Thursday, August 6, 2009

Stopping at stop signs is the LAW.

More comments today in SFGate on a ridiculous article by idiot savant CW Nevius. Nevius begins his article by discussing bike sharing, but then veers way off topic into the bike plan, Critical Mass, etc...

Of course the comments keep the party line that cyclist don't stop at stop signs. Cyclists would point out that at a 4 way stop with no traffic, the cyclist is using common sense and is not taking the right of way from someone, at a substantial personal benefit, and injecting very low risk onto others. A car that rolls a stop sign injects far more risk into the system for far less gain - getting a car back up to speed only requires a deft motion of ones right foot, while it uses more gas than blowing right through, this isn't nearly as taxing as bringing a bike back up to speed.

Of course the party line says "Don't care - it's the LAW". Which motorists are very picky about - and believe that cyclists should be ticketed for not following the law to the letter. Witness the crackdown in Woodside for example.

Meanwhile, over in Oakland, there is a bit of a problem. It seems that cars that stop to drop off passengers in a bus stop are being ticketed. Totally unfair! Pot, Kettle, Black. It's pretty established that a bus stop is not a private drop off zone - transit users have it bad enough without having to step around an idling car into traffic to board a bus in the middle of the street, not to mention the delays injected into the system. And if the drivers were able to claim that they are dropping off in the bus stop at a time there was no bus around to delay - how is that different than a cyclist slowing to sub 5 MPH but not putting a foot down at a four way stop with no other traffic around?

Update: Related information at Streetsblog


Reg said...

"Cyclists would point out that at a 4 way stop with no traffic, the cyclist is using common sense and is not taking the right of way from someone, at a substantial personal benefit, and injecting very low risk onto others" - as someone who once got ticketed for not stopping at a stop sign (in hippie Eugene, Oregon, no less), I still have to say, this is a pretty biased POV. Sure, very often it makes sense for bicyclists to slow down to a near-stop, and proceed - just like a pedestrian on foot. But there are also plenty of irresponsible bicyclists out there - riders who cut off pedestrians as they make quick turns without slowing down, or who slowly make their way across without taking into account oncoming traffic with right-of-way, etc. Basically, it's a law that should be on the books for these kinds of circumstances. If the bicyclist is being reasonably cautious and reasonably considerate of motorized traffic, it should be OK. But it's when bicyclists decide they somehow simultaneously have the privilege of being both pedestrians and vehicular traffic that annoy both real pedestrians and, er, faster traffic.

murphstahoe said...

The law you describe already exists Reg - sadly it only exists in Idaho.

djconnel said...

The classic argument against Idaho stops is the "some cyclists violate right of way" argument, as if cyclist. is a subspecies of sapien. What Fixie Dude does has zero relevance to what my duties and rights should be. We're each individual people.

Second, this argument fails because none of the behaviors described by the detractors are legal under the proposed revision of the law.

The counter-argument is that the law needs to be stricter than a given standard of safety or people will push even further beyond what the law allows. To the contrary, overly restrictive laws tend to be just ignored. Put too many stop signs into a community, and people stop obeying stop signs. People. Not drivers, not cyclists, but people in whatever form of conveyance they happen to choose.

Yokota Fritz said...

Good connection with the bus stop ticketing.

One of the commenters at the Nevius article says that he's never seen a cyclist who obeys the law. Never mind that the same applies to almost all motorists, and those of us who happen to get behind one of these completely law abiding motorists almost universally think of this "granny driver" as an idiot with no common sense.

Chester said...

As I cyclist, I treat STOPs as yields when it makes sense. As a car driver, I treat them as STOPs, no matter what.

To me, the most sensible analogy is the speed limit on any given road. Virtually no driver obeys the speed limit. Almost everyone routinely drives at least 5-10 MPH above the speed limit and cops will almost never ticket someone for speeding if they are doing so moderately and safely.

The same ought to be the case for cyclists and STOPs. If a cyclist blows a STOP dangerously, he ought to be ticketed. If he does it safely, it's no worse than someone driving 70MPH, with the flow of traffic, on a freeway.

Incidentally, I don't think the Woodside STOP crackdowns are about enforcing the sanctity of the law...I think they're about using the letter of the law to enforce hostility against out-of-towners traveling through town in a way that locals don't like. E.g. some Woodside folks are probably annoyed about always having to be conscious about cyclists while driving around...probably get annoyed with getting stuck behind packs who have taken the road.

JimAtLaw said...

Seems like perhaps we should all be writing and calling our Congresspeople to make sure Woodside does not get federal or state transportation dollars since their official policy is to discriminate against bicycles.

If they're building roads exclusively for the benefit of car driving local residents and enlisting the local police to selectively enforce the law against bicycles to keep people off their roads, they should not be getting our tax dollars for those roads.