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Old 12-11-04, 01:48 AM   #1
humbike
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CA vehicle Code and bikes

I recently got a ticket for running a stop sign on my bike. I am usualy extremely good about comming to a full stop at evey stop sign, however this one was on a hill where if I just coast I can get almost all the way from work home without peddalling and I'de just finnished a 12 hour work day and I didn't want to do anything. It was 2 AM and there was no traffic. Unfortunately there was a cop several blocks down the road who saw my reflectors. he tracked me down and I copoerated figuring the fine would be at most $50 and I had broken the law so I should just pay it. When I got my ticket it was for over $150 because the officer sited me as if i was a car. I'm trying to fight this as it can not be right. This offence counts as a moving violation and will increase my insurance. Does anyone have knowledge of how a bike should be charged for running a stop sign? I had the arraignment today and was treated quite rudely by the judge so I need some solid evidence to take in on my court date.
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Old 12-11-04, 07:46 AM   #2
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First off, look at the code here: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/di...le=21200-21212

Basically, a rider & bike is legally just like any other vehicle operator on the road.

It won't work this time, but from here on carry a state ID card, or some other type of photo ID. When the cops stop you, present this ID, and not your driver's license. In most, states, you are required to ID yourself to an officer, but you don't need a driver's license for a bike. This befuddles cops enough to keep you from getting a ticket.

$150 seems steep, but the law reads 'vehicle code', not 'motor vehicle code'.
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Old 12-11-04, 07:56 AM   #3
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^Beat me to it. Looks like you're outta luck.
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Old 12-11-04, 07:59 AM   #4
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So, if a bike is considered a vehicle of the road, why is it one could also be ticketed for riding in the center of the lane? I don't believe a car has ever received such a citation.
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Old 12-11-04, 08:35 AM   #5
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Couldn't you take a defensive driving class and have the ticket dismissed? In Texas, the cost to do this is about the same as the ticket, but it doesn't go on your record.

Another trick that is used in Texas is to request 'Deferred Adjudication" from a judge. This is similar to probation; you pay the same fine but if you are not convicted of another offense within a certain time period (say 12 months) the conviction does occur and your driving record remains clean.

Since you seem to admit that you committed the offense, unless you have a philisophical reason to fight the ticket, you should be looking for the cheapest solution. You might want to talk to a lawyer about your options at this point. It sounds like you are doing this alone without much knowledge of the law. This is almost certainly a mistake.
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Old 12-11-04, 08:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steele-Bike
So, if a bike is considered a vehicle of the road, why is it one could also be ticketed for riding in the center of the lane? I don't believe a car has ever received such a citation.
Because there is a law that states, "Bicyclists must ride as far to the right as practicable." there is no such law pertaining to motor vehicles.

There are some specific laws relating to bicycles on the road that do not apply to motor vehicles. By the same token, there are some specific laws which apply to motor vehicles but not bicycles. But by and large, the rules of the road apply equally to both.
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Old 12-11-04, 08:49 AM   #7
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"Seems to me", bike riding entails both rights and responsibilities. Run thru lites that are red or blast thru stop signs and payup if u have an accident or are seen and ticketed.
I almost hit a cyclist this Am who ran a stop sign, I didn't have one in my lane, but saw him coming fast and knew he wasn't goin to stop so i did. No helmet, just a jerk I guess, but at least he isn't in the hospital as I surely would have hit him had I not stopped
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Old 12-11-04, 09:09 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supcom
Because there is a law that states, "Bicyclists must ride as far to the right as practicable." there is no such law pertaining to motor vehicles.

There are some specific laws relating to bicycles on the road that do not apply to motor vehicles. By the same token, there are some specific laws which apply to motor vehicles but not bicycles. But by and large, the rules of the road apply equally to both.
The entirety of the California Vehicle Code is available online at http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/vc/vc.htm. You can find out all the stuff involving bikes through the index at http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/vc/vc_index_b.htm, scroll down to "Bicycles".

The specific law in question about riding as far to the right as practicable is at http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21202.htm, it does allow for moving into the lane under some circumstances, including preparing to make a left turn, avoiding obstacles, etc. Note, too, that there's another section which is almost identically worded, but states that if a bicycle lane is present, you must use it (again, with exceptions for some circumstances).

Unfortunately no law stating that bicycles should get fined less than cars for rolling through stop signs
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Old 12-11-04, 09:35 AM   #9
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If you can just pay the fine, *and* the violation won't show up on your regular driving record, it is probably easier to just pay the $150 and be done with it.

However, if the ticket will affect your regular driving record (assuming, of course, you have a car, use it etc etc) I'd advise to hire a lawyer ASAP. You might have the ticket knocked down to something lower that won't affect your regular driving licence. The cost for the lawyer is WELL worth it, in my opinion, if you can have it not affect your auto insurance rates.

If you don't want to/feel like hiring a lawyer, and it will go onto your driving record, if you can go "car-free" for a while (cancel the insurance for the time the points will be on your record) and just leave the car in the garage or whereever, do that . That may actually be the cheapest.

I've got One ticket , ever, and read up on the law in NJ where I received the ticket, so I speak from experience.
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Old 12-11-04, 10:41 AM   #10
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I was reading the California Vehicle code. It states that bicycles must comply with the same rules as other vehicles. There's nothing that states that cyclists have to put a foot down while stopping. It says that you have to come to a complete stop. You can come to a complete stop using a track stand. If the cop was in front of you or behind you it's going to be hard for him to tell if you stopped. (Bicycles are not required to have brake lights) Maybe you can fight it on that basis. If he was to the right or left of you, you're hosed.

Another interesting tidbit was in the fines section. It states that the maximum fine for a bicycle infraction is $10. You might want to look that up, too.
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Old 12-11-04, 01:32 PM   #11
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What is interesting is that a bicycle is not considered a vehicle by the CVC and the law requireing you to stop at a stop sign states that vehicles must stop, not bikes. Later in the bike section there is a rule that says bikes must follow all the rules that vehicles do. I think I broke that later rule, not the vehicle rule. What do you think?
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Old 12-11-04, 02:38 PM   #12
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who cares.. if you don't ever plan to drive a car...
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Old 12-11-04, 02:41 PM   #13
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If it is critical to keep this off your record, try talking to a lawyer experienced in your local traffic court. Even though it looks like the cop has you nailed, you might be able to reduce it to something that will keep it off your record. Of course, if you fight it, you might end up with the same fine, the same insurance hike, but more court costs and a lawyer's fee. Good lawyers will also tell you when you have no case.
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Old 12-11-04, 04:09 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lsits
I was reading the California Vehicle code. It states that bicycles must comply with the same rules as other vehicles. There's nothing that states that cyclists have to put a foot down while stopping. It says that you have to come to a complete stop. You can come to a complete stop using a track stand. If the cop was in front of you or behind you it's going to be hard for him to tell if you stopped. (Bicycles are not required to have brake lights) Maybe you can fight it on that basis. If he was to the right or left of you, you're hosed.

Another interesting tidbit was in the fines section. It states that the maximum fine for a bicycle infraction is $10. You might want to look that up, too.
You have to read the code in the proper context. The $10 maximum fine refers specifically to Division 16.7, sections 39000 - 39011 which covers Registration and Licensing of Bicycles. It is limited to that section only. Fortunately, few (if any?) localities have bike registrations still, but if they did, and if you were in violation of those rules, your maximum fine would be $10.
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Old 12-11-04, 04:18 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by humbike
What is interesting is that a bicycle is not considered a vehicle by the CVC and the law requireing you to stop at a stop sign states that vehicles must stop, not bikes. Later in the bike section there is a rule that says bikes must follow all the rules that vehicles do. I think I broke that later rule, not the vehicle rule. What do you think?
I think if you try to argue that in court, you will still lose. If you failed to stop, you broke the general law that says you must stop. What is the actual violation listed on your citation? It should have a number, and you can look it up here: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/lov/lovtc.htm (likely to be under the "Rules of the Road", here: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/lov/lovd11.htm, most likely: "22450(a) Stop sign, failure to stop at limit line, crosswalk, or entrance to intersection.", which as you can see has no specifics as to bike or vehicle.
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Old 12-11-04, 04:30 PM   #16
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The acctual words of the Vehicle code is:"22450. **(a) The driver of any vehicle approaching a stop sign at the entrance to, or within, an intersection, or railroad grade crossing shall stop at a limit line, if marked, otherwise before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection.

If there is no limit line or crosswalk, the driver shall stop at the entrance to the intersecting roadway or railroad grade crossing. "


the other related section says this: "21200. **(a) Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, and by Division 10 (commencing with Section 20000), Section 27400, Division 16.7 (commencing with Section 39000), Division 17 (commencing with Section 40000.1), and Division 18 (commencing with Section 42000), except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application."

that's the rule I think that I broke.
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Old 12-11-04, 04:36 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by humbike
The acctual words of the Vehicle code is:"22450. **(a) The driver of any vehicle approaching a stop sign at the entrance to, or within, an intersection, or railroad grade crossing shall stop at a limit line, if marked, otherwise before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection.

If there is no limit line or crosswalk, the driver shall stop at the entrance to the intersecting roadway or railroad grade crossing. "


the other related section says this: "21200. **(a) Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, and by Division 10 (commencing with Section 20000), Section 27400, Division 16.7 (commencing with Section 39000), Division 17 (commencing with Section 40000.1), and Division 18 (commencing with Section 42000), except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application."

that's the rule I think that I broke.
Again, what does the citation say? That takes a lot of the guesswork out of it . . .
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Old 12-11-04, 04:51 PM   #18
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Drivers around here roll through stop signs all the time. They speed, tailgate, squeak through red lights two or three at a time, pass illegally and generally despise the "vehicle code." Police seem to do nothing.

I think you blew it by running the stop sign. I just think that when it's the dead of night and there's nothing on the road, and you're only on a bicycle, slamming you with a $150 ticket is plain vindictive and hypocritical.

I support our local police, their jobs are difficult and their divorce rates sky-high because of job stress. But this is picking on the little guy, here.

I would have let you off with a warning. The second time, I would have given you a ticket. But I'm not a policeman, so it doesn't matter much anyway...

(By the way, if the policeman that cited you doesn't show up in court, do you still have to pay the fine? Remember, he works nights.)

...and don't run stop signs, it can get you killed.
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Old 12-11-04, 04:57 PM   #19
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Again, what does the citation say? That takes a lot of the guesswork out of it . . .
I was cited for 22450 (a)
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Old 12-11-04, 05:03 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by humbike
I was cited for 22450 (a)
Then that is the rule you broke. Because of the general provision that bicycles are subject to the same rules, the fact that 22450 specifically says "driver" doesn't mean squat; you are still subject to that rule. You have been cited for failing to stop at a stop sign, congrats. Now don't do that anymore, please.
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Old 12-11-04, 05:09 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
(By the way, if the policeman that cited you doesn't show up in court, do you still have to pay the fine? Remember, he works nights.)

well there is little chance of an officer not showing up to court. they get the day off plus over time pay to go to traffic court, however if he didn't show I would get off.
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Old 12-11-04, 08:48 PM   #22
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that would suck if your car insurance goes up or something...
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Old 12-14-04, 05:36 PM   #23
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1. If you are going to fight this, try a Trial by Declaration first. It is the easiest way to have the violation thrown out. First off, if he was that far distant, he probably is an inadequate witness. Second, if he cited you as an automobile, and not a bicycle, you can have it thrown out on that technicality. Finally, cops don't get overtime to write declarations like they do attending court. He's unlikely to complete his declaration, in which case you'd get off if you wrote "Not Guilty" in crayon on construction paper.

2. It is a valid technicality that he did not cite you as a bicycle. FIght it based on this in court.
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Old 12-14-04, 06:33 PM   #24
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In CA, a bicycle is not a vehicle. However, anyone operating a vehicle on a public highway is subject to the same rules and responsibilities as someone driving a vehicle (21200).

You did not violate 21200. 21200 is the law that declares that you are subject to obeying 22450 (among all the others). You violated 22450 (by running a stop sign).

Don't run stop signs. It's illegal, and can be deadly. Especially at night.

To be safe on your bicycle, ride visibly and predictably: ride in the legal vehicular manner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seanholio
It is a valid technicality that he did not cite you as a bicycle.
First, he wouldn't cite YOU as a bicycle, he would cite you as an OPERATOR of a bicycle. Regardless, I don't see how this is relevant. Whether you're operating a bicycle or a motor vehicle, you are subject to the same laws and responsibilities (per 22100).


Quote:
Originally Posted by 'nother
The specific law in question about riding as far to the right as practicable is at http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21202.htm, it does allow for moving into the lane under some circumstances, including preparing to make a left turn, avoiding obstacles, etc
My take on 21202 (and 21204) is significantly different. I wouldn't say it allows for moving into the lane under some circumstances. I would say it allows for moving into the lane under SO MANY circumstances that the law is practically moot. Don't just glance through all the exceptions. Read and study them carefully. I did, and, as a result, I prefer to think of it in reverse - the law requires me to move to the right side (or bike lane if there is one) ONLY in the rare circumstance where ALL of the following conditions are true:

1) where there is other traffic, AND
2) traffic is traveling faster than me, AND
3) I'm in a lane wide enough to be safely shared by a car and bike side-by-side (or there is a bike lane), AND
4) I'm between intersections, AND
5) there is no place to turn right (not even a drive way), AND
6) I'm not preparing to turn left, AND
7) I'm not passing anyone, AND
8) it is not reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that I consider worthy of being avoided (the law is fairly vague on this).

In other words, the circumstances where 21202/21204 apply happens a lot less often than most cyclists realize. And it only lasts as long as all of the above remain true. As soon as any one of the conditions is no longer true, the law no longer applies. For example, if you are riding along a street with cars parked parallel, I believe 21202(3) alleviates you from adhering to the "shall ride as close as practicable to the right" side rule altogether, because the possibility that one of those doors might open presents a "condition" that makes it reasonably necessary to NOT ride "as close as practicable to the right". Since 21202/21204 does not apply because of the condition, you can ride in the middle of the lane, or anywhere in that lane.

Further, even in that rare circumstance where all of the above eight conditions are simultaneously true, the law only requires you to ride as close as practicable to the right side, which is an ambiguous term in and of itself. For example, in many cases it is not practicable (though it is possible) to ride too close to the right since it makes the cyclist less visible to other traffic. As another example, whenever you are riding downhill above 20mph, either "conditions" or the "practicable" wording void the applicability of 21202/21204 as far as I'm concerned, even if there is faster traffic behind you.

On my commute I ride down a hill about 28mph where cars are going about 45-50 mph. There is a bike lane, but I stay out of it, riding in the regular lane instead. I believe this is legal for the reasons above, and I know it's much safer. The bike lane puts me too close to the curb, when I'm in the bike lane motorists pass me too closely (when I move out into the lane they change lanes to pass me leaving "too much" passing space - erring on the side I can live with, literally), and the bike lane collects debris that could cause a puncture that would be dangerous. I've been doing it for 4 years, and have not be cited (or hit!) yet...

Be safe out there. Ride visibly and predictably: ride in the legal vehicular manner.

Serge

Last edited by Serge Issakov; 12-14-04 at 06:50 PM.
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Old 12-15-04, 02:20 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by humbike
This offence counts as a moving violation and will increase my insurance. Does anyone have knowledge of how a bike should be charged for running a stop sign?
I was pulled over for running a stop sign on my bike in Central California several months ago. I asked the cop whether this would affect my insurance rates, and he told me that the DMV maintains a separate "file" for bicycle violations, and does not report these to insurance companies. I have also heard this elsewhere, although I was unable to find any clear, official documentation of such a thing. I paid the fine (no traffic school) and went on with my life. I just received my auto insurance renewal for the next 6 months, and it does not reflect any changes in my driving record (still 0 points), so it seems that the bicycle violation did not go on my driving record. If your insurance rates are affected, I would suggest that you contact the DMV to ensure that the incident was recorded as a bicycle violation.
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