Thursday, March 28, 2013

Stolen Red Specialized Road Bike, Sonoma County?

Another potential use for cyclists and helmet cams...

Riding home through Wikiup California last night... (not sure if Wikiup is an official name or if I was in Santa Rosa or Windsor, or even if I was in Larkfield instead of Wikiup, but I digress...).

I noticed someone standing by the side of the road and glanced over at him, and then I noticed his very nice Red Specialized Road Bike. This is a bike that would sell for over $1000 new no matter what, and if it were a nicer version of the bike (depending on the wheels, shifters, etc...) could reach into the $5000 range. The guy with the bike was scruffy, smoking a cigarette, and most relevantly had no cycling gear/clothing at all, not so much as a helmet. Sorry, but it just doesn't fit. The bike is stolen.

I started thinking I needed to get a picture of the guy and the bike in case I might be able to find the owner. Then I realized I had my helmet cam on...

The video isn't the greatest for this purpose, especially after it's been dumbed down by YouTube, but here you go... at the 10 second mark...

Thursday, March 14, 2013


I was riding to Healdsburg today to grab a few things this morning. At the last second, I decided to grab my helmet camera. Usually - 99% of the time, my rides are uneventful. Today was not.

I approached a 4 way stop - and this happened.

I followed the driver for 2 primary reasons - to make sure I had the license plate on film, and to get the driver's face on video. I didn't expect the driver to tell me that she drove into my path in order to get payback for some prior wrong. I'm pretty sure I've never met this woman and certainly don't recall personally buzzing her in the crosswalk. To me this is a tacit admission that she did what she did intentionally with complete disregard for my safety.

Note that I rolled up to the stop sign about the same time as another car, and did a foot down stop and let two cars go through first, and entered the intersection before the offending car even hit the stop line. So much for the theory that if cyclists "just behaved" that then they would get respect.

This happened in Healdsburg, in Sonoma County. Sonoma County has passed a law to protect cyclists from intentional harassment from motorists which I think would apply here if I were in unincorporated Sonoma County. I was in Healdsburg, which does not fall under that umbrella - yet. On May 6th however, Healdsburg will a similar ordinance which I hope will pass.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Cyclists and Red Lights

Riding on the Embarcadero a few weeks back, I captured a sequence on my helmet cam which I think is educational.

Here's the video

OK, so I approach a red light with another rider (unknown to me) on my tail, and I stop. I am clumsily trying to balance so I don't have to unclip without rolling too far into the intersection. It's a T intersection so there's no inherent danger of rolling into or even past the crosswalk (assuming I know there aren't any pedestrians, and at 1 MPH I am in a lot more danger from a ped than a ped is from me as if we collide, I fall down go boom).

The other rider comes around me and instructs me to run the red light! Scofflaw!

He made a very salient point. He said "This is a good one to blow" because shortly upstream, the bike lane disappears beneath a chain link fence for construction. Cyclists are forced to enter the right "car" lane. This means you are either merging into high speed traffic or you make it in and get the wrath of the high speed traffic that is "stuck behind you". By blowing the light and hammering it past the blockage, we get safely back into the bike lane and mosey on.

When Diana Sullivan was killed on King (extension of the Embarcadero), she was perhaps faced with a similar situation. One possible scenario for her death was that she was stopped at the same traffic light with a cement mixer to her left. If she runs the light, she gets in front of the cement mixer where the driver can see her. Of course, running the light at 2nd and King isn't so clear cut since there is cross traffic.

When Randolph Ang ran a red light on the Embarcadero, he wasn't trying to protect himself. He was in a hurry to get to work.

The different scenarios present an interesting discussion. One thing I think is very important to note - the way we have designed our roads *incentivizes* cyclists to disregard traffic laws in certain instances because the built infrastructure jeopardizes their safety. We ran the red light because the City just let the construction block the bike lane despite the fact it caused a hazardous situation. If we were worrying about safety as much as throughput, the right hand "car" lane would be half blocked off making it impossible for a car to use, with the remainder becoming a regular bike lane.

2nd and King has a similar problem with bad infrastructure - and it isn't even temporary - it is officially designed in!

The problem then becomes that since it becomes commonplace to disregard rules as a matter of self-preservation because you have been given the finger by the people responsible for the roads, why not disregard rules at other times when it's clear that disregarding them is safe? And then it snowballs

If we want more compliance from cyclists, we need to stop designing in situations where compliance means you are put at risk. <.P