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Law and Order and Cycling

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Law and Order and Cycling

Old 06-20-21, 07:28 PM
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mschwett 
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Law and Order and Cycling

Of course there are lots of threads and opinions here about the behavior of cyclists, motorists, pedestrians, etc.
I had an interesting experience today which I honestly don't know what to think about.
I was riding northbound through Sausalito, in a bike lane, going approx 20. I had a red in front of me that had just turned red, but the road to the right was just the entry to a parking lot, essentially. Honestly I didn't want to unclip so I slowed, turn right, went about 100' up the parking lot entry road, looked over my shoulder, made a u-turn, and then a right back onto the main road.

About 15 seconds later, a motorcycle officer pulled in front of me and signaled me over.

He asked if I knew why I was there, I said I wasn't sure but maybe he didn't like the u-turn? He said no, the u-turn was fine - you went far enough up the road - but you ran two red lights. He then asked where I was from (San Francisco) at which point he gave me a very long lecture about law and order. The basic theme was: in this town, we care about law and order and safety unlike in the nasty big city where the cops have too much to do and don't enforce basic laws. His entire responsibility is pulling over cyclists, because "the people of this town don't feel safe on the roads they built with their taxpayer dollars because of cyclists that don't obey the law." I listened, discussed with him briefly, and about 15 minutes later (it was a long lecture!) went along my way. He didn't cite me for anything.

So, yes, in California a bike must come to a stop before a right turn on red. I don't believe we have any version of the idaho yield. But I can't imagine a more victimless crime here. It wasn't even a full intersection, and there were zero cars coming out of the parking lot entry... and there was a bike lane on the main road so it's not like I turned out into traffic.

What does everyone think? Horrible behavior on my part to turn on red at 10mph (if that!) into and out of a parking lot access road? I mean, laws are laws. I get it. Slippery slope. But I suppose I've always believed that things like jaywalking, speeding, and incomplete stops when there are literally no vehicles nearby to be impacted are acceptable compromises between the law and expediency.
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Old 06-20-21, 07:35 PM
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This is in the wrong subforum; needs to go in Advocacy and Safety, where it will quickly devolve into a heated argument and go on for six pages.

And no, I'm not kidding.
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Old 06-20-21, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
This is in the wrong subforum; needs to go in Advocacy and Safety, where it will quickly devolve into a heated argument and go on for six pages.

And no, I'm not kidding.
Oops. If a mod could move it, that would be great. Or, not, I guess! Maybe there will be something interesting on Page 6.
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Old 06-20-21, 08:03 PM
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but but but, what if you didn't see those geese waddling out off the curb to take a poop in the bicycle lane? You cuud huve hertid thim!!
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Old 06-20-21, 08:22 PM
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If the Law states that you have to come to a complete stop at a red light, then, well, if you didn't do that the officer was within his power to stop you. Do I "like" that Law? No, maybe? I don't know. Bike Laws are fickled things. Some are old and arcane and others just don't make any sense at all, and others are completely justified.

I say, chalk it up to a lesson learned and move on.
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Old 06-20-21, 08:29 PM
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Sometimes police are unreasonable. Sometimes police are dishonest. I believe they need quotas, so the dream up trivial things to book people.

I have never been stopped on a bicycle.

So before you run a red light on a bicycle, make sure it is safe to do so, and look to see if any police are around.
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Old 06-20-21, 08:39 PM
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Moved to A&S.
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Old 06-20-21, 08:39 PM
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Years ago like in the sixties my dad got a ticket for running a stop sign on his motorcycle in Virginia. He did come to a complete stop and the officer admitted but he did not put his foot on the ground. Never new if the law specifically says motorcyclist had to put a foot down or not. The if one has a side car. Still wondered if it applied to bicyclist.
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Old 06-20-21, 08:43 PM
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we came to a stop riding our tandem at a light and saw a motorcycle cop hollering at the leader fo a small group of cyclists. Then I guess It was not getting through so the cop used his loud speaker. not sure what it was about but he sure got an earful I think he ran a red light.
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Old 06-20-21, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by mschwett View Post
I had a red in front of me ... but the road to the right was just the entry to a parking lot ... I slowed, turn right, went about 100' up the parking lot entry road, looked over my shoulder, made a u-turn.


I do this all the time, but I don't go 100' unless there's traffic that prevents a quick u-turn.
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Old 06-20-21, 09:12 PM
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I ride to Be Safe, Not to Be Legal.
Never want to be Rear Ended at a Red Light.
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Old 06-20-21, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
I ride to Be Safe, Not to Be Legal.
that's always been my strategy. i mean, my trip out of the city has 20 stop signs, 400 feet apart, at 90 degree intersections on 25mph roads with clear visibility in both directions every time. i don't stop at them unless there's a car or pedestrian or cyclist within range of the intersection in the other direction. but, like this officer said, in the big city, it's anarchy!!!!!
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Old 06-20-21, 10:49 PM
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But I can't imagine a more victimless crime here
You could easily antagonize some weak minded bicycle bigot riding a bicycle so lawlessly, the way you did. Oh you did antagonize the whole town evidently.

I ride to Be Safe, Not to Be Legal.
Never want to be Rear Ended at a Red Light.
I have rode bicycles for over 46 years and I have never been rear ended by a car stopping for a light or stop sign. I was rear ended by another bicycle at a stop light. The bicycle safety stop left the house and headed for the senate recently. California is so stuck up that if it passes it has an expiration date on it. The California highway patrol will be the judge of weather the law stays permanent.
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Old 06-21-21, 06:58 AM
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It seems the locals are voicing their complaints about lawlessness with cyclists. It sounds like the officer was polite enough. He spent 15 minutes in conversation with you and didn't ticket you.

ALL OF US break the law when we think we can do it safely and we won't be ticketed. MOST of the time that works well for us. Sometimes it doesn't.
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Old 06-21-21, 09:33 AM
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I think the cop was in his right to stop you. In fact, I hope that happens a little bit around our town with the sidewalk riders for their own good. I do not want any cyclist to be ticketed but I do want them to be informed. Some know the law/safest approaches and decide to do other things, which is not uncommon. Others do not know and if stopped, need to be informed.

The thing that bothered me most about your conversation was when he discussed the way streets are paid for ... "the people of this town don't feel safe on the roads they built with their taxpayer dollars because of cyclists that don't obey the law." It could be one two things. First is that you are from SF and did not pay for the roads. So, you have a higher obligation to obey the law. That seems silly. I expect he does not really know how roads are funded and believes they are paid by gas tax. He was suggesting to you that you are borrowing road space that you do not pay for. Consequently, you should behave as a guest. Your best behavior.

It is a BS argument made by many. In fact, if you pay any taxes state/federal, your dollars can be found in the cement you were riding on.
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Old 06-21-21, 09:44 AM
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I'd a cited you on principle! Too many hooligan bikers out here to be safe on our own streets. We need more officers like that whom are willing to enforce these laws and get us bikers to heel.
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Old 06-21-21, 11:54 AM
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Wen I approach a four way stop and there is traffic there, I stop and obey the right of way. People wait until I am completely stopped before they take their turn. Sometimes I have to encourage them to take their turn. They don't trust me to obey the law and they are scared that they might hit me. Riding like a hood ornament wannabe creates mistrust and also angers some people. I have been on the receiving end of some of that anger before. There is no such thing as a victimless crime. There are wannabe bicycle riders.
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Old 06-21-21, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Rick View Post
People wait until I am completely stopped before they take their turn.
For a real laugh try to yield while riding anything fixed gear.

I would so much rather be behind rather than in front of a car. But yes, were I the driver I'm not sure I'd count on that either.
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Old 06-21-21, 12:12 PM
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I say don't cite cyclists... the harm they cause by errant behavior is statistically negligible... which is why cyclists are not required to carry liability insurance to use the roads. Cyclists biking in a dangerous manner will be removed by the dominate road users... automobile drivers.

Really, other than to meet the exact letter of the law, what IS the point of citing cyclists. If the same "letter of the law" approach is taken toward motorists, stop every speeder. Ain't gonna happen.

Enough with the anti-bike campaigns by LEOs.
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Old 06-21-21, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Cyclists biking in a dangerous manner will be removed by the dominate road users... automobile drivers.
Doesn't work that way in practice.

Most common victims of dangerous cycling behavior are pedestrians, next other cyclists.

Keep in mind an actual crash isn't required before there can be a victim.

Just as with vehicle close passes, intimidation leading people to conclude there are appropriate and legal activities they cannot safely enjoy is arguably a greater public issue than the actual instances of injuries and deaths.

(There's bike infrastructure that's been lost to intimidation in the form of scofflaw pedestrian behavior, too)

Last edited by UniChris; 06-21-21 at 02:11 PM.
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Old 06-21-21, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by mschwett View Post
What does everyone think?
I think that cop would have arrested me right off the Golden Gate Bridge because by the time he could have caught up with me I would have run ALL the red lights in Sausalito. At last estimate, in my city where no one cares, I ran on the average of 16,000 red lights and stop signs every year when I worked and commuted in the city grid.

Unless someone else has the ROW, I don't stop. And thanks to cell phones causing driver hesitation, sometimes not even then.

So what do I think? I think you are a horrible person for terrifying those fine citizens of Sausalito with your scofflaw cycling behavior.
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Old 06-21-21, 01:08 PM
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Sausalito is pretty well known for hyper-strict enforcement against cyclists, especially tourists who ride over the bridge from the City. And if you don't know, well now you know....
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Old 06-21-21, 01:23 PM
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As long as no cars are coming from either direction...I run through red lights all of the time with my bike.

Then again...I live in a place where the police don't care about such frivolous stuff.
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Old 06-21-21, 03:55 PM
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If that cop were to ticket every driver who rolls through red lights and stop signs without making a full stop, he'd lose his job.
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Old 06-21-21, 04:11 PM
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Climbing through Easton to an ill-chosen hotel far off the D&L I recall seeing a sign along the lines of

"Rolling stops: $125. Actual stops: still free. Your choice"
​​​​​
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