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New enforcement in California?

Old 11-24-22, 03:10 AM
  #26  
giemsa
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Originally Posted by mschwett View Post
there are some jurisdictions in the Bay Area which are famous for citing cyclists, notably a couple in Marin county which have officers specifically dedicated to stop sign violations because of “resident complaints.”

I have not heard that San Mateo was one of them, but I’d think it more likely that they got some complaints and decided to make an example of some people than that they are imagining this as a serious funding stream.
I'm a resident and my 2 mph slow roll has never been a problem for any car or cop in >10 years. We have some weak evidence that city politicians and police are trying to raise more money and maybe 3 anecdotes of BS fines but proving a new increase without a large amount of retrospective data is difficult in real time unless we can get hard evidence of explicit citation quotas like in NYC. I still think it's suspicious that the police were asking for donations at the same time as I'm getting a ticket for BS that was never enforced before. The things I have concluded for myself: 1. The cop is a ************* regardless of whether the city is practicing taxation by citation. 2. More importantly, the fact that a nominally $50 fine ends up costing $300 -- that $250 difference doesn't have anything to do with safety, it's politicians funding completely unrelated things and the court system shaking down citizens to feed itself

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Old 11-24-22, 04:38 AM
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CA Bay Area bike commuter here for over 35 years of steady bike commuting (5 days a week) and haven't had a ticket. I don't always observe every rule, but I usually do.

On new years day 2000 on a tandem recreational ride within a mile of home I got a ticket from cop for rolling through a T intersection which was bogus. That intersection now has a bike lane and bikes do not have to stop there!

This week has been interesting for cops. I've seen them every morning. I'm riding around 7 am, and the streets are relatively quiet . I track stand at every light and I do not put a foot down while I'm stopped. The police have not ticketed me. The ritual of practicing track stands has made the stop lights a sort of workout. The difference in time of running the lights and waiting for them is about 5 minutes more on my 30 minute 8 mile ride. I should be giving myself 35 minutes to ride to work.

This week every morning from behind I've had a cop pull up to an intersection where I've been waiting for the light to change and have sighed with relief that I was waiting the long seconds for the light to change (instead of sprinting through an empty intersection).

By the way, these lights at 7am have no traffic at them at all! It would be completely safe to ride across them.

In the evening, on the way home it's a completely different thing. There is a huge amount of traffic. I take different routes.

There has been a lot of road work, and so that might be the reason I'm seeing more cops all of a sudden. But maybe not.

Anyway I feel like I've been lucky to not get a ticket over the years. I'm going to take this as a warning, give myself the proper time to ride to work, and follow the law as closely as I can, even though the law from my bike seems poor.

I also drive at work and have cars. I do not drive a car the way I ride bike!

I'm recreational rider too.

I wouldn't be surprised if there was a lookout to catch me in particular. I've been doing the same commute for 35 years and there is hardly another cycling fool out there when I'm riding to work. It sounds paranoid, yep. But what if someone complained?

There's one light that I almost never make and I take a right, ride for 150 feet or so, and the do a u-turn on (it's a dead end street so there's virtually no traffic) and then come back and continue riding.

Over the years I've seen change. There are now painted bike lanes in some places and sharrows in others. This stuff never existed for most of the years I ride. There are three times as many controlled intersections too.

It's weird.

I see lots of empty buses. Hardly any bicycle commuters.

It's nuts



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Old 11-24-22, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by giemsa View Post
Thanks, what were the FOIA requests for specifically? You have to know that the document exists first, and then you have to know the type of information on the document right?
...all police jurisdictions keep detailed records of citations and arrests. If you plan to attempt this approach, you should be looking at ways you suspect this enforcement is singling out cyclists over motorists (i.e. how many citations were written over the past month for this particular infraction to cyclists, versus motorists ? etc, etc). But you really need to bone up on the writing of an effective FOIA request. Just asking for the info doesn't usually indicate you are a serious problem. There are also records kept of special enforcement actions. Sometimes they wouild even announce that the police would be focusing on something called "Bicycle Safety Week / Month here. So it's a pretty obvious place to go looking for the planning and execution records for the event. If that's what is going on...which I'm not sure it is in your case.

Originally Posted by giemsa View Post
In the links I didn't see anything that said the city isn't making money shaking down cyclists. $300 for 15 minutes of "work" is $1200 per hour. Five cops shaking down 4 cyclists an hour for 8 hours a day over 2 weeks is $672,000. And they seem to say that whenever the city wants to fund something but can't do it through taxes, they just add a new fee onto the fine. This fee allows them to slosh money from one part of the budget to another
...I can't explain it any better than that pdf report from the State Auditor. If you scroll down far enough, it even has one table that references how San Mateo distributes their traffic fine revenues at the time. It goes into some detail. Mostly, the fact that encouraging cycling as a mode of personal transportation is trendy in most city governments right now, is your friend in this endeavor. If you choose to take it on. It's a lot of work, it requires multiple letters and e-mails, and it becomes another hobby...if you seriously expect to have an impact. That's assuming that there really is something going on there like you have suggested. The other possibility is that your unfortunate encounter was just rolling a stop in front of a cop who was bored at the time, and possibly kind off a jerk. That happens sometimes.
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Old 11-24-22, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post

We also have the most homeless here in CA and bikes are part of the profile.
...one of the more egregious aspects of the old "Bicycle Safety Month" enforcements here in Sacramento, was that some cops decided the easiest way to meet citation quotas, was to ticket homeless guys for riding outside the bike lanes. We have a network of ineffective and dangerous bike lanes within the city, thanks to the past efforts of SABA, who long equated miles of bike lanes striped off on city streets with progress. It's created quite a mess, and will take decades to alter into something like a more workable system. There are many bicycle lanes here that are dangerous to use. Yet for a period of time, the cops were writing tickets to cyclists not using them. Thankfully, I think most of that has stopped now.
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Old 11-24-22, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by giemsa View Post
Anyone else in California notice that they're getting fined where they didn't before? I got my first ever not-full-stopping-at-a-stop-sign fine ever in >10 years of regularly biking in this city. I totally understand how it applies to those crazy cycling clubs going 30 mph through stop signs. But until now I've never had a problem doing a 2 mph slow roll (even right in front of cops). A full stop with unclip has never been enforced before, I'm fairly heavy so not very fast, and I slow down at all cross streets to check for cars regardless of whether there's a stop sign or not. Then I realized that for the past few months I've been getting phone calls and mailers asking for donations to my local police department, which I've never gotten before in >10 years of living here. There's a study entitled "Taxation by Citation?" (I can't post a link as a new user) where they show citations/fines increase when city revenue drops. Has anyone else noticed that there's new enforcement recently and does it seem to correlate with some sort of revenue shortfall?
Just another case where the local Government wants more tax money to spend.
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Old 11-24-22, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by mschwett View Post
there are some jurisdictions in the Bay Area which are famous for citing cyclists, notably a couple in Marin county which have officers specifically dedicated to stop sign violations because of “resident complaints.”

I have not heard that San Mateo was one of them, but I’d think it more likely that they got some complaints and decided to make an example of some people than that they are imagining this as a serious funding stream.
Larkspur is notorious.
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Old 11-24-22, 11:41 AM
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Larkspur is notorious for this. Locally, when there are complaints you'll see some attempt at it. They do a lot of training rides and sometimes groups will blow through everything.
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Old 11-24-22, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by curbtender View Post
Larkspur is notorious for this. Locally, when there are complaints you'll see some attempt at it. They do a lot of training rides and sometimes groups will blow through everything.
Yeah I have no problem with ticketing those clubs doing 30 mph but shaking me down for a 2 mph slow roll is just a ************* thing to do. Like when my colleague got a ticket for unbuckling her seatbelt so she could turn to back into a parking space

Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
Just another case where the local Government wants more tax money to spend.
Exactly 100%

Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
...I can't explain it any better than that pdf report from the State Auditor. If you scroll down far enough, it even has one table that references how San Mateo distributes their traffic fine revenues at the time. It goes into some detail. Mostly, the fact that encouraging cycling as a mode of personal transportation is trendy in most city governments right now, is your friend in this endeavor. If you choose to take it on. It's a lot of work, it requires multiple letters and e-mails, and it becomes another hobby...if you seriously expect to have an impact. That's assuming that there really is something going on there like you have suggested. The other possibility is that your unfortunate encounter was just rolling a stop in front of a cop who was bored at the time, and possibly kind off a jerk. That happens sometimes.
Thanks, I looked at the table and the categories are very broad and to me it looks like there's ample opportunity to slosh money around. For example, if some administrator has their toes in several different projects, they can use increased shakedown money to pay for a larger part of their salary and that decreases the amount they have to pay from some other project. Moreover, it looks like all the funds are in the red with large year-to-year decreases, which seems like a strong motivate for propping up the falling revenue with taxation by citation
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Old 11-24-22, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by giemsa View Post


Thanks, I looked at the table and the categories are very broad and to me it looks like there's ample opportunity to slosh money around. For example, if some administrator has their toes in several different projects, they can use increased shakedown money to pay for a larger part of their salary and that decreases the amount they have to pay from some other project. Moreover, it looks like all the funds are in the red with large year-to-year decreases, which seems like a strong motivate for propping up the falling revenue with taxation by citation
...sure, whatever you think. Good luck in your pursuit of justice.
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Old 11-24-22, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by prairiepedaler View Post
It is called the law enforcement growth industry. Many towns in the USA rely heavily on tickets in order to stay afloat. Read "Why We Drive" by Mathew Crawford. He has a very healthy dedication of pages with references to this topic in that book. Many cop unions push for these kinds of victimless crime laws. More laws -> more potential crime -> more cops neccessary. Locally, the cops fight each other over who gets traffic detail for the last 5 years of their "career". They go nuts issuing traffic tickets because this effects their performance review and pushes up their bonuses. For the bulk of their "working" life, they'll get $108k/year. But, on traffic detail, their salaries go up to $160k/year and that is what their pensions are pegged to. They receive 60% of that $160k as pension (fully indexed to inflation) for the rest of their lives. It is one of the reasons I want to move away from here.
Thanks, I checked it out and there are some whimsical sections in there. I didn't see much about pensions but there seemed to be two main relevant sections: 1. placing red light cameras at intersections where they could shorten the yellow lights (tinker with the formula used to calculate the length of time they should be), rather than intersections with the most accidents, 2. creating a speed trap by lowering the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph. I really liked the part about French tax farmers before the revolution, which the French monarchy gave wide discretion to collect taxes and keep a cut of the proceeds. "They were universally hated. What inspires revolutionary hatred, I believe, is not taxes themselves ... but rather the false pretense of interested parties acting under color of the public good."

Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
...sure, whatever you think. Good luck in your pursuit of justice.
Thanks for all the information! I know there's a large gap between what I believe, what I can prove, and what I can effect. Since I'm not a lawyer or an investigative journalist, probably the most I can do is write lots of angry letters to the city council

Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
...do you have a link for this information ? It sounds a lot like some of the public pension "boosting" conspiracy theories I've heard repeated about California public safety pension employees. None of them turn out to be true here. Pensions are computed based on your highest base salary earning years, and bonuses or overtime pay are not considered in establishing the amount. I don't live in Canada, I live in California. But what you have repeated sounds familiar enough to prior erroneous statements that I would like to familiarize myself with the reasoning behind why your public safety pension system would be so obviously designed for manipulation.
To the OP: none of that is even remotely possible anywhere in California, where public safety pensions are primarily administered through CalPers.
It's a widely-known nationwide scheme called pension spiking -- 100% true -- and police pensions are bankrupting many cities. Google "pension spiking" and "police pensions city bankruptcy" and there are dozens of articles from the 2010s all the way through 2022. Jerry Brown passed reform to stop pension spiking in 2013 but police unions sued to prevent the reform, and only in 2020 did the California supreme court partially uphold the reform. In theory pension spiking was supposed to be curbed in 2013 but it only applies to *new* employees so we're still paying the spiked pensions from before 2013. Since they can retire at 50, we'll be paying a lot of spiked pensions probably well past 2043. There's an article entitled "Some L.A. pensions are so huge they exceed IRS limits, costing taxpayers millions extra" where it says "[L]avish pensions forced the city to establish an 'Excess Benefit Plan' to pay what the pension system cannot legally cover, using money that could otherwise be tapped to fix sidewalks, fight homelessness or hire more cops. ... The list of recipients is dominated by former cops and firefighters whose million-dollar payouts from a separate retirement program drove their incomes well over the $220,000 annual limit the IRS allows pension funds to pay. ... Los Angeles is far from alone in setting up such a plan to get around the IRS limit. Both of the state’s largest public employee pension funds, CALPERS and CALSTRS, have them, as does the University of California, said Robert Fellner, executive director of Transparent California, which tracks pay to public officials. 'It’s just another perk government workers get, paid for by taxpayers, who will never see similar perks themselves,' Fellner said." In the San Mateo city budget from 2020: "One of these key challenges ... is the increase in pension contribution rates that will drive up operational costs and put pressure on our ability to maintain service levels. As noted in my budget transmittal letter, General Fund pension expenditures are projected to increase significantly, consuming our entire projected local 1% sales tax within five years. ... The overall adopted budget for 2019-20 is $137.7 million and is an increase of 8.2% over the adopted 2018-19 budget of $127.3 million. This increase is predominantly due to rising personnel costs, especially pension-related costs ..."

Last edited by giemsa; 11-24-22 at 10:33 PM.
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Old 11-25-22, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by giemsa View Post
Thanks for all the information! I know there's a large gap between what I believe, what I can prove, and what I can effect. Since I'm not a lawyer or an investigative journalist, probably the most I can do is write lots of angry letters to the city council
...if you hope to produce some sort of change, that's a bad strategy. You need tat least some of those city council guys on your side. Strategically, you need to probe for differences in bicycle management policies between the Council (who are nominally in charge), and the police management (who dictate daily enforcement activities policies). I guess maybe I have more experience in local politics. Unfortunately, it's something you will need to learn for yourself.


Originally Posted by giemsa View Post
It's a widely-known nationwide scheme called pension spiking -- 100% true -- and police pensions are bankrupting many cities. Google "pension spiking" and "police pensions city bankruptcy" and there are dozens of articles from the 2010s all the way through 2022. Jerry Brown passed reform to stop pension spiking in 2013 but police unions sued to prevent the reform, and only in 2020 did the California supreme court partially uphold the reform. In theory pension spiking was supposed to be curbed in 2013 but it only applies to *new* employees so we're still paying the spiked pensions from before 2013. Since they can retire at 50, we'll be paying a lot of spiked pensions probably well past 2043. There's an article entitled "Some L.A. pensions are so huge they exceed IRS limits, costing taxpayers millions extra" where it says "[L]avish pensions forced the city to establish an 'Excess Benefit Plan' to pay what the pension system cannot legally cover, using money that could otherwise be tapped to fix sidewalks, fight homelessness or hire more cops. ... The list of recipients is dominated by former cops and firefighters whose million-dollar payouts from a separate retirement program drove their incomes well over the $220,000 annual limit the IRS allows pension funds to pay. ... Los Angeles is far from alone in setting up such a plan to get around the IRS limit. Both of the state’s largest public employee pension funds, CALPERS and CALSTRS, have them, as does the University of California, said Robert Fellner, executive director of Transparent California, which tracks pay to public officials. 'It’s just another perk government workers get, paid for by taxpayers, who will never see similar perks themselves,' Fellner said." In the San Mateo city budget from 2020: "One of these key challenges ... is the increase in pension contribution rates that will drive up operational costs and put pressure on our ability to maintain service levels. As noted in my budget transmittal letter, General Fund pension expenditures are projected to increase significantly, consuming our entire projected local 1% sales tax within five years. ... The overall adopted budget for 2019-20 is $137.7 million and is an increase of 8.2% over the adopted 2018-19 budget of $127.3 million. This increase is predominantly due to rising personnel costs, especially pension-related costs ..."
...I am familiar with all the various stories that surround pension spiking in California. It seems to have been curtailed here, at least in the Pers system. There is a ton of hysteria news with regard to pension spiking available on the internet, through Google searches, and much of it is untrue. I am possibly more concerned with this issue than you, because I get a CalPers pension. It's to my advantage that the system remain solvent, and last year they lost something like 6 or 7% on overall investments. Anyway, because of our differing situations, it's possible I've followed the issue more closely than you.

The reasons that will drive increases in San Mateo's contribution rates are primarily poor CalPers investment results, at least in the near term.

But you are welcome for all the cats I saved from trees.
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Old 11-25-22, 01:57 PM
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Moderation note: This forum is for safety and advocacy not politics. Please stop all political discussion and return to topic of A&S as it pertains to new enforcement in CA.
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Old 11-25-22, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
...if you hope to produce some sort of change, that's a bad strategy. You need tat least some of those city council guys on your side. Strategically, you need to probe for differences in bicycle management policies between the Council (who are nominally in charge), and the police management (who dictate daily enforcement activities policies). I guess maybe I have more experience in local politics. Unfortunately, it's something you will need to learn for yourself.
Haha I don't have the time so it seems like something for my local bike advocacy group to do then. Regardless of the exact reasons (possibilities discussed above), it seems like all the cities in San Mateo are feeling budget crunches which would motivate them to find new revenue sources, and shaking down bikers is easy money that could be guaranteed through quotas

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Old 11-25-22, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
Moderation note: This forum is for safety and advocacy not politics. Please stop all political discussion and return to topic of A&S as it pertains to new enforcement in CA.
...I'm very surprised that someone who lists his location as "high tax nanny state" would start a thread in A+S that wandered into politics.
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Old 11-25-22, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by giemsa View Post
Anyone else in California notice that they're getting fined where they didn't before? I got my first ever not-full-stopping-at-a-stop-sign fine ever in >10 years of regularly biking in this city. I totally understand how it applies to those crazy cycling clubs going 30 mph through stop signs. But until now I've never had a problem doing a 2 mph slow roll (even right in front of cops). A full stop with unclip has never been enforced before, I'm fairly heavy so not very fast, and I slow down at all cross streets to check for cars regardless of whether there's a stop sign or not. Then I realized that for the past few months I've been getting phone calls and mailers asking for donations to my local police department, which I've never gotten before in >10 years of living here. There's a study entitled "Taxation by Citation?" (I can't post a link as a new user) where they show citations/fines increase when city revenue drops. Has anyone else noticed that there's new enforcement recently and does it seem to correlate with some sort of revenue shortfall?
The city I live in judges you by what you're riding. If you're riding a 5,000 dollar bike wearing weenie gear, you're gonna get taxed. You're riding a beater you'll get a warning.
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Old 11-25-22, 05:45 PM
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It is dumb to make a blanket statement about "California" as enforcement varies greatly by area as does the attitudes of law enforcement. It is like saying French policemen do whatever as a generalization. There is always some LEO that wants to pad their tickets, especially at the end of the month, to make their informal quota. I am happy that in much of California we do not have street executions by cops.

I appreciate that for motorists to respect the rights of bicyclists to share the road the bicyclists should observe the traffic laws in the same manner as people in cars are expected to do.
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Old 11-25-22, 08:42 PM
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Which is exactly why people should put a specific location in their profile. If you are complaining about ticketing in your city and your profile just says “US” then I just skip right over. Lots of issues are very local so not identifying your location just doesn’t help. And even worse putting something cute like “3rd rock” totally turns me off. You gotta give some to get some.
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Old 11-26-22, 05:38 AM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
...one of the more egregious aspects of the old "Bicycle Safety Month" enforcements here in Sacramento, was that some cops decided the easiest way to meet citation quotas, was to ticket homeless guys for riding outside the bike lanes. We have a network of ineffective and dangerous bike lanes within the city, thanks to the past efforts of SABA, who long equated miles of bike lanes striped off on city streets with progress. It's created quite a mess, and will take decades to alter into something like a more workable system. There are many bicycle lanes here that are dangerous to use. Yet for a period of time, the cops were writing tickets to cyclists not using them. Thankfully, I think most of that has stopped now.
Should fight that one. A bicycle is a vehicle due all the benefits and responsibilities of a car. That is straight from the Ca DMV.
As long as you are not obstructing traffic you can ride in a traffic lane. Walk in with the DMV handbook and point out what the law of California is. There is nothing more fun than making a cop mutter under their breath while you make them look stupid.
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Old 11-29-22, 08:57 AM
  #44  
Tony Marley
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I got a $25 fine in 1976 for turning left without the green turn signal and going 35 mph in a 25 mph zone....
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