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Bike Safety

Original post made by Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 12, 2013

It seems that we are reading about bike collisions in the Palo Alto area on a weekly basis. Bicycle riding has increased over the past few years and the rules for bikes have not changed at all.

When the present rules were written, nobody envisaged the streams of bikes on our narrow roads or the streams of schoolkids around our schools in commute time.

It is time for the rules to be updated to take into account the modern usage of bicycles. In the same ways things like carseats, seatbelts and cell phones laws have been introduced for cars, it is worrying that the only rule that has changed for bicycles is that under 18s need a helmet. Helmets only help when some types of accident occur, they don't do anything to prevent the accident in the first place.

It is also time to introduce rules for motorized mobility vehicles (sometimes known as motorized scooters and sometimes electric wheelchairs). Should these be treated as bicycles and be banned from sidewalks where there is a bike lane?

We are continually getting new rules for cars and drivers. It is about time we made new rules for bikes and other modern untaxed, unregistered, vehicles. The present rules are often ignored such as stopping at stop signs and using lights at night and there must be more of an adherence to those rules. Those who use our streets and roads whether they are in or on a vehicle as well as on their feet need more protection. Pedestrians (by definition are those on their feet - pedi means foot) should not include motorized vehicles (scooters and wheelchairs) and they should have rules too.

Sharing roads is fine in theory. The practice is just getting too dangerous in its present usage.

Comments (23)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2013 at 9:29 am

I started this thread because I don't think it is right to discuss bike safety on a particular accident article, because yes it is not just a particular accident for a particular rider or driver that we need to discuss and yes friends and relatives of those involved do not want to read all the comments which are more general in nature rather than perceived or real criticism to a particular individual.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2013 at 10:58 am

Please keep these ideas about copying Holland's bicycle system coming.

The system in Holland works because the bike lanes are segregated from the motorized lanes and have separate traffic lights and signs. The bike boulevards here still have some motorized traffic and the bike paths are used by pedestrians also. To completely follow Holland's system we would have to have completely separate bike paths which are designed as a separate system and pedestrians are not allowed.

Does anyone know if motorized mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs are allowed on Holland's bike paths?


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Posted by Utrecht
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 12, 2013 at 3:44 pm

I go to the Netherlands annually and love almost everything about it. I love the separate lanes for walkers, bikers, scooters, etc. BUT, the Dutch are loathe to wear helmets or put them on their children. Cargo bikes are great, they have seat belts for kids, but I have yet to see a child wear a helmet in the Netherlands. In fact, I often see toddlers riding in the "suicide position", a seat just behind the handlebars.

Maybe the Dutch feel sufficiently protected by their system of "lanes", and by the fact that the chains have real guards so that clothing does not get entangled, but the helmet situation sucks!


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Posted by Actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2013 at 6:34 pm

We dont enforce the laws we have for cars, bikes or pedestrians. Whats the point of more?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2013 at 11:57 am

Actually, you make a good point.

However, the news is that PAPD are reinstating traffic cops in Palo Alto. Hopefully, some of this may change.

The laws however are sadly outdated. They do need to accommodate the way people are riding bikes nowadays. What worked 50 years ago isn't working today. We have more bike traffic and we have more cars.

The bikes of yesteryear were not the same design as what we presently have on our roads. Many of the bikes today are not designed for transportation on roads, but designed to race on tracks or mountain trails. Even the footwear is not designed for road use. The number of times I have heard cyclists use the fact that they are wearing cleats as an excuse for not stopping or for not walking their bikes over a bridge or through a tunnel where there are rules stating that bikes must be walked. Cleats do not give a cyclist a legal right not to obey the rules. Where did they get the idea that cleats give them a right to disobey a rule from?

The same as the pack mentality. Each bike is a separate vehicle and each rider must ride as if he was the only bike rather than the pack mentality which many of these recreational riding groups hold. If a group of vintage cars were to go up the hills at a snails pace each weekend, they would have to get permits and pace cars, etc. Why do these packs of bike riders not have to have permits and pace cars?

It is this type of arrogance that makes them a nuisance. As individuals they must obey the rules. As a pack they must individually do the same.


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Posted by Actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Yes, but why the focus on bikes following the rules? Shouldn't cars as well? I think the underlying problem here is that some people dont think of bikes as legitimate transportation, so they object to it using "their" infrastructure and there is nothing to be done for such myopic vision. Until the road system is seen as shared infrastructure by bike detractors, then the other issues can not be addressed to anyone's satisfaction.


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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Bicycles on the motor vehicle roadways have all the legitimacy of a motorcycle on the pedestrian sidewalks. At least in the case of sidewalks, the laws of man are consistent with the laws of physics.

While it may be legal for bicycles to use the motor vehicle roadways, those laws are in conflict with the intended use and design of roadways, and are inconsistent with the laws of physics. Please remember that "Jim Crow" was the law in the South for decades. Just because it's legal, doesn't make it right.

The title of this thread is "Bike Safety". The term is an oxymoron. Bicycles are the number one cause of injury accidents in America. If any other consumer product, say a "toaster", had the safety history of bicycles the manufacturers would be put out of business, and the executives jailed.

Bicycles have been around for a very long time, but their current misuse is fad-driven. Like the "Hula-hoop", the fad will fade in time and history will put current bicyclists in the same category as flat-earthers.


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Posted by Actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Thanks for making my point., OO ;-)


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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2013 at 11:06 pm

@Actually,

You're welcome. Thanks for making mine ;)


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Posted by Actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2013 at 11:20 pm

OO,

your points aren't based in facts, just personal opinions rooted in your dislike of bikes.
Bikes are just a form of transport. As gas prices get higher, there will be more on the road, not less, so either learn to co exist or prepare to be very unhappy.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:30 am

If bikes are just a form of transport, then why do we have so many packs of bikes on weekends? These bikers are usually meeting in parking lots where they take their bikes from their cars, meet up with their fellow recreational bikers and then form a pack. The individual bike is now part of a pack and this pack is not a form of transport any longer.

I have a different point of view for those using a bike for transport to get them where they are going. They use the same roads as cars and should obey the same rules. The law is pretty clear on this.

Those using bikes for this purpose should have lights and act in a predictable manner following the rules. Most do this. They should not use cleats as a means for breaking the rules. The adult cyclists should also remember that they are probably role models to younger cyclists - teens in particular.

The pack mentality is a different situation because it is hard to see how a pack of bikes can be called a single form of transport. These packs form a hazard - particularly when they meet a pack traveling in the opposite direction. The laws were invoked at a time when this bike pack scenario never occurred and they can't adequately be interpreted to make sense.

Something needs to be done.


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Posted by Actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2013 at 10:10 am

"If bikes are just a form of transport, why do we have so many packs of bikes on weekends"

They are riding places. Its not illegal to ride from point A to point B even if A equals B.

"They use the same roads as cars and should obey the same rules."

Agreed, but why focus on bikes? cars, motorcycles pedestrians, everything should obey the rules. Request more generic traffic enforcement. I dont see how you get what you want unless there is a monetary consequence for not following the rules. Just be care what you wish.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 14, 2013 at 10:50 am

If people other than cyclists behaved the way cyclists do, there'd be a huge crackdown on their behavior, & how they used their transportation. There needs to be on the cyclists.


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Posted by Actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2013 at 11:10 am

My argument is cars do, but for some reason car drivers seem tolerate it when a car does more easily than bicycles. I can never figure out why. Transportation bigotry, I suspect.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 14, 2013 at 11:22 am

Actually - Of course there are lame, uncaring drivers - always have been, always will be. Driving, being a privilege, is addressed in many ways - via DMV, insurance, tickets - and there are harsh penalties from being caught driving badly. When I start to see masses of drivers behaving badly, I'll address my comments to a thread of that nature. This thread is about bike safety - & since so many cyclists demonstrate asinine, dangerous behavior, it needs to be addressed. Your focus on trying to pass the buck is noted, but tiresome. When I see cyclists start to behave better, I'll cease my criticism & disrespect.


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Posted by Actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2013 at 11:51 am

"When I start to see masses of drivers behaving badly..."

I see that, you dont? Need examples?


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 14, 2013 at 12:03 pm

No, I don't - not "masses." Individuals, sometimes several, but not masses. I do see masses of cyclists blowing through stop signs & doing a lot of other dangerous crap every day. Students in groups no stopping at stop signs or stop lights, riders minus helmets zipping across the street when I have the right of way, riding in the street in the underpasses where you can't see them (instead of on the sidewalks), cyclists on their phones not paying attention when they're in traffic. Between the local schools, Stanford & the masses of cyclists in the hills, it's mind-boggling that they put themselves in ongoing danger.

I've been hit on my bike, so has my husband. We know that might makes right when it comes to who'll survive the best so we're very, very careful. The cyclists we know who've had multiple accidents are the uncautious ones & it's sheer stupidity. I've had groups of cyclists thank me for my caution when driving in the hills, on several occasions - & all of them were breaking the law by not stopping at stop signs. Incredible.

The best-behaved cyclists I see, ongoingly, are out at the baylands - probably because there aren't stop signs, traffic signals & only pedestrians that they can mow down.


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Posted by Actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Ever drive I5?


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 14, 2013 at 12:14 pm

This is a thread about BIKE SAFETY - why do you refuse to talk about that, except to hyper-focus on cars? Cyclists' behavior isn't independent on driver behavior, but it isn't just dependent on it, either. I've managed, my whole life, not to be a jerk cyclist. Have you? If so, you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about, so please stop pretending that it's all about the cars - it's not. Oh, & of course, many of the masses of cyclists are drivers & I've seen them drive w/the same idiotic behavior as when they cycle.


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Posted by Actually
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2013 at 12:34 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Phyllis
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm

On the campus bicycles rarely stop at stop signs and ride on the pedestrian walkways as much as they ride in the bicycle lanes. A young bicyclist hit my car last week and did major damage. He just picked himself and his phone up and tried to continue on his way until I stopped him and asked for his name and telephone number for my insurance company. No helmet, riding too fast on the walkway, and on his phone. This is an everyday occurrence and a quick search of the Stanford news articles and the Parking and Transportation site don't reveal any significant changes over the years, despite having a dedicated bicycle safety person on campus.


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Posted by wheels
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2013 at 1:09 pm

According to the CDC, Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. More than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments as the result of being injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2009.

Suicide is the number one cause of death.


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Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 23, 2013 at 11:50 pm

Ummm, no, suicide in not the leading cause of death. Sheesh. Try heart disease. Suicide doesn't even crack the top 10.


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