Bicyclists running stop signs Palo Alto Issues, posted by Ventura Resident, a resident of the Ventura neighborhood, on Jul 16, 2008 at 11:42 am
I'm a 5 year resident of Palo Alto and I've grown very attached to my community. I'm a strong supporter of environmental conservation and public transportation. I've been very pleased to see more and more people take their bikes to work and it reminds me of my college days at U.C. Davis where the bicycle culture is very serious there. (Cyclists get ticketed for speeding or for not coming to a full stop at stop signs by bicycle cops).
With more cyclists on the road however, I have seen more and more cyclists taking risks on the road such as running stop signs and almost hitting pedestrians, while speeding through neighborhoods. I have noticed this frequently along Park Blvd (between the Mercedes Benz Service Center and Fernando Avenue).
As a cyclist myself, I strongly believe that cyclists have a right to share the road with motorists. But I also believe that the cyclists should at least observe basic traffic laws.
I understand that a full 3 second one-foot-on-the-ground bicycle stop at a stop light/sign would cramp the cyclists momentum but for the safety of the community as well as themselves is so important.
Posted by jr, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:43 pm
1. Riding a bike is dangerous no matter how considerate the drivers, at least in the car-intensive cities of the United States (maybe not in Amsterdam). Furthermore accidents and potential accidents impose costs on both parties and more generally Coasian externalities are symmetric. The first best equilibrium involves less mutual contact and the cheapest way to bring that about is probably to discourage biking. (After all, they're the ones who can be scared off with risk of death and dismemberment.) That means road rules which discriminate against the interests of bikers.
2. If a bike has to stop and wait ten seconds for a car, that biker loses ten seconds of travel time. If a car has to stop and wait ten seconds for a bike, the driver loses ten seconds of travel time. The expected loss in distance traveled is much greater for the car, especially in areas where cars are going fast (i.e., the disputed areas when safety is a concern). Furthermore the cars are more likely inhabited by people with a higher value for their time, at least on average if not for every biking blogger.
I also see a lot of cyclists in PA talking on cell phones and riding at high speed through the California Avenue underpass endangering pedestrians with young children
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 16, 2008 at 1:13 pm
As someone who walks, rides bikes and drives all around Palo Alto, I can say that the worst cyclists I have ever seen are in Palo Alto. We have had many threads on Town Square and most cyclists think they are a law unto themselves and cars should treat them as pedestrians. I also see school crossing guards waving children and adults on bikes through their intersections, and parents teaching their kids not to stop at stop signs or crossing guards and riding their bikes on the wrong side of the road.
There is such a thing as traffic school for cyclists and I know the police watch kids at the high schools and ticket them. But, since parents just pay the fines for the kids, traffic school on a Saturday morning in Cupertino would be a great lesson.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jul 16, 2008 at 2:49 pm
I have to agree, as a guy who cycles both for recreation and to work, that there is a lot of bike rule breaking and not much enforcement in Palo Alto. I actually go by the Park/Fernando intersection on my bike (as do many others) and bikers do never stop there.
Bikers are like drivers; they'll do what is generally in their selfish best interest. If they think they'll get a ticket, they'll stop (or at least be wary); otherwise they usually won't. Woodside, Portola Valley, and Saratoga are notable for giving out bike tickets (I got one for a stop sign violation once) and it definitely changes behavior. Enforcement is the key.
And on whether biking or car drivers are more "right" - baloney. The rules of the road apply equally to both - neither gets to decide when and if they are allowed to break the rules. They do it at their own risk and should be ticketed (or scowled at) as appropriate.
Posted by driver, biker, and walker, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 16, 2008 at 3:08 pm
Just beyond the stop you are describing on park ave and along there are barriers to prevent cars from traveling down park. Residents ignore the barriers and drive on the wrong side of the road to get through. Cars donít stop for 3 seconds at stop signs, you are lucky if they even roll through especially if they are turning right. Cars donít obey the speed limit on Alma (35) Embarcadero (25) or Middlefield (25). People jay walk mid block in commercial districts, and walk against red lights all the time even in front of cars that have a green. Cars seldom stop and yield to a pedestrianís right of way at crosswalks with no controls. Bikes blow off stop signs, and too many bikes ride at night without any reflectors or lights.
Face it; we are a town of people preoccupied with our own needs.
Posted by Paul, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jul 16, 2008 at 3:47 pm
"...cars should treat them [bikers] as pedestrians."
As a frequent pedestrian around my neighborhood I can tell you that amounts to a hunting license. What saves bikers from this fate is the sharp metallic edges on their bikes which can seriously scratch a Beemer's paint job.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jul 16, 2008 at 4:07 pm
The problem is worse on the Stanford campus.
I drive there frequently for meetings, etc and have noticed that many, perhaps most Stanford cyclists think that they have the same rights as pedestrians. That is, they ride on the many walk paths and then cross the intersections with streets without stopping. I have been surprised numerous times when a rider dashes in front of my car when I am leaving a stop sign. I have emailed and in person gone by the Stanford Sheriff's office to suggest that the problem is significant enough to warrant action to include bike rules in student information, but so far no one at the office has responded. No one seems to want to follow through.
Don't know, but I got to believe that there must be numerous incidents with Stanford bikers and cars.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 16, 2008 at 4:27 pm
While I have seen bicyclists run red lights in Palo Alto, most at least slow down at stop signs. Their speeds at running stop signs are comparable to some automobiles as they run the same stop sign but at least they have lower momentum. The truth is that traffic laws are routinely violated by motorists and bicyclists alike.
Posted by Kate, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jul 16, 2008 at 4:43 pm
Most of the bicyclist I have seen in Palo Alto don't even slow down for a stop sign. They have a real sense of entitlement when it comes to red lights and stop signs. I'm not proposing that all motorist come to a complete stop either, but I see very few cars purposefully blow through a stop sign and have never personally witnessed a motorist ignore a red light. To the contrary, I have witnessed many bicyclist simply ignore red lights (like pedestrians commonly do). You know what I mean . . . they look at the light, slow down, look both ways and then they go against the light.
Posted by anonymous, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jul 16, 2008 at 4:47 pm
As a driver who drives around this city, I am truly worried about what action cyclists will take...some are so quick to appear and blow by their stop sign that even if I am highly cautious at stop signs there can still be close calls...
Posted by driver, biker, and walker, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 16, 2008 at 4:57 pm
"I have witnessed many bicyclist simply ignore red lights"
The problem with lights is some lights dont detect bikes, so when they dont and there is no car to piggyback off of, a bike is within the law to pause and then proceed when safe. I'm not saying this describes what you saw, but sometimes when you have a light that wont change for you, there is nothing to do, but run it.
That said, I have also seen bikes run lights when its not safe, but not many.
Posted by Biker Dave, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jul 17, 2008 at 7:00 am
I've been a bike commuter and daily biker around town for my entire 50 years. I think most riders would concur that one reason we blow the stop signs is we are tired of coming to a complete stop to wait our turn, put the foot down, only to be waived thru by the driver to our left or right. This happens all the time, and so rather than lose our momentum for no reason, we just keep on moving. Do drivers ever wave another car thru out of turn?
But I also believe that the cyclists should at least observe basic traffic laws.
As a leader in bike friendly cities I believe we do pretty darn good at this!
Posted by jazzy, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 17, 2008 at 7:51 am
Not only are the stop signs ignored but so are other traffic and safety rules:
1) Follow the rules of the road - I've come close to hitting several people on bikes who travel against traffic both on the road and sidewalk. When I back out of my driveway I look both ways otherwise there would a few broken bones.
2) Wear a helmet!!! - Bad things happen to people in bike accidents who don't . Kids wear them but a lot of adults around here think they are optional fashion.
3) Learn to make turn signals - As a driver I cannot read the cyclists mind.
Posted by i was just thinking this, a resident of Stanford, on Jul 17, 2008 at 8:56 am
just yesterday i was driving and nearly hit a cyclist who blew through a stop sign and proceeded through the intersection via a crosswalk. i thought about starting a thread on the town square. i am sure that someone will correct me if i am wrong, but aren't cyclists supposed to follow the rules of the road. i don't care if it's not convenient or slows a cyclist; it's the safe and legal thing to do. i know from experience: years ago, i got a moving violation for riding my bike in a crosswalk in LA.
Posted by sally, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 17, 2008 at 3:22 pm
I got five( 5 ) pictures of cyclists violating the law in the California underpass, is there a way i can post these on paoloaltoonline in addition to sending them to the controlling authorities for action?
Posted by Cyclist, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jul 17, 2008 at 3:23 pm
When commuting by bike I am guilty of treating stop signs as yield signs when no cars are present. Because it takes me longer to commute by bike than by car I do what I can to save time (and energy). Otherwise I mostly assume I'm invisible so am quite cautious at most intersections.
Regarding the CA underpass I usually stay on my bike but at a slow speed; I just assume that I take up less space that way than if I were to get off my bike and walk it. I try to be courteous and respectful of others on the road and I think there are more cyclists like that than the arrogant light runners. At least I hope so!
Posted by Natalie, a resident of the Ventura neighborhood, on Jul 17, 2008 at 4:09 pm
I, too, am astounded at how many bicyclists run stop signs. Students heading for Gunn go through stop signs along East Meadow as a giant herd. Bicyclists almost never stop at the stop signs on Park. When I moved to Palo Alto 26 years ago, I was issud a ticket for "jiggling" my bicycle at a stop sign without putting two feet down. It doesn't seem right that bicyclists don't even "jiggle" at the stop sign, but race right through.
Posted by Ok..., a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Jul 17, 2008 at 4:16 pm
Sally, I'm sure the police will be happy to take your pictures of cyclists and deal with them appropriately. Maybe you can also find some kids riding without helmets. Take some pictures of jaywalkers next; then maybe some motorists without their seat belts on. You are part of what makes Palo Alto special.
Posted by sarlat, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jul 17, 2008 at 4:22 pm
I'm an avid cyclist but I'm amazed at how many cyclist just ride through stop signs and red lights. It's actually fairly uncommon to see cyclists who don't run stop signs. I notice it especially when I drive my car. The cyclists don't seem to be even aware that they are putting their lives at grave risk. I'll drive up to a stop sign, getting there way before a bike, and the cyclist just assumes I'm aware he/she has no intention of stopping and obey the right of way rules. They are lucky with me because I'm such a frequent cyclist, but what about drivers who aren't?
Posted by Danny, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jul 17, 2008 at 4:32 pm
IO'm a daily bike commuter, and I can say I always at least SLOW DOWN at stop signs and stop at red lights. Stopping at a red light is a no brainer, but coming to a complete stop at a stop sign feels unnecessary when no cars are present. It would just be stupid not to slow down and look carefully in both directions before going past a stop sign. But I see cars simply slow down at stop signs all the time. I've seen many, many drivers barely tap their brakes when approaching a stop sign, not even realize that bicyclist is nearby, and then hit the gas.
Whatever "laws" us daily bike commuters may be bending, I'm certain drivers do the same thing. But car drivers that don't pay attention can kill someone.
Posted by Sarah, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jul 17, 2008 at 5:52 pm
Yep, bikes should follow traffic rules for their own safety. I nearly took out a bike the other day who was racing along a sidewalk from my right, as I was looking left to merge into traffic. If I'd hit him, I would've felt terrible but it would've been his fault. Bikes don't belong on sidewalks as it's unsafe for pedestrians and for them. Bikes don't belong going at high speeds against traffic, because drivers aren't watching for high speed traffic in that direction.
Posted by sohill, a resident of another community, on Jul 17, 2008 at 6:38 pm
My foot was run over by a biker who hit me. He was going in the wrong direction ( even if he had been going in the right direction the lights would have been red for him) and I had the green light to cross. The first thing he did was to say to me, indignantly, was that I had crossed in front of him ...The second thing he did was to take off. Fortunately, I had no broken bones.
I too had some near misses involving bikers on various occasions and it seemed to me that they have no idea of what the rules of the road are. It's not a matter of doing what comes "naturally" or even rationally. Rules exist so that we all know what to expect. If bikers feel free to ignore those they do so at their own peril. Sure, there are many drivers who suffer from the same syndrome, but their cars protect their persons to some extent. Bikers are SO vulnerable! Why on earth do they want to defy fate? In the process they also make life very difficult for those involved in accidents with them.
If you see a car going VERY slowly and carefully whenever there are bikers around it might be me. I am terrified. A few days ago I was turning right very slowly from Middlefield onto a side street and a biker was standing for a while in the middle left of the crosswalk on that side street, until traffic allowed him to cross Middlefield (there is no crosswalk on Middlefield at that point). As I sounded my horn lightly so that I could turn right (well, he was midway on my lane) he cursed me and explained angrily " I am on the crosswalk. You have to wait until I cross Middlefield". Not only did he totally misunderstood the law for crosswalks as he showed not a bit of awareness of the dangers he and his bike faced. He seemed to have pleasure in obstructing the traffic as well ( he was on the "wrong" side of the road).
A seasoned driver is more able to anticipate the intentions of a biker than a learner of or an older person. Those bikers' maneuvers may make sense to them but are confusing to inexperienced drivers. Why would they think it's such a good thing?
BTW, I stop at stop signs.....How would I guess the bikers' intentions not to do the same?
Posted by sohill, a resident of another community, on Jul 17, 2008 at 6:48 pm
something I would like to see is parked cars exchanging position with bike lanes -bikers would be protected from cars pulling out of parking spaces and car doors accidently hitting bikers. I am sure that can be done. More biker education is also needed so that young people learn how to share roads and sidewalks...
Posted by ff, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jul 17, 2008 at 7:03 pm
In the evenings am going to stay off my bike and drive my car until the thug who killed the young man next to the police station is caught and until I have some assurance that the crisis of local gang violence and murder has been eradicated.
I would not ride my bike through Detroit and I will not ride it in Palo Alto after 7:30 PM until this urban terrorism is ended.
Unfortunately that is going to take some time.
This execution style murder has dramatically changed the atmosphere in Palo Alto, you can sense the fear and it may well be a healthy fear.
The young mans funeral is Friday I believe.
May his soul rest in peace
Forgive, O Lord, the souls of all the faithful departed from all the chains of their sins and may they deserve to avoid the judgment of revenge by your fostering grace, and enjoy the everlasting blessedness of light.
Posted by James, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 17, 2008 at 9:20 pm
I applaud those cyclists in Palo Alto who observe traffic laws in combination with good common sense. However, all must admit that it's absolutely true that cyclists have long abused Palo Alto's progressive views on "sharing the road" and treated cars AND pedestrians with noticeable snobbery. Seeing a cyclist trying to take over the right lane on southbound Alma and gesturing to cars driving by "in" his lane was symbolic of self-absorbed vanity. I remember the green "bike lanes" first added in town while I was a student, and we had no problems to stay in our lane, out of the way of cars. Why can't adults do the same, while actually stopping at red lights and signs as (most) cars do? Thanks.
Posted by 20 year palo alto resident, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jul 17, 2008 at 11:34 pm
give me a break, people. i'm a 20+ year resident of palo alto and i have been riding a bike for all that time. we palo altans pride ourselves on our environmentalism, but it sounds like everyone on this thread is writing from the perspective of a driver and not a biker. let's compare how many bikers kill or maim people versus how many cars do that? let's not waste city resources policing bikes rolling at 8mph through 4-way stops, and spend some more money on controlling those cars that drive 45mph on 25mph roads while spewing exhaust into the air!
and yes, i roll through 4-way stops, but only when there are no other cars around and on small residential streets, not downtown or near el camino. i've never been in an accident and i consider myself an extremely cautious biker. i survived 7 years of biking to work in midtown manhattan! it's possible to violate the law in a de minimis, unharmful way.
Posted by Another, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 12:20 am
20 year, I would prefer we had less arrogance and more just plain consideration for others. Respecting the law is in fact consideration. We can see above that the sense of entitlement you and some others seem to feel to roll through stop signs (justified by environmentalism?) in fact frightens and annoys some or many of your neighbors. It is misguided to tell us to turn our frustration at the cars - that sounds like one of my kids, caught red-handed, pointing the finger at her sister.
Let's own up - there is a sense of entitlement among many bikers that is just wrong; it should change; some good old-fashioned ticket writing will help change it. Until that happens, try to set an example of what law-abiding looks like - it might just earn you a smile of thanks from one of your exhaust spewing neighbors. If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.
Posted by joe, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 6:00 am
re "just yesterday i was driving and nearly hit a cyclist who blew through a stop sign"
Well, that's the solution. Darwin will get remove this problem if drivers stop overcompensating for bicyclists who blow thru stop signs. The only reason bicyclists get away with this now is that there are no consequences.
Posted by sarlat, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 6:45 am
I can live with the cyclists who roll through a stop sign without coming to a complete stop, it's still illegal of course, but it allows me as a driver enough time to let him go through without hitting him. The problem is cyclists who blow through stop signs at full speed with no intention of obeying right of way rules. Many cyclists just don't seem to know that if a car arrives to an intersection with stop signs ahead of them, it has the right of way. Only the other day I arrived to the stop sign at N California and Louis, stopped, and then, as I was turning right onto Louis, a cyclist going north on Louis blue arrived at the intersection and blew through the top sign at full speed. Although he was of course in gross violation of traffic laws, he flipped me off.
Posted by James, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 6:50 am
"Entitlement" is the issue, as while all are entitled to share the road, slower moving vehicles (everyone) are required to expected to move out of the way. Bicycles taking up entire roadway lanes or moving into left turn lanes violate the law. The link shared earlier in this thread is an exerpt from a section not directly intended for this topic. See Web Link for the "Operation on Roadway", which (yes, an excerpt as well) states that "Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway..." and "Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway of a highway, which highway carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of that roadway as practicable." This is the law, not an interpretation of such words.
Posted by driver, biker, and walker, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 7:21 am
You did not read enough. A biker can move to the left to pass. A biker can move to the left as he needs to, to be safe. A biker can take the left lane to effect a left turn.
At red light, I frequently move to the left, so that cars have the room to safely do a right on red to the right of me, and then move back to the right after I cross the intersection. I am right where the right wheel of a car would be if it where going straight with me.
Most of the commuters I see in the morning and evening are doing the above and it is legal for them to do.
Posted by sarlat, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 8:05 am
But what's illegal for cyclist to do is blow through stop signs. I spend more time on my bike than I do in my car, and I see this from both perspectives. Cyclists here just don't think that stop signs are meant for them and leave it to the drivers to assume that they, the cyclists, will not stop at the stop sign and adjust their driving accordingly. Both kids and adults generally ignore stop signs. On the flip side, many drivers just don't know how to co-exist on the road with cyclists which very dangerous as well.
Posted by Geoff, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 8:05 am
"Entitlement" is part of the problem, on both sides of this issue - yes. Drivers take driving a motor vehicle, in general, to be a right AND a necessity, and not a privilege - as it is, while some cyclists do seem to think the rules do not apply to them. I think this stems from the common paradigm we live in where only children ride bicycles, which are "toys", while adults drive motor vehicles. I'd challenge any of you folks who cry foul on the cyclists to get on a bicycle and then proceed to follow every rule, and I would bet the vast majority of you would revert to the mindset that the rules don't apply to you b/c you're on a bicycle (would you come to a complete stop at every stop sign, not ride at above pedestrian walking speeds on sidewalks, etc.). Part of the solution is cyclist education, indeed, but a large, and mostly unrecognized, part is also the need to shift the paradigm of everyone - non-cyclists included - that bicycles ARE traffic, and are NOT toys. When you let your child out on their bicycle, what did you teach them? Or, when you were a child, what were you taught?
Beyond this, though, everyone on the road needs to be more considerate. That said, cyclists have much more to lose in an accident with a vehicle. As a daily cyclist, I see the good and the bad side of both motorists and cyclists. When a cyclist causes a near-accident, they are almost surely to notice, but when a motorist cause a near-accident, they hardly ever notice. I'd also note here that the vast majority of adult cyclists you see are ALSO motorists, as I am, and can speak to this from both sides of the discussion.
Regarding the CVC, as James takes up in his latest post (per my typing this post), he and any others who think he is correct should go back and re-read the CVC. If you believe James, then please do pull over when I am right behind you on my bicycle and going faster than you (within the speed limit, of course), such as in downtown areas, heavily traveled roads, etc. Go read CVC Section 21202, and don't take short phrases out of context, and you'll see cyclists have the right to take the lane, at times (safety, passing other traffic, making turns, etc.). To put a point to it - cyclists, in the left turn lane, are where they are supposed to be, assuming they are going left. And for cyclists using the crosswalks, you should be walking your bicycle.
"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"
Yes, cyclists are subject to all of the laws of the road, but also have "all the rights", as well. Cyclists and motorists, alike, have to recognize each others rights, obey the laws, and be considerate of one another. This really isn't an "us vs. them" type thing, as much as many may like to make it to be.
Posted by Paly Parent, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Jul 18, 2008 at 8:37 am
I was driving my teenage son to school one day during the past year instead of him riding his bike as he usually does. On one four way stop we were stopped and an adult rider came up to the stop sign and without even slowing down put his hand up to me in a movement designed to tell me to stop he is crossing (not in the law book) and my son beside me saw this and said, great I will do this too.
This adult had no idea that he was influencing a teenage boy to do the same.
Adult cyclists must remember that younger cyclists are watching them and will copy their bad behavior. If the older cyclists get away with it, then how can we teach our children to do the right thing.
(a)No person shall ride or operate a bicycle upon any sidewalk in a business district, any sidewalk in or on any pedestrian underpass or overpass, or any sidewalk on the Embarcadero Road Overpass across Bayshore Freeway unless such sidewalk is officially designated as a bicycle route
Posted by SUJD, a resident of Stanford, on Jul 18, 2008 at 11:14 am
>>"Sally, you are an idiot. Taking peoples pictures like that from a civillian point of view is a major privacy violation. if i saw you doing that i would call the police and punch you.
Posted by avery lewis, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, 3 hours ago">>
Mr avery lewis, a resident of the Green Acres should be made aware that we do not take threats of violence toward elderly women lightly in Palo Alto.
In fact we do not take threats of violence to ANYONE lightly in Palo Alto.
He may well find himself in very serious trouble.
People often have the illusion of anonymity on the net.
This is not the case.
Since the passage of Homeland Security legislation it is a simple matter to trace any body through ISP etc and they have to keep records of electronic communications for a long time.
Threatening speech is NOT protected by the first amendment.
Also should mr avery / John Doe at this point, choose to act on his threat of violence towards a women there is a record of premeditation which may well elevate his crime to that of a very serious FELONY.
Posted by Bob, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 2:36 pm
I am a cyclist, like many, who rides through stop signs occasionally. It is inconvenient to stop, put the foot down, and then restart while lugging the brief case. I do my best to scan the intersection, and slow down. Bikes should be offered some right or advantage to cars at a stop sign -- many drivers grant a cyclist a preference at a stop sign when eye contact has been made. With the eye contact made, it is easier to role through the stop sign. Ultimately, like a pedestrian, the bike should enjoy a right of way over cars. A bike is offering a benefit of reducing traffic and pollution.
Similarly, it is ridiculous to get off your bike in the California underpass if you are using the bike for transportation. I'm sorry, but sometimes signs are just stupid, and that is a stupid sign. There used to be a similar sign under the Embarcadero underpass, and that was finally removed.
The same rule also applies for the bridge over bayshore where bikes are supposed to be walked. Again, this is inappropriate if you are actually trying to get somewhere.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 2:52 pm
I can't believe how inconsiderate you sound. What happens on a bridge or an underpass when you meet a pedestrian, particularly a pedestrian with a stroller, or who is blind. Don't you realise that your hearing is impaired on a bridge and an underpass and someone else can't hear you approach? It seems that you want special treatment when sharing the road with cars, but you also want special treatment when sharing a path with pedestrians.
I think you should really wear a sign that says "Be Careful, here comes Bob".
Posted by bike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 3:02 pm
I bike when I can, one things that concerns me about other bikers when I drive or walk, apart from their outrageous disregard for traffic codes, is that so many of them listen to i pods or talk on cell phones ( using one hand) while blasting through stops signs, red lights and on the side walk.
They show this bizarre form of entitlement, some of them need to be humbled by strict enforcement.
They also set a terrible example for young kids who tend to follow their example.
Posted by sarlat, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 3:08 pm
Bos post is utterly absurd. Drivers can't read your mind, they can't anticipate whether you are going to stop or blow through the stop signs. I always give the right of way to cyclists at stop signs even when arrive to it a couple of seconds ahead of them, but riders like Bob expect drivers to just wait at the stop sign even when they are 60 feet away from it. I see it daily as a driver and as an avid bike rider. Same thing on sidewalks- many cyclists behave as if they have special rights while riding on sidewalks-they expect pedestrians to get out of their way, even get off the sidewalk altogether onto the road. When my daughter was a baby and a toddler and I would walk with her in a stroller, bikes would come straight at me on the sidewalk and practically force me to risk my daughter wife by stepping onto the street. It still happens to me now on a daily basis when I walk my dog. Riders, often riding on the sidewalk against traffic force me to step off the sidewalk and onto the street because they hog the sidewalk and expect me, the pedestrian to get out of their way. A few months ago I saw a Jordan student riding on a sidewalk against traffic and since a man walking his dog wouldn't get off the sidewalk, the rider smashed into the pedestrian at full speed and injured him.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 3:11 pm
I agree, cyclists (and I am one) have the sense they can get away with a lot, and feel entitled (per Bob and others) to do so. It is like anything else where the rules are not enforced, I'm afraid - people make up their own "rules" that happen to be favorable to them. Welcome to the human condition.
The only fix, as Bike says, is enforcement. An $80 ticket for running a stop sign is a big wake-up call (btw, it does not put points on your driving record - speaking from experience here!).
As more people ride, and I hope they do, we need more enforcement and better understanding of the rules, not less. Otherwise we get chaos.
Posted by driver, biker, and walker, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 3:24 pm
now you are just making things up. Most bikers are not talking cell phones or listening to ipods. I seldom see a cell phone, I sometimes see ear buds. There is nothing illegal about talking on a cell phone while biking, btw. Its kind of foolish and hard to do as the wind noise really makes the conversation hard to have, but its not illegal. As for Ipods, its legal as long as you dont have both ears covered, personally I would not want to insulate myself from sound though, it is useful to know whats going on traffic wise.
I'll own that many ride through stops, and the pedestrian tunnel, but at least be accurate.
Posted by Jim M, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 3:26 pm
Here are the rules....
If you're a pedestrian and you're almost hit by bike, then you have a right to complain. If you're a driver, get over it. You need to start thinking of yourself as a second class vehicle and think of yourself as lucky to be allowed to put your pollution-generating, injury causing, beast of a machine on the road.
Here's your standing...
Walkers > Bikers > Hybrids > Small Cars > Large Cars/SUVs
Each group may complain about a group they're better than.
Posted by Jay, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 3:39 pm
I'm not bothered by riders talking on cellphones or listening to ipods. What bothers me is the smug attitude many riders have that since they are not driving a car, implying they are doing us all a great favor, they shouldn't be expected to obey any road rules and drivers and pedestrians should just get out of the way. I drive my car only when I have no other option and walk or ride my bike most of the time, so I'm very sympathetic to cyclists, but the arrogance and sense of entitlement of many of them literally drives me crazy. A case in point is the pedestrian bridge over Oregon. I use it daily to walk my dog at the baylands, and although a sign indicates they should walk their bikes, almost nobody does. They often ride too fast, some will come up from behind without a word of warning and startle me and my dog or even brush against us since the bridge is quite narrow. I have no problem with cyclists staying on their bikes when there are no pedestrians on the bridge, but when pedestrians are present, at least slow down and don't ride in the center-they have the right of way, not you!
Posted by Judy, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 3:48 pm
A golden rule for cyclists:when you ride on the sidewalk and people are using that sidewalk, you are an interloper, you have no rights and you should either get off the sidewalk and ride on the street or get off your bike and become a pedestrian yourself until the sidewalk is clear of pedestrians.
Posted by driver, biker, and walker, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 3:57 pm
"You never see Hybrids > Small Cars > Large Cars/SUVs driving on the sidewalk"
Actually I see it all the time. Go in North PA where they park on the sidewalk. I also see cars parked on the wrong side of the street frequently. Its totally illegal to park on the wrong side, but its commonly done in residential areas in P.A.
Point here is not that it bothers me, but its just easy to overlook once everyone does it and there is no enforcement.
Posted by driver, biker, and walker, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 4:28 pm
There are anonymous posts from anonymous people, mike. How do you know Sally is a woman, or that Avery is a cyclist, or that any of the people making outragous claims are honestly representing their true points of view and not just here to stir things up a bit.
If people want enforcement of traffic rules, I am all for it. Dump a couple of unneeded library branches and we will have the funds to pay for it. Keep in mind that enforcement should be all around for all types of traffic and all manner of violations.
Posted by Driver, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 4:44 pm
It's a fundamental principle that we're legally entitled to base our actions on the assumption that those around us are obeying the law. Therefore, a driver who comes to a complete stop at a 4-way stop sign is entitled to proceed under the assumption that a still-approaching vehicle or bicycle is going to obey the law and stop. The first driver has the right-of-way and is legally correct in proceeding.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2008 at 4:50 pm
LOL - bike, I think you are over-reacting (by quite a bit), and I'm sorry my understated manner disappoints you. Mr. Avery is not my responsibility, he's just an semi-anonymous poster on a message board. So I don't think his post, or our lack of reaction, reflects on any of us, and you are a little off-base suggesting that it does. But have a good weekend anyway ;-)
Posted by Like to Bike, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Jul 18, 2008 at 9:58 pm
Wow, people are hot about this one. I love to ride and I know each time I do I'm taking my life in my hands. What a thrill it is to get the heart/lung machine pumping and get somewhere at the same time. One less car on the road, a few extra bucks in my pocket and dinner will be fuel as well as delicious. My biggest fear though, is getting taken out from behind or while stopped at a red light. On a bike you're no match for a 3000 lb. vehicle so you have to always be on the defensive. Sometimes that means getting out of an intersection as soon as possible. Once a rider comes to a complete stop where is the protection going to come from? In a car you're surrounded by steel; on a bike you have your wits and a 16oz. plastic shell on your head. Momentum equals maneuverability. I'm not advocating blowing through stop signs or red lights in heavy traffic or if cars are already in intersections, but a little eye contact and a friendly wave of thanks is usually enough to signal my intentions and allow me to sail through a stop sign. I'm through in a blink and the car is probably on its way just as quick as if I put on the brakes and he waited for my stop. In the event there is a miscommunication or a car wants to teach me a friendly 3K lb. lesson, I'm expecting it. Bikers who ride aggressively know what is to be gained and potentially lost. For the driving crowd, of which I'm also a member, is it really so terrible to let a biker have the right of way at a stop sign at which you are already stopped? Try a friendly wave to allow them to continue on through without breaking their momentum and see if you don't get a smile and friendly wave back.
Posted by Paly Parent, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Jul 18, 2008 at 11:50 pm
Like to bike
I do understand what you are saying, but don't you see what you are teaching other cyclists to do? If you, with your knowledge of driving and cars, abuses stop signs and younger kids see you doing so, they will think it is ok for them and without the driving knowledge or the eye contact factor, they will not be ok and make the mistake that will cost them dearly.
It is much better for all cyclists to obey the rules. That way, even when you don't know that kids are watching you, you will not be guilty of teaching by your bad actions.
The rules are in place for a reason. One of the reasons is that everyone is safe using the roads, pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and kids learning.
Posted by Renee, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Jul 19, 2008 at 8:35 am
Like to bike
Road rules can only be effective when everybody obeys them, all the time. You claim that if you stopped at a stop sign, the vehicle behind would be so surprised you stopped, it will smash into you. This is the tortured logic of a person who just doesn't want to be bothered with the rules others are expected to follow and feels entitled to ignore or bend them for reasons he has invented. I was once pulled over by a cop while riding my bike for riding through a yellow light. The cop claimed that I was a bit late because the light was just about to turn red. He didn't ticket me, but said that cyclists are expected to follow the exact same road rule as car drivers, at all times, no exceptions.
Posted by driver, biker, and walker, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 19, 2008 at 9:04 am
The reality is the kids are learning from their peers and parents. Kids riding to school don't stop. I talked to a 10 year old that did not stop and almost got flattened by a prius. Pointed out that he should not expect cars to stop for him. Watch in the morning kids dont stop on their way to school. This is nothing new, my kid got run over from behind by the kids riding behind her 15 years ago when she stopped for a stop sign and the pack of riders behind her did not.
Watch families and parents on those extra wheel attachments to their bikes, they dont stop. The horse is already out of the barn.
Maybe we have just had a large migration of residents from Idaho.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 19, 2008 at 10:22 am
Don't know about Idaho, but the average PA cyclist would get into big trouble riding bikes in Europe the way they ride bikes here. Funny, because in Europe we see few people wearing fancy cycling gear and helmets, but they do obey the rules of the road.
Posted by daniel, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 19, 2008 at 10:50 am
I go on a bike ride trips in europe every summer and practically no one wears a helmet. their explanation, which makes a great deal of sense to me is that since everybody, cyclists and drivers, always obey the same road rules at all times and respect everybody's right to use the same roads, bicycle/car accident are very rare. after about 25 bike trips in europe, I totally agree and wish we would've the same mentality here, but when I read 'like to bike' comments I don't hold my breath.
Posted by anonymous, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jul 19, 2008 at 11:38 am
I am particularly concerned about young school children cyclists picking up bad habits around older cyclists like passing through stop signs without a care. I think there should be a real effort at friendly enforcement of the law at the start of the school year - each year - (not a nasty helmet crackdown) - the reality is we want to prevent a tragedy from occurring (car hitting a kid...)
Posted by daniel, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 19, 2008 at 12:18 pm
The following is a common scenario that happens to me and other drivers dealing with cyclists in PA(I'm a cyclist too). I stop at a 4 way intersection. A bike is approaching on my left. It's still about 60 feet away from the stop sign but I can tell the rider has no intention of stopping at the sign. I wait for him to get to the sign and blow through the intersection. The driver in the car behind me is upset at me for not moving and starts honking. The car on my right is waiting for me to go since I have the right of way, but since I'm just sitting at the stop sign waiting for the cyclist, he/she is unsure about what to do. The driver behind him is getting antsy. The driver across from me over whom I also have the right of way wants to turn left and is unsure why I'm not moving, etc. All of this is happening because one cyclist has no intention of stopping at the stop sign.
Posted by driver, biker, and walker, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 19, 2008 at 12:50 pm
I get the same thing in reverse. I'm approaching, I stop pedaling, I am have made eye contact with the driver, I am waiting for them to take their right of way, it does not happen they hold up traffic, I get to the stop, put my foot down, and then they wave me through looking annoyed that I did not just ride through.
Posted by Road etiquette, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 19, 2008 at 12:54 pm
Daniel, you're perpetuating the problem by reinforcing bicyclists' expectation that motorists will stop for them. It's becoming an unwritten code of local road etiquette, and drivers who go along with that code simply reinforce it.
In your same situation I enter the intersection cautiously - sending a warning to the bicyclist that they don't have the right of way and I'm not playing the local game. If they care to play chicken with me, of course I let them win.
Posted by Like to Bike, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Jul 19, 2008 at 1:04 pm
Come on, Daniel. You sound like the problem in your scenario. If you would just go when it was your turn everything would fall into place behind you. I'm certain the biker would yield to your CAR. Imagine if you waited because you assumed he wouldn't stop and then he did. You still have caused everyone to wait. Your indecisiveness and your failure to follow the driving laws is aggravating to bikers and drivers alike.
Posted by daniel, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 19, 2008 at 3:54 pm
I'm by nature a very decisive driver. However, I've had too many incidents in which I assumed my right of way only to notice with alarm cyclists, kids and adults, blow through the intersection. My car was hit a couple of times that way, once a cyclist who blew the intersection and had to break very hard flew off his bike landing on my car. I realized that I'd rather allow them to blow the intersection than kill them. Eye contact is confusing because often driver and cyclist misinterpret the meaning. As long as some cyclists obey the rules and some don't, it's difficult for drivers to anticipate what comes next, a stop or a stop sign running. As a matter of logic and principle, you cannot have some users of the road follow the rules and some, even cyclists, ignore them-it's like playing chess when one player follows the game rules and other fllows some and ignores others.
Posted by sohill, a resident of another community, on Jul 19, 2008 at 5:09 pm
" It's becoming an unwritten code of local road etiquette, and drivers who go along with that code simply reinforce it."
this absurd and silly comment reminds me of a certain road circle in a New Jersey municipality (Union County) in which priority was established by local costume and it said so before you enter the circle. It had been in place probably since 1620 ( I 'm not kidding). If you weren't from there you didn't know. Even some residents who would otherwise use the circle didn't , for a well founded fear of an accident.
After many years of outcry when the municipality decided to apply firm rules miraculously the number of accidents and their severity was reduced overnight.
There is no such thing as LOCAL road etiquette if it can harm people.
When I drive in PA I find it very hard to guess bikers' intentions....
Posted by Road etiquette, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 19, 2008 at 6:38 pm
Sohill, call it what you will, but local road etiquette is a reality. It doesn't have to be legal or safe to exist. In the Chicago area, for example, I'm told that when a traffic signal turns green all cars start accelerating at once. The person at the front of the queue is screwed if they don't follow local custom. And in Massachusetts where the drivers are more agressive and protected left turns signals are rarer, it's an unwritten rule that when the light turns green the left-turn driver should aggressively turn left before on-coming traffic starts accelerating. The on-coming traffic pauses a slight second, anticipating the maneuver. If the driver's a non-local or non-aggressive type, they continue on through, leaving the left turner to wait and hope for a break before the light turns red.
There is a local custom forming here for bikes to blow through or roll through intersections, anticipating that the right of way will be granted to them. It's not something I'm making up - just look at the high activity this thread is generating.
Posted by sohill, a resident of another community, on Jul 19, 2008 at 7:16 pm
local costumes? Recipe for disaster. YOU are the one on the bike and YOU will be the one who will bear responsibility for any accidents. Just what are non locals going to do? Break the law ? That is, if they or I know what the local costume is -I still don't, having observed many bikers. The problem is even more acute than you want to make it. Many bikers follow the law. When do I know that a particular biker is going to abide by the law? There are rules not because they are clever, convenient or even fair. They exist to provide constancy I know what you going to do and you know what I'm are going to do. That way we avoid accidents.
"There is a local custom forming here for bikes to blow through or roll through intersections, anticipating that the right of way will be granted to them. It's not something I'm making up - just look at the high activity this thread is generating."
I don't see ANY evidence of this at all. It's just a few who do it. It is in any event a dangerous and very stupid practice from which only chaos and accidents can result.
Posted by Ofer, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2008 at 9:22 am
On top of blowing through stop signs, what I find most irritating and quite dangerous is bikes riding on sidewalks. Whether riding the wrong way or not, too many cyclists treat pedestrians as interlopers and expect them to get out of their way. Often, the only place to get out of the bike's way is the road. Is this one of Palo Alto's famous "road etiquette"?
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2008 at 9:26 am
Tickets may help, but I like the idea of mandatory bicycle traffic school (like driving school) instead, the incovenience of having to do the class will make sure that people do not disobey the rules a second time. They do have such a thing for teens, I think it should be for all cyclists who don't obey traffic laws.
Posted by Hills Resident, a resident of Los Altos Hills, on Jul 20, 2008 at 9:47 am
I say it every thread, so here I go again.
Bicyclists: Please use the bike/ped lane on the north side of Arastradero that leads up to Purissima.
I have to inch around all the tight, blind corners on that stretch of Arastradero 4 times per day, and can't tell you the number of times I have seen cars zooming by bikes with barely 4 inches to spare.
Last, please go single file in the hills, do not make the rest of us go "bike speed" behind your double and triple width bikes. It is horribly rude.
I used to be opposed to ticketing bicyclists..starting to approve of it, from being so irritated for so long by inconsiderate bicyclists.