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Old 04-11-05, 11:14 PM   #1
JamesV
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Pulled Over By A Bike Cop!

Got pulled by a bike-mounted cop this morning. He said I crossed on a red light and for me to please obey all traffic laws. I said I thought I made a legal move; he disagreed, gave me a warning and we left it at that.

Here's the situation: morning commute, near my destination is a sidewalk that's posted "Bikes Use Sidewalk." I use it because it's convenient and allows me to go two blocks against a one-way street.

To cut to the chase: I made a left turn from the sidewalk at a driveway. In the diagram below, S1 is a ped signal, which was green; S2 is a traffic signal for the driveway, which was red; and S3 is a signal for the one-way through traffic.

My opinion is that as a vehicle I made a legal left turn after yielding to oncoming traffic. The only signal I had was S1, it was green, which tells me it was safe to enter the driveway.

The cop wanted me to stop at S1, wait for S2 to turn green and cross as a pedestrian.

The REAL problem here is the city's dumb decision to put vehicles (bikes) on the sidewalk opposing one-way traffic and then providing no guidance or ambiguous guidance on how to make turns from the sidewalk. Had the cop ticketed me, I would challenge it in court, and that would have been real interesting to see how a judge would handle something like this.

Anyway, I nominate this "opposing flow sidewalk" for the Bad Bike Facility Hall of Fame:

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Old 04-11-05, 11:18 PM   #2
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Sadly, I believe he is right. This is why sidewalk/bikepaths == teh lose.
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Old 04-11-05, 11:45 PM   #3
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Where in Sac was this? Was this by the Capital? If so I agree Lst is a mess. I see issues there all day.
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Old 04-12-05, 12:25 AM   #4
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I can see where you're coming from, James, but from what you describe I have to agree with the cop. You've described the situation well, but of course you're there and I'm not so it's impossible for me to really tell.

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Old 04-12-05, 03:21 AM   #5
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I hate to say it, but I agree with the cop, too. When you got in the driveway, you converted from pedestrian to vehicular (that dreaded word) traffic, and were bound by the same rules.

I find that it's generally (note, I did not say "always") better to ignore the "Bikes Use Sidewalk" signs. There are places on my commute that suggest that cyclists may/should use the sidewalk. I find that using the road is safer, more predictable, and more efficient.

However, if using the road here would make your trip a lot longer (because it's one way), then you're stuck waiting for the light. At least you only got a warning. You must have done a very good job dealing with the cop. Congratulations for that.

Last edited by Daily Commute; 04-12-05 at 05:58 AM.
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Old 04-12-05, 05:49 AM   #6
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From your description it sounds like you rode across the street. You started from the driveway, rode across the street, and ended up on the other street. This would make you a vehicle, and subject to obeying S2. If you had walked your bike across the pedestrian crossing, then you would obey S1 and therefore be in the right. Sorry.
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Old 04-12-05, 06:48 AM   #7
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Hall of Fame material, no doubt. I guess one option would be to pull to the driveway and wait there for S2 to turn green. Or ride past the intersection, make a quick U turn and weave through to the rightmost lane to take the turn with S3 still showing green...

I agree, you dealt well with the cop if he let you go with a warning only.

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Old 04-12-05, 06:51 AM   #8
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Reasonable doubt. Verdict: Not guilty. I give this verdict as an ex California motorcycle cop. You have to be an engineer.
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Old 04-12-05, 06:55 AM   #9
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The cop was right. You were wrong. However, the morons who came up with that sidewalk ordinance were the most wrong of all.

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Old 04-12-05, 07:19 AM   #10
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Terrific diagram, I can really understand what you're saying.

However, I agree with the cop.
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Old 04-12-05, 07:40 AM   #11
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As long as it doesn't explicitly prohibit bikes in the road, I'd probably ride in the street following the normal rules, not some bizarre sidewalk/MUP concoction. Of course, I wouldn't be able to use the same route, since it's a one way. On the other hand, if there is signage prohibiting bikes from the road, I would definitely take it up with the transportation department, or whoever is in charge.
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Old 04-12-05, 07:48 AM   #12
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If you were a ped in that situation, you would have been jaywalking across the one way. If you were a car, you would have been running the red. The cop was right.
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Old 04-12-05, 08:38 AM   #13
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Since when did making a left turn on a green light also require the cross street to have a green light? Lights don't work that way for vehicles.

What the officer seems to be requiring here is that bicycle riders switch from being vehicles to peds. That would seem to me to infer that the rider should get off and walk his bike across the street in the crosswalk. Or, I guess you could see it as a mandatory two part turn instead of a normal turn.
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Old 04-12-05, 08:40 AM   #14
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I'll offer a dissenting view based on our goofy local law -- I don't know california. Around here, the only law regulating bikes leaving a sidewalk says: "No bicyclist shall suddenly leave a sidewalk and ride into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield." The logical conclusion is that therefore legal to leave the sidewalk for the roadway at any point as long as it is "possible" for other vehicles to yield (Is that goofy or what!). So it would be legal for you to leave the sidewalk at any point and enter the roadway of the 3-lane road where ever you wish. Once you are in the roadway, it is legal to change lanes and turn left on a green light.
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Old 04-12-05, 08:49 AM   #15
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After looking back at the diagram again (good diagram) I think I reconsider my position because the cyclist is comming from a "Sidewalk" rather than from a "Bike Lane".

The way this is done one either has the choice of accepting the offer to use the "Sidewalk" and switching to pedestrian rules or riding over to the next block and following normal vehicular practice. I'm assuming the next street over would allow normal traffic in the direction you need to go. If this were a dedicated "Bike Lane" I would expect normal vehicular traffic rules to apply.

I would advise against riding in the street against the traffic as you would otherwise have to do here.
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Old 04-12-05, 09:40 AM   #16
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Aw come on, at least he didn't pull a Ringo.
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Old 04-12-05, 11:03 AM   #17
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Hall of Fame, indeed. Please let us know the exact street names so we can look this up on maps.google.com.

I too see what you're saying, but the problem is that while you're on the sidewalk you are subject to the pedestrian rules of the road, not the vehicular rules.

The key is where and how you switch from one set of rules to the other. When you're at the end of the sidewalk about to cross the driveway, you're clearly still subject to ped rules. The same is true as you're crossing. The point at which you switch is when you get to the right side of the driveway, stop, and turn the bike 90 degrees left to face the red S2 light. Prior to that you are still subject to ped rules and cannot claim the right to execute a vehicular left turn.

So, at the point you become subject to vehicular rules, you are facing a red light, and must wait until it turns green. It's doubtful the cop could explain exactly why, but ultimately he was right.

Of course, this example illustrates the problems with all bike paths, and, in particular all side paths: the point where they meet the roadway. You have to be very careful about transitioning to vehicular mode. Until you're at a point and facing in a direction that is legal for vehicles, you are in ped mode, and subject to ped rules, not vehicular rules.

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Old 04-12-05, 11:21 AM   #18
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Let me guess: 12th and L, where the driveway leads into the Capitol garage, and the big redhead CHP bike cop.
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Old 04-12-05, 11:26 AM   #19
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I doubt it (looking at maps.google.com), unless 12th St becomes a driveway into Captol Park.

How about 6th & J? Looks like 6th continues a bit into Downtown Plaza... that could be a "driveway". It must be a relatively major "driveway" since it's controlled with ped walk signals...
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Old 04-12-05, 11:43 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Of course, this example illustrates the problems with all bike paths, and, in particular all side paths: the point where they meet the roadway. You have to be very careful about transitioning to vehicular mode. Until you're at a point and facing in a direction that is legal for vehicles, you are in ped mode, and subject to ped rules, not vehicular rules.

Serge
I think we are all on the same page in regard to this particular situation. However, from my point of view I think it's a bit of a jump to cast it as broadly as "all bike paths". Your comment may make sence if one thinks of all bike paths as sidewalks. I tend to view bike paths (as opposed to bike lanes) as bike specific streets. Doing so, I view the where they intersect a roadway as a normal intersection between a major and minor road and treat them accordingly rather than as a special problem. The bigger issue in regard to safety and usefulness of the bike path then becomes interacting appropriately with other users which can and often does include pedestrian traffic.

Should go without saying but I'll write it out. I'm not trying to start an argument but introduce a different perspective. We can discuss it further in a seperate thread if anyone wishes and thinks it appropriate.

Jeff
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Old 04-12-05, 11:43 AM   #21
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I was poulled over by a bike cop once. I blew a stop sign, and didn't see the bike cop.
The cop was a ****** on a bike, I could have dropped him with 2 pedal strokes, but I stopped.

I actually rode through the stop sign, and past the bike cop, without seeing him. He caught up to me when I waited at the next light, and told me of my violation. I got off with a warning.
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Old 04-12-05, 11:57 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BostonFixed
I was poulled over by a bike cop once. I blew a stop sign, and didn't see the bike cop.
The cop was a ****** on a bike, I could have dropped him with 2 pedal strokes, but I stopped.

I actually rode through the stop sign, and past the bike cop, without seeing him. He caught up to me when I waited at the next light, and told me of my violation. I got off with a warning.
Hahaha, outrunning a bike cop on a bike is a pretty hilarious mental image.
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Old 04-12-05, 12:00 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by recursive
Hahaha, outrunning a bike cop on a bike is a pretty hilarious mental image.
It wouldn't have been outrunning, just light pedaling away. The ****** cop was on a MTB with a front shock, and I was on my light, nimble SS.
No competition really. I would have felt kinda bad about dropping him, so maybe that's why I stopped.
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Old 04-12-05, 12:45 PM   #24
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Oh no! I've been convicted by a jury of my own peers
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jabowker
Since when did making a left turn on a green light also require the cross street to have a green light? Lights don't work that way for vehicles. What the officer seems to be requiring here is that bicycle riders switch from being vehicles to peds.
I think you had it right the first time Jabowker

Actually my diagram is misleading - the stop bar for the driveway traffic is "above" or "before" the sidewalk. So the cop and everyone else that wants me to obey S2 as a vehicle wants me to make a right onto the driveway, make a U-turn, and line up behind the stop bar? That doesn't seem reasonable.

As far as "becoming a pedestrian" -- There's nothing in California vehicle code that talks about "converting" from a bicycle to a pedestrian while riding a bike. The only way to do that is to dismount and walk the bike. There's nothing in the V.C. that says a cyclist shall dismount to cross a street; therefore, the cop has no authority to compel me to dismount and become a ped.

OK, so as a vehicle on the sidewalk, I'm to the left of the driveway stop bar, which means I'm in the intersection. That means I can make a left turn as long as I yield to oncoming traffic.

21804. (a) The driver of any vehicle about to enter or cross a highway from any public or private property, or from an alley, shall yield the right-of-way to all traffic ... and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to that traffic until he or she can proceed with reasonable safety.

That's what I did. I yielded to oncoming traffic and made my left turn on a green in one move.
.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynikal
Where in Sac was this? Was this by the Capital? If so I agree L st is a mess. I see issues there all day.
Quote:
Originally Posted by caloso
Let me guess: 12th and L, where the driveway leads into the Capitol garage, and the big redhead CHP bike cop.
You guys are real close. It was 12th and N Street.
.
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Originally Posted by BostonFixed
The cop was a ****** on a bike, I could have dropped him with 2 pedal strokes
You did the right thing. You know the old saying, 'you can't outrun a Motorola'?
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Old 04-12-05, 12:54 PM   #25
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I can see where the cop is right in this case but it is a confusing situation. I'm still trying to figure out why they put big bike lanes down L but stop at the Capitol.
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