Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Wizards of Woodside Crack Down on Scofflaw Cyclists!

Per Al Williams on the Alto Velo mailing list.

I called Leo after I received my ticket and asked him to put out an
urgent message to the list regarding the enforcement campaign in
Woodside and Portola Valley. His details aren't just right, but we
thank him for putting out the warning. Hopefully it saved some
people some hassle.

Here's what happened:

The Dave Stahl ride was on Portola Rd. heading for OLH, about 17
people. Near the entrance to Windy Hill, we were low-keying it, most
people riding on the shoulder, Dave, at least one other rider, and I
were just to the left of the fog line. Two San Mateo sheriff's
deputy motorcycles passed us going the other way, one with his red
and blue lights on. They turned around and singled out those of us
riding to the left of the fog line to stop. The others were told
they could continue. My ticket is for riding "tandem," a word that
appears in the Vehicle Code only in the context of truck axles or
truck trailers. The deputy said that they had been instructed to
cite everyone riding "tandem" (and failing to stop at STOP signs) by
their supervisor, because the good residents of Woodside and Portola
Valley are upset with inability to get past cyclist groups, and
cyclists failing to stop at STOP signs.

The trouble with these tickets is that the particular section of
Portola Rd in Portola Valley doesn't have a bike lane, it has a fog
line and a shoulder. Cyclists are required to ride as near to the
right edge of the roadway as practicable, but they are not required
to ride on the shoulder. Riding on the shoulder is tolerated, while
driving a motor vehicle there is not (see Alan Wachtel article linked
by Andy Evans, .
So, formally, if one is near the fog line but in the lane, he is
legal, regardless of what is going on to his right on the shoulder of
the road.

Whether my particular Traffic Court Commissioner will understand this
is another matter that will be pursued. But I agree with the
respondents who say this ticket is bogus.

The deputy who wrote me told one of our group members who is an off-
duty Sunnyvale officer that the SM County deputies will be after us
in force on Wednesdays and Saturdays on Alpine and Portola Rds for
the next three weeks. I don't recall if he said alternate days or
all of those days, but be advised.

The bottom line is rider behavior, particularly the Noon Ride, the
Valley Ride, and the Spectrum Ride, have gotten the attention of the
locals and their police, and they will be after us in force.
Unfortunately, they aren't applying any judgment as to who is causing
a problem and who is not-- we are all the enemy-- including the
father pulling his kids in a Burley who they caught at the Alpine-
Portola STOP sign, and we three vicious criminals who were riding on
the edge of the lane of Portola Rd with no other traffic present.

Keep on Ridin' `\< (*)/(*)

Per "D Medieros"

Please advise the CVC Section number you were cited for. Tandem
in the CVC and vehicle code case law as a definition refers to one
behind the other, ie tandem axles etc, NOT side to side. I am a
retired traffic officer and a California Superior Court State
Certified Collision Reconstructionist. I would like to review what
these uninformed deputies are using for a section. Sorry did not
see it in the exchanges.


I forgot the details of my citation. "21202a VC tandem."
Al Williams

This smacks of a cop just "making it up as they go along".

Dan Connelly has some experience in this area.

Now, this is Woodside, close to Redwood City. Redwood Vity has their own scofflaws to deal with.


Adrian said...

It sounds like you need to ride faster :) Seriously, though, does the 'edge of the roadway' mean the shoulder, or the edge of the traffic lane?

Rick B said...

That section of the Vehicle Code only requires you to ride as close as to the right as practicable if you're not traveling at the normal speed of traffic.

If there was no other traffic present, then your group was riding at the normal speed of traffic at that place and time and under the conditions then existing, and you were therefore not violating the law.

djconnel said...

The roadway is the area "improved for use for vehicle travel".

Richard Swent points out a distinction is made in the code: "Section 21650.1 clearly makes the distinction: `A bicycle operated on a roadway, or the shoulder of a highway, shall be operated in the same direction as vehicles are required to be driven upon the roadway'"

So this implies the shoulder is not generally part of the roadway.

Carl said...

I was out there last Saturday and they were pulling over comfort bike riding, khaki pant wearing, regular joe scofflaws! I was like the guy got on a bike for the first time in ten years and now he's done forever! At least pull over the spandex scofflaw such as my self who rides wherever the echelon takes him...:-)

Anonymous said...

Remember that the trailer will have a tendency to cut in on corners and curves so take these at a wider angle than normal... Tandem Trailers