A couple weeks ago, I met with Malibu Public Safety Commissioners Susan Tellem and Chris Frost, along with LaGrange member and BAC Vice Chair Jay Slater, and a representative from the Sheriff’s Department, to discuss safety issues in the Malibu area.
While there was disagreement on some issues, one thing we all agreed on was the need for cyclists to observe stop lights on PCH. A serious cyclist himself, Frost made a compelling argument that riders who run red lights in that area pose a significant risk to their own safety, as well as needlessly causing problems for other road users.
As a result, I offered to let him write about the issue from his own perspective, as a rider and Public Safety Commissioner. What follows is his comments, presented without input or editing on my part.
The City of Malibu has been inundated with cyclists who fail to stop for the required red lights on Pacific Coast Hwy. I am a cyclist myself and put in a great many miles out there amongst you. Many of you know me, as I have taken the time to poll you (mostly at the Trancas Starbucks) on your feelings about PCH. I have ridden with many of you, and know you outside of my duties as a Public Safety Commissioner. I have asked you about your riding habits, and from that have culled a pretty good understanding of what goes on out there. This, coupled with what I personally observe and experience, has led me to the following.
The red light issue has reached a level that is causing problems for all cyclists, even those who obey the law. Motorists have developed a kind of tunnel vision that does not differentiate one cyclist from another. That means that the law-abiding rider gets treated pretty much the same as one who continually flaunts the law. So when you get buzzed for no apparent reason, the cause may well be an incident you had no part of.
This is happening much too frequently now, and it has developed into a breeding ground for animosity and worse–injury and death.
No one is so entitled that they are permitted to ignore a red light. And for you top tier riders, this means being a role model, not the cause of an accident. I know firsthand what is like to lose a friend out on this highway; and many of you do as well. It changes the lives of many forever–including the motorist involved. Recently, I have had reports of riders who claim they are time trialing down PCH, and thus will ignore the red lights whenever convenient. I’m not even going to comment on this. These riders know who they are, and they need to change their riding style. This is completely unacceptable, and is looked at by the majority of the cycling community as unacceptable. There are stretches of this highway with no lights that allow you to ride without stopping. If you don’t like stop lights, this might be your alternative.
On the subject of T-intersections (e.g., Busch Dr, Kanan Rd, Paradise Cove, Malibu Pier, Carbon Cyn, Big Rock): we have all taken liberties with these types of intersections. A whole pack of riders was recently written up at Big Rock for running the red light. This was not the case of the lead riders entering on a yellow, but the whole group blasting through a red. That ticket cost each rider approximately $400. Please take into consideration that the residents east of that light use the red light interval to exit their garages and driveways. If there are riders coming through, the drivers have very little time to see this and react. Reports of near collisions and angry exchanges between the cyclists and drivers have become all too common. I have spoken with these residents, and heard about too many cases of these residents being flipped off and having water sprayed at them. Come on everyone, is this the way we want to be portrayed? A T-intersection with a stop light is the same as any other and carries the same requirements as any other.
So in finishing, please stop at the red lights and stop signs. They are there for a reason. If you want to question why, I will be happy to hear your comments at a Public Safety Commission Meeting. Meetings are held at 6 PM the first Wednesday of each month at the Malibu City Hall. Bring your complaints, and try to have solutions as well. Don’t think of it as someone else’s responsibility. It belongs to all of us.
Please understand that I am a long-time cyclist, and will always stand up for cyclists rights. I am also a big fan of public safety because it benefits everyone, not just the cyclists. You are all ambassadors of our sport and what you do on the highway is viewed by other cyclists, motorists, residents, and–most of all–by the youth who will possibly be riders themselves. So what kind of impression do you want to leave? Remember you are no more entitled than anyone else. And the responsibility belongs to every cyclist out there.
Please police your own sport. It will lessen the impact of having it policed for us.
City Of Malibu
Public Safety Commission
The Reseda Blvd bike lanes are nearly finished, while the Wilbur Ave. road diet and bike lanes are threatened. More on Wednesday’s upcoming Streetsblog fundraiser and silent auction, with sponsorship from Ralphs, Trader Joes and my favorite American brewery. Eight members of the oddly, but somewhat appropriately, named Palisades Literary Society bike club follow the Tour de France route through the Pyrenees; thanks to George Wolfberg for the link. From my friends at Altadena blog comes word of a $50 reward for a stolen Schwinn Voyageur. Witnesses say the drunk driver charged with killing a biking German tourist in San Francisco got out of his car, moved the bike out of his way, then switched seats with his girlfriend passenger before fleeing the scene.
Levi Leipheimer wins the Tour of Utah. A study shows cars really do make Americans fat. A Pittsburgh man makes his own bike map to guide even timid cyclists through the city’s busiest areas. An NYC proposal to clear out abandoned bikes threatens to sweep up ghost bikes as well. A ciclovía by any other name, as New York closes down Park Avenue to vehicle traffic. A Missouri driver ignores police traffic directions and kills a caring cyclist during a fund raising ride. An Oklahoma State student gets the beer-inspired idea to ride from Stillwater to Alaska, then actually does it. Framebuilder Dave Moulton opens an online registry for current owners of his classic bikes.
Raúl Alcalá, winner of the 1987 Coors Classic and the Best Young Rider classification in the ’87 Tour de France, caps a remarkable comeback by winning the Mexican time trial championship at age 46; thanks to Claremont Cyclist for the heads-up. In a twist on vulnerable user laws, Japanese courts rule that in principle, pedestrians are not at fault for collisions with cyclists on sidewalks. A cyclist is seriously injured after hitting the back of a parked car; residents blame the road, not the rider. A motorcyclist hits a bicyclist; for a change, it’s the guy on the bike who walks away. Great Britain’s Bikeability cycling proficiency program — and the organization behind it — could be on the chopping block. A British writer discovers Mexico City is surprisingly bike friendly. Join the campaign to keep Pat the Postie on his Pashley. Brit cyclists fight a proposed mandatory helmet law in Northern Ireland. London’s Guardian says there’s a bike niche for everyone. Coke discovers bicycling in Turkish with English subtitles; if the video won’t play, try this link.
Finally, police backup is required to pull an 84-year old great-grandfather out of a British bank to ticket him for riding on the sidewalk; meanwhile, a Salinas cyclist says sidewalks don’t belong to pedestrians. And maybe that gesture is actually a roadway blessing.