News

Santa Clara County supervisors approve ordinance against road rage

Victims can collect up to $1,000, new rule states

Motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and equestrians can now file a civil lawsuit over hostile behavior on the road -- and collect up to $1,000 if successful -- thanks to an ordinance approved by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 20.

The issue was originally brought to the Board of Supervisors nearly a year ago by Supervisor Dave Cortese and broadened to include acts of road rage suffered by anyone on county roads.

The county's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee has supported the issue. According to the office of Supervisor Cortese, complaints from bicyclists who have been threatened and endangered by motorists played a major part in causing the Board of Supervisors to pass the ordinance.

"While motorists and cyclists have become more aware of each other, especially on narrow roads, bad behavior still happens all too frequently," Cortese said in a statement. "This ordinance will allow victims to take legal civil action and could be a deterrent to these acts of harassment."

Examples of bad behavior that the ordinance may protect against include motorists driving too closely to cyclists or pedestrians, making threats, cutting others off roadways or throwing objects, according to Cortese's office.

Comments

11 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 21, 2015 at 10:27 am

Better quit blasting your car horn at bicycles using public streets. A lot of them are carrying GoPros these days and now they can retaliate against you in court.


21 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 21, 2015 at 10:33 am

Slow Down is a registered user.

Can we sue bikes that block traffic? There is that one lady who likes to ride down El Camino locking a lane, and flipping off all the cars that have to go around her. The question is how to serve her.


29 people like this
Posted by Retired lawyer
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 21, 2015 at 10:46 am

As described here, this is a ridiculous statute. How is the victim-driver supposed to identify the raging biker so that he can serve a summons and complaint on him? And all for an upside of $1K?


11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2015 at 10:55 am

This sounds very one sided to me.


6 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 21, 2015 at 11:21 am

[Post removed.]


25 people like this
Posted by Bummer
a resident of Mayfield
on Oct 21, 2015 at 11:38 am

To Slow Down:

I guess she is not much of a "lady" then ...


22 people like this
Posted by Bummer
a resident of Mayfield
on Oct 21, 2015 at 11:42 am

Yes, it is very one-sided and pro-bicyclist ...

It's easy to identify honking car by color, make, license, etc., but how do you identify offending bicycle/bicylist?

I bet those bicyclist will be filing "road rage" lawsuits against any car who dares to "offend" them in any way, just out of spite.


4 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 21, 2015 at 11:44 am

Slow Down is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


30 people like this
Posted by Let's not get all territorial. the road belongs to all of us.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2015 at 11:45 am

I bike and drive. There are many drivers and bicyclists who are inattentive or who don't know how the law applies to bicyclists. For example, in the last week:

-a driver honked at me (on my bike) for signalling, looking for a gap in traffic, and carefully moving left to take a lane in order to execute a left turn (as vehicle code REQUIRES me to do). Evidently, it annoyed her that I was in her way for a few seconds even though I had a significantly large gap in traffic and she really didn't even need to slow down. Her unnecessary and very rude honk startled me. I think some drivers don't understand how loud their horns are to a bicyclist.

-On another day, I started entering an intersection on a green when a driver blew through a red from the other direction. Thankfully, I was paying attention or I wouldn't be able to write this note.

There are also many bicyclists who don't know how vehicle code applies to them. Some don't stop at stop signs--a pet peeve of mine. I know why they do this, but this is unsafe and illegal behavior. At minimum, they should slow WAY down and look carefully for oncoming traffic (including other bicyclists and pedestrians) at STOP sign intersections. Bicyclists, we are required by law to YIELD to pedestrians. Please do so.

Let's all do our part to share the road legally and safely--observe the law and use our good manners. The road doesn't belong to any one of us, it belongs to all of us.


10 people like this
Posted by Barron Park Anarchist
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 21, 2015 at 11:52 am

Note the score for the last 12 months: 1 dead pedestrian on Page Mill; 0 bikers.
It will only get worse. I watched a city council member I recognized blew through
a stop sign last weekend. This will only get worse.


29 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 21, 2015 at 12:02 pm

There is plenty of bad behavior from cyclists who ride 5 and 6 across at a leisurely pace while slowing and obstructing auto traffic or from ride alone cyclists who think they have exclusive rights to the road. When a motor vehicle makes an attempt to pass preceded by a toot of the horn, it's often met with the middle finger salute or worse, a kick into a fender or door. This happens more than cyclists will admit. The Rules of the Road apply to everybody and there should be a mechanism to report and cite careless bicyclists as well as motor vehicle drivers.


15 people like this
Posted by Mac Clayton
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 21, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Mac Clayton is a registered user.

Drivers: you're in a car. There's no way a bicyclist can hurt you, but plenty of ways you can hurt him or her. Be cool. Take it easy.


33 people like this
Posted by Estupido
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2015 at 1:39 pm

This has got to be in the top ten of the stupidest things I ever heard of!

There is a man in his early sixties who rides a racing bike at a leisurely pace down Bryant almost every day. But he weaves back and forth all over the width of the street, making it impossible for motorists to pass him. I wish PAPD would cite him for obstructing traffic. Talk about a road hog!


10 people like this
Posted by Brian Hennessey
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 22, 2015 at 8:24 am

Cue the raging motorists . . . even when they're on the computers. First, you're gonna have to show that in human history a cyclist has killed a motorist in a collision (and that motorists therefore need the protection). You'd also have to dig through the annuls of urban planning research to show that bikes (and not cars, hello?) cause traffic back ups. Have you ever wondered, sat their fuming (in both senses) in traffic jams, why you never get upset at cars? Because you're in one? Next time you see a cyclist think, holy god, that could've been another 150lb person hurtling around in a ton of steel and glass causing congestion, polluting the planet (3.2 million premature deaths), endangering our citizens (1 million traffic fatalities) and causing wars in the middle east so we can fuel 'em. You'll start loving bikes and be less jealous too. [Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2015 at 8:58 am

I don't think this is anything to do with people on bikes causing death to motorists.

This is to do with road rage.

Road rage is when someone acts irresponsibly on the roads and someone else gets angry and retaliates. I think as a driver, pedestrian or on a bike, can act irresponsibly and anyone behind the wheel, on two wheels or on their feet over reacts. When blatant behavior occurs rather than an accidental lapse in focus, the situation is multiplied. Bikes in particular can be unpredictable and it is always a good idea to give a bike a wide berth regardless whether it is a child on their way to school, a commuter riding to work, or a weekend enthusiast on a windy hill road. Good manners is something we need to see more of as well as a friendly wave or acknowledgment that we were in the wrong, from all road users.


6 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 22, 2015 at 11:43 am

Another politically correct useless law that tries to make it seem like our country government is doing something.
Why wouldn't regular laws cover any kind of violence like this.
Isn't this just more space for legal confusion that will give money to lawyers in discussions about charging someone that the lawyers will take the money for the consultation and advice the plantiff, to do nothing, unless there is already a statute that pertains to real damages or legal infractions?

Well???? What is the use of this law??


1 person likes this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 22, 2015 at 11:46 am

So ... does this mean road rage is going to be defined as someone
who gets mad and shakes his or her fist or a certain finger at someone
who cuts dangerously in front of them ... so it will basically embolden
people who do rude thing to continue doing them maybe ever more
because if anyone reacts in any way ... it's the dreaded road rage.

We all know that if things escalate they can get out of hand, and
we see the news pieces about how this does happen every once
in a while.

But why is there no public discussion about how or what to do that
is appropriate effective and necessary before someone gets on their
high horse and passes another useless law?


2 people like this
Posted by Chip
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 22, 2015 at 12:35 pm

Chip is a registered user.

Instead of cutting across 2 or 3 lanes of traffic in less than a block to make a left turn, why won't cyclists use pedestrian crosswalks in congested areas? They'd be safer.


Like this comment
Posted by No, you change
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 22, 2015 at 1:54 pm

One thing is for sure: everyone has advice for the other guy.


1 person likes this
Posted by Grumpy Old Guy
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Oct 22, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Grumpy Old Guy is a registered user.

Web Link

Here's the link to a draft approved by the County Counsel. (unsigned by the County Clerk).


4 people like this
Posted by Grumpy Old Guy
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Oct 22, 2015 at 2:07 pm

Grumpy Old Guy is a registered user.

Read the ordinance before you file your lawsuit. It's not going to be easy as you think.

First off, it has to occur on a County Highway. Can you say "city streets"?

You have to show intent to 'assault, injure, or distract' another Highway User.

No intent is required if you 'threaten' another Highway User. (defined as Bikers, Pedestrians, Equestrians and Cars).

Does this now mean that in order to identify Bikers, Pedestrians and Equestrians, on County Highways, will they have to wear the equivalence of License Plates, like cars, to self-identify?

Interesting law. But odds are it won't do much.


9 people like this
Posted by PatrickD
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 22, 2015 at 2:18 pm

This is great news. I recently purchased a camera for my bicycle after having suffered through a person blasting their horn for over a minute while revving his engine and threatening to drive over me. All because I had the audacity of not moving my cargo bike on to the _sidewalk_ so that he could make a right hand turn at a red light. Thankfully, I had just dropped off my children; I'm really not sure what I would have done had they still been in the bicycle.

People need to calm down, regardless of whatever kind of vehicle they're using. Threatening to kill someone so that you can get to work a little faster is not acceptable.


1 person likes this
Posted by Learned Paw
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 22, 2015 at 7:35 pm

Excellent! Exxxcellent!

This tips the scales for me: I'm getting a bike cam.


3 people like this
Posted by Mr. Yeti
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 23, 2015 at 9:13 am

As a pedestrian I can finally have recourse against the few rude/dangerous bicyclists who blow through stop signs while I'm crossing the street or bike on the sidewalk when a dedicated bike lane is available. Need a GoPro even when walking these days.


Like this comment
Posted by ReRead
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 23, 2015 at 9:21 am

Yes, as long as you can show they are acting with aggression or malice towards you. I'm glad you understand this law.

GoPro's are always a good idea. Cyclists have been using them for years to successfully prove their cases against motorists.
If pedestrians have similar cases, I'm sure we'll see them on the internet as well.


3 people like this
Posted by Our behavior choices create the community we live in.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2015 at 11:18 am

Let's take a deep breath, everyone. Live more gently. Show consideration for others. CREATE the community you want with purposeful civility.

I love to bike. I don't blow through STOP signs. I always yield to pedestrians (sometimes I'm a pedestrian, too.). It's the law...and I don't want to hurt anyone.

When I drive I try to show the same courtesy to fellow road users. Let's all make better choices. Laws like this become necessary when bad behavior increases because individuals make thoughtless choices.

BE the change. Push your patience button.


3 people like this
Posted by hmmm
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Sounds like a moneymaker for the city which will inevitably get a cut. I'm getting a car cam!


2 people like this
Posted by Polly Wanacracker
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 23, 2015 at 12:37 pm

"The question is how to serve her."

Fried.


2 people like this
Posted by Johnny
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 23, 2015 at 4:19 pm

PatrickD, why would you purposely impede a a driver trying to turn right on red?
We can fantasize about people being courteous in utopian roadways, but we all know what it's like to be in a hurry.
In spite of the vehicle code, there are many situations where its safer and more rational to use the sidewalk, than ride in front of vehicles on 45 mph roads. If you CAN move out of the way, you SHOULD, rather than cause road rage and congestion.

Face it, NONE OF US are immune to road rage.

I'll worry about vehicle codes when cyclists actually start following them! As it stands, it surprises a motorist to have a bicycle cut in front of him at a left turn - where it can be extremely obnoxious if the left turn lane is backed up - because most cyclists use the crosswalk, which seems to make more sense.

The vehicle codes regarding bicycles are out of touch with reality and should be updated, so more cyclists follow them and we're all on the same page.


1 person likes this
Posted by @Johnny
a resident of another community
on Oct 23, 2015 at 5:30 pm

"We can fantasize about people being courteous in utopian roadways, but we all know what it's like to be in a hurry...Face it, NONE OF US are immune to road rage."

Which is why there should be legislation dealing with road rage.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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