July 31, 2015

What Happened When Bicyclists Obeyed Traffic Laws


The protest hadn’t even started before the first motorist laid on the horn.

Hundreds of cyclists rode through The Wiggle yesterday evening in protest of a San Francisco police captain’s calls for a crackdown on bikers coasting through stop signs. But instead of breaking the law, protesters wanted to show the city just how bad traffic would be if every bicycle approached intersections just as a car does.

Riders arrived at every stop sign in a single file, coming to a complete stop and filing through the intersection only once they were given the right-of-way. The law-abiding act of civil disobedience snarled traffic almost immediately.

The protest, flanked by an army of TV cameras and amused onlookers, was in response to a directive from SFPD Park Station Captain John Sanford, who ordered his officers to punish cyclists for “zipping past” cars and supposedly endangering people. …

Cyclists, along with a growing number of organizations and local politicians, believe bike riders shouldn’t be legally treated like cars, but rather treated as what they are — bikers. There’s been a growing call for the city and California to adopt what is known as the “Idaho Stop” law. Since 1982, Idaho has permitted cyclists to treat stop signs as yields and red lights as stop signs, which allows bikers to conserve energy, clear intersections faster, and become more visible (and thus safer) by getting in front of traffic.

Full story here in sfweekly – thanks to Alex Gaio.

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    1. Yep, when you’re a disenfranchised minority, all it takes is a single one of you to do something wrong and all of you are considered guilty of it.

    2. Note the cyclist said the pedestrian literally ‘ran’ their red light, and the cyclist skidded to try to avoid him.

      In UK, many traffic light sensors are set to be too insensitive to be triggered by bikes.
      I reported one to the Council, who replied it was ‘performing to requirements’.
      I asked how to get the requirements changed so they work, and said
      “If this is a case of ‘do nothing because it’s not causing huge problems’,
      then it could very easily become a huge problem !”

      The lights were adjusted until they work.

  1. The whole argument of bikes running stop signs and things like that is an absolute red herring. Drivers don’t care about it. They just need an excuse to show that cyclists are bad so that cycling stops being supported. The only real issue drivers have with cyclists is that they slow them down.

    1. I suspect as much. There’s also some classism going on. Those of a lower class than motorists should just get out of the way and get in the ditch where they belong.

      There’s a kind of lack of logic going on too. They complain that someone slower than they want to go is in front of them and that “those people” should find somewhere else to do their thing, then when someone proposes a place that they can do their thing without being in motorists’ ways, they complain about that.

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