How many laws can one cyclist break in an intersection?

Op-Ed


Cyclist running red light at a railroad crossing photo by zrants.

I was headed north on Webster when I came to a stop light and stopped. As I looked to my right side I saw a cyclist approaching with a child on the back. The next thing I noticed was that Although the child was wearing one, the cyclist was not wearing a helmet. He was wearing shorts and some kind of sandals. As I watched, he approached the intersection with the red light, and, instead of stopping like I did, he crossed in front of me like a pedestrian might, and then proceeded to cross the intersection against the red light on the other side and drove up onto the sidewalk, where he proceeded to continue on his way.

First, he wore no helmet, so, if he went down he would not be protected and able to help the child, who would also go down if he bike fell. Not very smart parenting.

Then, he did not stop at the red light. Instead he crossed the street in front of the stopped cars from right to left and then crossed against the light on the other side. He could have been hit by a vehicle proceeding through the green light, or a car making a right turn. He may or may not have been seen by either car, as he was weaving a bit through the potholes. Since he was breaking the law, and not following the rules of the road it was hard to anticipate what he was doing until he did it, making it harder for cars to avoid hitting him.

Then he drove up on the sidewalk.

I count four laws being broken at this one intersection. And he is teaching his child to break the laws. That is what really bothers me. Parents are putting their children in dangerous situations and teaching them bad habits at the same time.

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Can the new 3-foot safety law be enforced?

 

The hope is that the Three Feet for Safety Act will make roads safer for cyclists. 

State Assm. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, knows firsthand what it’s like to be hit on a bike.

“I’ve been hit three times by motorists that never once hit the brake after knocking me off the bike,” he said.

Bradford wrote the Three Feet for Safety Act hoping to make roads safer for cyclists.

“This bill just establishes a three foot buffer,” Bradford said. “If in fact it’s not safe to pass, the driver just has to slow down to a reasonable speed and then pass when the cyclist is deemed not in danger.”

Cyclists we talked to welcome the new law.

Many drivers, on the other hand, say the new rule is virtually impossible to follow, especially on crowded streets.

Some are concerned they might get dinged for a ticket, if a cyclist veers into that buffer zone. Drivers who break the law will get a $35 ticket, and if they hit a cyclist, the fine jumps to $225.

There are no fines for cyclists who get too close to cars.

ABC7 News wanted to show why a three-foot buffer may not work in a busy city such as San Francisco. So, we rigged a car with cameras, and noted the distance with a yardstick. Then we drove around the city. It was very difficult to stay 36 inches away from a bike and remain in our lane. Under the new law, we’d have to follow behind for blocks, and that could cause some serious traffic congestion.

Then we marked busy Market Street with chalk at one-foot increments to see how hard it would be to measure three feet. But without some kind of guide, it was tough to tell just how close a cyclist got to a car. So we wondered how could police would be able to tell?… (more)

We support the emergency responders who are requesting wider lanes. You can’t make the streets more narrow and then expect a 3 foot safety zone. If you want safer streets, keep the lanes wide to allow for 3 feet between vehicles in separate lanes. We also support a more balanced transportation system and are helping gather signatures for the Restore Transportation Balance ballet initiative. http://www.restorebalance14.org/

San Francisco Bike Laws

SFMTA

SAN FRANCISCO BICYCLISTS MUST:
Yield to People Walking. Whether they’re in a crosswalk or not, ALWAYS yield to people walking.
Stop BEHIND the Crosswalk: Always stop behind the line at traffic signals and stop signs.
Stay on the Street: It’s illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk unless you’re younger than 13 years of age.
Ride in the Direction of Traffic: If you can’t go with the flow, it’s okay to WALK your bike on the sidewalk!
Obey Traffic Signs & Traffic Lights: Just like other vehicles on the road, obey all street signs and signals.
Be Seen: Rear reflectors and a front light are REQUIRED when riding in the dark! Red tail lights are strongly recommended.
Avoid Distraction: No headphones, calling or texting while riding – it’s the law!(more)

Lets hope the cyclists learn the laws.

RELATED:
Bicycle Rules of the Road
Download the Rules
2009 San Francisco Bicycle Plan Update

The 2009 San Francisco Bicycle Plan outlined 60 improvement projects and long-term opportunities for bicycle route upgrades.
The following is a list of near-term projects that remain and are anticipated to be constructed within the five years following the completion of the Bike Plan’s final environmental review:

  • Project 2-1: 2nd Street bicycle lanes, King Street to Market Street
  • Project 2-3: 14th Street eastbound bicycle lane, Dolores Street to Market Street
  • Project 2-7: Fremont Street southbound bicycle lane, Folsom Street to Harrison Street
  • Project 3-2: Masonic Avenue bicycle lanes, Fell Street to Geary Boulevard
  • Project 3-4: Polk Street northbound contraflow bicycle lane, Market Street to McAllister Street
  • Project 5-6: Cesar Chavez/26th Streets corridor bicycle lanes, Sanchez Street to US 101
  • Project 5-13: Bayshore Boulevard bicycle lanes, Paul Avenue to Silver Avenue
  • Project 7-1: 7th Avenue at Lincoln Way intersection improvements

Helmets not included in bike share program

Open letter:

San Francisco’s poorly implemented bike sharing program is an awful concept from start to finish. We live in a city with dense traffic on all sides and the city is now renting bicycles WITHOUT HELMETS. In 2009, over 600 people were killed while riding their bicycles. Over 500 of them could have survived if they wore a bicycle helmet. Why is San Francisco City Hall enabling this type of bad behavior?
City Hall has emboldened cyclists into believing that there is minimal risk in cycling on busy city streets. Thanks to the disastrous bike share program we now have novice cyclists (and scores of international tourists) rolling around San Francisco who don’t know the California rules of the road. The City Supervisors legislate bottled water and toys in Happy meals but don’t require cyclists to know the California rules of the road, or follow the best practices of cycling?
And what happens the first time someone falls down, cracks their head on the pavement, and their brains go sliding across the street? Oh, I know!  The Bicycle Lobby will swoop in like a pack of vampires and read from their list of prepared statements:
“We need to slow the street down”
“it’s really important to have safe routes to work”
”we need a a redesign plan with two-way streets and separate bike lanes”
“large trucks should be fitted with convex mirrors”
It is not acceptable to sit by while San Franciscans are killed on streets when you have the power to prevent these deaths.
The obnoxious (and disliked) Bicycle Lobby proudly states on their website that they, “led the way for the bicycle share pilot program and are advocating for the launch of a full scale bike sharing system in San Francisco.”  After all of the arguments to reconfigure streets for “safety” the Bicycle Lobby is now willing to make a gigantic exception to cyclists wearing helmets while they are renting taxpayer funded city owned property. I have no pity for anyone who puts themselves in traffic without a helmet or following the best practices of their chosen mode of travel.
When motorists put themselves in busy city traffic we do so with mandatory seat belts, multiple airbags, steel bumpers, liability insurance, and a license to drive. Riding a bicycle on ANY busy San Francisco street can get you crippled, killed, and / or drooling into a cup for the rest of your life. Wake up City Supervisors! All the boo hoo’ing in the world won’t un-break your skull if you slam into a motor vehicle (at any speed) or crack your unprotected head on the pavement. Cycling is impractical and unsafe for families, daily commuting, and in the rain. The taxpayer-funded bicycle lanes and additional cycle traffic have not only increased traffic congestion, they have also brought new danger to pedestrians as well as cyclists themselves.
City Hall’s campaign to inflict bicycle lanes on a public that largely has no use for them has reached a new level of absurdity with this bike share program. Forcing taxpayers to pay for (and subsidize) a mode of transit that sidesteps the “best practices” of bicycle safety and road sharing is hypocritical and short-sided. Shame on you City Hall for AGAIN pandering to the Bicycle Lobby. If you want safer city streets then enforce traffic laws for everyone and require cyclists to register their bikes, wear helmets, and follow the rules of the road.
We encourage you to watch the video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=gxOeKwVVCVg
and then to read statements from the Citizens of Save Masonic , STOP SFMTA, and SAVE Polk Street.
– The San Francisco Coalition of Aging and Disabled Motorists
“Equal rights are not special rights”