outs are both stupid, because peds gather nearer the road, and then after the car in already accelerating through the intersection, the peds step right into the car’s path.  This wasn’t possible before bulb-outs and islands.  Blow them all up.

      2. Alan Miller

        “Russell and Anderson/La Rue intersection”  Not even CLOSE to a Dutch Junction.  This intersection has right turn cuts.

        Russel and Sycamore is a T, also not representative.

    2. Alan Miller

      Donna, the whole purpose of spending the money on the Dutch Junctions is not compared to what we have now, it is to rebuilt several intersections along Covell as Dutch Junctions INSTEAD of spending the money on a single grade-separated crossing at Covell and J/L.  I disagree about the visibility of the turn cuts for right turns.  The whole purpose of rebuilding to dutch junctions is visibility.  I was at both city council meetings where these were discussed in detail including a presentation from the Dutch consultant.

      1. dlemongello

        Alan, I have been remiss in attending meetings I must confess :(, but I have been following the process.  I understand completely about visibility and how the DJ works and I think the  R turn pocket affords the visibility AND has the additional advantage of the pre-separation of the R turners from the go -straighters, especially for those bikers using the on-road bike lanes.  I believe a DJ would not have saved Ellie G. and a R turn pocket would have.

        Money is money, why tear out 6 perfectly good corners to put in DJs, the millions$$ could be better spent, that’s my opinion.

        1. DavisBurns

          Donna, I have looked at the Dutch junctions and I am really impressed. I think they will work and what’s more, they have been working in other countries for a long time.  I think we should give them a try and those intersections will have to be improved in some way.  It isn’t like they are adequate as they are now.  I respect your experience as a person who rides a lot but sometimes a new approach is a better solution. I believe this is a better solution…just one we aren’t familiar with yet.

  11. Biddlin

    ” Frankly, I await with some perverse pleasure the organized powerful reaction from other road users to correct our collective inexcusable road behavior and blindness to common courtesy and safety. We deserve it.”

    Having been financially victimised by a  reckless and uninsured bicyclist and later getting caught in a “Critical M-asshole “rally, I have advocated for decades that bicyclists over the age of 15 and all bicycles should be licensed and insured for a minimum of $1K liability. Before one of you cries, “Bicycles can’t do that much damage,” I would refer you to your local automotive body shop to observe repair prices. A few years ago an unlit, uninsured, bicyclist, ran a 4 way stop and hit my new Ford Mustang, causing over $1k in damage.

    In the UK, such behaviour by cyclists is not dealt with lightly. I favour similar policies at home.

    On a small green note of satisfaction; in a Prius, the bicyclists can’t hear you coming!


    1. Alan Miller

      “On a small green note of satisfaction; in a Prius, the bicyclists can’t hear you coming!”

      Gee, that’s about as funny as rape humor.

      My very tiny violin is playing for you in sympathy for your fender.  Boo freakin’ hoo.

      I do agree about Critical Massholes.

    2. DavisBurns

      In Europe there are serious consequences for motorists who injure cyclists.  That combined with good infrastructure has resulted in fewer cyclist deaths and injuries. I favor similar policies here at home.

  12. John Obermeier

    David, you can do better than this tired old attitude.  Please read the article from Odd Man Out.

    For those of us who do get on bikes, the experience of illegal right turns by car drivers in front of us in bike lanes is an everyday occurance. Read the California Drivers Manual.  The law says the car driver has to merge into the bike lane and wait for the bike traffic in front of them before turning.  My observation is that about 80% of Davis drivers violate this every day.

    Please don’t add to the rhetoric of bike rider vs driver.  The vast majority of adult age bike advocates are also car drivers.  We are all human and we could all do a better job of following the laws and practicing respect.  The real difference is that when accidents happen, it is far more likely that the bicyclist will get seriously injured or killed.  Policies that stive for a better balance for all transportation modes is a benefit to all.


      1. Alan Miller

        “sensing that frustration rising in the community.”

        Or using a couple of letters-to-the-editor from grumbly old farts with a car-centric attitude problem as the basis for an article with a poor premise.

    1. Miwok

      Policies are fine, and they cover most of the problems.

      My father is blind in one eye and has problems with the other, but still insists on driving everywhere and he is way over 80. He ran an ambulance off the road the other day. I think taking his license will not stop him. He is out there with cars trucks and bicycles. At night.

      My fear is I might be the same kind of driver in twenty years…  You cannot legislate this,

      1. Tia Will

        ‘I think taking his license will not stop him.’

        Probably not. But taking away his keys, or his vehicles if necessary would. This is what we had to do with my step father before he killed someone. He was furious and raged. But then settled down, and lived another 10 years without having harmed anyone. 

  13. Nancy Price

    Many car drivers don’t even know the rules of the road when it comes to Roundabouts.

    Maybe David could research and write an article about the how accidents between bicycles and cars are reported and judged. A few years ago, as I drove East along 7th to F street. I made a full stop at F look both directions twice, seeing no car OR NO BIKE(s) I proceeded across F street when to my horror about 1/2 way across F my headlights picked up a bike with no headlights, no reflector and the rider with no reflective marks on his clothing. He didn’t see me in time and rode straight into me broadside and fell over. I was totally freaked out, but when he got up more or less unharmed with only a few small scatches you can imagine my relief..that quickly turned to anger. This was a young man, married, not yet with a family who was in the Ph. D. program at UCD in engineering and well, he just hadn’t gotten around to fixing his light. We traded information and did not call the police as I realize I should have. But when I spoke later to the police, I was told it was my fault as a moving violation because I had entered the intersection.

    Davis is often in competition with Portland, OR for top prize ….but when I am there, it seems to me that a preponderance of bike riders have helmets, reflectors and reflective clothing, lights, etc., …there is a real  bike culture..and it is a city of youth and some downtown academic institutions.

    I fully support improved infrastructure to encourage and make bike riding for all ages…for all sorts of reasons in particular to reduce our carbon footprint. But we also need by various means to develop a responsible/accountable bike-riding culture.

    If we don’ have enough police, maybe we can have citizens appointed who are empowered to make citizen “arrests” or citations.  If bike riders at least had to register and have some kind of license, you could have some process for review after 3 arrests/citations.   Something does need to be done.



    1. Alan Miller

      “But when I spoke later to the police, I was told it was my fault as a moving violation because I had entered the intersection.”

      Say what?
      “If bike riders at least had to register and have some kind of license, you could have some process for review after 3 arrests/citations.”

      Because a larger bureaucracy will solve the bicycle issues.  Uh huh.




  14. Robb Davis

    A few comments:

    1. The City Council has voted to move forward with “Dutch Junctions” or “protected intersections” at J and L Streets.  In the future such intersection treatments may be used elsewhere in this corridor or in the City.  They will be integrated into an improved bike path (Class 1 bike lane) on the south side of Covell and possibly to a similar treatment heading south on J.  In the future there may also be a Class 1 on the north side of Covell (I support that and it is part of the Covell Corridor plan).

    2. Please go to this site for a fuller explanation of these intersections:  This site also has other information on the design.

    3. It is important to note that no decisions have been made yet about how these intersections will be signalized.  The image that shows a cyclist moving through the intersection with a car turning right is a case in which cyclists on the Class 1 have the same green light as cars going in the same direction.  Thus, they do not have any “right of way” but rather have the same green as cars.  Other signal options–including a bike-only phase–are possible as the video points out.  As far as safety for right turning cars note that the Dutch Junction requires lower turning speeds (why I prefer them to free rights) and enables car drivers to have cyclists more in their peripheral vision while turning. The design also places cyclists in front of turning cars in a protected zone.

    4. There is no doubt that these intersection treatments are a response to the Cannery project and increased traffic flowing into and out of it, but improvements to the corridor have been discussed since before a specific Cannery project was set in place.  Resources coming from traffic mitigation and other funds generated by the Cannery project are being used to finally implement changes in the corridor.

    5. It is unfortunate that the newscast did not include my extensive comments to the reporter on the challenge of grade-separated crossings leaving Cannery.  Unfortunately, the issue of a grade-separated crossing to the west/southwest is still not resolved.  The newscaster also got one thing wrong: there WILL be paint on the streets themselves as the current bike lanes on Covell will be maintained in the new design.  This is a departure from the true “Dutch Junction” but fits with the reality that some cyclists are capable of riding with traffic on street surfaces.

    6. On the issue of enforcement: Brett Lee has done a great job asking for stepped up enforcement of light use in the City and we will be getting an update on that in an upcoming Council meeting.  I met last evening with the Campus Police Chief and we discussed the greatly stepped up light distribution program on campus.  I expect that our next round of data collection will demonstrate increased use of lights.  The issue of traffic law enforcement–both bicycles and cars–is very much before us.

    1. DavisBurns

      Robb Davis,

       As far as safety for right turning cars note that the Dutch Junction requires lower turning speeds (why I prefer them to free rights) and enables car drivers to have cyclists more in their peripheral vision while turning.

      I believe we are trying to move the driver and cyclist so the cyclist is NOT in the drivers peripheral vision but is seen in front of the driver.

      1. Robb Davis

        Sorry DavisBurns – That was poorly expressed on my part.  The idea is to slow the right turn and provide an opportunity to have a better visual of the cyclist.  I was using “peripheral” vision only to compare it to the current situation on a free right where the cyclist may actually be out of the peripheral vision (somewhat behind) of the car driver.  The point is to make the cyclist more visible.

    2. Alan Miller

      ” the greatly stepped up light distribution program on campus.”

      Now THAT is a real solution.

      But in any case, there will always be a percentage of bicycles that are not lit up.  Always.

      That said, Davis ACE now sells colored and rainbow LED arrays to make your bicycle into a Burning Man art project.  Instead of being an unlit dumb-ass, why not be a flamboyant flashing multi-color art project?  At least if someone hits you with a car you can yell, “What the F—!”.

  15. DavisBurns

    I was told it was my fault as a moving violation because I had entered the intersection.

    While the officer may be partially correct, if a car was driving without lights, surely that driver would have been at fault. Once again this is a student at UCD. If you of on campus there appear to be no traffic rules for cyclists.  There are lots and lots of them and they go every which way and the campus is so well lit they don’t need lights to see the road.  That’s where they spend most of their time.  They are just riding the same in town as they do on campus.  If we turn off the streetlights maybe they will need lights to see and with increased contrast their lights and reflectors will make them more visible.  Yes it’s a radical idea.  Or we could  increase the light at night and not require cars or cyclists to use lights.  After all, pedestrians are required to carry a light and I find them to be as dangerous as unlit cyclists.

  16. Robb Davis

    Oh… one more thing.  I think our greatest hope for creating experienced and safe cycling is educating and training young people in cycling skills and rules.  This fall Davis Bicycles! used a group of volunteers to run “bike rodeos” at three elementary schools: Waldorf, Cesar Chavez and Willett.  These are excellent opportunities and are wholly dependent on parents’ groups and volunteers who run them after school.  We should all encourage more of these rodeos and do what we can to maximize participation.  We will do more in the spring.  Please contact me if you would like to volunteer.  Christal Waters has been doing an excellent job putting them together with school parents.

    1. Miwok

      Working the places I have worked as a consultant/employee, the biggest problem of change is communicating the change. Sweeping changes are often communicated without telling people how to navigate them, and this seems to be no exception. I hope part of the change is incremental, or if not, then education and publicity at all levels available as well as signs help the cycling and automotive public.

      Starting young people in driving at an early age, and through the school years gives me comfort they will not be totally ignorant when they get behind the wheel. Kudos, Mr Davis for pointing that out.

      I also live in Woodland, so outreach about these new intersections needs to have some legs. Don’t just spring it on us..

  17. Alan Miller

    Let’s bottom this:  If you’ve lived in Davis for awhile, you remember several places in and near town where a car hit a bicycle and the bicyclist DIED.  5th and L Streets, Lake and Russel, Putah Creek Road, etc.

    Name one instance where a bicyclist hit a car, and the car driver died.

    Build the infrastructure for bicyclists; there is a reason it is needed.

        1. DavisBurns

          There’s the rub.  The cyclist is dead and the car driver says ‘he came out of nowhere! He swerved in front of me! It wasn’t my fault,”  I heard a guy taking about cyclists in Tucson who have taken to wearing video cameras like car dash cams.  Problem is a cyclist needs to mount it on his butt to record who hit him.  He said they mounted them on the handlebars.  I don’t see how that would provide any useful information.

  18. Anon

    John Obermeier: “Policies that strive for a better balance for all transportation modes is a benefit to all.”

    This is the key point.  Our roads are supposed to accommodate all modes of transportation.  By using traffic calming measures, bike lanes, etc., it decreases the friction between the various modes of transportation using our roads.  That is an entirely separate issue from whether bicycle or automobile laws are enforced/obeyed.  If the city has better road and bike path infrastructure, it is more likely the laws will be obeyed and there is less likelihood of accidents.  Will there ever be a perfect system? No.  Can we make improvements?  Always.

  19. ryankelly

    I think the real problem is that many bike riders are unpredictable in their behavior.  When cars are unpredictable, there is invariably an accident.  As a car driver AND a bike rider, I can never really tell if the other bike rider is going to follow rules.  Will he slow at stop signs and completely stop if the intersection isn’t clear for him to proceed?  Will he run the light?  Will he turn left at an intersection from the bike lane on the right?   Can I even see him while riding at night?  Will he ride on the wrong side of the road against traffic where I can predict that he will be when I make turns?  Will he wait behind me when I merge over to make a right turn or will he try to come up on my right and block me from making my turn?

    I find the groups of spandex wearing riders are by far much more predictable in their behavior than the students and others that are traveling around town.  I have no problem with slowing to pass safely.  I appreciate the bike rider that signals and then merges into my lane to make left turns.  I’m willing to slowly follow him through the intersection.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the bike that slows at stop signs and waiting their turn.



  20. Frankly

    My son lives in Chico.  He absolutely hates driving in Davis.  He has a theory that I think makes a bit of sense.   UCD has higher academic admission requirements than does Chico.   He says that Davis is more stacked with dominate left brain types.  If you remember the old Roger Sperry research on the difference between those two brain hemispheres, the left brain is where language and mathematical computations… the right brain controls spatial processing and abilities.  It deals with visual imagery and related decision-making.

    I think he is right (and he is dominate right-brained too).

    But I think this is only part of the explanation for why Davis is so much more a hazardous place to travel in… the other reason is human population density and limited retail choice.  Basically the increasing din of frustration and complaints is directly related to our history of NIMBYism that has led to a city with a school-time population of about 80,000 people (counting the population of campus residents) and most of the city’s retail concentrated in a small downtown core area.

    Here is what I would say to all those loudly complaining about all the traffic and all the stupid drivers, bikers and walkers… get used to it.  And appreciate how it is today, because it is only going to get worse.

    1. DavisBurns

      Frankly, I remember the right brain, left brain theories and I also remember they are discredited, simplistic and outdated. It is a nice simple way to think about behavior but human brains and their behavior aren’t that simple.  That’s why the ideas aren’t espoused any longer, the theory didn’t hold up and the world moved on to new theories.

      1. Frankly

        Actually, your understanding is stale.  We are back to considering this left-right brain lateralization theory but also including the point that connections also matter… that both hemispheres work independently, but also work in concert.

        But instead of getting in to a scientific study discussion, regardless of how the brain functions, the point is that UCD filters for more logic-brains, and CSU Chico filters to more spatially-creative-brains.

        I absolutely see this and know that strongly academically-gifted people tend to more frequently be quite spatially aloof, distracted and clumsy.   That captain of the lacrosse team that graduated 4.3 GPA and went on to get a PHD and a successful career as an entrepreneur while also racing cars for a hobby… well let’s just say that he/she is exceedingly rare.

        I certainly experience this difference driving in Davis and Chico.  There is a large population of Davis drivers and bikers and walkers that don’t seem to be able to process all the movement around them and travel like only the space immediately in front of them is contemplate-able and important.  In Chico the traveling experience is more like an athletic event where drivers, bikers and walkers seem to sense, see and know where everyone else around them is and which way they are going.

        1. Miwok

          Haha, I raced cars for a while, and guess what? The same dumb things people do on the street are the same dumb things they do on the track!

          I lost a lot of my disgust with people on the street after driving a race car, because all of the same things happened, just at 100MPH. I just know the ones in daily traffic are NOT even aware they don’t have a clue. 🙂

        2. tribeUSA

          Frankly-yes, so the UC Davis-ites are getting a more balanced education (and brain lobes) by participating in the daily biking bumbling meander! Interesting to hear its different at Chico, next time I’m over that way I’ll have to stop around the bikeways and observe the Chico way–I do agree its possible for the mix of walkers/bikers/drivers in Davis (especially downtown) to be more harmonious.

        1. Alan Miller

          Frank Lee, you have a habit of not recognizing my jokes and then ruining them by commenting on them as if they were a serious comment.

          You see what I did there?  I said people who made theories had small brains, and then I myself made a theory, showing I had a small brain.

          Humor never survives explanation.  #sigh#

  21. DavisBurns


    Will he wait behind me when I merge over to make a right turn or will he try to come up on my right and block me from making my turn?

    I am not nitpicking but if you are in the right turn lane, which can be the bike lane, then it should be pretty hard for him to pull up on your right side.  It really is legal for cars to move all the way to the right to make a right turn.  If there are cyclists in the bike lane, the car has to get behind them. I think drivers don’t understand the law.  Maybe they think it isn’t okay for a car to be in a marked bike lane.  I have seen some confusion about that with the green markings on 5th street.

    1. ryankelly

      There is always the gutter.  Bike riders will squish by, even when I am fully in the bike lane making the right turn.  I think that they think the real estate is theirs and theirs alone.

      1. Barack Palin

        ryankelly, I’ve had the same situation happen to me where I had to slam my brakes.  Once you’re in the bike lane to make a right hand turn you don’t think you have to still look back to your right for bikes.

  22. odd man out

    Alan Miller wrote: “Let’s bottom this:  If you’ve lived in Davis for awhile, you remember several places in and near town where a car hit a bicycle and the bicyclist DIED.  5th and L Streets, Lake and Russel, Putah Creek Road, etc.”

    I’ve lived in Davis continually since 1983. To my knowledge, in that time, there have only been two cyclist fatalities within the city of Davis.

    From DavisWiki:

    July 16, 1997: Ellie Gerhardy
    Ellie’s Memorial Ellison Clagett “Ellie” Gerhardy (April 14, 1976 – July 16, 1997) was killed while riding her bicycle south on Pole Line Road in East Davis, crossing Covell Boulevard at a green light. She was a 21 year-old UC Davis senior, studying Nutritional Science, and was to be the co-captain of the UC Davis swimming team for the 1997-98 season.
    She was bicycling at about 6:00pm to her residence at the Kappa Alpha Theta house from her summer jobs as a swimming teacher for the Davis Recreation Department and assistant coach for the Davis Athletic Club Swimming Team.
    Javier Pimentel of Woodland, driving only the front cab of his tomato truck, was turning right from Pole Line Road onto westbound Covell on the same green light. He did not see Ellie crossing Covell to the right of his truck. The two collided, and Ellie was crushed beneath the truck’s tires. After stopping briefly, Pimentel continued to his destination at the now-defunct Hunt Wesson Plant, where he was found by police hosing off his truck.
    Pimentel was sentenced on April 14, 1998 (Ellie’s 22nd birthday) to 185 days in Yolo County Jail and five years of probation. He pleaded no contest to one count of felony hit and run. Additional misdemeanor charges of vehicular manslaughter, providing false information to a police officer and destruction of evidence were dropped as part of the plea agreement.
    A wooden-cross memorial to Ellie has been present at the northwest corner of Covell and Pole Line since 1998.

    February 5, 2003: Peter Kaufman
    Peter G. Kaufman (August 6, 1950 – February 5, 2003) was a resident of Davis. He was hit by a motor vehicle as he tried to cross westbound Covell Boulevard on his bicycle, east of Anderson Road. He was not wearing a helmet. He died later the same day at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. (Sacramento Bee, February 7, 2003)
    Alan’s reference to to Lake and Russell probably refers to the woman jogger (UCD law student) struck and killed by a motorist on a very foggy morning while she crossed Russell. The Putah Creek Rd. cyclist fatality was not at all near Davis. There have been a couple on Rd. 99, too, but both in the county.

  23. DavisBurns

    Interesting article on bike fatalities in the US. States that spend more money on infrastructure for bikes have lower fatality rates.  California has 6.3 per 10.000 riders while Mississippi has 70.4 per 10,000 riders.


  24. Ken

    “They suggested, ‘A license plate and registration should be required to own a bike and use it in town. Also, bicyclists should have to pass a written test on rules of the road and bike paths in order to obtain a license.'”

    These suggestions seem to come up a lot and they are very, very uninformed. It is important to understand that the Vehicle Code preempts local ordinances except where specifically permitted and that no local government may enact a penalty unless specifically authorized by the Vehicle Code. (CVC section 21)

    First, the Vehicle Code allows local governments to enact ordinances prohibiting operation of unlicensed bicycles. However, the Vehicle Code also limits the licensing fee to $2 per year. (CVC section 39004) It also limits the fine for operating an unlicensed bicycle to $10. (CVC section 39011) Given these limited fees, it has been the experience of local governments that a compulsory licensing program are not financially feasible. Even then, bicycle licensing is more about theft prevention. It does nothing for public safety.

    Second, since the Vehicle Code prohibits any fine, assessment, or fee that that is not permitted by the Vehicle Code, local governments lack the authority to require operating licenses for bicycles. This means they cannot require a written test on the rules of the road and bike paths, as this person proposes. If you want education, encourage your friends to take Traffic Skills 101 from a certified bicycle safety instructor or encourage your local school to incorporate Safe Routes to School into its program.

    Bicyclists who run stop signs and violate the law are primarily a threat to themselves. I almost hit someone last night who ran a stop sign. Fortunately, I have UIM coverage.

    1. Anon

      Thanks for this information.  It is quite helpful in getting citizens to realize there is only so much our city/UCD can do to address the problem of unsafe bicycling in this town.  This makes it all the more important for drivers to be on the alert for bicyclists (and pedestrians) who do stupid things.  Nevertheless, infrastructure needs should not be doled out based on which mode share obeys the law “more”!

  25. DavisBurns

    Ken, it is refreshing to have someone with a little knowledge of what we can and can’t do chime in for a little reality check.  I for one appreciate a dose of reality.

  26. odd man out

    Ken wrote: “First, the Vehicle Code allows local governments to enact ordinances prohibiting operation of unlicensed bicycles. However, the Vehicle Code also limits the licensing fee to $2 per year. (CVC section 39004)”

    Correction: The limit is $4 per year.

  27. Barbara King

    Another bicyclist died as he was starting to ride over I-80 on Mace, southbound, sometime in the mid-to-late 1980’s, I think.

    He was a strong biker wearing a helmet, and, if memory serves, they said he was dead before he hit the ground after being hit from behind by a tool sticking out from a passing landscaper’s truck.

    I think the truck was traced to Woodland and it was determined that the driver never knew that his tool hit the bicyclist.

    1. DavisBurns

      Landscaper’s trailers are a real problem for bikes. It is legal for them to be wider than the trucks that pull them.  Look at one parked sometime.  They stick out in the bike lane.  When they pass on a narrow road, the driver doesn’t realize he is running you off the road–another reason to make drivers pull into the other lane to pass a cyclist the same as he would pass a car.  And that is an example of how motorists get away with killing cyclists. “Oh, I didn’t see him, didn’t know he was there, didn’t know my trailer squashed him when I turned right in front of him, didn’t know I whacked him when I passed him. So it’s not my fault.”

        1. Miwok

          Good tactic, and since I ride the occasional motorcycle, I use the same tactic.. It is when a cyclist weaves in and out of the bike lane I get worried. When I see one in the middle o f the lane, I see they mean to act like a member of traffic.

        2. DavisBurns

          Me too but folks on this forum think it’s unwise and bad manners. If the suckers are gonna kill me,  they have to do it intentionally.  Caveat; in my current wide body slow moving incarnation, I use the bike paths but when I was fast(er) I refused to be side swiped.

  28. MrsW

    Did someone already suggest this? UC Davis students are probably required to take a number of online trainings when they arrive for Orientation, at least placement tests.  Why not require a bike rules and safety course?  It seems that training materials might even exist, in some shape or form, since the City has a Bicycle Coordinator…

    1. Miwok

      Almost everyone I have talked to at campus states they have lost a bike or two. They all love to bring their bikes inside their offices so they can lock them up. When I asked the bicycle officer at UCDPD they say they do not enforce that. They only work from grants and never try to catch a criminal stealing things. When 30-40 bikes a day are stolen you would think there would be some cameras and such set up at least, but not.

  29. Dave Hart

    As a bicycle rider I favor strong vehicle code enforcement.  I endorse Alan Miller as a spokesman for cyclists and nominate him for “Bicycle Czar of Davis”.  I think Robb Davis is some kind of bicycle policy saint because he is (1) so nice about it, (2) so patient about it and (3) so factual and thoughtful about it. 

    I didn’t know how bad bicyclist behavior was (or could be) until I was riding along Sycamore in west Davis the other day and encountered what looked to be UC grad student types exhibiting the worst “stop sign blowing, irresponsible lane changing, assholish” behavior in my 63 trips around, the sun.  East Davis (where I live) is much better.  Yes, more enforcement, more education, better infrastructure.

    1. Barbara King

      Any chance that was where Sycamore, the south leg of Brown, Villanova, and the  path through Sycamore to the bike bridge over 113 come together?

      I have seen some astounding bad biking behavior there.  I think it might even have 3rd and B beat.

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