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Cyclists, please obey traffic rules!!

Original post made by Car Driver, Old Palo Alto, on Jul 24, 2013

I believe biking around town is good and I myself like to bike when I have a chance. However, some of the cyclists are irresponsible, they don't obey the traffic rules. This morning, I drove on Bryant Street and almost reached Churchill Street intersection. There was a woman riding with a toddler in the co-pilot backseat, she didn't stop at the stop sign, she just cruised along with steady speed. i slamed my brake for them. I could hit them hard if I wasn't slow enough, I was driving around 25mph. I honked her twice but she didn't hear, she didn't stop or paid attention to any surrounding incidents. Not sure if she was listening to music/talking on headset while cycling.

Cyclists, please stop at stop signs. Please don't text or hold your phone talking while cycling. You are sharing the road too, please be responsible. Nobody wanted accidents to happen. Thank you.

Comments (12)

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Posted by Another Driver
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2013 at 11:45 am

Saw a man on a bicycle about an hour ago on Louis (where there is a lot of construction vehicles near the creek) riding on the wrong side of the street with a toddler sitting on the cross bar. Neither were wearing helmets and the man was looking more at the work going on in the creek rather than any of the traffic which had to deal with a lot of construction workers and parked construction traffic. This man had no sense of awareness of potential dangers to himself, the child, or other traffic moving.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2013 at 11:59 am

Kids learn from their parents. If you want your kids to be safer bicyclists, then start by driving safely and legally in your car. Do you always come to complete stops at stop signs (including when turning right)? Do you always come to a complete stop before the sidewalk when you pull out of a driveway? Do you always check all directions (including crosswalks) before starting from a stop sign or pulling out of a driveway? Do you always obey the speed limit? Do you always signal your turns and merges? Do you always keep a safe distance from the car in front of you?

If you are a scofflaw car driver, then you are the problem, not the solution.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Parent ...
>> Do you always come to complete stops at stop signs (including when turning right)?

This is a very relevant question. I get pretty impatient with these folks who like to jump on bicyclists for not stopping at intersections. Today the problem is cars not obeying the traffic laws, not so much bicyclists.

Yes, there are some bicyclists that don't stop at stop signs, and the one example the original poster gave of the lady with a baby behind her bike whipping though Bryant street was a good example of why that is dangerous. I have to wonder how close the two actually got? My gut tells me that a women riding with a baby on board would be well aware of her surroundings and maybe it was the driver that was not so aware seeing a bicycle at the last moment. Who knows.

I have been in Palo Alto since 1970 and I cannot think of a single time I had to slam on my brake because a bicyclist sped in front of me. That does not mean it does not happen, merely that it is a lot more rare that those who complain about bicycles want us to think it is.

I very very rarely ever see bicyclists speed through stop signs. What I mostly see are SLOWER, respectful bicyclists slowing down when they approach an intersection and drifting through when they see it's safe.

The situation of the boy riding the bicycle into the street and getting hit a while back is an example of a collision caused by a bicyclist. Very few bicyclists do that though, that was a freak occurrence.

If I am at an intersection I wave bicyclists though, because they have to work, they have to pedal to get back up to speed and it is a nice polite thing to do to let them not lose their momentum for the sake legal formality ... especially when hardly any cars stop for stop signs these days.

I really do not see why it bothers people so much. It's not like that happens all so much, and when it does it is not like it is a major inconvenience.

Some drivers just like blow off steam I guess.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2013 at 2:08 pm

But this thread is about cyclists, not car drivers.


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Posted by ohlone-mous
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 24, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I ride my bike frequently in Palo Alto. Drivers - please obey the law! 99% of all cars are driving over the speed limit. Speed limit 25 means 25! These cars are a menace with all their lawbreaking. They should be stopped! For their own safety, we need to start ticketing every single one. I very rarely see cars come to a complete stop at stop signs.


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Posted by Another Driver
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2013 at 2:16 pm

I find it very interesting that in any discussion about road etiquette it is always assumed that a bike not stopping at a stop sign for the reason that it is safe to do so is perfectly ok, but a car not stopping its wheels when there is no traffic is pounced on as dangerous driving.

I agree that there is a big difference in size and power, but according to the law they are both vehicles and both need to obey traffic rules.

The majority of drivers in Palo Alto drive safely the majority of the time. Even a "California stop" does not mean that the driver is disregarding traffic rules, perhaps just paying more attention to the roads rather than staring at the speedo.

Bikes in Palo Alto tend not to stop and even cross when a crossing guard has a stop sign for traffic. Bikes get away with breaking the rules all the time.

It is time for bike riders to understand that they are vehicles and need to obey the rules. In both the cases described above, the children will one day be on their bikes and they will have learned from the adults with them that it is OK to disregard traffic rules when on a bike.

If you are riding your bike with a child remember that they are watching you and will pick up your bad habits and so will other children watching you ride your bike. As an adult on a bike, obey the rules so that your children will not become bad bike riders.


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Posted by Sara
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Both car drivers and cyclist don't obey traffic rules sometimes. But the cyclists may got hurt more seriously if run over stop signs. Can't imagine a kid sat behind........


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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Cars, bikes, even pedestrians. All of these problems could be solved if we only licensed road users, and had a realistic test of abilities in the licensing procedure.

In my experience it's the worst 10% of road users that account for 99% of the problems. The American, and especially California drivers license is a joke. They aren't honored in many countries, because our drivers are so incompetent. Japan is one such country, and here's a quote from the "Japan Driving License" wikipedia:

"the pass rate for the practical exam is only about 35% for Americans"

Now, if we could only get that 65% of failures out of the cars, off the bikes, and out of the cross walks, threads like this one would never happen.


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Posted by Churchill
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 24, 2013 at 10:18 pm

I remember this Bryant and Churchill interaction, a lot of PALY kids don't stop at stop signs while cycling. Even there are new additional signs below the STOP sign, saying like "cars at interaction will not stop". These new signs were put there recently, I guess CPA realized the problem.


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Posted by bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 25, 2013 at 11:09 am

bru is a registered user.

"Another Driver" above said:
>> I find it very interesting that in any discussion about road etiquette it is always assumed that a bike not stopping at a stop sign for the reason that it is safe to do so is perfectly ok, but a car not stopping its wheels when there is no traffic is pounced on as dangerous driving.

When you say "assumed", "Another Driver", do you mean you're assuming that, or that you are assuming others are assuming that?

Any way that "assumption" is questionable and has a predetermined bias against bicyclists in that you imply that all traffic is the same for all purposes. It's not.

People tend to organically work out systems around their environment, and it only makes sense, if not legally, to recognize that bicyclists are storing their own energy in their motion and that to conserve that energy is a reasonable thought and goal for people on either side of the equation, in traffic.

The way it is now, not everyone has to be "polite" to bicyclists, so bicyclists have to be aware --- which the one in the story was not, that was his/her error ... and everyone makes and occasional error when they drive. Running traffic signals is not going to stop, so why don't we decide what the protocol is and let people handle it themselves.

To me anyway it does not make sense to complain without a course of action, and the course of action here is to just come down on bicyclists. As a driver I have never felt particularly put upon or abused by a bicyclist wanting the right of way when they have made eye-contact or whatever.

It's like the people in front of Whole Foods walking across Homer grab the right of way in ways that sometimes a little annoying.



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Posted by Mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 28, 2013 at 10:03 am

Better be careful than sorry for everybody.


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Posted by looking on bright side
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 28, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Couple thoughts on this topic as we head into a new school year:

Thank you to the City Council for a 2013-14 budget that restores the PAPD traffic team aka motorcycle cops who can actually enforce better than patrol cars in the daytime. Now, if you see recurring dangerous choices or flouting of the vehicle code that applies to both drivers of motor vehicles AND to bicyclists, here's what you can do:
Call non-emergency dispatch # (329-2413 during weekday hours), describe the exact location, time and direction of travel plus any other identifying characteristics, and there's hope that enforcement will follow!

When next you see a pack of bicyclists headed to school, who may not be yielding properly at every stop sign, please don't hesitate to tell them "stop signs are for everybody" -- or even honk, if they crossed in front of you without looking when you had the right of way. If you know any of their parents, tell them what you saw. And don't hesitate to call in any repeated dangerous choices as above.

Remember that each bicyclist on whatever streets you use or cross means one less car you encounter. What if each of the students you see biking was being driven to school? Paly had 700 kids biking to school last fall, about 40% of all students. What would Embarcadero or Churchill or even the front of the school on El Camino be like if they were all being dropped off by their parents or driving themselves?

Thank you to everyone who is able to make a "one less car" choice on a given day -- it makes a difference during congested periods! And thank you to all who realize that the rules of the road are designed for everyone's safety, and that sharing the road means not assuming that you have the right of way when you don't!


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