Following Up on Summer Lunches and the Bicycle Accident

F-Street-Bike

In Saturday’s article “When Bike Meets Car,” I describe and opine on an accident that occurred around the corner from my office, at F and 2nd Street in Davis. While my main concern was my observations over the years about the hazards of downtown driving and the safety of the multi-modal encounters at four-way stops, the main conversation evolved into one over who was at fault.

My own view was the bicyclist followed the southbound vehicle into the intersection and was clearly crossing the street when the truck entered the intersection and the bicyclist reacted late on a wet surface and collided with the truck.

However, after consulting Chief Landy Black, my analysis was wrong. He cited California Vehicle Code section 21800(a) “The driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle which has entered the intersection from a different highway.”

And 21800(c): “When two vehicles enter an intersection from different highways at the same time and the intersection is controlled from all directions by stop signs, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on his or her immediate right.”

In short, the pickup truck had already entered the intersection before the bike, so it had the right-of-way from that perspective. Additionally, he said that the pickup had the right-of-way over the bike due to being to the cyclist’s immediate right at an all-way-stop intersection.

He did note, however, that from the liability perspective, comparative fault would be at play, and the pickup driver might be found to share some of the liability.

The chief also noted that the two vehicles that crossed in front of the pickup driver, causing him to stop before completing his passage through the intersection, were also violators.

Chief Black’s legal clarification is noted and helpful. From the perspective of Saturday’s article, it weighs into the chaotic situation at an all-way stop in the downtown with multiple modes of transportation.

My suggestion for studying the issue of downtown streets and safety was duly criticized as well. Several readers quickly noted that, while the city commissioned a Downtown Parking Task Force, the task force dutifully met for a long period of time but the findings were undermined due to a number of factors that arose and therefore they did not see a similar study as yielding fruitful results that would be acted upon.

All, in fact, noted, however, the simple suggestion that we have a problem with the structure of downtown traffic that has created safety issues and that we are quite fortunate we have not seen worse problems arising from that situation.

As Steve Tracy noted on Saturday, the collision data he received from Davis Police and Public Works “shows 3,615 incidents on Davis streets for the ten year period from January 2004 through December 2013. In the downtown area between A and the tracks, 1st and 5th, there were a total of 412 collisions in this time period, 12% of the citywide total.”

He added, “Ninety-two of those downtown incidents involved people on bicycles, and twenty-five involved pedestrians. This is a total of 127 people on foot or on bikes hit in a ten year period in our central district. Virtually every one of those people were injured, but injury rates for occupants of the vehicles involved in those collisions are nil.”

These are just reported incidents as it was pointed out that the accident I witnessed and caught on video would not have been counted in that total, as it was not officially reported. That’s one accident every ten days on average over a ten-year period.

Update on Davis’ Summer Meal Program

Summer-Windmere-Program

It’s a follow up on a list of suggestions for promoting afterschool and summer meal programs, “Davis Offers Students a Summer Meal Program.”

Danielle Foster, the city’s Housing and Human Services Superintendent, told the Vanguard that the city has been working with the school district the past two years to try to get a Summer Meal Program going. Last summer they succeeded in having a local program in Davis.

She told the Vanguard, “In partnership with Dominic Machi, in student nutrition for DJUSD, city staff was able to assist in promoting and coordinating a local program in 3 locations last summer. The program started with meals at Holmes Junior High and Montgomery Elementary (flyer attached) and then expanded to Windmere Apartments, an affordable housing complex on Fifth street.”

Ms. Foster told the Vanguard that Windmere alone served 70 kids last years. Overall, in a follow up email, Danielle Foster told the Vanguard that the program served 8,146 meals for the summer.

Meals were prepared by school district staff and served at the three sites.

The entrée selections included House Made Chicken Teriyaki, Pasta, Cheeseburgers, Chicken Sandwiches, and Hand Rolled Bean and Cheese Burritos, just to name a few.

All lunches came with a Vegetable, Fresh Fruit, and Milk.

—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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34 Comments

  1. Alan Miller

    ” . . .  it weighs into the chaotic situation at an all-way stop in the downtown with multiple modes of transportation.”

    Yes, it does.

    Jack hammer out the bulb outs!

    If you don’t believe me, watch what pedestrians and bikes do.  With the short pavement crossing, pedestrians now cross the short lick of pavement like the intersection doesn’t exist, often ignoring cars.  Bike usually pass the stop line and are further into the intersection, then jump out in front of cars already in the intersection.  Both Peds & bikes then cause cars to stop mid-intersection, that then blocks everyone as no one can pass through, except by winding around the car in the intersection, which sometimes happens.

    In theory, this shouldn’t happen, were everyone to obey the laws, but they won’t, there are not nor will their ever be enough cops to enforce the laws, not even close!  So law types give up on that super army of four-way stop cops utopia.  Intersections should be designed for safety given human behavior, not based on what they “should do”.

    Without bulb outs, everyone is several feet back before they jump into the pavement, so it gives cross-traffic warning, and pedestrians actually feel like they are crossing a street.  Also, bicycles aren’t pinched into traffic lanes at intersections like they are at some of the more egregious blub-outs.

    I know few agree with me on this currently.  All I ask is observe when you are downtown, how the intersections with bulb-outs have these multi-mode cluster-F situations, and those without do not.

    Observe.

    1. Davis Progressive

      i don’t agree.  the idea for the bulb outs is that you put pedestrians in a more visible position before they jet out onto the street.  also it prevents cars from taking tight right-handed turns and wiping out peds and bikes.

  2. PhilColeman

    “He (Police Chief, Black) did note, however, that from the liability perspective, comparative fault would be at play, and the pickup driver might be found to share some of the liability.”

    It might be very useful to amplify Chief Black’s mention of the term, “shared liability.” This is a legal term found in Civil Law, a venue that is not the primary responsibility of law enforcement.

    The California Vehicle Code has application in both civil and criminal courts of law.

    Chief Black was expanding the law’s application to civil and insurance claim arguments. Law enforcement would not get involved in such arguments unless subpoenaed in a subsequent civil suit or some kind of administrative hearing.

    With that legal distinction noted, now enters the “police discretionary” element, which is vast. A traffic enforcer called to the scene of a traffic collision may choose to not cite a primary offender because there was “shared liability,” or as we prefer to call it, “mitigating circumstances.” Essentially, the police decide, “You’re both a little dirty, so no further action is deemed appropriate.”

    Then, there are other situations where both parties to the accident are cited. Each committed a traffic violation, each violation contributed to the resulting accident, so both drivers shall be held legally accountable.

    On deciding to cite nobody, or cite everybody, that is a judgment call, usually resolved by the severity of the accident itself.

    Traffic law is a morass. Don’t feel lonely if you are confused. Virtually every local law enforcement agency has a “VC Guru” who is pestered with questions on relevancy of specific VC Sections. Sacramento headquarters of the CHP has “Super Vehicle Code Gurus” on staff to field calls from police agencies and DA offices all over the State.

  3. darelldd

    David – You must have missed my memo about calling all traffic collisions “accidents.” When I saw it again in the title of this article… as well in the body of the article, I cringed yet again.

    As a person who makes his living with words, I beg you to resist using this subjective and euphemistic term.  These are collisions. They are crashes. They are even “incidents.” Use of the word “accident” colors  the discussion (even if only subliminally).

    And…

    After hearing what Chief Black had to say about the video, I’m inspired to wonder what legal conclusions would have been drawn from the incident if  eye-witness accounts and the aftermath were the only evidence available. Is it time to have “instant replay” for all traffic incidents? Are we ready for Big Brother on that scale? Having video of every collision in town would sure change how we perceive things. And it would make our data actually mean something – instead of guessing what happened when we are sweep up the glass, and mopping up the blood.

    and…

    I would be happy to have more of our police officers (and CHP officers)  follow more of the traffic laws that they are tasked with enforcing. One of the more endangering offenses I’m seeing regularly these days is turning right from the general use lane, across the bike lane. I have not heard of anybody being cited or even warned for doing this. We continue to treat our bike (traffic) lanes like we treat shoulders or parking lanes. But now… as usual… I digress.

      1. darelldd

        I don’t know if the collision was an accident. I hope that’s true, but I don’t know. Some here even speculated that the collision looked staged. Accident is subjective and entirely non-descriptive. All we know for certain is that a collision occurred, so why don’t we call it what it was, instead of what we speculate it might have been?

        When my trained dog has an accident on the carpet, it was certainly no accident. Accident is a perfectly good word. It simply is not appropriate to use as a synonym for traffic collision (nor for peeing indoors!)

        Do we call it an accident if the cyclist’s brakes were knowingly in disrepair? If the cyclist left his glasses at home, and was riding blind, is that an accident? We don’t know. We only know that it all resulted in a collision.

        The word accident colors the discussion because one might assume that it was unavoidable. Sort of an act of god. I didn’t mean to! It just happened.

        1. Dave Hart

          I totally agree with Darrell on this one.  Accidents imply random causation.  Vehicle crashes are almost always due to preventable causes.  Somebody way back started using that term and it’s a good idea to stop it.  An example of a vehicle accident is where a motorist comes around a corner at the speed limit, hits a piece of steel rod lying in the roadway.  The rod pierces through the floor of the vehicle causing the driver to lose control and crash.  Actually happened!  That was an accident even though you might say the careless truck that the rod fell off of should have secured his load better.

    1. Dave Hart

      Shortly after that law came into force, I was headed north on L Street at about midnight.  There was no traffic, no cyclists anywhere and I was in the general traffic lane approaching a red light at Fifth Street.  After stopping at the red light, I changed my mind about the route home and decided I wanted to turn right and did so when the light turned green.  I was pulled over by a Davis police officer.  Maybe he wanted to check me for drinking?  Anyway, he asked me if I knew the law and I said I did, but that I’d changed my mind and since there was absolutely none on the road at that hour, I felt it safe to make my turn.  He let me go.  I’ve wondered if I was the last one to attract attention for this violation, because it seems like only 20% of the drivers seem to know this is the law.

      1. darelldd

        @ Dave Hart –

        Wow! That’s the first I’ve heard of anybody being pulled over for violating the law that I see regularly violated by our police. If only all of our laws were enforced as you experienced: spirit of the thing, safety and relevance to the situation.

  4. Davis Progressive

    “House Made Chicken Teriyaki, Pasta, Cheeseburgers, Chicken Sandwiches, and Hand Rolled Bean and Cheese Burritos, just to name a few.  All lunches came with a Vegetable, Fresh Fruit, and Milk.”

    thoughts?  it seems basic, not overly loaded with sugar.

  5. Anon

    In short, the pickup truck had already entered the intersection before the bike, so it had the right-of-way from that perspective. Additionally, he said that the pickup had the right-of-way over the bike due to being to the cyclist’s immediate right at an all-way-stop intersection.

    Thanks to Landy Black for assessing the situation from a more expert point of view.  His explanation is exactly how I analyzed the collision, but not until after I went carefully through the video, closely looked at and listed each action, then looked up the pertinent rules in the CA Driver’s Handbook and applied them to each movement (probably took me about 45 minutes).  Who is at fault is often not intuitive, but depends on hyper-technical rules that are not necessarily known or followed by the average pedestrian (as if a motorist or bicyclist is going to think that clearly about technical road rules on a dark and rainy day and in the heat of the moment!).  The reason to determine who is at fault is important so that 1) those pesky technical rules become clearer to the public (thank you to the Vanguard for the video and the article that produced this spirited discussion); 2) to determine if the road conditions themselves need improvement or if the collision was more the result of driver/bicyclist error.

    My hope is that the bicyclist makes some serious changes to his behavior: 1) gets some reflective clothing to use for rainy days; 2) outfits his bike with a flashing blinker in front and back of his bike; 3) if stopped at an intersection, make sure he has the right of way before entering an intersection, and if in doubt, opt on the side of caution; 4) always be aware of all vehicles surrounding him when crossing intersections, and tries to make eye contact with anyone in a motor vehicle so it is understood each is aware the other is there.  My hope also is that the motorist in the white truck will make some serious changes to his behavior: 1) look more carefully for bicycles, and try and make eye contact w them; 2) when making a left-turn lead in, don’t be wimpish about it – make sure to make it clear it is a left-turn lead in by getting far enough out into the intersection that there is no doubt.

     

    1. Frankly

      Well done Anon!  Agree 100%.

      A few years back I was at a stop sign looking left waiting to make a right-hand turn.  As the last car cleared, I started to roll forward only to see a runner right at my hood.  He slapped my hood as I quickly stopped and yelled at me for not looking.  I yelled “I might have been in the wrong, but you were almost dead!”

      Later I saw the guy at the grocery store and apologized for not looking right again.  He said “what you said to me had an impact… I should have made eye contact before crossing, or waited for you.”

      Pedestrians and bikers need to be the most cautious because the risk of serious injury or death is much greater for them.  And in the rain with falling light it becomes even more important.

      Question… I see more bikes with bright LED lights in their wheels/spokes.   The city demands all shoppers pay $.10 for each grocery bag to help save some fish.   Why not an ordinance to require these bike lights so we help save some bikers?

      1. Barack Palin

        The city demands all shoppers pay $.10 for each grocery bag to help save some fish.   Why not an ordinance to require these bike lights so we help save some bikers?Frankly, LOL.

        Your “satirical” posts crack me up.

      2. Anon

        I believe there is an ordinance in place that requires every bike to have a light that travels at night – someone correct me if I am wrong.  However, the city probably ought to require flashing bike lights even during the day, because it can get rainy and dark on some days.

        “He said “what you said to me had an impact… I should have made eye contact before crossing, or waited for you.”

        Turns out it was good you said something, even if in the “heat” of the moment – it made an impact (pardon the pun)!

        1. darelldd

          Yes, a bike ridden at night needs to have a white light on the front (also reflectors in several locations of various colors) but not law about a tail light.

          Requiring a flashing light on the bike would be in contradiction with the VC, I’m afraid. All those flashing front and rear lights you see today? They are all supposed to be steady by law. At least that’s the best interpretation I’m aware of. Never enforced that I’m aware of.

      3. darelldd

        >> Pedestrians and bikers need to be the most cautious because the risk of serious injury or death is much greater for them.

        I see your point. And my view is opposite (shocking, right?). The people driving cars need to be the most cautious because they can inflict the most injury or death.

        Obviously it is only prudent to always watch out for your own safety. But the person who can do the killing is the one who needs to be the most careful. If I’m carrying a loaded gun down the street, should I expect the unarmed folks around me to be extra cautious because the risk of death is so much greater for them than for me?

        Great that this pedestrian apologized. That was generous and human of him. I don’t see anywhere in your story that you apologized to him for almost running him over – only that you yelled to him about how dangerous cars are. We’re all responsible for our own safety. But when you choose to drive a car, you are also responsible for the safety of others who are using the same facilities.

    2. Matt Williams

      However, after consulting Chief Landy Black, my analysis was wrong. He cited California Vehicle Code section 21800(a) “The driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle which has entered the intersection from a different highway.”

      I agree Anon. thanks to Landy. Thanks too to David for following up with Chief Black.

      Given the unambiguous clarity of Chief Black’s assessment it is very interesting to look at the video again. Given that Chief Black has indicated that the eastbound white truck has the right of way, then there are a total of three vehicles that appear to be violating the law … the southbound bicycle, the southbound auto in front of Davis, and the northbound auto across the intersection from David.

      1. Anon

        What is even more interesting is how many people could view the same video, and come up with their own ideas on what the traffic laws are!  LOL  And when driving, and at the moment, you don’t always know who was “first” at the intersection!

    3. darelldd

      >> then looked up the pertinent rules in the CA Driver’s Handbook

      I’ll caution you about using the handbook to determine CA traffic law. The DMV handbook is wrong is many, significant ways, and there’s a re-write coming down the pike. It is not the DMV’s job to interpret the law, and they do a pretty poor job of it. Folks point to the handbook all the time for law interpretation. But that’s not the law. The CVC is. Even though many traffic officers also point to the handbook, no judge worth his robes is  going to decide the law based on what the handbook says.

      You are correct about the technical rules. You will not find those in the handbook.

      1. Anon

        Thanks for that point.  I used the CA Driver’s Handbook in this case bc it laid out the rules in a simple way that everyone could understand.  Start going into the Vehicle Code and the language gets wa-a-a-a-a-a-y too complicated!

        1. darelldd

          Totally agree on the complication. The same people write the tax code, I’m convinced! And honestly for this sort of intersection stuff, the handbook does reasonably well. I only know the parts of the CVC that have direct, daily impact on me. And I know those REALLY well. Because I can be so narrowly focussed, I can easily know and understand those parts better than the people do who’s job it is to “sort of know” the entire code.

          Just frustrating that when the DMV gets the interpretation wrong, everybody right on up to and including law enforcement still uses it as shorthand for “the law.”

  6. David Greenwald

     

    I gave the wrong language for CVC §21800(c) . This is the correct language: “When two vehicles enter an intersection from different highways at the same time and the intersection is controlled from all directions by stop signs, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on his or her immediate right.” 

     

    1. Dave Hart

      Unless I missed it, I’m surprised that nobody has commented that the car in the general traffic lane headed in the same direction of the bicycle set the whole situation into motion.  The cyclist and the care come up to the intersection at about the same time.  The cyclist actually came to a stop, but the car does a bit of a “California Stop” and fails to yield to the pickup.  The cyclist starts riding just a tad later and alongside the car but can’t move through the intersection as quickly.  Once the car goes by, even though the cyclist is in already in motion and well into the intersection, the stopped truck takes off.  The cyclist made the miscalculation that he could move through the intersection at the same time as the car.

      This video demonstrates really well what anyone experiences when driving downtown when it’s busy:  people don’t seem to know how to take turns or what to do.  I particularly enjoyed how the rental truck moves right past the collision event.  Like, “your crash is very inconvenient for me right now.”  Four-way stops at every corner ramps up the total number of possible confusions.  Then multiply that times the number of pedestrians that step into a crosswalk while cars are already in the intersection.  Even pedestrians are supposed to respect the right of way of moving traffic.  The place is an absolute madhouse.

  7. Anon

    darrelldd: “Requiring a flashing light on the bike would be in contradiction with the VC, I’m afraid. All those flashing front and rear lights you see today? They are all supposed to be steady by law. At least that’s the best interpretation I’m aware of. Never enforced that I’m aware of.”

    A very amusing article on the subject of whether flashing lights on bikes are legal or not can be found at: http://thebigreason.com/blog/2014/01/11/are-flashing-bike-lights-legal-in-california/  It takes at least 6 different sections of the Vehicle Code to come to the conclusion that flashing lights on bikes are illegal (as you noted)!  LOL  Now you see why I used the CA Driver’s Handbook to explain my analysis of the video of the collision in the above article!

    1. darelldd

      @ Anon –

      Good find. And even local (Woodland!).

      Yeah, you’ve really got to admire the “cut and dried” nature of the vehicle code that sort of applies to bicycles some of the time, mostly. Unless it doesn’t.

  8. odd man out

    Frankly asked: “Question… I see more bikes with bright LED lights in their
    wheels/spokes.   The city demands all shoppers pay $.10 for each grocery
    bag to help save some fish.   Why not an ordinance to require these
    bike lights so we help save some bikers?”

    As others noted, there are specific CVC regulations requiring lights and
    reflectors on bicycles. The following CVC section prohibits the city from
    enacting an ordinance to require something more:

    CVC 21. (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.

  9. odd man out

    In California and many other states, for historical reasons that aren’t especially logical, bicycles aren’t considered vehicles. For the most part, however, operators of bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of vehicles:

    21200. (a) A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions
    applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division [Division 11, Rules of the Road] . . . [and certain specified others] . . .

    But bicycles are not, in general, subject to Division 12, “Equipment of Vehicles,” where the section on flashing lights falls. That’s not special treatment; it just wouldn’t make any sense to expect bicycles to be equipped with auto headlights, brakes, seat belts, tires, and so on. Bicycles have their own equipment requirements in 21201, 21201.3 and 21201.5. Even in states where bicycles are considered vehicles, they have their own equipment regulations.

    BTW, a word about the widespread misconception that bicycles are treated as devices, rather than vehicles. There is no category of devices in the Vehicle Code, or regulations that apply only to devices. “Device” is just a sort of placeholder in the definition, more or less equivalent to “thing”:

    231. A bicycle is a device upon which any person may ride, propelled exclusively by human power through a belt, chain, or gears, and having one or more wheels.

    A vehicle is also a device:

    670. A “vehicle” is a device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.

    The word “device” occurs in a number of other definitions, sometimes in quite different contexts. For instance:

    273. A “crib sheet” or “cribbing device” is any paper or device designed for cheating by supplying examination answers without questions to an applicant for the purpose of fraudulently qualifying the applicant for any class of driver’s license, permit, or certificate.

    So the reason bicycles are permitted to display flashing lights (other than the special case of blue lights in 21201.3) isn’t that bicycles are devices. Vehicles are also devices, but they’re prohibited from displaying flashing lights (25250) except as permitted–turn signals, warning lights, and so on (25251).The reason is that bicycles aren’t vehicles.

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