Tag Archive for crosswalks

Bikes Have Rights™*

How Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

 
Jim Pocrass, Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

Jim Pocrass, Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

By James L. Pocrass, Esq.
Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP
 

Have you ever been asked a question in which the answer seems so obvious that it seems like a trick question? This happened to me recently. A reporter asked me if it were true that, as he was told by a police officer, that you could be ticketed for riding your bike the wrong way in a crosswalk.

The question flabbergasted me. Since when are crosswalks one-directional? Pedestrians walk in crosswalks in both directions. That’s why there are buttons and/or signals on both sides of the street.

Requiring cyclists to only travel with the flow of traffic would lead to absurd results. You would have to cross two streets to go across the street.

The legislature passed Vehicle Code 21650: A bicycle operated on a roadway or a shoulder of a highway, shall be operated in the same direction as vehicles are required to be driven upon the roadway.

Subsection(g) states: This section does not prohibit the operation of bicycles on any shoulder of a highway, on any sidewalk, on any bicycle path within a highway, or along any crosswalk or bicycle path crossing, where the operation is not otherwise prohibited by this code or local ordinance.

The legislative comments to VC 21650.1 say: That had the Legislature wished to include the term “sidewalk” or “crosswalk” it would have done so.

All of this naturally leads me to opine that for the bicyclist to be in violation of VC 21650.1 (riding the wrong way in traffic), the cyclist would have to be riding in the opposite direction of traffic AND be either a.) on the shoulder of a highway or b.) on a roadway. (Again, assuming there is no local ordinance against riding in a crosswalk.)

Shortly thereafter, I received an email from a woman asking for my help. She was hit by a car while riding her bike across the street in a marked crosswalk. The police claimed the accident was her fault.

The law says it is legal for you to go from the sidewalk – against traffic – and ride into the crosswalk to the other sidewalk.

However, if there is a local ordinance that prohibits riding on the sidewalk, which many cities do, especially in commercial areas, AND the local ordinance specifically states that you may not ride through a crosswalk, then riding in the crosswalk and/or the sidewalk would be illegal. If the local ordinance does not state that you cannot ride on the sidewalk or in the crosswalk, then it is legal.

Vehicle Code 275 defines a crosswalk and does not limit it to pedestrians. Subsection(b) expands crosswalks to include: Any portion of a roadway distinctly indicated for pedestrians crossing by lines or other markings on the surface.

Legally riding on the sidewalk – slowly – and looking before entering a crosswalk for other vehicles, especially those making a right or left turn, and looking for pedestrians, should be legal (again, assuming there is no local ordinance restricting you from riding through a crosswalk).

There is even case law that specifically addresses the issue of riding a bicycle on a sidewalk against traffic. In Spriesterbach v. Holland (Case B-240348) the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Four, ruled on April 9, 2013 that: . . .because VC 21650.1 requires a bicycle to travel in the same direction as vehicular traffic only when ridden on “a roadway” or the “shoulder of a highway,” it does not by its plain language require bicycles to travel with the flow of traffic when ridden on the sidewalk.

The court continued: Pursuant to Section 21200, (a) persons riding a bicycle. . .upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division. . .except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application. . .because 21650.1 governs the direction bicycle travel on a roadway or shoulder. . .it does not by its plain language require bicycles to travel with the flow of traffic when ridden on a “Sidewalk.”

Riding fast through a crosswalk and not stopping to look is very dangerous. A cyclist that rides into a crosswalk at 10+ mph does not give the driver of a vehicle that is turning left or right time to see the cyclist.

I suspect that is why the City of Los Angeles passed L.A. Muni Code 56.15(1): No person shall ride, operate or use a bicycle . . .on a sidewalk, bikeway or boardwalk in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. This ordinance gives the police a lot of leeway to determine what is “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”

I believe that these topics are good areas for discussion, but legally, I would (and will) argue that, if no local ordinance disallows it, then it is legal to ride in a crosswalk in either direction if it is done safely.

By the way, the answer to the question in the title of this post is that the chicken crossed the road on a bicycle in a crosswalk after stopping and ascertaining that it was safe to ride slowly across the road. But you knew that.

For more than 25 years, Jim Pocrass has represented people who were seriously injured, or families who lost a loved one in a wrongful death, due to the carelessness or negligence of another. Jim is repeatedly named to Best Lawyers of America and to Southern California Super Lawyers for the outstanding results he consistently achieves for his clients. Having represented hundreds of cyclists during his career, and Jim’s own interest in cycling, have resulted in him becoming a bicycle advocate. He is a board member of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. For a free, no-obligation consultation, contact Jim Pocrass at 310.550.9050 or at info@pocrass.com.

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Yesterday’s ride, on which I stop traffic

Maybe it was the uptick in my mood after yesterday’s surprisingly pleasant encounter with the LAPD. Or maybe everyone was just in a good mood brought on by the Lakers parade.

But everywhere I went, people just seemed a little happier to share the road. Pedestrians — other than the hothead who touched off yesterday’s incident — thanked me for warning them when I was about to pass. Bus drivers waited patiently for me to ride out of their way, and even waved in thanks when I moved out of the way so they could turn.

But the highlight had to be the young mother waiting patiently to cross the street with her small daughter.

They were standing next to a crosswalk with no traffic signal. The kind where drivers are legally required to stop so people can cross.

But as I rode up, I watched several cars drive past without even pausing, leaving both mother and child stranded on the curb. So when I got there, I made a point of stopping, and nodded to indicate they could cross.

Just as they stepped off the curb, though, I noticed a car approaching on my left, clearly intending to pull around me and drive through the crosswalk. So I stuck my arm out, signaling him to stop — though it did occur to me later that he could have just as easily read that as a left turn signal.

Either way, it did the job. He stopped, and mother and child crossed safely.

About halfway across, though, she turned back to me and said “Thank You.” Then as she continued on her way, she added “You rock!”

Over 24 hours later, that still feels pretty damn good.

……..

Flying Pigeon adds Dutch bikes to their lineup of proletarian cycles. Damien Newton observes that yesterday’s Downtown street closures prove the city could host a ciclovia. Streetsblog also notes that cycling and pedestrian projects depend on federal funding, and examines the failure of the Chicago parking privatization plan our mayor wants to emulate. Curbed offers a suggestion to replace the 10 freeway with a bikeway, among other green improvements. A Hoboken cyclist addresses common concerns about adding new bike lanes — maybe LADOT should read it. The Fox News staffer who dragged a cyclist through Central Park has been arrested. And finally, the Beeb examines Britain’s ghost bikes.

That’s so unL.A. — A formerly pedestrian-free crosswalk

Last week I posted a photo last week of the world’s first working, no-pedestrians-allowed crosswalk. And the last thing I expected was that someone would actually do something about it.

Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

For nearly three full days, no one even noticed. Then Damien Newton reposted it on Streetsblog LA. And then the snarky, justifiably outraged comments started pouring in. Traffic to my site went through the ceiling — well, it is a pretty low ceiling, after all. Other sites picked it up (thank you, Green LA Girl).

And then Damien had to go and ruin it all.

He emailed someone at L.A.’s Department of Transportation. And actually got a response.

Next thing you know, there’s a work crew on its way to take down the signs and turn it back into a real, functional crosswalk that actually allows pedestrians.

Sure enough, I went by this morning, and the signs are down. People were actually using it. No one was getting a ticket. And no one was getting run over.

westwood-2

So far, at least.

Now, if someone could just do something about the street next to my building, which is starting to look — and feel — like the famed cobblestones of Paris – Roubaix.

Pandora Street, between Eastborne and Santa Monica Blvd.

Pandora Street, between Eastborne and Santa Monica Blvd.

 

Reaview Rider gets challenged to a race, cyclist vs. motorcycle cop. Clean-up is completed along the Orange Line bikeway. Wisconsin lawmakers finally consider changing the law that penalizes the biking dooree, instead of the doorer. Cleveland riders are going to get their very own Bikestation, complete with lockers, showers and repair facilities; we can’t even get sharrows. And the stud factor for local cyclists just went up dramatically — evidently, Mr. Gyllenhaal is one of us.

That’s so unL.A. — A formerly pedestrian-free crosswalk

Last week I posted a photo last week of the world’s first working, no-pedestrians-allowed crosswalk. And the last thing I expected was that someone would actually do something about it.

Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

For nearly three full days, no one even noticed. Then Damien Newton reposted it on Streetsblog LA. And then the snarky, justifiably outraged comments started pouring in. Traffic to my site went through the ceiling — well, it is a pretty low ceiling, after all. Other sites picked it up (thank you, Green LA Girl).

And then Damien had to go and ruin it all.

He emailed someone at L.A.’s Department of Transportation. And actually got a response.

Next thing you know, there’s a work crew on its way to take down the signs and turn it back into a real, functional crosswalk that actually allows pedestrians.

Sure enough, I went by this morning, and the signs are down. People were actually using it. No one was getting a ticket. And no one was getting run over.

westwood-2

So far, at least.

Now, if someone could just do something about the street next to my building, which is starting to look — and feel — like the famed cobblestones of Paris – Roubaix.

Pandora Street, between Eastborne and Santa Monica Blvd.

Pandora Street, between Eastborne and Santa Monica Blvd.

 

Reaview Rider gets challenged to a race, cyclist vs. motorcycle cop. Clean-up is completed along the Orange Line bikeway. Wisconsin lawmakers finally consider changing the law that penalizes the biking dooree, instead of the doorer. Cleveland riders are going to get their very own Bikestation, complete with lockers, showers and repair facilities; we can’t even get sharrows. And the stud factor for local cyclists just went up dramatically — evidently, Mr. Gyllenhaal is one of us.

That’s so unL.A. — A formerly pedestrian-free crosswalk

Last week I posted a photo last week of the world’s first working, no-pedestrians-allowed crosswalk. And the last thing I expected was that someone would actually do something about it.

Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

For nearly three full days, no one even noticed. Then Damien Newton reposted it on Streetsblog LA. And then the snarky, justifiably outraged comments started pouring in. Traffic to my site went through the ceiling — well, it is a pretty low ceiling, after all. Other sites picked it up (thank you, Green LA Girl).

And then Damien had to go and ruin it all.

He emailed someone at L.A.’s Department of Transportation. And actually got a response.

Next thing you know, there’s a work crew on its way to take down the signs and turn it back into a real, functional crosswalk that actually allows pedestrians.

Sure enough, I went by this morning, and the signs are down. People were actually using it. No one was getting a ticket. And no one was getting run over.

westwood-2

So far, at least.

Now, if someone could just do something about the street next to my building, which is starting to look — and feel — like the famed cobblestones of Paris – Roubaix.

Pandora Street, between Eastborne and Santa Monica Blvd.

Pandora Street, between Eastborne and Santa Monica Blvd.

 

Reaview Rider gets challenged to a race, cyclist vs. motorcycle cop. Clean-up is completed along the Orange Line bikeway. Wisconsin lawmakers finally consider changing the law that penalizes the biking dooree, instead of the doorer. Cleveland riders are going to get their very own Bikestation, complete with lockers, showers and repair facilities; we can’t even get sharrows. And the stud factor for local cyclists just went up dramatically — evidently, Mr. Gyllenhaal is one of us.

That’s so L.A. — Pedestrian-free crosswalks

 

They say no one walks in L.A. And that may be true soon, if our local department of transportation continues their policy of removing crosswalks for the safety of pedestrians.

No, seriously.

Then there’s this intersection in Westwood, which features what may be the world’s first crosswalk where no pedestrians are allowed — despite the presence of a working pedestrian signal.

Kind of makes you wonder just who it’s intended for, doesn’t it?

westwood-crosswalk1

On a totally unrelated note — after two decades as an Angeleno, I had long ago given up any hope of finding a decent tamale in this town. At least without making a pilgrimage to East L.A.

Then a few weeks ago, we took a trip to MacArthur Park and discovered Mama’s Hot Tamales Café. Absolutely the best tamales I’ve ever had in this town. And the best part is, it’s a non-profit restaurant established to help train people for careers in the restaurant industry, while helping to reclaim and revitalize the MacArthur Park area.

So check it out if you get a chance. Because a cyclist has to eat. And be sure to try the Mexican Mocha — by far, the single best cuppa joe I’ve had in years.

Open for lunch 11 am — 3:30 pm, 7 days a week.

The Cycling Lawyer says goodbye to Velo News. A new database has been established to track dangerous and threatening drivers here in Los Angeles. And a Belgian cyclist has been found dead in his hotel room during the Tour of Qatar.

 

That’s so L.A. — Pedestrian-free crosswalks

 

They say no one walks in L.A. And that may be true soon, if our local department of transportation continues their policy of removing crosswalks for the safety of pedestrians.

No, seriously.

Then there’s this intersection in Westwood, which features what may be the world’s first crosswalk where no pedestrians are allowed — despite the presence of a working pedestrian signal.

Kind of makes you wonder just who it’s intended for, doesn’t it?

westwood-crosswalk1

On a totally unrelated note — after two decades as an Angeleno, I had long ago given up any hope of finding a decent tamale in this town. At least without making a pilgrimage to East L.A.

Then a few weeks ago, we took a trip to MacArthur Park and discovered Mama’s Hot Tamales Café. Absolutely the best tamales I’ve ever had in this town. And the best part is, it’s a non-profit restaurant established to help train people for careers in the restaurant industry, while helping to reclaim and revitalize the MacArthur Park area.

So check it out if you get a chance. Because a cyclist has to eat. And be sure to try the Mexican Mocha — by far, the single best cuppa joe I’ve had in years.

Open for lunch 11 am — 3:30 pm, 7 days a week.

The Cycling Lawyer says goodbye to Velo News. A new database has been established to track dangerous and threatening drivers here in Los Angeles. And a Belgian cyclist has been found dead in his hotel room during the Tour of Qatar.

 

That’s so L.A. — Pedestrian-free crosswalks

 

They say no one walks in L.A. And that may be true soon, if our local department of transportation continues their policy of removing crosswalks for the safety of pedestrians.

No, seriously.

Then there’s this intersection in Westwood, which features what may be the world’s first crosswalk where no pedestrians are allowed — despite the presence of a working pedestrian signal.

Kind of makes you wonder just who it’s intended for, doesn’t it?

westwood-crosswalk1

On a totally unrelated note — after two decades as an Angeleno, I had long ago given up any hope of finding a decent tamale in this town. At least without making a pilgrimage to East L.A.

Then a few weeks ago, we took a trip to MacArthur Park and discovered Mama’s Hot Tamales Café. Absolutely the best tamales I’ve ever had in this town. And the best part is, it’s a non-profit restaurant established to help train people for careers in the restaurant industry, while helping to reclaim and revitalize the MacArthur Park area.

So check it out if you get a chance. Because a cyclist has to eat. And be sure to try the Mexican Mocha — by far, the single best cuppa joe I’ve had in years.

Open for lunch 11 am — 3:30 pm, 7 days a week.

The Cycling Lawyer says goodbye to Velo News. A new database has been established to track dangerous and threatening drivers here in Los Angeles. And a Belgian cyclist has been found dead in his hotel room during the Tour of Qatar.

 

A little this, a little that

A few random thoughts while I get back into serious biking and blogging mode after the holidays…

So this is why they hate us. Over the weekend, my wife and I were wandering through Santa Monica, in full pedestrian mode. After awhile, we found ourselves needing to cross a busy street. So like the safety conscious, law-abiding citizens we are, we waited patiently until the light changed, then crossed in the crosswalk.

Unfortunately, not everyone shared our patience.

As we neared the other side, an oncoming cyclist apparently decided that normal traffic laws don’t apply to her. Or possibly to cyclists in general, since we didn’t have the opportunity to discuss her motivation with her.

Instead, we were busy trying to scramble out of her way after she ran the red light — despite the fact that we were directly in front of her at the time.

Now, I’m not one to insist that every rider has to obey every traffic law. Sometimes it’s safer to break the law; sometimes, strict adherence to the law just doesn’t make sense in a given situation. So even though I stop for red lights, I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not you want to stop.

But here’s a general rule of thumb: When there are people in the crosswalk directly in front of you, stop your goddam bike long enough to let them pass, for chrissake.

Loopholes in the lawI was relieved to read in the Times over the weekend that the state legislature didn’t go overboard when they banned texting while driving.

It seems that the law that went into effect on the first only bans two-way communications; that is, you can’t read or write a text or email to or from another person. (Damn, that was a complicated sentence.) But you can still text or email a corporate site or public forum — although how a cop is supposed to know whether you’re texting another person, or posting to your blog, is beyond me.

So by all means, feel free to respond to this post, or bid on that Cervelo carbon frame you’ve always wanted, while you cruise down the 405 at rush hour. (Cruise being a relative term, or course.)

And best of all, the law only concerns motorized vehicles. So while it may be illegal to text from the saddle of a Harley while you’re stopped at a red light, it’s perfectly legal to do so while you pedal down Wilshire Boulevard.

So be sure to take your iPhone with you on the next Midnight Ridazz Vegan Banana Penis ride, and text us all a photo of the cop writing you a probably unenforceable ticket for riding without a license. Or not.

Imagine no more patch kits. Finally, I was catching up on my reading the other day, when I stumbled upon this small item in the December Esquire Magazine. Evidently, a pair of French scientists have invented a form of synthetic rubber that can heal itself — automatically resealing itself in the event of a puncture or cut.

The developers envision using it to make unbreakable glassware, or — far more interesting for us Angelenos with our crumbling roadways — mixing it with asphalt to develop road surfaces that won’t crack.

And as a cyclist, my mind immediately goes to tires and tubes that won’t go flat. Allowing us to leave our patch kits, tire levers and pumps behind, once and for all.

Although that would ruin the fun for all those people who seem to derive such joy from breaking their empty beer bottles in the bike lane.

 

Ubrayj — or El Brayjereno, if you prefer — describes how to stage a coup in the LABAC. L.A. loses it’s Bike Snob, but gains an Anonymous Cyclist. Damien wants to know what kinds of stories you want StreetblogLA to cover in the coming year. Personally, I want to know why no one has chucked a brick through those damned digital billboards yet. (Not that I condone taking the law into your own hands, of course.) And Timur, in his non-cycling blog, poetically describes his language skills in architectural terms — a perfect example of why I love his writing. Borrowing his metaphorical device, though, my German is like an old refrigerator box under the overpass that someone is using to sleep in, while my Spanish is like an empty Carona six-pack at his feet. And my French is like a broken bottle of Ripple in the gutter… 

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