Monday, September 27, 2010

Cops Give Bike Riders $200 Tickets

Berkeley Police officer Melissa Kelly writes a young woman a ticket for running a stop sign on Dana Street at Channing Way in Berkeley on Sept. 23. Police wrote bicyclists 19 tickets with fines up to $200 in an effort to get the word out that bike riders need to follow the rules of the road just like car drivers. (Photo by Doug Oakley)
Berkeley police officer Melissa Kelly writes a young man from New Zealand a ticket for running a stop sign at Dana Street and Channing Way in Berkeley on Sept. 23. (Photo by Doug Oakley)

By Doug Oakley
Staff Writer
Bay Area News Group
Berkeley police had no problem finding bicyclists breaking the law last week.
During the second crackdown of the year near the UC Berkeley campus on Sept. 23, hordes of riders were cruising through stop signs, running red lights, riding on the sidewalk and riding the wrong way.
In two hours five officers wrote 19 citations with some costing riders more than $200.
Officer Melissa Kelly, parked at the corner of Dana and Channing streets on her mountain bike, cited one after the other as they blew through the stop sign. 
While writing one ticket, several more would fly through the intersection.
The operation was aimed at reducing injury crashes.
So far this year, 129 bicyclists have been injured in the city, police said. Since 1984, four bicyclists have died in crashes with cars, and investigations showed in each accident that it was the bicyclist's fault.
"We've also been getting complaints regarding reckless riding," said Officer Jennifer Coats of the police department's traffic bureau who was on Thursday's crackdown. "We're up here as a deterrent. They're running stop signs, red lights and weaving in and out of traffic and riding the wrong way."
The crackdown also served as a reminder to bicyclists that they must pay attention to all the rules of the road, just as a person driving a car would.
As he was getting a ticket, one young UC Berkeley student from New Zealand asked Kelly: "Are we supposed to ride on the sidewalk or on the street?" 
The answer is no, Kelly said, but it was a good questions and gave her the opportunity to offer a quick primer on the rules of the road: stop at stop signs, yield to pedestrians, stop at red lights, don't ride on the sidewalk, don't ride in crosswalks.
Dave Campbell, president of Bicycle-Friendly Berkeley Coalition, said he heard about the crackdown and approved of it as a way of educating riders.
"The bicycle coalition encourages everyone to follow the rules of the road and ride responsibly," said Campbell. "Enforcement can be a good thing. It's helpful when cyclists know that police take traffic safety seriously."
Campbell said so many bicyclists do not obey the rules of the road because they never learn them.
"My parents taught me how to ride, told me to be safe and sent me out on the street," Campbell said. "You don't get the training in school. A lot of people don't know that the rules of the road apply to bikes."
Campbell said the crackdown is a good opportunity for Berkeley bike riders to take one of his organization's three free classes on bike safety. For more info, check

1 comment:

  1. I agree that people riding bicycles should conduct themselves safely when on the roads and be respectful of the rights of car drivers, pedestrians and other road users.

    I strongly disagree that people riding bicycles (many of whom also drive cars and walk at times) should be subject to the same road rules as people driving cars.

    Why? Because the road rules were designed for cars, not bicycles, and the driving experience and conditions of the two types of vehicle is fundamentally different.

    Should we obey the law? Yes, of course. But in return, the law should be appropriate and not act as a yolk on the shoulders of the people.

    This is what current road traffic law is to cyclists.

    People such as myself, who respect laws, are turned into law-breakers when we travel by bicycle. I do not wish to break the law, but conforming to it makes riding a bicycle so difficult and slow that I'd rather drive a car.

    Little or no science has been applied to the decision that bicyclists should stop at stop signs and wait at red lights. The decision was merely a half-baked assumption that it would be the way to go.

    The fact that so many cyclists disobey these laws is not to do with ignorance, it is because the assumption was incorrect.

    The state of Idaho has it right: bicycles yield (not necessarily stop) at stop signs, and they stop (not necessarily wait) at stop lights.

    I encourage cyclists to disobey the California road laws, but do so in a respectful way. The purpose of this disobedience is not to be a scofflaw, but to draw attention to a problem that urgently needs to be fixed.