Change the law

Change the law, change the world

Most traffic laws were designed to move cars from here to there, with maximum speed and efficiency. Very few were written by cyclists, or with the participation of anyone who has ever been on a bike beyond the age of 12.

As a result, bike traffic is usually nothing more than an afterthought shoehorned into the laws and traffic lanes — without regard to whether it actually makes sense.

That may have worked in decades past when most cyclists never left their own neighborhoods and riders, spandex-clad or otherwise, were an anomaly on the roadway. But things have changed, as more and more cyclists are sharing traffic-clogged roads with motor vehicles, as well as pedestrians.

At the same time, our government has a significant stake in promoting cycling, whether in terms of improving the health of its citizens or the health of our planet. Or just reducing the number of cars on our overcrowded roads. 

As a result, they have an obligation to reform traffic laws in ways that will encourage cycling and protect the safety of all bicyclists, whether they use their bikes for recreation or transportation.

The following are my suggestions for ways our existing laws regarding can — and should — be changed, to help us all get home safely, and make every ride a little more enjoyable.

Maybe together we can do something to change the laws. And help get more people out of their cars, and onto the saddle.

1. Fix California’s new three-foot passing law

After two previous vetoes, California Governor Jerry Brown finally signed the latest attempt at mandating a minimum three-foot distance when passing a bike rider within the state, replacing the previous vague instructions to pass at a safe distance that did not interfere with the rider. 

Unfortunately, the law was significantly watered down before it ever reached his desk. A section allowing drivers to briefly cross the center line when safe to do so was removed (see #4 below), and a clause was inserted allowing drivers to pass at less then three feet after slowing down and using caution, rather than requiring drivers to wait until it is safe to pass.

By allowing drivers to pass at less than three feet, it removes all teeth from the law, maintaining the current vague standard and making it virtually impossible to enforce unless a driver actually strikes a cyclist. 

This needs to be corrected if the law is to be effective in improving safety and compliance. 

2. Prohibit turning into the path of an oncoming cyclist

Among the most dangerous situations any rider will face is when a driver passes on the left, then cuts across his path to make an immediate right turn. Or when a driver makes a left directly in front of an oncoming rider.

Most of the time they get away with it. And sometimes they don’t, which can result in a serious, often fatal, accident in which the rider smashes into the side of the turning vehicle.

Too many drivers underestimate the speed of a bike, and think they’ve got time to complete the turn. Or they drive too aggressively, and assume they have the skill to pull off an exceptionally risky move — or want to send a message by forcing the cyclist to panic stop in order to avoid them.

The only way to stop it and protect the safety of cyclists is to ban it entirely — and require that drivers wait until any oncoming rider passes before making their turn, whether right or left.

3. Ban the “I just didn’t see him” excuse

Too often, cyclists and drivers try to defy the laws of physics by occupying the same space at the same time. When that happens, the driver inevitably blames the cyclist, or claims he just didn’t see the rider.

And too often, they get away with it.

However, the law requires drivers to be alert and aware of the traffic conditions around them at all times. Which means that they are required to see, and take notice of, any bicyclists or other vehicles on the road around them.

Granted, there may be situations where riders are hidden behind another vehicle, or riding in the driver’s blind spot or on the wrong side of the road. But in the vast majority of cases, there’s no reason why an alert driver shouldn’t be able to see any cyclist sharing the road with them. And if you can see the driver, he or she should certainly be able to see you.

So let’s put the responsibility exactly where it belongs, and prohibit any use of the “I just didn’t see him” excuse, unless it can be clearly demonstrated that it wasn’t possible to see the rider under the existing conditions.

4. Clarify that drivers are allowed to leave their lane to pass a bike

As a driver, I was taught that it’s okay to briefly go into the other lane or cross the yellow line in order to pass a cyclist safely. And I’ve always understood that the law not only allowed that, but encouraged it.

But while some L.A. drivers do just that, many others — including my own wife — are reluctant to pass a cyclist if it means putting a wheel on the divider line, let alone actually crossing it. Instead, they slowly drive behind the rider, becoming angrier and more impatient with every passing moment. Or they zoom past at the first opportunity, whether or not there’s actually room to pass.

So let’s make it clear that every driver is allowed to briefly enter the other lane or cross the center line to pass a cyclist — as long as it can be done safely and there are no other vehicles in the way.

5. Prohibit unnecessary blocking of bike lanes

Here’s one of my pet peeves: You’re riding in the bike lane along a busy street, when suddenly there’s a film crew with their trucks parked on the side of the road (this is L.A., after all). And even though none of the trucks extend into it, they put up safety cones blocking the bike lane, and force riders to risk their own safety, for no reason other than their convenience.

Maybe it’s a delivery truck double-parked in the bike lane. Maybe utility workers, cable installers or parents dropping off their kids at soccer practice. Or any of the countless other reasons people needlessly, and thoughtlessly, block bike lanes.

So let’s stop it, already.

It’s already against the law to double park, in or out of a bike lane, and while state law technically allows parking in bike lanes, most localities forbid it. So let’s explicitly ban all parking in bike lanes, and make it a clear violation of the law to block any bike lane or designated bike route unless absolutely necessary, and then only as long as necessary. Because those few feet of asphalt between the two painted lines are there for our safety, not their convenience.

6. Require that bike lanes be maintained in their original condition

This is the other side of the bike lane problem. There are countless reason that could require roadwork in a bike lane. Like maybe they have to fix a problem beneath the roadway, or do some work to accommodate a construction project on the side of the road. Or maybe it’s just a city crew fixing a pothole or crack in the road.

Then once the work is done, they often leave the lane in worse condition — sometime much worse — than before the work was started. The crews seldom take the extra care necessary to level the road surface, resulting in uneven ridges or dips in the roadway. It may not seem significant, and it’s something most drivers wouldn’t even notice. But for a bicyclist, those seemingly minor imperfections can make for a jarring, and potentially dangerous, ride.

The solution is simple. Just require that anytime roadwork is done on a designated bike path, or a bike lane or any other part of the roadway where cyclists can be reasonably expected to ride, the road surface must be returned to it’s original condition — or better. Just take a few extra minutes to smooth out the patches and fill up the dips. Honestly, is that so hard?

7. Drivers should bear responsibility for any collisions in a bike lane

It should be obvious. A bike lane implies the presence of bikes, just as a crosswalk implies the presence of pedestrians. Which makes it the responsibility of the driver to anticipate cyclists, and be on the lookout for them. Those two lines of paint should be sufficient warning to any driver not to enter that lane for any reason without first scanning every inch of it for bicycles.

There is simply no reason why any driver should ever turn into the path of a rider, back in or out of a parking space without checking for oncoming bikes, or open a door into a rider in a bike lane because he didn’t check his mirrors first.

None.

So let’s make it clear that those few feet of asphalt belong to us, and it is the responsibility of the driver to enter, cross or stop in the bike lane safely — not the responsibility of riders to avoid him. And therefore, unless it can be shown that the bike rider was clearly at fault, the driver should bear 100% responsibility for any collision that occurs with a cyclist riding safely, and legally, in any bike lane.

8. Require regular police and maintenance patrols of all off-road bike paths

Instead of fighting our way through traffic or dodging drivers who can’t seem to grasp the concept of a bike lane, an off-road (or Class 1) bike path should provide the perfect opportunity to just relax and enjoy a good ride. But too often, it doesn’t work out that way.

Because these paths are located away from major roadways, they are often out of view of the public, and seldom, if ever, seen by police patrols or maintenance crews. Which means that any problems along the path, from broken pavement to criminal activity, are usually hidden from view.

The result is that many cyclists decide they’re better off taking their chances on the streets — abandoning the alternate routes we’ve fought so hard to get, and often leading to further deterioration.

So let’s demand regular safety and maintenance patrols of all off-road bike paths, both by the local police and the appropriate city, county or state maintenance agency — and require that at least some off those patrols be done by bike. Because any rider knows, things look and feel completely different behind the handlebars than they do behind the wheel.

9. Require a bike lane or sharrows for any roadway with heavy bike traffic

Instead of putting bike lanes and routes where traffic planners think they should go, put them where the cyclists already are.

Take PCH, for instance. Every day, hundreds, if not thousands, of riders brave heavy, high-speed traffic, turning cars and narrow, sometimes non-existent, road shoulders along the coast through Malibu, making this one of the most popular riding routes in Southern California. And yet, despite the near-constant flow of bike traffic, there’s nothing more than a few “Share the Road” signs to accommodate cyclists or improve safety.

So lets insist that form follow function, and require every city and county in the state to study the bike traffic within its jurisdiction. And that any street, road or highway with heavy bike traffic be required to safely accommodate bicycles through the establishment of bike lanes or off-road bike trails that follow the roadway, whenever possible, or by installing sharrows and adequate signage and traffic signals.

10. Assign greater responsibility to the larger — and more dangerous — vehicle

Some members of the European Union — notably Denmark and the Netherlands — have revised their laws to make the driver automatically responsible for any accident involving a cyclist, except in the case of particularly outrageous and illegal behavior by the rider.

While I doubt something like that could ever pass in this country, the rational behind it is sound.

As the law currently stands, drivers and cyclists in this country share equal responsibility for avoiding accidents. But cars and SUVs are, by their very nature, dangerous vehicles, and in any collision between a two-ton vehicle and a cyclist, the rider will inevitably come out on the losing end. Or as the European Commission document behind the proposal to extend the Danish and Dutch laws to other countries puts it, “Whoever is responsible, pedestrians and cyclists usually suffer more.”

So let’s place greater responsibility to avoid an accident — and therefore, greater liability — on the operator of the larger and more dangerous vehicle. Not total responsibility, but enough to reflect the greater vulnerability cyclists and pedestrians face on every road, and at every intersection, every day.

11. Investigate any report of vehicular assault as a criminal violation

For most of us, a car is simply a means of getting from here to there. But as the incident in Mandeville Canyon shows, it can be a deadly weapon in the wrong hands.

From intentionally striking or dooring a cyclist, to forcing a rider off the road or into another vehicle, there are countless ways a driver can use his or her vehicle to threaten or injure a rider. Even something as seemingly harmless as throwing an object from a moving vehicle can cause a rider to lose control of his bike, with potentially deadly consequences.

But just try to report something like that to the police. In most cases, they’ll say they didn’t see it, so there’s nothing they can do. Or if they do bother to respond, usually because of an injury to the rider, they’ll treat is as a traffic accident, rather than the criminal activity it is.

So let’s demand the protection we deserve. Let’s contact our legislators, and insist that they amend the law to clearly specify that anyone who uses a motor vehicle to threaten, intimidate, attack or injure a cyclist or pedestrian should be charged with assault and/or battery with a deadly weapon, and subject to a prison term and seizure of the vehicle, as well as permanent loss of driving privileges. And insist that any report of a motor vehicle being used in such a manner be investigated by the police as a criminal matter, rather than a traffic infraction.

Because your life, and mine, may depend on it.

12. Turn stop signs into yields, and red lights into stop signs

Riding is hard enough without breaking your momentum to stop for a stop sign every other block — especially if there’s no one else at the intersection. Or stopping at a deserted intersection in the middle of the night, and having to endure a seemingly interminable wait for the red light to change

But failure to do so could result in a sizable ticket if you don’t happen to notice the cop coming up behind you.

So lets try a little common sense, instead. Reform the law to reflect what many, if not most, cyclists already do — an approach that’s already been proven to work in the state of Idaho for over a quarter of a century. And allow cyclists to treat stop signs as if they were yields — slow down, look around carefully, and in the absence of conflicting traffic, proceed through the intersection.

For red lights, come to a complete stop, ceasing all forward momentum. Then if there’s other traffic at the intersection, remain stopped and wait for the green light. But if you’re the only one waiting at the light, you should be able to treat it like a stop sign. And once any cross traffic has passed, continue on your way without having to wait for the light to change.

13. Put a permanent end to hit-and-runs

Nearly half of all traffic collisions in Los Angeles are hit-and-runs. And too many of those result in a bike rider writhing in the street fighting for his or her life — a life put in greater risk by the failure of the driver to call for help when every second counts.

One major incentive for drivers to flee is that the penalty for drunk driving is greater than the penalty for hit-and-run. It’s actually to the drivers’ benefit to flee the scene and sober up before they turn themselves in.

So the law has to be changed to make the penalty for hit-and-run equal to the penalty for drunk driving.

But it has to go further. Prison overcrowding means that anyone sentenced for a non-violent offense is likely to be released after serving just a fraction of their sentence.

So let’s take away their licenses. And their cars.

Anyone who would leave the scene of a collision has already shown themselves unfit to be behind the wheel. Their license should be automatically revoked — not suspended — regardless of whether or not they are ever charged or convicted of a crime.

Meanwhile, the car they used to commit the crime should be impounded and held as evidence until a decision is made whether to file charges, and through any trial. If the driver is convicted, the vehicle should be seized and sold, with any proceeds going to the victim. After all, you don’t let a bank robber keep the gun he used. State law already allows the seizure of any vehicle used in a drug crime or to solicit prostitution; isn’t a hit-and-run a little more serious than trolling for a blow job?

One last note.

If the victim of a hit-and-run dies, the driver should face an automatic homicide charge on the assumption that he or she might have survived if the driver had stopped and gotten help, as required by law.

82 comments

  1. Joe Mizereck says:

    Well said…especially the reference to motorists giving cyclists 3 feet of space when passing from the rear. The more we talk about this need the more it will become a part of not only our thinking, but our behavior. That is when it makes a difference and that will be refected in fewer cyclists being injured and killed.

    Thank you,
    Joe

    joe@3feetplease.com

  2. The introductory prose shows a lack of historical perspective on why traffic laws were created back in 1903 in Manhattan when traffic deaths occurred at a rate of about one per day. The laws we now have were originally designed to allow drivers of bicycles, animal drawn vehicles and early motor vehicles to operate safely. When they are obeyed, these laws still work. Separating opposing flows (CVC 21650) prevents head on collisions, Requiring slower traffic to use the right hand lane (CVC 21654) and faster traffic to pass on the left (CVC 21750) and having left and right turns made from the left and right sides of the right half of the roadway (CVC 22100) separates turning drivers from through drivers; all for safety. The problem is additional discriminatory laws applied to bicyclists (CVC 21202 and CVC 21208) and improper police education which leads to laws like 21750 in particular, being improperly enforced. Cyclists should be treated as full and equal drivers, subject to the same rights and duties as all other drivers. Here’s the relevant textfrom the LAB Equity Statement:
    “Equality – The equal legal status and equal treatment of cyclists in traffic law. All US states must adopt fair, equitable and uniform traffic laws, that are “vehicle-neutral” to the greatest extent possible. Cyclists’ ability to access to all destinations must be protected. State and local laws that
    discriminate against cyclists, or restrict their right to travel, or reduce their relative safety, must be repealed.”

    I’ll comment on your list 12 items in separate comments.

    - Dan Gutierrez -
    Long Beach, CA
    Dan.Gutierrez@Charter.Net

    Organizational Affiliations
    Local:
    Long Beach Cyclists, Board Member
    Aerospace Cycling Club, Founder and Current President
    South Bay Westside Transportation Mgmt. Assoc., Board Member

    State:
    CA Assoc. of Bicycling Organizations (CABO), District 7 Director
    Caltrans District 7 Bicycle Advisory Committee, Policy Chair

    National:
    League of American Bicyclists (LAB):
    League Certified Instructor, LCI #962 Dual Chase Productions LLC, Co-Creator CyclistLorax Channel on YouTube

    • yosh says:

      It is a fallacy to suggest that bicycles and vehicles should be treated as equals under the same set of laws. Vehicle registration, inspections? Uh no thank you. Insurance? Come on! I don’t think that there is a bike light on the market that would meet my state’s requirements for a motor vehicle headlight. Driver’s license? Should we make it so that a kid can’t operate a bike until they are 16, have had a learner’s permit, and then pass a test?

      We’re allowed to ride down the shoulder. Motor vehicles are not. Motor vehicles have to have mirrors. Bicycles do not. And the list goes on.

      This idea that bicycles and motor vehicles should be treated the same under the law is a fool’s errand.

      They are not the same, and to make them the same would KILL CYCLING!

    • Sixto says:

      I’m on board, with everything you suggested, regardless of was “yosh” says. I don’t think it has anything to do with, insurance or who much more expensive it is to drive it a car. I think it has everything to do with basic human safely.

      You pay more to drive your car but you are considerably safer in inside a ton of metal when a car driver and a cyclist collide.
      It shouldn’t matter how much your expense is, if you are on the road whether in a car or a bike you should feel safe.

      I say again, I’m on board, the only problem I see is I don’t know where to sign.

      6

    • 1blue1 says:

      Until such time as the current California Governor is out of office, riding a bicycle on California roads should be defined as tatamount to committing suicide, and as such should be reason to invoke the suicide clause on life insurance policies.

  3. opusthepoet says:

    Much of what you ask for just passed in TX as the Vulnerable Road Users’ bill (SB 488) that makes hitting a cyclist or other person on the roads without the protection of a motor vehicle a criminal offense. Now we just need to get our dim-bulb walking hairpiece of a governor to sign it into law.

  4. Wes Oishi says:

    We recently enacted a “law” in CA regarding using hand held telephones while driving. I would like to suggest that unless laws are obeyed, they serve no purpose.

  5. GoGreen says:

    There need’s to be a law to limit the size of intersections. The current situation has resulted in massive intersections that pedestrians and cyclists have difficulty crossing.

  6. Jason says:

    Here’s an update on how the LAPD feels about cyclists and their rights.

    I have a cyclist friend who experienced a road rage incident with a motorist this morning in West LA. When he called the LAPD, with license plate #, etc., the LAPD told him that they no longer file road rage reports for these types of incidents.

    I can’t believe that the LAPD is so ambivalent towards the lives and rights of cyclists that the West LA station will not file a report when someone is nearly killed by the intentional actions of another.

    Unbelievable! Especially after the Mandiville Canyon incident and the leading role that the prior complaint against Dr. Thompson had on that case.

    • bikinginla says:

      Jason, that sucks. I understand that the police usually can’t take any action in the absence of witnesses or physical evidence; however, you’re right — if the driver had threatened your friend with a gun instead of a car, they would have responded instantly.

      I’m hoping that cyclists will have an opportunity to talk with the new chief, and this is definitely something we should bring up. I’d also suggest contacting Council member Rosendalhl, as head of the city council Transportation committee, as well as Paul Koretz; they are the two council representatives for West L.A. And your friend should definitely bring this up at the next meeting of the Bicycle Advisory Committee next month.

  7. BB says:

    13.
    Create a vulnerable road user law, which would require the DA to file aggravated sentences for crimes against these road users. If a law (speeding) was broken previously to hitting a user it should be considered a criminal offense.

  8. a car driver says:

    Drivers would likeley be more considerate if so many cyclists wen’t so insistent on taking their portion of the road out of the middle.

    Especially here in LA.

    Cyclists that are oblivious to the fact that cars exist and do need to use driveways and turn lanes, etc.

    It’s such a pleasure to put on your blinkers, only to have some jackass on a bike race you to the intersection and dawdle while coasting through.

    Bikes are by nature rather vulnerable. Maybe it would be wise if their riders acted like it.

    A couple of the cyclist fatality articles referenced on here point out quite clearly that the cyclists couldn’t be bothered to follow the laws (stop signs) or even bother qith simple common sense (bikes ARE difficlut to see and in many cases do NOT have right of way, especially at stop signs, and a car cannot stop on a dime, and, lastly, that the laws of physics work against them in a car/cicycle interaction)

    It’s sad that many careful, dedicated cyclists have to put up with crap, but the vast majority of the folks pedaling (that I see/interact with) are nothing but a hassle to deal with in traffic.

    Also, it’s true that laws need to be clarified. Cars already have to deal with the nightmare laws that exist for dealing with pedestrians. Making cars kow-tow to bikes (and/or responsible for any collision) is imply moronic.

    As it stands, bikes occupy an odd space as a mishmash of vehicle and pedestrian. Even if the laws do not really “say” that, the net effect is the same. Either they are a vehicle and MUST obey all moving vehicle laws (including staying off sidewalks) or they are pedestrians (and must stay off streets)

    Automobiles are a fact of life, and the laws of physics aren’t going to change any time soon. Barring some sort of peak oil epsiode (or similar) they are and will contunue to be the dominant form of transport on our roads (and are the large portion of the reason why the roads exist at all) An effectinve mass transit could help, but given the economy, don’t hold your breath.

    So, work to improve legislation, but beware expecting too much. The roads are NOT intended for bicycles as a primary road user. (at least not until you are paying $400+ a year in licensing fees)

    • Rob Cravens says:

      The “vast majority [of cyclists] are nothing but a hassle to deal with”? Laws protecting pedestrians from cars are “a nightmare”?

      I’m pretty sure cyclists are not the ones with the bad attitude.

    • Jack says:

      Well said. Cyclists are nothing but a pain in the ass that think they own the road. Most have absolutely no respect for the other people around them. If they would use and obey the same laws as other people on the roads I would back them. They want more space then they should pay for more space through licensing.

      • bikinginla says:

        Right, Jack.

        Name one driver — including yourself — who obeys traffic laws on regular basis. Who never speeds, always signals, changes lanes in a safe and legal manner, always comes to a full stop at every stop sign.

        And let’s not forget the fact that a full one-third of all traffic collisions are hit-and-runs — and I can guarantee you that it’s not cyclists who are fleeing the scene.

        Face it. People ride bikes the way you and virtually everyone else drives their cars.

        In light of the fact that you left your comment on Easter Sunday, I quote someone far more enlightened than myself: “Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone.”

        When drivers such as yourself use the road in a safe and legal manner, then you’ll have every right to complain about anyone and everyone else on it. Until then…

      • bruce says:

        “Cyclists … think they own the road.”

        They do, as much as any car driver “owns the road.” Check the vehicle code.

        Further, I would suggest that as a taxpayer, homeowner and cyclist, I pay much more prorata for my use of roads than car drivers when you factor the amount of road I am using and the costs associated with building and maintaining the roads.

    • Aaron says:

      As a new road cyclist, I feel for cyclists, however I think you make some great points and really nail the Driver’s point of view well (especially here in LA). When I am driving, I find that cyclist’s own erratic and inconsistent behavior is half of the problem. Since you don’t need a license to jump on a bike, there is a lot of ignorance as far as the rules of the road. The end result is, cyclists move unpredictably, inconsistently, and often end up in places you don’t expect them. When I already have 25 cars buzzing around me, red-light cameras, jaywalkers, changing street signs and complicated laws (no turn on red, but only during certain hours), it becomes very difficult to watch out for a small fast moving object. I do not believe that current, modern, congested roads are meant for bikes anymore. It’s just not safe.

      • Louis Wu says:

        How many of the reasons that bicyclists use poor behavior can be traced back to the inequal application of traffic laws? Sure, the car driver is irritated by the cyclist that keeps him from his right turn, but the cyclist is also forced to ride to the right, or in a bike lane that puts him in the conflict area with the right turning motorist. If he was encouraged to ride by the same rules as any vehicle, the cyclist could pass the right-turning auto on the left, eliminating that conflict and any frustrating delay. This is just one example.

  9. wes oishi says:

    “a car driver” points are well taken. I think if cyclists thought more about drivers and their point of view from the driver’s seat, then they would be able to second guess the moves of the driver and stay safer. I love riding a bike and I do it as recreation. I do think that the conflict between car and cyclist starts at this point….that is to say, why we are on the road. When drivers get in a car, they want to go someplace. As cyclists, most times we are using the roads for the pleasure of cycling, not transportation.

    • bikinginla says:

      Wes, I think you have an interesting point of view. Anytime you want to write a guest post, let me know.

      • wes oishi says:

        My point of view comes from starting road cycling in the 70′s, with Como Street in OC. I know 70′s and 80′s racing and group riding (when it was fun and safe). My commute to work was from Olympic/La Cienaga to Cal-State Northridge area, three times a week. I think I know how to ride in traffic. I think those who are from that first bike boom and continue to ride are somewhat in denial, as to why things have gotten so deadly. I don’t know what I can add that has not been said before, but I am flattered that you might want me to post. That being said, I am not sure if anything printed, including this blog, will change much at all. However, I admire your dedication and love of the bike. The same goes for others like you. Wes

    • I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions – that somehow, people would cycle in traffic for the pleasure of it. From my point of view, I’m on my bike taking up maybe 18 square feet. You’re in your car taking up more like 72 square feet. We’re in a city that has limited space on roads that are congested. Why did you pick a vehicle that’s too wide for downtown?

  10. Jeff says:

    Have you seen the “bike box” now in use by Caltrans?

  11. Lisa says:

    I stumbled across this website because I am biking more and really love it. However, I also drive a car and am amazed daily at the cyclists and pedestrians that I see on Pacific Ave in Venice/Santa Monica. It seems that quite often I have to swerve to avoid a cyclist or pedestrian who is oblivious to the cars on the road. They are either veering into traffic or hanging off the curb into the car lane. Pacific is NOT a street that is safe for bicycles. Until there is a bike lane there, bikes should not be allowed on this street. I think this website is great, and would like to see the city improve it’s roads for biking.

    • bikinginla says:

      I’m glad you’re biking more; however, you may be misunderstanding some of the basic rights and rules of bicycling.

      First, state law ensures that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as all other road users, and are allowed to ride on any road cars are allowed to use, with the exception of some freeways. So bikes can’t be banned from Pacific or any other street.

      Second, what may seem unsafe to you could actually be the safest way to ride. For instance, cyclists should never ride in the gutter on any road; instead, they are supposed to ride as near as practicable to the right side of the road, which usually means riding within the right traffic lane. That may seem unsafe, but it actually positions the rider where he or she can be seen by traffic in both directions, and prevents drivers from passing within the same lane when there’s not enough room to do so safely.

      Of course, that’s not to say there aren’t some very reckless riders out there. I’ve encountered more than a few myself.

      One excellent resource for brushing up on the rights and responsibilities of cyclists is the recent training video prepared by the LAPD for their officers. It shows how they interpret and enforce the law, and by extension, how cyclists should ride to be both legal and safe.

  12. Rob Cravens says:

    Number 12 is a little iffy, but otherwise I’m with you.

    Still, it’s all great for us to talk among ourselves and wish that these laws were in place. But that doesn’t actually do anything. What steps can we take to get this done?

    Secondly, as others wiser than I have pointed out, the mere EXISTENCE of laws still doesn’t do squat. How do we “educate” the police to enforce these laws? Or the laws that are already in place, for that matter?

    I’ve had enough friends killed or injured while riding, and don’t want to just keep wishing things were better.

    • spandex puppy says:

      Actually I think #12 is one of the least iffy ones. It has been the law in other states for quite a while, and works well.

  13. Bill K. says:

    I’d love to hear the status of proposing bills on the above subjects, which I think would be more successful in piecemeal fashion. I’d love to help draft the bill for yielding STOP signs.

  14. Hank Antler says:

    my bg:
    I drive a car in west LA. I have bicycle, moped and a motorcycle and have driven/ridden all kinds of vehicles in my life.

    I am pro cycling for the obvious reasons of traffic congestion, healthy for people and less emissions. It does not suit my current living situation though so I commute by car.

    Most of the reasonable/practical things you list are already illegal. The point I strongly disagree is the attitude that cyclist would have less responsibility for their actions/folllowing the rules than cars.

    I constantly dodge bikes riding wrong direction on one way street, blasting trough stop signs – often passing stopped cars and making themselves extremely vulnerable for getting hit by drivers who are acting responsibly.

    Generally cyclist who have lights and helmets seem to act like rational people, maneuver predictably and follow the rules. However they seem to be the minority.

    Every day I have to dodge cyclists who think they are “totally visible” 7.30pm without lights mixed in with vehicles with full headlights. and the new hip fixer crowd who obviously make it a point to break rules by plowing through red lights in big swarm of bikes.

    Yes cagers should do head checks, use blinkers and not be idiots. And yes infrastructure and planning should be more bike friendly but as is the general cycling crowd doesn’t do a very good job of their own in following the rules.

    When I ride a motorcycle I assume that people don’t see me. Its might not be right that I have to do so but I accept it. I do my job by wearing bright helmet using blinker and trying to be predictable and of course trying to read other crazies on the road.

  15. Louie says:

    Hey Ted.

    I just realized the link I posted would be more appropriate in this section as it directly addresses point number 5: Prohibit Unnecessary Blocking of Bike Lanes.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3UPKYm5nbY

    Please check on my post in the About BikingInLA section.

  16. Peter Meitzler says:

    The Texas Vulnerable Road Users’ Law was vetoed, as many here probably know. Still, it could become a precedent elsewhere. Any chance it will be given a 2nd attempt in Texas?

    In the meantime, much of Europe uses Strict Liability so that cyclists and pedestrians, if injured in any crashes with motorists, do not have to prove motorist fault first in order to receive compensatoni — because it is assumed automatically.

    • Jim Lucas says:

      Peter Meitzler, We bicyclists and pedestrians would love to see it like you say it is in Europe, with “Strict Liability so that cyclists and pedestrians, if injured in any crashes with motorists, do not have to prove motorist fault first in order to receive compensatoni — because it is assumed automatically.” However, in Arizona the PD almost always finds some excuse to blame the bicyclist and pedestrian, thereby making it open season on bicyclists and pedestrians.

      The Texas governor’s vetoing of the “Texas Vulnerable Road Users’ Law,” is one reason not to vote for governor Perry.

  17. jimP says:

    Strongly agree with #12… I found your blog while searching up what to do with a bicycle ticket I recent got concerning just that.
    Fine was $234.00 in Orange County, that’s more than half my bike!

    I find commuting much more…aggravating now that I have to Dead-stop at EVERY stop sign or scan around for cops.

  18. you know what I think you guys need to licensed and taxes as a motor and pay renewal fees each year, you guys are a menace while riding your bikes in the Canyon roads and frankly if the road is to narrow you should not be allowed ride and pull stupid stunts.

    You really fired this fucker up now.

    • bikinginla says:

      Yeah, heard it before. Boring.

      • Driverriderwalker says:

        I think licence plates on bikes is the answer to most the problems, If you have to register and licence your bike we could get the idiots off the roads. The same way we do with motorist, this would remove a lot of the issues. Paying a small fee per year, say $250.00 annually could provide money for better bike infrastructure.

        • bikinginla says:

          That’s good in theory, but wouldn’t work in practice.

          First, a license plate large enough to be read at a distance would be to large to fit on a bike. Second, licensing cars has done absolutely nothing to get idiots off the road; what makes you think it would work with bikes?

          As for your suggestion that a small fee — larger than many motorists pay — would provide for better bike infrastructure ignores the facts that a) bikeways cost pennies on the dollar compared to streets and highways, and b) local streets, like bikeways, are funded by general taxes, which means that bicyclists already pay for them.

  19. Six says:

    First off, if WE are a menace at the speeds WE travel at, chances are YOU are probably going TOO FAST for your own good.

    Secondly, in regards to fees and taxes, WE are already doing our part for society by consuming less fuel, causing less polution and contrary to your statement, I beleive that WE make the roads safer because we are not moving at ton of metal at 50 miles an hour down a public street.

    The less cars and the more bikes on the road, the safer our cities become.

    So fire that up.
    Have a lovely day.

  20. Six says:

    Jack regressed to his simplest nature when he didn’t have a good comeback. I understand his frustration.

    Here’s something interesting for all the Cyclist haters… and you can look this up if you don’t believe it.

    Motorists assume the roads were built for them but it was cyclists who initially lobbied for roads.

    Here’s one of many links to that end.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/bike-blog/2011/aug/15/cyclists-paved-way-for-roads

    Secondly, riding a bicycle on state roads is a RIGHT, driving a motor vehicle because it is considered heavy machinery, is a privilege not a right. Look it up, it’s true.

    So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    I believe I have used proper language and refrained from insulting anyone with what I have stated above.

    Have a lovely day all.

    • KARL says:

      I read the british note and all it’s comments which occured on the day of publicaiton it being blocked from comment at some point thereafter if not just thirteen months ago. The roads once built created potential profit for those whose products would depend on them- and it took more then one man to build these products it took not just assembly lines but expensive tools to make engine blocks and such beyond real competition for too long.

      IN America the story goes the quantity of labor was met with the relatively unskilled nature of it- and so what had created buzz as being beyond the means of the ordinary for long enough was suddenly, like the third world technology of cellular radio phones we presently suffer almost to the exclusion of what used to be the universally affordable luxury of landlines- an entire generation now not having enjoyed them and knowing not what there missing!- Detroit etc. was born and developed incredible steam, an appetite for much of our GNP on the pretense that it contributed instead of just taxed it, so that when it became proven it was destroying our very planet, that the profits had completely corrupted our government, it took at least till now, till the internet started to mature and give us back our power as people in charge of our nation, to act consistent with our deliberations.

      It’s true that cities can allow no need for wheels at all. But ignored in the comments is whether people prefer to be around bikes or people running. I’ve infuriated cops getting on a bus before after they pull me over for running to catch it- and missed ones when not so assertive as well. In our world running is suspicious- biking even at times so rare legally sufficiently so as to surrender ones privacy rights.

      THe bottom line appears to be the planning didn’t anticipate the need for considered policing of how the roads in between city buildings would be used. As land became finite, the generous paths eventually became inadequate- but no mechanism to fairly ration them existed. Instead entities that profited handsomely up till then and depended upon no governance of these paths managed to prevent sanity over there use from becoming a nuisance to there business plans and that included beyond controversy buring ‘steet cars’ and plowing under the tracks supporting them etc. to creat demand for inferior privately owned auto’s.

      The excuse is our safety, or the cost of keepign us alive when brain dead, even though perhaps you have not noticed plugs get pulled in just hours now- and Uncle Sam no longer pays for feeding tubes making people unable to work starve to death so that excuse for requiring helmets is also mythical now not that it ever had any merit. The truth is good bikes cost hundreds of bucks to make and sell for little more, versus most cars which cost thousands to make but sellfor THOUSANDS more. If bike makers could be paid as much in profit as car makers they would be pulling the strings. It’s not about drivers getting there way! It’s about the money they spend supporting there unwitting employment in terroristic behavior. THey are brainwashed into sending nearly a week’s pay or more per month to the monsters who hypnotise them and we should be sympathetic and aim to liberate them and us from that. Segway is now ancient technology. Walking only has fundamentalists supporting it as devine- nobody stands up while driving there auto, pedestrians need to be humble as well perhaps. Leaning back to reduce air resistance on a recumbent is no sacrifice. Maintaing clearances above four and a half feet in high density areas may be overly indulgent. It is one way to get cars and SUV’s off paths, establish a height limit that only recumbent bikes can meet. Roads engineered for vehicles as light as trikes and as short cost much less to build and maintain, bridge and engage the best of our brains. It shoudl be possible to work for planning with pride. You shouldn’t have to check your honor just to get a paycheck- but the best of us find something else to do instgead of fight tooth and nail for wisdom. Universities restripe parking lots and grin when car dealers donate jerseys- now able to sell SUV’s, or electric rudely rube goldbergian (that plug in given the advertisements has a tono of money wasted onit’s gas tank and ICE for those featured in it’s ads!) subsidy queens on wheels.

  21. KARL says:

    I watched a marketing video recently of one of the cost nearly no object best in class (made in america, carbon, etc.) mountain biking style ‘vehicles’ and the owner of the company noted how the ultra progressive town he bikes through has banned such contemporary bikes from the bike paths- so he’s forced to pedal only when on them and quickly get back on the shared roads. It’s not just in China that our future is being spoiled. Energy efficiency means we need to have an open mind about how to use existing infrastructure- and clearly more ultralightweight vehicles that use a pittance of energy in comparison to cars are the reality. Deaths and collisions are relatively uncommon and should not be the primary impetus of public policy. It is fair to point out that resources freed up by more bike use could save far more lives then would be spent in riding.

    I am saying we need to accept casualties among ourselves and those we care about as if not necessary relative bargains for notdoing evil- for driving”heavy machinery” needlessly and otherwise merely at the expense of more of our lives and futures instead of just ourselves specifically- and that only inthe best case.

    If someone threatens you with a car though you need to get it preserved visually- the cost of doing so is not insignificant and perhaps requiring all vehicles have high frame rate high resolution cameras- which nowo cost less then the typical commuters investment in a quality light alone, should be required more then “bells” as denmark requires and is ticketing with high fines those not being so cute. Its’ not that the state is cavalier- but if yoru not bothering to take HD of everey second in public you might be guilty of spending that money on Soda, luxuries, gas to pay for the tires you use to ride even your bike recreationally instead……

    Technology should have been far more disruptive by now. Since this section was first posted on here analog devices have gone completely obsolete- ‘free’ tv is all but extinct, and yet it’s basically unrevised.

    Kids toys have high speed camera’s- I bought one as it showd the little two inch long atg most car being strapped to abike handlebars for it’s camera, for like ten bucks two montsh ago on sale, and look forward to the day when my bikes are again within reach and I’ve got it as buddy, witness, ‘blackbox’.

    The argumetn speficially that the cost of the ticket is relevent to the cost of the bike is perplexing- it’s very few of us who have so little as to be able to honestly complain about the cost of bikes- even if far too many of those on bikes do so because they can’t afford anything worse and more expensive. The way such tickets are resisted is by refusing to sign- if enough people plug up our jails for crossing intersections devoid of traffic for minutes before and after they’ll stop enforcing such a law- signing the ticket is votiing for it, evern more then merely paying the fine.

    I personally have done the time instead countless times and am concerned that after pleading out etc. to be released a fine might retroactivley have attached. Technology though has bike lights now being better then car lights, and for less then the cost of a tank of gas they are.

    The civil laws are within reach given full motion movies admissability. National biking organisations should be rider owned- not dealer serving, or any other interest and shoudl be creating risk pools and retaining lawyers and all else that heavy insanely overopowered ‘motorcycle’ users have. Collectively we can recover sanity in the use of public paths. That highway speeds are routinely slower then bikes are safe at seems ignored. During such times cars should not be allowed. If cars can’t move over 40 mph on any highway the solutin is to make it bike only until few enough need to use it to allow for the more generous bites cars despite there normally higher speeds take. A bike going 20 uses less road then a car going 40, and claims about licensing fees paying for roads are nieve. If only we who abstaain -from too often routinely just ‘living’ in teh public right of way in air conditioned sound rooms in our ‘indigency’ …could organise however many hundreds a year from each of us the problem would be solved in a decade or less- possibly much less, like months.

    Our present cars are good enough to last half a century or more- if we can stop putting more then the appropriate hundred or so miles a year on them! Our economy can adapt, our roads can find some use or as in Detroit just be super luxurious given efficient actual use instead of abuse when the cars and there obscene owner drivers are no longer so enslaved.

    It is a real war though. The recent rash of fatalities show we are willing to die to win it- and I wish it wasnt’ necessar ythat many more of us die to do so, but so be it as it clearly is. If I find myself bleeding out, or paralised from lack of an idiot hat, only arguably, I will sleep as well as pain medication allows- with a clear concience. I’ve managed to drive briefly a decade or so ago and then recognise the signs of addiction, of being no different then most, and am glad to never drive as the safest way to not become so much of the problem for all my insights. What can be presently done without a license helps us be wise- getting one is something our youth who refrains from dooing should be applauded for and supported as much as possible. I’m presently tempted to buy a recumbent tandem,and the reality that they sale used for ten times more then they should is the greatest evidence of how sociopathic the ordinary person is now. It wasn’t always this way and needn’t remain.

    Keep bikes legal- that’s enough. The liability discussion ignores the cost of denying access tocourt- of punitive awards, of class actions, so again, this should be a hard problem making bad laws- the jury is our greatest friend and ally. Before it the facts can be brought and in justice beauty, peace, regained. For me it means I’m not a brain surgeon- not a senator, unlikely to ever be president- but I believe in my life,believe I’m donig the best that fate and intent can have me expect- and hope lives.

    Biking is more pleasant then people know- that’t true- it’s safer then a corpse a day suggests, that’s for sure, and our father’s oldsmoble or whatever need not be our grandkids dream- frankly I don’t think we enjoy cars like we used to before blockbuster needed to be driven to, before much better simulations of much neater adventures ruled our liesure and recreation- yesterday of course Bestbuy selling acontroller for a japanese simulator with two fans for only ten bucks- fans to keep the sweat to tolerablel levels, and other brands providign cardio for real. Cars made sense in low density pre environemental health sciencedays. They don’t any longer 99 percent of the time. We have too much road- too few contemporary ‘bikes’, and only liberty is needed for a much more stable collapse of these two extremes to occur relatively painlessly.

    Rejoice! It’s legal to bike or die trying! This is as good as it needs to get to win. Bitterness will have thingis get far worse.

  22. One of the most common complaints I hear on these types of forums and discussion is that cyclists don’t pay their fair share in DMV registration fees. Obviously, they have no idea what these registration are actually used for:

    https://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffvr10.htm

    Needless to say, it isn’t for road maintenance…

    • KARL says:

      mention “recumbent tandem” and a dealer shows up within an hour lol through the magic of SEO but since I am in fact considering how much to offer for someone who bought precisely the one Dana deals and had it shipped across country before discovering it was too late for her husband after just buying a absurdly defectively manufacturedand for now the 3rd generation one adult model that she may or may not deal but I assume she does I put it to her to explain why you can’t buy a new tandem recumbent for less then several thousand PER SEAT! Someone has to pay this forward- has to believe that marketing the under a grand recumbent tandem in VOLUME justifies asking for some angel to put up the capital to order a shipload of them at a time. People should be able to pedal there
      http://www.bentupcycles.com/review/product/list/id/137/category/39/#review-form like contraption just far enough for someone else to help out with the pedling for an apple or however much is fair. I’ve rented a tandem before and before I knew it had a dude on the vacant stoker seat jump on in the middle of a ride despite him thinking he had to abstain to do homework and it was great. I during Cyclovia was reminded that I own a tandem and before the next Cyclovia hope to break it out it’s coffin, replace it’s motorcycle battery that drives it’s almost as obscenely expensive now vintage SSL headlight, and earn it’s ownership beyond the pittance it’s architect creator took from me for it countless years ago (he reminded me having amtraked in for that sunday with his friends and there bikes other then it obviousl). Yes I had forgotten I owned it. (just because hehad removed the seat and I was an American in Exile for too many ofhte years since we’d met just that once before). Seriously I don’t assume it’s not a coicidence thatthis lond dead thread which I’ve grateful is left open is visited by someone else with something to say however SEOish (a token commment to justify the placement of a signature linking to a for profit site) just that that’s apparently the case and the link she provides is so unspecific as to not address the ignorance she purports. Governments use, my HOA uses, as slight of hand, charging fees for use of the commons that has nothing to do with history- for garbage, for water, for I’m just learning in Baltimore “land rent”, and this gives those paying a utterly fictitious sense of entitlement that has robbed my hometown of the best formelrly public computerlab now. THe public lands are public- they are free, and fees for national parks etc. are relatively new, not just for afterschool activities.

      We don’t haveto buy land to ride bikes on- we aleady own it. Thosewho want to use it in ways that obsturct others use of it need to have merit- and car abusers don’t. Recreational bicyclists don’t. Merit is merit. Our EPA wants to help our DTLA residents survive- I’m presently again in exile, my apartment has air so bad I’ve spent months now without stepping into it rarely even investigating electrostatic precipators and oxygen concentrators that might allow me to return to it instead ofjust letting someone else move in and die from it. I mean it- we need peopel to know what is available instead of cars, and we need people to be able to try them out- and a nonprofit that only provided test rides on $10,000 powerr assisted recumbent etc. tandems would get a generous donation from me and even a few hours a week volunteering. IN london of course the tax to bring one of these in is just as high as for A SUV when I last checke dbecause most riders are upright, alone, and weak therefore slow. This one though takes up less space for two then if they both rode 8 inch diameter folding bikes given it’s rapid even witnhout batteries accelerfation, braking, and just joy inspiring oomph.

      Yet I know of not one, NOT ONE, such bike available in a bike sharing program. Not one! Instead elliptical drive contraptions are sold to our elite in performance bike franchines for nearly as much…. nearly as absurd as the all employee driven yestgeryear contraptions seen at cyclovia… but then i’ve neve had the pleasureof trying either so maybe assuming too much… beyodn how obscene the prices are and how walmar should not define what a bike is even though at last visit I saw for thefirs time there 29er cruiser and was pleased with it and it’;s claims about the micacle material of aluminum lol.

  23. I am here after reading of a local hit and run fatality. They are not uncommon, just not well known unless the victim is known, directly or indirectly.
    I am tired of the effects of drunk and distracted driving. I need to find strong advocates to join.
    I ride responsibly, yet know my life can be taken by a motorist.
    The point is that no motorist has the right to operate a vehicle, if they do so in a manner that could cause the loss of life.
    Fines of 2,000.00 for texting while driving would not be excessive in my mind.
    Drunk driving would be more extreme, and I dare not list what I’d propose as a penalty.
    Wish me luck finding a group. I can’t stand to see more lives taken needlessly.

  24. karL says:

    The texting law is a law of unintended consequences and texting is not involuntarally invasive of cognitive rapture. Rather sound is. The fact that listening to music is legal in cars- and headphones are frowned upon for those using bikes- even special ones that pass trhough horn honks etc, is nearly un-needed in it’s littany.

    Blame those behidn the seat we all but force them to attend to. Let companies that require car ownership evade ‘involuntary’ manslaughter culpability and you are the problem responding reflexively like the mob you’ve joined.

    The mob is not the people. The people are driving and wanting to not drive. Those biking now by and large want those drivign to not join us. For this they are the true slayers of our brothers- the spandex with the radar and the helmet, the male with the gel and the cleat. The carbon fiber and the diesel SUV owning sociopath- the athlete and the time trial in its’ lobby ‘bike’ shop franchisee.

    These are the murderers of our bethren and it is they who will pay for such comments even more sincerely brought in forums like this.

    It is our governor who wont’ veto an effort that will deny us knowledge of the environmental impact of hiring contractors to restripe only the gutter, and not paint cars off most of our public land they know squat on with earthcidal placidity and smugness that conceals far too much of there evil.

    Cars are not a fact of life. They are a blip a mutation a embarassment that in millions of years we will count our survival for eventually evolving from like from biological weaponry and thumbscrew until at least the Bush adminsistartion found some of that DNA and sucked it dry.

    It’s people paying google to finance there metal boxing cell slashing our hearts with grunts and impuslive stunts like stepping onto the sites there vice is sold- in some cases in cities with elementary schools not just homes harboring stockholders of manufacturers and even talking heads appearing with ‘pricing’ info about there ware.

    Anyone owning a car dealership has already invested mightally in deadbolts and lethal weapon carrying security guards- is donating to execute those who know and would tell about there felonies.

    Maybe you’ve married into one of these famility and need protection.

    Cuba, will welcome you and I say go if you’ll still visit this blog and see what liberty might allow yo uto say. Or just keep talking to yourself it’s barely a c entury before youi’ll rest- even the wicked get to transition from creating hell for the rest of us to enjoying there work themselves.

  25. Mike says:

    I now ride my bike with a Contour video camera facing front and rear. It would be nice to be able to send the PD clips showing company logos, phone numbers and license plate #s of drivers that have tried to clip me, cut me off, pass me and turn right…..not to mention the flying fickle fingers, the “ride on the side walk comments”, thrown bottles, cans and flicked cigarettes.

    I have gotten a few revenge calls done. I WILL call on company vehicles to report stupidity. The Orange Hilton may be short one limo driver soon.

    • Driverriderwalker says:

      I have a camera mounted in my car, cyclists are by far the worst offenders. This isn’t a biased opinion it’s a fact. Next it’s the pedestrians, honestly most of them are too stupid to walk. They don’t understand the basic walk signals. Don’t get me wrong there are some really stupid drivers on the roads, the difference is you can report the drivers as they have licence plates.

      • I tried to report a couple of drivers who intentionally used their vehicles to put me in danger. You know what happens? Police send them a letter or maybe pay a visit to their house. Unless you can provide a full description of the driver’s face etc, apparently you can’t charge them with assault.

        So as much as I agree that cyclists should have some accountability, I also want to say that drivers don’t get held accountable, and they put cyclists in much more danger.

        There’s a reason cars are licensed and bikes aren’t: cars are several orders of magnitude more deadly. Should I have to show my ID to buy a slingshot the way I do to buy a gun?

        I can’t argue with your camera, but when I take tallies of who’s breaking laws, it comes out about even between cyclists, pedestrians and drivers. Who’s being the most dangerous when they break the law? Always the drivers.

  26. lsm says:

    My husband is an avid rider and commutes every day to his job via bike. I am very concerned about bike safety because he has had many close calls with vehicles. All of this makes me a much more cautious driver. But I could not disagree about the stop signs and red lights. Where we live in the Fairfax district not a week goes by without a cyclist speeding through a stop sign where I have the right of way (i.e. no stop sign) and I’ve come dangerously close to hitting them. Not only did they not stop but they didn’t even seem to look and then it somehow it becomes me fault? And I’ve witnessed a collision between a biker and a pedestrian at a cross walk where the biker did not stop at a red light. No one likes to stop at multiple stop signs or red lights but why should bikers be exempt when walkers and drivers are not?

    • bikinginla says:

      No one is suggesting that bicyclists should have the right to ignore right-of-way, or to blow through stops when others are present.

      The law I suggest has been in effect in Idaho for decades, allowing cyclists to treat stop signs as yields — that is, ride through without stopping only when it is safe to do so and there is no conflicting cross traffic. And they are required to stop for all red lights, and may proceed only when there is no other traffic moving through the intersection.

      There are two reasons for this. First, as your husband can no doubt attest, intersections are dangerous places for bike riders. A high percentage of collisions occur at intersections, from right hooks and left crosses, to distracted drivers who don’t see bikes stop right in front of them. It is far safer for riders to go through the intersection when the way is clear and it is safe to do so, than wait there like a sitting duck.

      Second, bikes pose little or no risk to others on the road. Cars are required to stop because they pose a risk to everyone on the road around them, while even the most aggressive rider is a danger primarily to him or her self.

      The results have been born out in Idaho, where serious cycling injuries and deaths at intersections dropped dramatically the year the law went into effect, and have remained low for decades.

      • South Bay Commuter says:

        As a regular bike commuter and weekend cyclist, the notion of changing the reaction to a stop sign to that of a yield is intuitive and a reflection of ground truth. However, I have to respectfully but forcefully disagree on the ability to go through a red light.

        I stop at every red. It won’t kill you to wait a few seconds for it to turn green. But it definitely might kill you to misjudge whether the conditions are right to pass through it. There are plenty of idiots that fly through red lights now when I am stopped and traffic is moving in the intersection – they go through like it’s their right (I’m especially looking at you IronFly guys). And they destroy any PR I do by sitting there waiting my turn.

        So Amigo, I’m on board with the other 98% of things you are advocating here, but not this one. Stop at a red light. Period.

        Love your blog otherwise, friend, you contribute to the common good. But I definitely am against running red lights under any circumstance.

      • Driverriderwalker says:

        The population of Idaho is 1.5 million if it had 20 times more people the law would change. I am concerned that you want the motorist to automatically be at fault when a cyclist or a pedestrian is crossing against the light. One law for every one makes more sense.

  27. rich00 says:

    Good job, bikinginla. Thanks for the logical reasoning, and defending us cyclists.

  28. Patti says:

    Today was the arraignment…judge would not post bail, suspend license or even require the man who killed Donny McCluskey to appear in court. How do we find justice?

  29. Too bad the local PD will not take video or verbal reports from citizens and do anything……

  30. Guido says:

    I have to say that I don’t see the point in changing the law by adding all those topics. Yes, sounds great, but I don’t see all that happening even if it turns into a law.
    The only law I think should be valid to protect cyclists is the dutchDanish rule. The cyclist should have the same rights as pedestrians, no matter what, because the car is a 1 ton metal machine against a person in 2 wheels.
    Still, here in long island, ny, the only reason a car would stop for pedestrians other than a light is with the sign on the road that says “yield to pedestrians – it’s the state law”. otherwise they just think “fuck-em”

  31. […] And for those who are interested in what laws ought to be passed or changed, a bunch of suggestions — some more controversial than others — are posted at the blog BikingInLA. […]

  32. ssweatlaw says:

    Great to see the 3 foot buffer law finally get passed by the California legislature. For more details, see my blog post here:
    http://www.californiaaccidentattorneysblog.com/2013/10/06/bicycle-riders-will-get-three-foot-buffer-passing-motorists-new-california-law/

  33. Frankie D says:

    Good article. I would also propose making it a misdemeanor or felony for texting while driving and causing physical injury or great bodily injury. On Oct. 1st, I was hit from behind by a car traveling 45 mph while I was in a bike lane in San Jose. The driver (23 yr old college girl) denied she was texting but the witness driver behind her who saw the whole accident though otherwise. I lost a lot of skin and 3 month rehab for my knee. I think the cops should be allowed to seize as evidence the cellphone of any driver who is involved in an injury accident to determine if the driver was texting.

    Texting while driving is INTENIONAL DRIVING WHILE DISTRACTED, and in my opinion no different than driving while intoxicated. Both type of drivers show the intent to be impaired drivers and should be treated as such.

  34. Herb Shepler says:

    I am a rider, commuter, and enthusiast of over 40 years. I have dealt with these problems thousands of times, and I expect them to happen – and they do. I have been run off the road-Santiago Canyon, I have T-boned cars that “didn’t see me”, but I have come to the conclusion that I’d rather be wrong and alive, than right and dead.

    We can legislate common sense for those that don’t have it, but we can enforce it only infrequently. In the interim, cyclist are killed.

    Drivers do not understand (many of them) that bicycle riders are at a sever disadvantage when pitted against a car, or, maybe they do understand – and this is why they are not worried.

    If they are not concerned for the health of the cyclist, perhaps they would be concerned about the cost of a ticket and a price increase in their auto insurance rates, but once again, we have the problem of enforcement.

    No enforcement is why habits will not change, so a physical separation is the only effective answer. It doesn’t matter how much “teeth” the laws have, if there is no enforcement, people will not follow them.

    • Donny Brook says:

      Not every law can be enforced. To do so would require hundreds of times more police and judges than we already have.

      You cannot legislate common sense. If you could, people would not be texting while driving and people on bikes would not be riding “fixies” even though it is against the law in California.

      People on bikes would be smart to stay out of the way of cars the same way pedestrians stay out of the way of cars, and the same way that someone driving a honda civic stays out of the way of tractor trailer. The minute you think you have a “right” to be someplace in traffic, is the minute you may be killed. Ask anyone who rides motorcycles and then you will understand. Being right and dead earns you nothing.

      • bikinginla says:

        And yet, millions of people do exactly that, safely, every day. In fact, less that 700 bike riders are killed in the US every year, as opposed to over 30,000 motor vehicle occupants. And for the same amount of time spent driving and riding, you are over twice as likely to die in a car as on a bike.

        So which one is really the dangerous activity?

        And despite your assertion, fixed gear bikes are not against the law in California. What is against the law is riding a bike with no brakes. Many fixies have brakes, while virtually all can leave a skid mark on dry pavement — which is the standard for braking under California law — in the hands of a skilled rider.

        • Donny Brook says:

          Defending the very poor definition of “leaving a skid mark” is not something I would expect you would say. One could jam their foot inside the spokes and “leave a skid mark”, but neither you or anyone else would really recommend that. Certainly someone with a high “skill level” can pull off lots of things. A stunt driver could probably bring a car to a ‘skid’ and stop the car without brakes too, but that is not a safer procedure, and since many non-skilled people are riding brakeless bikes, that is not a safer set-up either.

          I think the other thing that really bothers me about brakeless/fixie riders is the fact that many state that riding without brakes makes them feel “free” and in their own words put it all out there while riding.

          Makes no sense.

          • bikinginla says:

            I’m not defending anything. That is the definition of a brake under California law. Don’t like it? Get it changed. But until you do, a fixed gear bike meets the definition.

            And don’t confuse or conflate fixed gear bikes and brakeless bikes. Some fixes have no brakes, many do.

            And try to understand that there are many types of bike riders with many different skills sets, many of whom can ride circles around me and you.

            Don’t judge others by what you can or cannot do. Or are not willing to try.

  35. Donny Brook says:

    “12. Turn stop signs into yields, and red lights into stop signs”

    This is a perfect example of cyclists who feel entitled and above the same laws that motorists must follow. Should laws be changed so that cars yield for stop signs, and cars are allowed to proceed through red lights if there is no traffic approaching?

    This idea is nonsense and a perfect reason why many motorists treat riders the way they do. Because they see people on bikes rolling though red lights, or pulling the right turn- u-turn and the right turn around the red light while never stopping.

    So what if it is “hard” to restart from a stop. That is the rule and it should not be changed. What you are advocating is entitled chaos.

    • bikinginla says:

      Oh please. As Bob Dylan said, don’t criticize things that you can’t understand.

      How does changing the law put anyone above the law? By any definition, it does just the opposite.

      What you fail to accept is that cars and bikes are different. Cars pose a significant risk to others, while bikes don’t. Bikes also provide their users with far greater visibility and maneuverability, and faster stopping ability while traveling at lower speeds.

      If you read this again, no one is calling for mass chaos. Bicyclists would still be required to observe the right-of-way, just as they do now. And they would still be required to stop for stop signs if there are other vehicles in the intersection, and wait out red lights if there is cross traffic.

      All this would do is allow cyclists to legally perform the same rolling stops most drivers already do when it does not pose a risk to themselves or others, and not have to wait out traffic signals when they are the only ones there — especially since most traffic signals don’t change for bikes, which can leave riders stuck there until a car finally comes along.

      It has been the law in Idaho for decades. And instead of the mass chaos you predict, it resulted in a significant decrease in bicycling collisions and injuries.

      As for this “entitled” crap you keep harping on, if you were a regular reader of this site, you’d know that I have long called for everyone — drivers and bicyclists alike — to observe the law as currently written and to ride and drive in a safe, courteous manner.

      In fact, if everyone rides and drives safely and obeys the law, those collisions you fear simply would not happen. In order to have a collision, one or more parties have to break the law or operate their vehicle in a dangerous manner.

      So please, get off your “entitled” horse already.

      • Donny Brook says:

        #1 – Los Angeles is not Idaho. Idaho for one does not have tens of thousands of drivers from other nations who are driving without a license and who have zero cultural understanding of our concepts of ‘right of way’. Even where there are laws and customs already in place – they don’t follow them.

        #2 – Just because many cars roll through stops does not make it legal or safe. Changing laws to make that action legal for bikes does not make things safer. Bikes should wait for a light the same way a car does. You wait your turn even when it may not seem like you should need to. That’s just the way it is. A patient person is usually a live person. Rush the light and get it wrong and you get hit by some guy going faster the other way than you think… and HE HAS the green light.

        #3 Bob Dylan does not drive the number of miles I drive through the streets of Los Angeles. Bob Dylan writes songs.

        • bikinginla says:

          Actually, intersections are dangerous places for bicyclists. A rider is at far more risk simply sitting there “safely,” as you suggest, than if he or she were to keep moving when it’s safe to do so,

          Maybe if you’d try riding your bike instead of driving, you might get a better understanding of how the streets really work for people on bikes. And you might discover it’s a lot safer than you think.

          • Donny Brook says:

            Oh I see. So given that explanation then a pedestrian is far more at risk standing stationary at a red-light crosswalk than proceeding as well. Same with cars at a light, same with jets waiting to take off at a the airport.

            Besides, it doesn’t matter, red lights means stop. You stop and wait until it turns green, that is the law. The fact that you actually believe that the law is inconvenient to you and other bike riders, is making my point.

            I do ride a bike, and when I am on the street I am the one following the rules. I am the the one who always yields the right of way and NEVER assumes to take the right of way unless it is yielded to me first. Call me foolish, but I STOP for stop signs and I wait for red lights. I am not the one who is entitled.

            • bikinginla says:

              Really, do you have to try so hard to misunderstand?

              A pedestrian at an intersection is not standing in the street. A motor vehicle is a large, easy to see object that takes up a lot of space.

              A bike waiting at an intersection, on the other hand, can be easily missed by an inattentive driver, who may plow into the rider while coming to a stop or turning right. In addition, a bike rider is at risk from vehicles trying to squeeze by to either get ahead or make a turn. Statistically, intersections are the single most dangerous place for cyclists, in part for exactly those reasons.

              I never said I was inconvenienced by the law, I said the law should be changed to improve safety. Big difference.

              And don’t assume you are the only one who ever obeys the law. I stop for every red light and stop sign, I signal and always obey the right of way. Just like most bike riders.

              In fact, a recent study showed that 96% bike riders stop for stop signs. Doesn’t sound very entitled to me.

              Here’s the problem. You are basing your opinions on your vast experience as a driver, while I base mine on 40 years experience as a motorist, over 30 years as an adult bike rider, and a decades-long study of bike safety.

              And actually, you are the one who feels entitled, because you feel free to sit in judgement of me and others when you have no idea how we actually ride, and no experience to base it on.

          • Donny Brook says:

            That is called an “appeal to authority” and it is a fallacy of logic.

            My “experience” is based on 40 years of driving and 50 years of riding a bike and an entire lifetime of observing stupid people and the the things they do.

            Based on your “inattentive driver scenario”, a pedestrian standing at a the corner waiting for a green light is generally standing farther forward than a bicyclist waiting for a light (assuming that the cyclist is following the law and is waiting behind the ‘limit line / fist line of crosswalk’.

            But you should know this since you have “studied” these things. The pedestrian on the curb is closer to vehicle cross traffic than vehicles waiting for the light. And this is why as a pedestrian you should not be waiting right at the curb, you should be farther back and watching the approaching traffic.

            You do wait behind the limit line for the light don’t you?

            • bikinginla says:

              And yet, you yourself said you never ride in the street, and only drive to a bike path to ride your bike. Which makes your bicycling experience worth exactly nothing.

              And sorry, but I’m done playing this game.

              Find another blog to troll.

    • Donny Brook says:

      Why is it if someone who rides bikes and has a divergent view is labeled a “troll”?

      How is my bike riding experience worth nothing because I put my bike on a car rack and ride to any number of places in Los Angeles and Orange county where I can ride safely with friends and others for fun and exercise? How I ride makes perfect sense and millions do the same. From mountain bikers to guys who ride road bikes. People rack or trailer to a point and ride to their heart’s content— literally for the heart’s content and health.

      But oh no! not good enough for you, right? My bike riding doesn’t count unless I am making some political statement by “corking” roads and playing games like some entitled ‘occupy wall street’ type.

      The backlash against your type of bike rider is already occurring. Groups like ‘Critical Mass’ and ‘Wolfpack’ are breaking laws to get noticed and what will occur is a ban on bikes in many areas. Woldfack even organizes and encourages illegal bikes without brakes on city streets, which is clearly in violation of California state vehicle laws.

      Yep, keep talking and keep blogging and you will screw up bike riding for people all over the state. Oh and btw, riders without brakes get zero consideration in court with civil cases. So good luck with that.

      • bikinginla says:

        No, you’re a troll because you come on here looking for an argument rather than a legitimate discussion — note the screen name you chose, let alone the belligerent attitude apparent from your first comment — and go out of your way to find things you can disagree with, legitimately or not.

        And where the hell do you get off ascribing to me beliefs and attitudes that I may or may not have and have never stated here or anywhere else?

        Did I ever say I ride Critical Mass? Did I ever say I ride brakeless? Let alone support or have anything to do with OWS? You’re making up straw dogs in your own mind simply so you can knock them down to feel a little better about yourself.

        And that is what makes you a troll.

        As for your owned admitted non-experience on a bike, yes you may ride one. And yes, many people prefer not to ride on the streets. But those who don’t have little authority to lecture those who do on how to safely share the road with motor vehicles.

        As I noted, I’ve been riding for over 30 years as an adult, with a very conservative estimate of 160,000 miles traveled on a bike in that time — most of that on public streets in urban environments.

        And just what type of rider am I? Have you ever ridden with me? Have you ever seen me on a bike? Have you been reading this site long enough to understand my philosophies on bicycling and how to ride safely?

        Or are you making assumptions based on nothing more than your insatiable desire to feel good about yourself by baselessly criticizing others?

        As Carnegie said, any fool can condemn, criticize and complain. And most fools do.

        • Donny Brook says:

          Nope not a troll, just a person who likes to ride bikes and who is worried about the entitled manner in which many riders in Los Angeles are behaving. If you cared about riding the way I do then you would not be excusing the bad behavior of other riding groups. Advocating to eliminate stopping at stop signs and replacing it with yielding is being entitled.

          I obviously struck a raw nerve with you by disagreeing with your philosophy but I think of it this way: Just because someone owns guns and likes to target shoot does not mean they should do it in a city. And just because someone likes to ride bikes all the time does not mean that they should be doing it where cars (on streets) or pedestrians (on sidewalks) should take precedence. If there are dedicated bike lanes and trails then that is fine. But especially in downtown areas there really isn’t any good place for bikes.

          BTW, you probably have seen me. I’m the guy with the bike on a rack driving safely to a safe place to ride.

          Besides, downtown there are plenty of buses if someone doesn’t own a car.

          • bikinginla says:

            Nope. You didn’t strike a nerve by disagreeing with my philosophy. I’ve had a number of intelligent conversations — in person and online — with people who disagree with me. As I have often stated, I can learn more from those who disagree with me than those who do.

            Where you went wrong is mistakenly telling me what I think and do, without a clue what the hell you’re talking about.

            When and if you can remain courteous and respectful of myself and others on here, you’re more than welcome here. However, if you continue to be belligerent and try to ascribe to me or others beliefs and attitude we may not have, you will be blocked.

            • Donny Brook says:

              Shouldn’t the same thing apply to you as well? Or is this a “it’s my ball and I get to play how I want to” thing?

              You are the one who used the F-word, not me. You are the one who said my opinion and my style of bike riding was worthless. If you can’t have a conversation without resorting to using the f-word, how do you think that makes your position sound?

              Two months ago a group of bike riders riding near dusk close to Dodgers stadium assaulted a woman’s car because they thought she “disrespected them” when she turned left in front of the lead rider. As it turned out, she did not see them as none had on lights or reflectors and they were moving fast. She obviously made a mistake, but they contributed to the mistake. However, their response was criminal and somewhat typical now of many of these “fixie” riders are acting.

              Since you like to have meaningful conversations, are you prepared to say that fixed gear riders without brakes (something already illegal in California) should be cited and/or have their bikes taken away?

              I’m curious how you feel about that?

            • bikinginla says:

              When I show you the disrespect you’ve shown me from your very first comment, then you’ve got a legitimate complaint. Until then, get over it.

              And it’s my fucking website and I’ll use whatever language I like. No one ever told you couldn’t use similar language as long as it’s not directed at me or anyone else. Don’t like it? There’s the door.

              As for your example, fixies with or without brakes are not illegal under California law. The law says a bike must have at least one brake capable of leaving a skid mark on dry pavement. As the wheel of a fixed gear bike locks the moment you stop pedaling, the bike itself functions as a brake, and is in fact capable of leaving a skid mark.

              So it fits the legal definition under California law, which is why they have not been banned, even though some legal jurisdictions misinterpret the law.

              That said, I personally would never ride a bike without good brakes. If a rider isn’t capable of stopping his bike in an emergency situation, he or she shouldn’t be on it.

              However police have no authority to seize private property without specific authorization. Or do you think they should be able to take your car away because you have illegally tinted windows?

              There is no excuse for violence by anyone on the roads, ever. If what you say is true, the riders were in the wrong, and could have been subject to criminal charges — and perhaps should have been. And having worked closely with the LAPD on bike issues over the years, I can assure you that bike riders are cited for riding without lights and reflectors on a daily basis.

              On the other hand, I’ve been threatened by motor vehicle operators who have used their vehicles in a threatening manner, and could and should have been charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

              But what on earth makes you think fixie riders are such scum of the earth? I know men and women in their 60s who ride fixed, and teenage fixed-gear riders who are as polite and courteous as anyone else on the road.

              As noted before, there are good and bad who travel by every means and mode of transportation. I’ve seen some people who only bike off-road who were real jerks around others on the bike trails; that doesn’t mean all off-road riders are jerks, does it?

  36. Donny Brook says:

    So then your answer is that you personally would not ride a bike without brakes but you believe the law as it is either misinterpreted, or interpreted in some jurisdictions, regarding fixed gear bike without front brakes is okay?

    No, a brake is not your legs and feet. A “brake” on a vehicle is something mechanical that assists in stopping and why these types of bikes are slowly being legislated out of use on city streets all over the country. Since your blog is about ‘changing laws’ then you should be at the forefront for changing the law regarding brakeless bikes, or at least clearing up the definition. A good start would be front and rear caliper brakes on all bikes no matter how they are geared or you cannot ride them on public roads.

    This what people need to do. They need to push back against some in the cycling community who are taking advantage of not only other cyclists, but other citizens as well. Brakeless bikes are unsafe, and they will be outlawed, mark my word on that. It will just take some more attention to the matter and watch what happens.

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