News

Menlo Park: Bicyclist anti-harassment law under consideration

May make civil lawsuits easier to file against motorists

Menlo Park is considering whether to implement a bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance at the request of the Bicycle Commission, which discussed the matter at its Oct. 14 meeting, but did not make any recommendations yet.

A bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance, similar to laws passed in Los Angeles and Sunnyvale, would make it illegal for a motorist to intentionally force or attempt to force a bicyclist off the road with the intent to injure or distract the cyclist, according to Menlo Park Transportation Manager Jesse Quirion.

The ordinance wouldn't preempt criminal charges, but could make it easier for a cyclist to file a civil lawsuit against a motor vehicle driver, he said.

Transportation staff expect the matter to return to the commission later this year for further discussion.

Sandy Brundage

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rilly
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Oct 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Oh this is rich.
Let's just enforce the existing traffic laws for cyclists.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Willow Cyclist
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 16, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I'm confused... is this not already illegal?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by sho
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 16, 2013 at 12:50 pm

If bicycles want to share the road, they should follow the same rules. If not, they should be fined the same as cars.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by KW
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 16, 2013 at 1:28 pm

I am confused. The article says that the Bicycle Commission has not yet decided whether to support the ordinance, but in the same sentence says that Menlo Park is considering adopting it at their request?? So, are they considering the ordinance, or considering whether to adopt one if the Commission recommends, or ????? How can the commission simultaneously not make a recommendation and request consideration? Am I missing something, or is the use of English as confused as it seems?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff Writer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 16, 2013 at 1:37 pm

The Bicycle Commission requested that the city consider whether or not to implement a bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance. It has not made any recommendations yet regarding approval or wording. They may consider it and then decide not to recommend implementation.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 16, 2013 at 1:43 pm

When cyclist show equal respect for motorists, like not riding in cross walks, riding on sidewalks, stopping at signs, most motorists wouldn't have a problem. Most problems occur during the above activities.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Don Creswell
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 16, 2013 at 2:26 pm

It's about time that laws were enforced as cyclists violate traffic laws, running red lights and stop signs for instance. Just yesterday a biker streaked through the red light in front of the Menlo School. And, what about riders who are two-abreast in the bike lanes, with the rider on the outside vulnerable as he/she are on the street. We really don't need more laws for motorists.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John Murphy
a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Mike - I'm curious. How exactly does a cyclist riding on a sidewalk - show a lack of respect for motorists?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike Sonn
a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2013 at 2:44 pm

All these comments are exactly why we need this law. Harassing or threatening someone with your vehicle is NEVER justified. NEVER.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2013 at 2:51 pm

@John Murphy Not sure how a biker riding on the sidewalk is showing lack of respect for motorists, but am sure they are breaking the law as they are not pedestrians and are not supposed to be on the sidewalk. Just like they are not supposed to be riding down a bike lane until they reach an intersection and suddenly turn in to a ped cross walk and ride with the light across the street or just like they shouldn't think its ok to blow thru a stop sign without stopping just because there isn't a car at the intersection. I agree whollheartedly with Mike's post above. The last thing the CC should do is pass an ordinance that makes bikers feel more empowered than they already do.QhmHN


 +   Like this comment
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 16, 2013 at 3:17 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

This is rich, just what Menlo needs, another law. How about one for harassing motorists.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John Murphy
a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2013 at 3:35 pm

WhoRUPeople - people in glass houses...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 16, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Most of the cyclists I see are already in violation of traffic laws. Daily, I see failure to stop at stop signs & red lights, failure to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, texting while cycling (look ma, no hands!) and unsignaled lane changes across more than 2 or more lanes of traffic.

After dark a couple of nights ago, a southbound cyclist on El Camino without lights or reflectors, no helmet & no-hands-on-grips rode on the wrong side of the road, toward me in the northbound right of El Camino between my car & the parked cars at the side of the road. I stopped & was nearly rear-ended by the car behind me. How can I stay the mandated 36" away from such idiots?

These behaviors will at some time result in a collision with cars which will be most unfortunate, yet the motorists will nearly always be blamed. Our overly congested roads are hazardous to all, but there's no evidence of censure or enforcement of violations by cyclists. Drivers will be more considerate of cyclists when cyclists show better manners & judgment.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by matty
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Oct 16, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Have to say, the bike lobby is almost as good as the NRA... Almost.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Unfortunately this is not already illegal. This should be pursued as a state law, not a random assortment of municipal codes.


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Posted by John Murphy
a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Come on people. All this ordinance says is that you will be in even bigger trouble if you do something like throw your open bottle of beer out the window at a cyclist. Unless you can prove that the cyclist only got smacked by your beercan because he was riding 2 abreast.

You might see some cyclists do some stupid thing, but you don't get to be judge/jury/executioner on them. Calmly call the MPPD instead, and it will all be good. Get all pissed off and run one over intentionally, and you go to jail and sued for treble damages.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Say what?
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Oct 16, 2013 at 3:48 pm

The last thing the CC should do is pass an ordinance that makes bikers feel more empowered than they already do.

Did you read the article?

"would make it illegal for a motorist to intentionally force or attempt to force a bicyclist off the road with the intent to injure or distract the cyclist"

You can just intentionally run a cyclist off the road and you say the CYCLISTS are empowered? Say what? You are defending your right to see someone on a bike and say "Oh screw that guy" and just run them over. Is that what you are saying?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Park
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 16, 2013 at 4:05 pm

WhoR:

Actually, in Menlo Park, people riding bikes on sidewalks are only violating the law in "business districts." The California Vehicle Code does not outlaw riding bikes on sidewalks, but refers it to local ordinance. Our ordinance only restricts sidewalk riding in business districts.

Agree with you though, all we need is another law that emboldens bike riders to ride even more irresponsibly than they already do.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John Murphy
a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2013 at 4:12 pm

another law that emboldens bike riders to ride even more irresponsibly than they already do.

Please elucidate how you draw the conclusion that this ordinance would embolden bike riders?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 16, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Because with a law like this I can imagine any number of situations where a rider feels "threatened" and calls the police. Leading to riders doing more stupid stuff and when called on it by drivers they call the police because they're being "harassed."

The fact is that most riders don't follow traffic laws. I can say that with a fair amount of authority as I drive 35,000 miles a year and I see all kinds o f stupid stuff. Both by drivers and riders. to try to pretend that riders don't do a bunch of stupid stuff is to bury your head in the sand. Ever get stuck behind a peloton that is holding up traffic and not allowing cars to pass because there's a double yellow line that won't allow it? Yeah, we need to embolden those idiots. Not.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John Murphy
a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Menlo Voter - Perhaps you are against this law so you can just run that peloton over?

The likelihood of a cyclist calling the cops on someone who hasn't really crossed a line that should not be crossed is about the same as the likelihood that you would call the cops when you see some random cyclist run a stop light. Why bother?

But if a motorist intentionally runs you into the ditch and puts you in the hospital, or shoots you with a pellet gun (we get about 2 of those a year in the Santa Cruz Mountains - do you consider that defensible behavior?) then the victim should have some serious ability to have some sort of recourse.

If some cyclist gets honked at by someone who is impatient, and they call the cops, they will get triple damages. Three times zero is ... zero.

This isn't a war on stupid stuff. This is a war on violent, malicious stuff. See the difference?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Say What?
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Oct 16, 2013 at 5:02 pm

I drive 35,000 miles a year.

My condolences that you spend 25% of your waking hours in a car. And to your pocketbook as well.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 16, 2013 at 5:43 pm

This is a bit more limited that I thought. Sometimes people like to pass close to bicyclists and yell loudly just to startle them and get a thrill out of it. So far, this has never done anything more than annoy me, but it could eventually startle someone enough that they turn and hurt themselves. I don't think this law would apply... this concerns intentionally trying to hurt someone, not just getting a rise out of someone. If there was such a law, I doubt it would be enforced, but it reduce the amount of this extremely annoying, potentially dangerous habit of some people.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Eric
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 16, 2013 at 5:55 pm

If the cycling coalitions really cared about safety rather than attacking and blaming drivers, it would request laws that require cyclists to have license plates and registration and accident insurance as well as passing a safe cycling test. As it is, a vehicle or pedestrian who has been struck by a cyclist has no way of identifying the cyclist.

Why do those defending cyclists never acknowledge that many cyclists routinely break laws? Do that, and some drivers might feel more kindly toward you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 16, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Say what:

fortunately, most of my driving is for work and paid for by my employer. I still do spend a good part of my day behind the wheel, unfortunately.

John Murphy:

I am perfectly aware of the difference. The things you mention are already against the law. They're called assault and assault with a deadly weapon. We don't need another law. Especially one that will be nothing more than an infraction or at best a misdemeanor. Assault causing great bodily injury is a wobbler and ADW is also a wobbler. What's the point in passing a law that is less sever than the actual crime you're trying to stop?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2013 at 6:29 pm

The point is to allow a cyclist to pursue justice in a civil court instead of, or in addition to, a criminal court.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 16, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Donald:

they can already do that. They don't need another law to do so.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 16, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Menlo Voter - you are wrong. Only the police or DA can pursue justice in criminal court and they will almost always refuse to do so except when the victim is killed or suffers life changing injuries. This proposed law allows the victim to sue for damages in when the injuries are less severe.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 16, 2013 at 7:10 pm

parent:

Donald said civil court. One can always sue in civil court. This law doesn't change that.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2013 at 7:28 pm

from the article:

"The ordinance wouldn't preempt criminal charges, but could make it easier for a cyclist to file a civil lawsuit against a motor vehicle driver, he said."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 16, 2013 at 7:39 pm

I don't see how it would make it easier to file a civil suit. It's already simple. Also, assault doesn't require serious injuries to be prosecuted. Our DA may not choose to do it, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. Again, anyone can file a civil suit. Regardless of what the spokesperson says this ordinance doesn't make it "easier."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John Murphy
a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2013 at 7:39 pm

If the cycling coalitions really cared about safety rather than attacking and blaming drivers, it would request laws that require cyclists to have license plates and registration and accident insurance as well as passing a safe cycling test. As it is, a vehicle or pedestrian who has been struck by a cyclist has no way of identifying the cyclist.

--> there are laws that require motorists to have license plates (and licenses), registration, and insurance. These laws are routinely ignored - 20% of drivers in CA are unlicensed and uninsured. Getting the license plate of an offender does not identify the driver, it only identifies the car, and the owner of the car has no liability. There are scores of cases where the car is identified but no person is charged because the driver is not identified.

Why do those defending cyclists never acknowledge that many cyclists routinely break laws? Do that, and some drivers might feel more kindly toward you.

--> Because that is a discussion for another day. The topic here is motorists who intentionally try to injure and kill cyclists. Focus on that topic, and some cyclists might feel more like discussing issues of cyclists intentionally breaking a law - which is a far more trivial matter than assault and murder.

--> Look, I get it. You feel persecuted for some reason, get defensive, and lash back. Don't feel this way (unless you have a penchant for running people over intentionally). This ordinance is targeted specifically at a small group of people who are the common enemy of pretty much everyone. When they aren't running over cyclists intentionally, they are doing much worse things. 99.9999% of drivers are non-malicious no matter how much they are annoyed by conditions on the road.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 16, 2013 at 7:55 pm

@ John Murphy

Why do you say that motorists "intentionally try to injure & kill cyclists"? Do you & your friends do that? If that were true, why aren't there more maimed & dead cyclists? Yes, there have been tragic accidents, sometimes caused by both parties being careless, but your statement is bizarre.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Willow Cyclist
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 16, 2013 at 8:15 pm

@ Downtowner

John Murphy said that because the text of the article says: "A bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance... would make it illegal for a motorist to intentionally force or attempt to force a bicyclist off the road WITH THE INTENT TO INJURE OR DISTRACT THE CYCLIST..."

That is the topic of this article. And it's supposed to be the topic of this discussion.

The question you should be asking is "do my glasses need to be updated?"


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John Murphy
a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2013 at 10:10 pm

Downtowner -

In my last comment I said "99.9999% of drivers are non-malicious no matter how much they are annoyed by conditions on the road."

There is a fraction of people out there who are malicious. It happens far more than we would like Cyclists should have more recourse in those cases.

We can discuss cyclists and drivers who are just not very good at cycling or driving later. This law is about psychopaths. Protecting cyclists from them doesn't embolden them or impact you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 17, 2013 at 4:03 am

John, do you think a new law will protect cyclists (or anyone else) from the 0.0001% of the population which is psychopathic per your numbers? I don't. If there is so much malicious behavior toward cyclists, why don't we read more about it? Most cyclists around here would surely report any real or imagined threat to the PD. They have phones & car license plates are easily visible. I'd rather see a law prohibiting cell phone use while cycling.

An aside - In 1985 Menlo had a law requiring bicycles to be licensed. My 12 year old neighbor was ticketed on her way home from Hillview because she didn't have a # plate on her bike. The fine was waived because a parent accompanied her to MPPD & got the required plate. It was probably this sort of nonsense which caused MP to stop patrolling middle schoolers for bike violations.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2013 at 7:25 am

Wow, I didn't realize it was legal to force a cyclist off the road with my vehicle. I thought that I was meant to share the road with all vehicles.

Funnily enough, I thought it was the law that bikes should be sharing the road with us, not riding in packs, not riding more than two abreast, and obeying all the traffic laws that motorists had to obey.

Thanks, Menlo Park, for letting me know that at present the laws are different in your town.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2013 at 9:13 am

@John Murphy First, to clarify my previous statement. No, I do not think its ok for drivers to run over bikers, and if one of the psychos you mentioned does that they should be prosecuted as noted by Menlo Voter. My comment about not needing a law that emboldens bikers any more than they already are relates to my belief that such an ordinance would be viewed by SOME bikers as a license to use it to their advantage inappropriately . Second, while I know this thread is about the specific article cited, I always find it amazing when drivers and bikers post on anything related to the general issue or when I engage in private conversation with people I know who ride bikes, none of them are any of the 50%+ I see violating laws all the time; especially ignoring stop signs. But,, when drivers mention all the violations, the retort is, "off topic" or "an issue for another day".


 +   Like this comment
Posted by WhoRUPeople
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2013 at 10:02 am

WhoRUPeople - if you want to play that game, take a quick trip out to US-101 (off peak when traffic is not stuck at a standstill) and monitor the number of vehicles obeying the speed limit. Also read up on the 41,000 people killed annually in motor vehicle crashes - that doesn't happen unless someone breaks a rule. Or do you consider that "off topic"?

All you accomplish by going "off topic" is starting a pissing match on who are worse, cyclists or drivers, which is a never ending useless battle.

You and Menlo Voter discuss that those psychos should be prosecuted - here's the rub which you are quite unaware of. They DON'T get prosecuted. Witness the cyclist who was killed in San Francisco last month. The SFPD was too lazy to walk across the street to see if the surveillance camera pointed straight at the intersection was rolling. They closed the case claiming the cyclist was at fault. A private citizen asked for and received the video which implicated the truck driver. The PD has now recanted and says the driver is at fault, but the driver has not been cited nor charged.

Given that, we do need more civil remedies. Presuming this ordinance is typical, it gives cyclists claim to treble damages in civil court.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Eliza
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 17, 2013 at 10:17 am

Today a bicyclist on a no-bike-lane road heavily driven stopped behind me at the light. That was refreshing as he could have gone next to my car in the dirt, also making it difficult for me to turn til he went forward. This is cooperation and would make for fewer reasons that a driver might become incensed and reckless, on purpose.
I walk in a park that allows bikes. Today, 4 abreast came towards me, expecting that I would go to the side into the sloping dirt. I didn't and they weren't happy about that (I wasn't in the middle of the walkway). So here's a reversal of mindset, where the bicyclist didn't want to share the road and aside from snide remarks would have me in danger.
I'm all for licenses on bikes. I've been a bike rider, a motorcyclist, a driver. If nothing else, the knowledge that you can be identified might be a deterrent to break laws, just like drivers. If that doesn't work, THEN pass a law. Bikers, running stop signs, etc., makes me jumpy....ok? Will say that most are good, but the numbers will hopefully increase, especially for commutes, etc. I HOPE a bicyclist will obey the laws, but I don't EXPECT it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Cuts both ways
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 17, 2013 at 10:31 am

Well said, Eliza. Last Saturday, I witnessed a morning pack of bicyclists scream hateful obscenities at a car who was "too close" when they were riding 4 abreast and drove the car into the other lane close to a blind curve. That is a rarity, but we routinely see inexperienced or casual cyclists make unpredictable moves on the road that make it difficult for drivers to predict what they will do.

None of this makes dangerous behavior excusable. But given the recent incident in New York in which cyclists trapped, baited and terrorized a motorist, why don't we just say ANY such behavior is unacceptable.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Just for some perspective before we get more of these self righteous posts...

What percentage of bicyclists break the law while riding? A good percentage, if not most.
How many people do they kill? Not very many.
What percentage of drivers break the law while driving? A good percentage, if not most.
How many people do they kill? Tens of thousands a year.

If drivers who go faster than the speed limit recused themselves from this "Bike vs. Car" discussion, it would look a lot different.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2013 at 12:19 pm

@WhoRUPeople Since you have no original thoughts can you please get your own handle. Capitalizing a letter in mine doesn't count.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sorry but...
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Oct 17, 2013 at 12:33 pm

@Cuts both ways

>None of this makes dangerous behavior excusable. But given the recent incident in New York in which cyclists trapped, baited and terrorized a motorist, why don't we just say ANY such behavior is unacceptable.

You are thinking of motorcycles who attacked that SUV... not bicyclists.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dr. John
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 17, 2013 at 12:42 pm

All of the unrelated anti-bicyclist rhetoric on this board shows exactly why this ordinance is needed.

No one deserves to be threatened by you or your car, whether or not you like bicycles.

Furthermore, no one wants to ride their bike on the sidewalk. People do that because they feel endangered riding in traffic. Making roads safer for bikes will help *YOU* by allowing the bikes to ride in the street.

People riding bikes help YOU:

- Reduce traffic
- Save you a parking spot
- Slow global warming
- Reduce smog
- Reduce the "necessity" of oil wars


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2013 at 12:43 pm

What's the deal w/cyclists thinking that they have a right away when on trails on the baylands & similar places? In my experience, they don't want to slow down & on narrow areas, there seems to be an expectation that those on foot will move off the trail.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Eliza
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 17, 2013 at 12:58 pm

I'm assuming that the cameras being put up will also show bicyclists going thru stop signs and red lights, when there's no traffic, yes? Anyone know?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ???
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2013 at 3:40 pm

What's the deal w/cyclists thinking that they have a right away

What is a "right away" and how can I get one?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by NowUCan
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Oct 17, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I see and know some bicyclists have nearly become the new terrorists on the mountain in Woodside. They ride 2 and 3 abreast, they do not go the speed limit even when there are more than 5 cars behind them but stay in the MIDDLE of the road all the way down to Portola Road. They do not pull over even though they are riding for pleasure. Sometimes residents are trying to get to work or chemo (in our case) or any other reason and to have to go 19, 20, 21 mph for 6 or more miles, is frustrating and dangerous. They DO give tickets for going too slow in California.

It is my belief bicycles should not be allowed on any road without a designated bicycle lane because they are not only taking their own lives in danger but the lives of others. We had a neighbor a few years ago on La Honda Road heading toward 4 Corners (the top of the mountain) when a motorcyclist crossed the center divide on a curve and was killed because he crashed into the neighbor's pickup truck with a father and daughter inside. The family was so traumatized it ended in divorce and then moved out of the area. Yes, it was a motorcyclist who actually died but the bicyclists do the same thing. I have come around a curve and practically had heart failure because I am going the speed limit and there on the other side of the curve are 3 bicyclists riding abreast. The whole situation is one of the seeming "Authorities" not using common sense and bicyclists being allowed to traumatize the community. They are absolutely entitled to use bicycle lanes and have their enjoyment, exercise, etc., but for them to be allowed on the narrow mountain roads where there are MORE areas without sufficient room for both a bicycle and a vehicle, than those ABLE to be designated, it is a disrespectful demonstration of one individual putting the lives of the community in danger for their "rights and pleasure". The insanity of allowing this to continue is beyond the dictates of common sense.

As to Dr. John's comment above which is an endorsement of the benefits: " Reduce traffic - Save you a parking spot - Slow global warming - Reduce smog - Reduce the "necessity" of oil wars ". I concur; however, these benefits are mostly accrued when substituting bicycles for autos and not relevant to the pleasure riders who hog the roads and disrespect the already enforceable laws on this mountain. They are not being caught and ticketed and have become emboldened.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Re reducing the oil wars - gimme a break. Many of these cyclists we're discussing ride for pleasure, a good many of them drive as well. What kind of drivers are they, btw?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MP Cyclist (and driver)
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 17, 2013 at 6:54 pm

I suspect that cyclists will stop rolling through stop signs protecting completely empty intersections about the same time local drivers stop violating speed limits.

There is virtually NOBODY on the road today, 2 wheels or 4, that actually follows every traffic law from end to end. If you go 36 in a 35, why are you any better than a cyclist passing through a stop sign that has no opposing traffic (and was probably put there for 'traffic calming' anyway)

Besides, it's not like most drivers come to a *complete* stop at said mostly pointless stop signs.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 17, 2013 at 7:23 pm

Who2:

if you're not happy that the psychos don't get prosecuted you need to contact our District Attorney. Of course, you'll have to stand in line because there's a ton of stuff he won't prosecute. so, good luck with that. this proposed ordinance won't change that.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by 100% bicycle commuter
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Does anyone here ever think we should all just collectively drop the motorist-cyclist thing and save our righteous fury and the associated energy for something that matters more? (And maybe we can set a kinder example for our kids, so there's some chance they grow up to think that adults do things other than bicker all the time about nonsense.)

Suppose, for the sake of argument, that all drivers are careful and law-abiding, and all cyclists are the opposite. So every injury or death resulting from motor vehicles is an innocent accident, and every injury or death resulting from bicycles is a result of breaking laws.

Even with these extreme assumptions, about the only thing I can think of to say is: Well, I'm sure glad these scofflaw cyclists are not driving motor vehicles, which are 15-50x heavier (including the person's weight) and 2-8x faster! Or else the roads would be chaotic and full of bloodshed!

The only remaining objection might be that a scofflaw road user can't pull the same stunts in a car as he can on a bicycle, for he would be caught. I feel pretty safe in saying that we can all agree that one can pull all kinds of stunts in motor vehicles and not get caught. I mean, seriously: we all know that, right? We've all seen our share of motorists behaving badly, right? So just imagine all those badly behaving cyclists being badly behaving motorists instead.

I speculate that most drivers' anger simply comes from the fact that bicycling is often way faster and less stressful than driving, and it's annoying to see cyclists whizzing past you while you're stuck in traffic. That is a completely valid feeling, and I have sympathy. Bicycle commuting is amazing. Bicycling to the grocery store is awesome. (I can get $60 worth of food staples on my setup.) Not having to worry about parking is blissful. Why not join us?


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Posted by John Murphy
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2013 at 9:00 pm

"Many of these cyclists we're discussing ride for pleasure"

Where exactly do you ride for "pleasure" in Menlo Park? There isn't really much pleasurable about Menlo Park - it's not some bucolic wonderland. Everyone riding a bike in the city limits of Menlo Park is pretty much just trying to get somewhere. To work, perhaps?

Even if the rider lives in Menlo Park and is riding through Menlo Park to get to Woodside for his pleasure ride, the portion of his trip in Menlo Park is no different than a Menlo Park resident driving his car to the gym.


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Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Oct 17, 2013 at 9:30 pm

RE: matty's post:

"Have to say, the bike lobby is almost as good as the NRA... Almost. "

They may actually be better. I don't know if you've noticed, but the Bike Commission and the bike lobby has systematically been eliminating parking throughout the city. Ask any Oak Knoll parent or Encinal parent who can no longer pick up their kids in a car because the city eliminated all the parking due to the the "Safe Routes To Schools" program.

If there is no where to park, they figure you will be forced to not drive. Soon, we'll all have to be cyclists. Rainy days are going to be rough....


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Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Advice for driving in the hills: expect and accept bicyclists. There are more cyclists every year and they are not going away, so drivers need to learn to deal with them. 1) Plan your travel time under the assumption that you will encounter bicyclists on the way. If you don't you may arrive early. Not a problem. 2) Drive as if there is a bicyclist around every turn. If there is not, no problem. If there is, no problem. Remember that the speed limit is a maximum and you are not entitled to travel that fast. The law requires you to travel at a speed that is safe given the traffic conditions, so if you are on a road that is known to have bicyclists on it you must travel at a speed that is safe in the presence of bicyclists, and that speed may be lower than the speed limit. 3) Understand that bicyclists are not riding in the hills to annoy drivers. Most bicyclists really don't want angry drivers on their back wheel, but they need to give themselves room to avoid pavement defects and road hazards. It is not always safe to squeeze off to the right edge of the road.


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Posted by RuJoking?
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Oct 17, 2013 at 9:58 pm

"Ask any Oak Knoll parent or Encinal parent who can no longer pick up their kids in a car because the city eliminated all the parking due to the the "Safe Routes To Schools" program."

The most likely way for a child to die in or around school is to be run over by the parent of another child who is dropping off or picking up their child. There have been many incidents of this in the Bay Area in recent years, the most recent a child in Concord run over by a parent who had just dropped off her child, last month. Incidents have spiked with the addition of distractions from cellphones and texting.

The primary thing that makes a "Route to School" unsafe are parents who drive their kids to school. You should be thanking Menlo Park Schools for reducing this very clear, tangible danger.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Murphy - I see a lot of cyclists riding for pleasure in Menlo & surrounding areas. This doesn't reduce an oil war, so retire that argument.


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Posted by MP Road User - car and bike
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 17, 2013 at 10:34 pm

I agree that there are plenty of poorly behaved cyclists, who put themselves in harm's way by riding down the wrong side of the road, or in the opposite bike lane, or who text and ride, or who cut through crosswalks. These situations can be addressed by the MPPD, and should be since absent consequences, the dangerous behaviors continue. The consolation is that most of these behaviors take place at well below 12 miles per hour, and a bike is much smaller and more maneuverable, thus at least reducing the likelihood of a collision and minimizing the effect if one occurs.

There are also plenty of poorly behaved motorists, guilty of similarly poor judgement when they "California stop," weave in and out of traffic, exceed the speed limit, text and drive, run red lights, etc. These situations can also be addressed by the MPPD, and should be. Unfortunately many motorist behaviors take place at much higher speeds in a vehicle that is much larger and less maneuverable, increasing the likelihood of a collision, and maximizing the effect if one occurs.

This ordinance is intended to provide a recourse to cyclists who are intentionally harassed by drivers, who for some reason or another don't like something they've done, or their mere presence on the road. The cyclists demonstrating the poor behaviors mentioned above aren't the ones who would benefit, since they are breaking myriad other laws and would likely be cited themselves instead. The people who would benefit are the ones who generally follow the rules of the road, travel with the flow of traffic, and attempt to be sympathetic to other road users, but who sometimes find themselves on the wrong end of someone's 4000lb anger management issues.

The thing is, most cyclists are drivers, and we're acutely sensitive to just how exposed we are out there. Most drivers are not cyclists and thus do not understand the challenges of navigating a bicycle with hazards at every turn, and so don't understand why cyclists do what they do in certain situations.

If you don't harass cyclists, you have nothing to worry about. If you are one of those drivers who, like many internet posters are emboldened by their sense of anonymity, who stop seeing other road users as people, with husbands or wives, children, brothers and sisters, or parents and who start seeing them as "others" without equal rights or authority, then you may not like this much.

The bicycle commission is looking for members...anybody willing to step up?


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2013 at 11:23 pm

"If you don't harass cyclists, you have nothing to worry about." MP Road - if only that were true.


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Posted by Common
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Oct 18, 2013 at 4:53 am

RuJoking,

I am sure parents who can no longer even carpool will be thinking of you and thanking the City for making the choice for them once it starts to rain and the roads are treacherous.


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Posted by Woodsider
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Oct 18, 2013 at 8:23 am

A different perspective for drivers & cyclists both from Bill Strickland, who used to write for Bicycling Magazine: Web Link


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Posted by john bowley
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Oct 18, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I would hope that the law is written to go both ways. Bicyclist are themselves overly hostile. One rider followed my wife into our driveway threatening and cursing my wife after HE ran the red light at Campo Bello and the Alameda. Rider ofter come around the curve looking only left at Santa Cruz but not seeing or caring that Camp Bello is a blind intersection to their right. Bike riders curse and flip off drivers after THEY have caused a near accident. Police should monitor dangerous intersections and issue tickets to offending riders, and make arrests on their attitudes as well.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm

And if anyone is unsure about why a law like this would be needed, I would refer to "NowUCan"s comment. Comparing bicyclists that ride two abreast to terrorism shows just how extreme the lack of perspective has become in many cases.


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Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2013 at 9:16 pm

police should "make arrests on their attitudes"?????!!!!! How about police stick to enforcing the law and not arresting people based on their attitudes.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2013 at 10:30 pm

If arrests could be made based on attitude, I'd make a citizen's arrest on a few of the cop I've met - & they weren't bicycle cops! But actually, I'd start w/DA Wagstaffe & go from there...


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Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Arrests can be made on attitude - in Iran!!! Thank goodness we don't do that here.


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Posted by Norman
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 21, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I'd like to know how many bicyclist tickets are given out by the MP police department. If there are one per month I'd be surprised. I have never seen a bicyclist get ticketed. Has anyone else?

Bicyclists ride on the wrong side of the road, don't obey traffic lights or stop sign, etc. I've never seen this kind of traffic abuse by motorists. And there are many more abusive bicyclists than motorists.

I do have great sympathy for bicyclists, however. They are in much danger all of the time. I do wonder though if like mountain climbers that riding their bicycles dangerously is part of the appeal for some, not all.


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Posted by Arnie
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 21, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Norman, the answer is no. You are throwing all bicyclists in the same bucket, which is a mistake. The ones who ride against traffic are generally inexperienced, either youngsters or disadvantaged people who can't afford to drive or other uneducated cyclists. They hide from traffic, trying to squeeze through in any way they can without having to deal with the responsibilities of a vehicle operator because they are intimidated by that and don't know how to deal with it. They are simply trying to survive the only way they know how in a world that was not built for them. They don't ride their bikes because of the danger, they ride their bikes despite the danger because they have no other choice.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 22, 2013 at 12:25 pm

This is really a state problem. It is still illegal to cross a double yellow line to pass another vehicle, which bicycles are considered. A state public service campaign reminding both cyclists and motorists alike of their responsibilities would do wonders.

BTW, this forum is a great way for fellow residents to exchange ideas amicably. Bravo to the Almanac.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of another community
on Oct 22, 2013 at 9:56 pm

@Arnie you have it almost right, but you didn't go quite far enough. It is not just that bikers are trying to survive in a world that wasn't built for them, they are trying to survive in a world that was built to be hostile to them. I can't blame them for breaking the rules, any more than I can blame civil rights activists in the south for breaking the segregation rules back in the bad old days.


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