Tag Archive for North San Diego County

Making the law up as they go along — another SoCal cop gets it wrong on sharrows and riding abreast

6-AK-Sharrows

You’re not required to ride to the right when sharrows are present

It’s said that ignorance of the law is no excuse.

But what if the ones who appear to be ignorant of the law are the same people charged with enforcing it?

It looks like cyclists in San Diego’s North County may be about to find out.

In a case reminiscent of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s deputy who was captured on video demonstrating his lack of knowledge about sharrows recently, a San Diego County Sheriff’s Captain spoke — or rather, misspoke — on the subject with community members last month.

According to the Coast News,

Sheriff Capt. Robert Haley said sharrows are a great concept but there has been some confusion on the proper way to use them.

Problem is, he’s the one who seems to be confused.

“Some people think it’s a giant bike lane,” he said, adding that, according to the law, cyclists are always supposed to ride as far to the right as possible anytime they are on a roadway, even in a sharrow or bike lane.

Uh, no.

Excuse me. Hell no.

Bike riders are not required to ride to the right within a bike lane, which in most cases would put you in the door zone. Or in the gutter.

Instead, bicyclists are legally allowed to ride anywhere between the two lines they feel safest or most comfortable. And a sheriff’s captain should know that.

He should also know that cyclists can leave a bike lane anytime, for any number of reasons. And that they aren’t required to ride in a bike lane unless they’re travelling below the speed of traffic.

Which means that if you’re riding as fast or faster than the cars around you, the requirement to ride to the right doesn’t even apply, and you can ride anywhere in the roadway you damn well please.

And it doesn’t apply at all within a bike lane.

Any officer foolish enough to ticket a cyclist for not riding on the far right of a bike lane can, and should, be laughed out of court.

The same goes for anyone who tries to ticket a bicyclist for riding on sharrows.

Sharrows, or shared lane markings, are intended, among other things, to indicate where a bike rider should position him or herself on a lane that’s too narrow to be safely shared by a bike and a car travelling side-by-side in the same lane.

And that’s the key point.

Sharrows are intended for use on substandard-width lanes, which is generally considered any right-side traffic lane narrower than 14 feet.

Think of it this way.

You take up about three feet on your bike, and need a three foot cushion for an eight-foot wide vehicle to pass you safely.

And that’s if there’s no parking on your right. If there is, add another four to five feet to keep you safely out of the door zone.

Which means that, according to CVC 21202, the requirement to ride as far right as practicable — not as possible, despite what Capt. Haley said  — does not apply on any lane less than 14 feet wide, or 18 if it contains parking.

So sharrows not only indicate that the lane is to be shared between bikes and cars, they should serve as an indication to everyone concerned that the requirement to ride to the right does not apply on that street.

Then again, it doesn’t apply on many, if not most, right hand lanes in Southern California, sharrowed or otherwise, where a 14 foot lane would be a luxury.

You’d think those charged with enforcing our laws would get that.

Of course, you’d also think that police, sheriffs and CHP officers would know that there is no requirement to ride single file under California law. In fact, it’s not even mentioned anywhere in the California Vehicle Code.

And one of the basic precepts of English Common Law, which forms the basis of the American legal system, is that anything that isn’t expressly prohibited is therefore legal.

But like Capt. Haley’s, many police agencies — including the CHP and at least some sections of the LA County Sheriff’s Department — frequently misapply CVC 21202 to ticket cyclists who are legally riding side-by-side.

“If a person is riding to the left of someone else, he isn’t as far to the right as possible,” he added.

Haley said he verified the law with Traffic Commissioner Larry Jones, who confirmed that cyclists must ride in a single line while on a street.

As one cyclist I know put it, “I couldn’t ride any further to the right, officer. There was another bike there.”

Except, as pointed out above, CVC 21202 doesn’t apply on substandard lanes.

Which means that bike riders can legally ride side-by-side — or side-by-side-by-side, or more — on any lane that’s less than 14 feet wide, or 18 to 19 feet wide if there’s parking on the right.

And again, that’s virtually every right lane in Los Angeles, and most in Southern California.

Or, as pointed out above, if you’re riding at the speed of traffic. Which means if your double paceline can ride at the speed limit for the roadway you’re riding on, you are perfectly within your rights.

Of course, it’s not just the police that get it wrong.

As David Salovesh pointed out, the DMV’s own training materials (top of page 17) get it wrong, too.

Bicyclists may ride side-by-side (two abreast) on roadways, but they must ride single file when being overtaken by other vehicles. Bicyclists may only travel more than two abreast on a shoulder, bike lane or bike path intended for bike use if there is sufficient space. However, they must be in single file when passing vehicles, pedestrians, or other bicyclists.

None of which appears in CVC 21202, despite their citation. Or anywhere else in the Vehicle Code, for that matter.

Not the part about being allowed to ride two abreast, or being required to ride single file when passing or being passed.

Which makes you wonder just how they came up with it. And how they justify spreading false information with no basis in the law in an official publication.

But back to our sheriff’s captain from San Diego County.

Haley said cyclists who don’t like the laws can work to get legislation enacted to change them.

Or he, and other police officers, could just try enforcing the laws as they are actually written, rather than misinterpreting and misapplying them to prohibit behaviors they were never meant to address.

Fortunately, Haley says his department doesn’t intend to target riders for violating their misinterpretation of the law.

But anyone who does get a ticket for riding abreast or not riding far enough right — with or without sharrows, in San Diego or anywhere else — should measure the lane they were riding in.

Then get a good lawyer.

No charges in Sarah Leaf death, guilty plea in North San Diego, vehicle identified in Gardena hit-and-run

Evidently, they just don’t get it.

Newport Beach police have cleared the truck driver in the death of cyclist Sarah Leaf, concluding that she lost control of her bike and fell under the turning truck on her own, without the truck ever hitting her.

Yet they apparently failed to consider the possibility that it was a massive truck passing too close and/or turning across her path that caused her to lose control.

So let’s get this straight once and for all. Skilled, experienced cyclists don’t just fall over. And a vehicle doesn’t have to actually hit a rider in order to cause her death.

Something made her to lose control. Until the police can offer some reasonable explanation of what that was, we should not accept the results of this investigation.

And until police everywhere figure that out, no bike rider will ever be safe on our streets.

Update: A commenter who claims to have known a friend of Leaf disputes the contention that she was an experienced rider. By his account, she was a novice rider on a borrowed bike, who had been urged by a friend not to ride that day. And according to him, the reason she fell because she was unfamiliar with clipless pedals. However, as he did not actually witness the collision, that should be taken with a grain of salt; hopefully, we’ll learn more on Monday when the Chief of the Newport Beach Police Department meets with the city’s Citizens Bicycle Safety Committee.

………

Jin Hyuk Byun, the 19-year old driver charged with killing 18-year old North San Diego bike commuter Angel Bojorquez in a late night hit-and-run, has pleaded guilty to a single felony count of hit-and-run causing death.

Byun faces up to four years up to four years in prison — or as little as probation. Hopefully, the court deliver a sentence that shows Bojorquez’ life had value.

Unlike courts in, say, San Bernardino.

………

Gardena police have finally narrowed down the type of vehicle used in the hit-and-run death of Torrance cyclist Benjamin Torres on October 10th.

Be on the lookout for a maroon or purple 1995 to 2001 Ford Explorer or a 1997 to 2001 Mercury Mountaineer with light to moderate damage to the right headlight area. Call Investigator Matthew Hassoldt at 310/217-6189 if you have any information.

And on a related note, his step-daughters are asking cyclists to join them in honoring Torres and calling for bike safety on November 10th.

………

The LACBC is launching a safety education and bike light giveaway program dubbed Operation Firefly. The Times looks at the Bicycle Kitchen’s women’s-only Bicycle Bitchen night. Richard Risemberg writes that bike lanes benefit the entire community, including local merchants. Your access to mountain bike trails could depend on playing nice. South Pasadena may consider extending the Arroyo Seco bike path next week. The Culver City Bicycle Coalition is hosting a fundraising ride on Sunday, November 11th, while C.I.C.L.E. is hosting a Made in LA ride on Saturday, November 17.

How not to sell a bike on Craigslist. Video of the amazing turnout at last weekend’s memorial ride in Newport Beach. A new female-centric bike shop opens in Orange County. If you’re looking for a good ride and good beer, you could do worse than a ride to North San Diego County’s Stone Brewing Company. Lucky San Diego cyclists get to choose between two bike supporters for mayor, which is exactly what the LACBC’s Civic Engagement Committee is working towards here in L.A. A nurse has her bike stolen when she stops to help an injured cyclist at San Diego Critical Mass — then a local businessman buys her a new one. A coach with the Sacramento Kings hits a bike-riding child while test driving a new Jaguar, then returns it to the dealership instead of staying to help. Palo Alto police arrest two bike thieves after recognizing them from security footage. Who’s the genius who put a Share the Road sign in the middle of a bike lane? A 92-year old Sonoma driver denies running down two boys in a crosswalk, claiming they were the ones who damaged his car — and that one of them was a girl.

Seven reasons why bikes are for everyone. What does it take to build a world-class bicycling network, and will the US ever embrace bicycling like Denmark has? Why you might need more than one bike. Someday soon, you may never get another flat. Private bike share program Spinlister changes its name to Liquid, in an apparent attempt to conceal what the hell it is from anyone who might be interested. HuffPo looks at the hubris of Lance Armstrong, while the company that gave him $12 million in bonuses wants it’s money back, and an English town prepares to burn him in effigy; thanks to George Wolfberg for the latter link. Drunk Spokane driver gets two-and-a-half years for killing a cyclist. My hometown employs a smartphone app to crowd source cycling data. Oklahoma City gets its first sharrows. A Texas cyclist is under arrest for threatening two pedestrians with a gun. Doorings are down in Chicago, the question is why. Kill a Windy City cyclist in a right hook, and get a ticket for an improper right turn; no, really. The real riders on the storm — New York filmmaker Casey Neistat captures a four-hour ride through hurricane drenched streets. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, bikes provide the best way in, out or around Manhattan, as the city bans vehicles with less than three occupants from Manhattan. The anti-bike New York Post blames bike lanes for bus-bike collisions; yeah, it couldn’t be impatient bus drivers, overly aggressive riders or just plain carelessness. The world’s first car-only roadway is now a bike path, even though motorists used to fear the same vehicle segregation that many now call for. A Pennsylvania man gets six months probation for killing a cyclist while driving under the influence — six-effing-months probation, which is exactly the same sentence he would have gotten for a first-time DUI even if he didn’t hit anyone; nice to know the death of a human being doesn’t matter one damn bit in Western PA.

The popularity of tweed rides has helped increase the sales of more than just bikes. Helmet-cam video results in charges against a Canadian driver who dangerously Jerry Browned a cyclist — even though he could have safely passed a few seconds later. What to do after a crash. The victim is dead, but at least his bike has been returned. Teenage Brit triathlete is seriously injured in an apparent hit-and-run as she’s found on the side of the road after a car passes her, still clipped into her pedals. A new UK website tracks the best deals on bike gear. An Aussie writer asks whether you consider yourself a cyclist; ever notice that no one ever asks if people consider themselves drivers, which everyone becomes the moment they slide behind the wheel?

Finally, South Park takes on l’affaire Lance. A Polish cyclist is charged with speeding in a 30 mph zone — while riding completely naked except for the pants wrapped around his head.

And if you think some drivers are blind, you may be right.

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