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Nose Under the Community Tent

By Paul Losch

About this blog: I was a "corporate brat" growing up and lived in different parts of the country, ending in Houston, Texas for high school. After attending college at UC Davis, and getting an MBA at Harvard, I embarked on a marketing career, mai...  (More)

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Uploaded: Sep 19, 2013
Lots of stuff around bicycles in these parts these days.

Another tragic death up in the hills this week.

A new bike rental program that has been implemented in other cities, and by appearances, needs some time for it to work its kinks out.

Those riding bikes here in town, from adults to parents navigating their kids to school to are on their own do not appear to have any regard for stop signs, bike lanes, or traffic lights, at least in my experience.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Common Sense, a resident of ,
on Sep 19, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Amen Paul! I saw a Palo Alto officer stopping bicyclists who were racing their bicyclists through the tunnel near the California Ave train station which was so terrific to see. That's a very big safety risk so I was thrilled they are stopping it.

Posted by Resident, a resident of ,
on Sep 19, 2013 at 6:48 pm

It is definitely time to have a rational discussion about this.

As someone who walks, bikes and drives around town, I see some bad walkers, bikers and drivers, all who need to improve their road skills.

Bikers need to be ticketed for their bad adherence to traffic laws. It is not just not stopping at stop signs which is what is always mentioned, but riding on the wrong side of the road, using lights, speed on descents on mountain roads, riding more than two abreast, riding in packs. Stopping for crossing guards when they are being waved on by the guards teaches children to disobey the rules.

Bikers riding in dark clothing at night without lights makes them totally invisible to an oncoming car or someone entering from a sidestreet or backing out of a driveway. They must be more visible to be safe.

I would also like to see more reflective vests and bicycle bells being used too. Calling something to a pedestrian while riding up behind them is not a good idea, it can be completely mistaken for calling out to a friend. A bell is very distinctive and can be identified as a bike coming immediately.

While we are at it, lights on motorized disability scooters too please. Pedestrians carrying a flashlight at night makes sense too to help them to be seen.

Posted by extremely poor taste, a resident of ,
on Sep 19, 2013 at 8:02 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by musical, a resident of ,
on Sep 20, 2013 at 12:54 am

I see how "speed on descents" got into Resident's litany of "bad adherence to traffic laws." Do cyclists actually bust the max posted, e.g. 45 mph on a particular section of Skyline? Or is the implication that bike speed limits should be lower than motor vehicles because cyclists are harder to see? The basic speed law does prohibit speeds greater than "reasonable or prudent."

Cars routinely do 25 mph in residential Palo Alto (I'm being charitable). But a bicycle going that fast, easily attained with a stiff tailwind, looks quite reckless.

Posted by Beecicle, a resident of ,
on Sep 20, 2013 at 8:00 am

On weekend, groups of bicyclists crowd the long section of Page Mill where it winds through the hills. They ride in the middle of this very narrow and windy stretch, often two abreast. There is no room for both cars and bicycles! My daughter's boyfriend, who works with the Stanford Life Copter, says they have to fly up there to rescue injured bikeriders 1-3 times every weekend in the summer months, because there is no way an ambulance can get up that road!

On Stevens Canyon and Montebello Rds in Cupertino, bicyclists often ride in groups of four abreast, when the laws clearly state that they are to ride single file. They flaunt their law remaking so they can chat?

Why do these people so endanger themselves? In a limited-space situation, they are unprotected and stand no chance against a heavy automobile! It seems they purposely put themselves in harm's way. One bicyclist on Alpine Rd in Menlo Park turned left in front of an oncoming car, during rush hour, without any kind of signaling and apparently for no reason. Needless to say, he was creamed!

Posted by Resident, a resident of ,
on Sep 20, 2013 at 8:18 am

As a follow on to my previous post, I would love to see police ticketing bicyclists for breaking laws these laws. I have never seen or heard of bicycle being stopped by the police and warned let alone ticketed, but I could be wrong.

Instead, as drivers we are always told to be aware of bikes and if we should accidentally hit one, it is always assumed it is our fault even though the bike may have been riding dangerously or breaking a law.

It would only take the police a few days of stopping and warning bikes, giving a few tickets, and making their presence seen to send a message to the biking community that they need to tidy up their act. At present they seem to have carte blanche at breaking all traffic laws and still get away with it as far as tickets go, but they don't get away with it if they end up in a collision with another vehicle and end up hurt or worse.

I once was a witness (while a pedestrian) to two bikes crashing outside one of our elementary schools. Both riders were at fault, but the language and anger they both had for each other was road rage at another level. As a witness to the incident neither party wanted my name and phone number, they just wanted to yell abuse at each other. I left them both picking up bits of broken bike and swearing at each other. Their scratched arms and legs with blood on their clothes seemed to be the only injuries, but they seemed to be oblivious that they may have caused serious injury to each other.

It is definitely time for the police to be more vigilant in their attitude to bikes and traffic rules.

Posted by Common Sense, a resident of ,
on Sep 20, 2013 at 10:38 am

Amen Resident. Palo Alto Police, please ticket bicyclists who violate the traffic laws. Skyline and Thw Tunnel near California Ave. are prime spots.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of ,
on Sep 20, 2013 at 10:47 am

To be fair - all travelers (autos/trucks/motorcycles, bikes, pedestrians) have their fair share of inconsiderate, ignorant and voluntarily disobedient incidents.

All deserve to get their warnings and tickets.

My only advice to bike riders is that they do use their bike light (strobe setting) during the day. I do this and I have personal experiences that prove that a strobe can save you from an accident. As much as we'd like - not all bike riders are clearly visible on the road. Take the easy step to protect yourself.

Posted by musical, a resident of ,
on Sep 20, 2013 at 5:46 pm

"CVC 25250: Flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles except as otherwise permitted."

I've finally rationalized the legality of strobing bike lights, given that a bicycle is by definition not a "vehicle" (CVC 670)

Posted by Beecicle, a resident of ,
on Sep 21, 2013 at 9:53 am

When we lived in Oakland Hills, police used to ticket bicyclists breaking these laws quite a bit. Once, in Fremont, I saw a police officer arresting a man on a bicycle for "riding while intoxicated"!

Before the layoff of so many PAPD officers, I used to see officers ticketing bicyclists for flying through stop signs, and kids for riding without helmets. But up here in the hills, we never see anyone ticketed for riding three or four abreast, riding on the wrong side of the road, or in the middle of the road, or running stopsigns. I think the bicyclists know there is no enforcement in the hills, and flaunt that fact

Posted by Resident, a resident of ,
on Sep 24, 2013 at 7:33 am

The tv channels were reporting yesterday that a 12 year old was killed riding his bike to school by an suv where the driver was another parent at the school. The fact that he was riding his bike on the wrong side of the street, going against traffic, was only a passing mention. It is so dangerous riding against traffic, but school children are doing it all the time. Teach children to ride bikes safely.

Posted by Alan, a resident of ,
on Sep 24, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Just this morning, I was driving north on Park heading to California Ave. I observed a tall man (thirtyish) bicycling the same way, but on the wrong side of the street, against traffic. Then, after crossing California Ave, he went up onto the sidewalk on his left until he got to Cambridge. Then he went off the sidewalk, crossed Cambridge without stopping, onto the sidwalk on the other side, until he finally stopped at his apparent destination.

I felt that his actions were childish and dangerous. I would have liked to see him ticketed. That kind of unpredictable behavior is what gives bicyclists a bad name and scares the wits out of drivers.

Posted by Alan, a resident of ,
on Sep 24, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Re my previous comment, I was traveling north on Birch, not Park. Just to clarify.

Posted by Query, a resident of ,
on Sep 24, 2013 at 2:46 pm

"when the laws clearly state that they are to ride single file."

I believe this is simply wrong, but I'm open to being corrected. Can anyone provide reference to statute or regulation that says that bikes are to ride in single file on normal roads?

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of ,
on Sep 24, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

One other thing that both scares and galls me are people who ride their bikes on sidewalks.

This behavior is especially scary in business districts. It is great that people biking to work are doing so, but as I walk my dog along University at the start of the day, it becomes a logistical mind game to deal with someone who is riding a bike on the sidewalk. Major safety issue for the cyclist, for me, and for my dog.

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