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Bicyclist, car collide on Main Street

Original post made on Apr 20, 2009

Pleasanton police are investigating a collision between a bicyclist and a car that happened at 8 a.m. Monday in front of the Rose Hotel.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, April 20, 2009, 5:03 PM

Comments (44)

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Posted by The Jackal
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 20, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Cars and bikes should not use the same roads.

Cyclists can argue this point forever but they will never be safer when travelling next to cars. Get on the bike path, get away from the middle of the intersection, stay out of the vehicle lanes if you want to be safe.

I hope this person recovers quickly.


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Posted by Way to go PW
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 20, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Thanks for getting right on this story PW. We can always count on you for the latest updates...wait, wasn't the original post reqesting info about this incident about 12 hours ago? I know, you're all busy tweakin' that new "look"!


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Posted by unclehomerr..
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 20, 2009 at 10:23 pm


Whadda 'ya wanna bet the bike dude was scorchin' towards downtown in front of the Rose, and the car was southbound and turning right on St. John.

It's hard to make a right when people roll into the crosswalks going the same way you are at 15mph. You look.. it's clear. You turn.. they're there!

Been there.. seen that... got lucky!

unclehomerr..


unclehomerr..


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Posted by Jerry
a resident of Oak Hill
on Apr 20, 2009 at 10:41 pm

Bicycle vs motor vehicle - guess who gets carried away to Valley Memorial... Kinda like bringing a knife to a gun fight...


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Posted by Roadie
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Apr 21, 2009 at 8:04 am

Jackel sez,

"Cars and bikes should not use the same roads."

I agree. We should ban cars from downtown streets.

Ridiculous? No worse than suggesting bikes stay out of the vehicle lanes. The law says we're entitled to the road.

Share the Road


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Posted by SteveP
a resident of Parkside
on Apr 21, 2009 at 8:20 am

SteveP is a registered user.

Common sense would tell any biker (or jogger, for that matter) that it's not a good idea to travel in the path of cars in traffic lanes. You would not believe the incredulous looks these spandex-wearing transients give when you dare pass next to them in traffic, as though they have the right of way.

The notion of sharing the road sounds like a desirable goal for those that can't keep up with traffic. Unless you can travel safely at the speed of the flow of normal traffic you need to yield the way. And by that I mean, get off the road far enough as to not make yourself a target.


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Posted by unclehomerr..
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 21, 2009 at 8:25 am


8am Tuesday. Still no news.

unclehomerr..


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Posted by not_a_cyclist
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Apr 21, 2009 at 10:10 am

What is the speed limit on Main St.? 25mph. Why do people get on to Main St and try to hurry towards Bernal or St. Mary's? There is always traffic, pedestrians, and stop signals. Not knowing who was at fault, I cannot lay any blame. But maybe Main St. should be closed to automobiles or the speed limit should be reduced. Cyclist also have a responsibility to obey traffic rules. That stated, what ever happened to the bike lane on Valley/Bernal at Vineyard. It's been gone for about 2 years and doesn't appear to be in the plans since the construction of the new bridge?


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Posted by JP
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2009 at 10:20 am

I'll be the first to admit riding along side cars traveling much faster than you are is dangerous...but there is a way to share the road but it has to be mutual. The comment that bikes shouldn't be on the road with cars due to not being able to attain the same speed...wrong, most cars are traveling at the max or more speed limit. If cars were actually traveling below the max, it would be safer. Also bikers need to recognize they have a right to the road but maybe not two or three wide.... Downtown is a place that can be mutual as the top speed...period should be 25 mph...but actually should be less...like 15 or 20 tops. Why? Because it's our greatest concentration of mixed mode transportation....cars/bikes/pedestrians. But back to the Bike - Car issue. Two way street here..pun intended. Bikes can ride at the max speed limit on Main pretty easily but just like cars traveling at max on Main, these bike riders have to be responsible and aware as well. Share the road folks...there's enough for all.

As for the cyclist, I hope he or she recovers and is back on a bike soon.

JP


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Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 21, 2009 at 11:59 am

We weren't there so we don't know what happened - speculation is sort of silly - but I can say that the traffic lights at the staggered intersection of St. John/Main/Ray are just *nuts*. I've seen them change from green to red to green within a few seconds, and they are totally confusing to pedestrians, drivers, and bicyclists alike.


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Posted by anon
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Apr 21, 2009 at 12:35 pm

being how I spent the first few hours with him in the Trauma unit, it is quite appalling how people can pass judgement on bicyclists, especially someone who didn't ask to be hit by a car. As in ANY situation, people really need to stop lumping all groups together, and passing judgement before they know ANY facts at all. There are definitely bicyclists who do not obey the laws of the road, and I know for a fact that he recently quit a triathlon training group due to the fact that they were not obeying the laws of the road (stop lights, and stop signs. etc) and he does not approve of unsafe riding. As for the minor injuries,it was more than a "few broken ribs". I for one would rather share the road with a bicyclist than to share the road with a driver who is texting, or putting on makeup, or trying to get through the light before it turns red! How about compassion Pleasanton????


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Posted by Steve Rosefield
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 21, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Alright full disclosure before I start in on my points. I am an avid road cyclist. And like most cyclists in the area, I am also a driver, motor vehicle owner, and taxpayer. I also own a home in Pleasanton. I have spent a fair amount of time studying some of the topics that have been raised in the comments above from a legal and practicable standpoint, as it is an area that is of interest to me and my family. I am not an attorney (nor do I play one on TV or often stay in Holiday Inns). My legal information is garnered from multiple sources including Bicycling and the Law, by Bob Mionske.

I am going to use a few of the comments written as "jumping off" points. Please understand that is not my intention to call anyone out on the carpet. I am of the opinion that for each written posting there are multitudes that hold the same thought process, but do not chose to participate in the discussion. So my intention is merely to add some food for thought for anyone that cares to read along.

Quote – "Bicycle vs motor vehicle - guess who gets carried away to Valley Memorial... Kinda like bringing a knife to a gun fight..."

I am going to start with this one because it addresses the undisputable law of physics. When large vehicles collide with small vehicles, mass trumps legal right of way it terms of initial consequence. That rule applies to bicycle/pedestrian collisions, sub-compact/bicycle collisions, SUV/sub-compact collisions, and so forth. Use of public roads requires a cooperative effort by all. I know it feels like a fight sometimes, but regardless of what vehicle you surround yourself with, your safety is dependent on the cooperation of others. That is also true as a pedestrian. So please be aware of the capabilities and limitations of your vehicle and pilot it appropriately.

Quote – "Cars and bikes should not use the same roads. Cyclists can argue this point forever but they will never be safer when travelling next to cars. Get on the bike path, get away from the middle of the intersection, stay out of the vehicle lanes if you want to be safe."

There are a lot of subjects within this quote that are worthy of discussion from the legal and practicable standpoint, but in the interest of some brevity, I am going to choose a few aspects of this quote to discuss.

1) Cars and bikes should not use the same roads.

While this opinion is often prevalent it has no basis in law. In fact, in an odd twist from common perception cyclists and equestrians have unlimited access to roads and streets without license or permit, unless there is a posted restriction or direct command by a law enforcement official. Conversely motor vehicles require both vehicle license and operator permit to legally use the public road. I do not post this information to invoke a reaction. But it is an interesting misconception that the roads were exclusively built to accommodate motor vehicles.

2) Cyclists can argue this point forever but they will never be safer when travelling next to cars. Get on the bike path, get away from the middle of the intersection, stay out of the vehicle lanes if you want to be safe.

There is a lot to cover here from the legal and practical perspectives, and frankly I don't have time or the expertise to address all of the issues and scenarios that are encompassed in these two simple sentences. However I am going to attempt to tackle a few of them as this is a surprisingly complex subject.

First let's address where a cyclist should ride from the legal perspective. The law states that a cyclist must ride as far to the right of the road as practicable when riding slower than the speed of traffic. Please note that practicable and possible are not interchangeable terms. There is little further legal guidance on this subject, but it is generally accepted that practicable means riding safely outside of the door zone of parked cars. This puts a cyclist practically and legally in the lane of traffic when there is not a bike lane (like on Main Street). Additionally bicycles (and vehicles) are allowed to move further to the center of the road to avoid obstacles, or when traveling at the speed of traffic. Vehicles and bicycles may legally pass within a lane when it is safe to do so. However neither has a legal obligation to "get out of the other one's way" under these parameters. Most of the time we all seem to get along and play well together. The problems seem to multiply when cyclists ride as a group. The perception seems to be that it is ok to wait a few seconds for a single cyclist, but that a group of twenty should jump up on the sidewalk to let a car pass. Most groups will work hard to ride in a predictable straight line to the right of the road and make every effort to allow you to pass, but they are under no legal obligation to pull over for a motor vehicle. They are effectively establishing the safe speed of traffic and it is the obligation of the driver to only pass when safe for all concerned just as if there were twenty cars ahead.

Last but not least while it might not be a part of the law, I think most would agree that you have an obligation to your community to be a decent human being that does not intentionally put others at risk of harm by your negligent actions. And climbing on a bicycle seat or behind the wheel of an automobile does not relieve you of that moral obligation.

I could probably spend the rest of today expanding on this discussion, but I think I will finish by saying that there are risks to riding a bicycle, just as there are risks associated with walking or driving. However, in my opinion the risks are far outweighed by the rewards if reasonable precautions are taken.

I would be happy to discuss any of this with anyone who is interested. On most Saturday mornings I can be found leading the CyclePath group ride out of downtown Pleasanton. Come out and join us for a little sunshine and exercise.

See you on the road – Steve Rosefield


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Posted by Jim V
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 21, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Stop the bias, share the road, learn to get along. The problem is with travelers such as SteveP from Parkside that lead with a judgement, insult and assumption "...spandex-wearing transients...incredulous looks...". Safe and unsafe travelers use all modes of transportation, and what we all need to do is learn to share the roads with respect and awareness. As soon as you pass judgment, you stop focusing on how your own transportation habits need to be and you BECOME the problem.

I hope both parties in the accident are OK.


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Posted by bike rider
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 21, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Steve, thanks for the good letter. I certainly hope that the group that you lead is not the same one that rides double and triple wide down First St, failing to stop and the lights because they want their entire group to stay together. I see a large group every week doing just that. I ride as well, but would never, ever disregard a traffic light, a stop sign or ride more than single file on a road. It is not smart, it is not legal and it is not sharing the road.


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Posted by Steve Rosefield
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 21, 2009 at 11:22 pm

Bike Rider,

Re: "I certainly hope that the group that you lead is not the same one that rides double and triple wide down First St, failing to stop and the lights because they want their entire group to stay together. I see a large group every week doing just that. I ride as well, but would never, ever disregard a traffic light, a stop sign or ride more than single file on a road. It is not smart, it is not legal and it is not sharing the road."

Thank you for your response. While I appreciate your comments regarding the safe and legal way to ride as a group, it further demonstrates some of the least well understood aspects of the law as it relates to cyclists and motorists. And that lack of understanding of the law by cyclists and motorists alike seems to be the most consistent source of aggravation on either side of the Lycra barrier.

I am going to break down a few of your points and respond with my best understanding of the issue. In at least a couple of cases I should be able to include a web link that will explore these subjects in more definitive detail than I could possibly produce on my own.

Edited quote -- "I certainly hope that the group that you lead is not the same one that rides double and triple wide down First St I ride as well, but would never, ever disregard a traffic light, a stop sign or ride more than single file on a road. It is not smart, it is not legal and it is not sharing the road."

As a practical point he Saturday group has not used First Street as a town exit precisely to avoid this traffic conflict. So far I have deemed this exit to be unwise for larger groups. However it is certainly not illegal to do so. The group generally rides "two up" (two side by side single file lines) or single file depending on the road, bike lane, available shoulder, traffic, and other road conditions. It is also possible that a rider will pass, or allow the group to pass, which may effectively cause riders to be three, and occasionally four abreast momentarily. This is a safe and legal practice. Below are links to some ridiculously detailed studies regarding this scenario. They are a worthwhile read, but if you don't have the patience to sift through the voluminous information, here is the best summary excerpt from the VeloNews column by Bob Mionske:

<<< A large group of cyclists is riding on the road — completely legal in every state, including Arizona (and California). The road is two lanes, one in each direction, with a double yellow line dividing the roadway. In accordance with Arizona (and California) law, the cyclists are taking the entire lane, and are riding two-abreast. A motorist approaches from behind.

Who has what rights and duties?

The cyclists have the right to take the lane, for at least one, and possibly two reasons. First, they are riding at the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing, and thus, are entitled to take the lane. Second, assuming the lane is too narrow to safely share, the cyclists are entitled to take the lane, even if they are not riding at the normal speed of traffic.

In contrast, the motorist has the duty not to cross the double yellow line to pass the cyclists. And assuming that the lane is too narrow to safely share, the motorist cannot legally use the lane to pass the cyclists, because Arizona has a statute requiring motorists to pass cyclists with a minimum of a three-foot safe distance. Therefore, the motorist has the duty to wait until it is safe to pass the cyclists.

Now, from the average motorist's perspective, the cyclists are illegally taking up the entire lane, preventing the motorist from exercising his right to the lane and it's got him so mad, he's going to call the Sheriff and complain about it! But from the law's perspective, the cyclists are riding legally and within their rights. They, and not the motorist, have the right to the lane. Of course, there's nothing in the law that prohibits the cyclists from allowing the motorist past, and if it's safe to do so, common courtesy would indicate that the cyclists should single up and allow the motorist to pass. However, that determination of when it is safe to single up and share the lane must be made by the cyclists, not the motorist.>>>

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

As a practical point our group makes every effort to be courteous to motorists and allow them to pass in as uninhibited manner as possible. However lack of understanding and general impatience often lead to a few terse looks on the road. I have always advised my fellow cyclists to approach riding on the road as if you are driving a farm vehicle. You have every right to be there, but planning to occupy your space on the road in the safest and most courteous manner is usually the best course.

Continued below


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Posted by Steve Rosefield
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 21, 2009 at 11:23 pm

Continued from above

Stop signs and traffic lights –

This is a more complicated area than you might expect, but generally speaking I strongly agree with your premise that these commands must be obeyed. It is also an ongoing subject of discussion within the cycling community.

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Stop Signs -- While you will probably be able to make a successful argument that it is possible to make a full stop without putting a foot on the ground, each cyclist is legally required to stop at a stop sign. As a practical application I will admit (without admitting personal guilt) that most groups roll through stop signs (after making a full stop) as a unit. While not to the letter of the law, it is usually the safest way for the group to proceed. My advice to motorists is to take a breath and give them some space. Even a group of more than a hundred riders will clear an intersection in less than a minute when rolling through as a group. This is far less disruptive to the flow of traffic than the alternative.

Traffic Signals – This is a slightly more complicated area than a stop sign because it involves an electronic traffic device. The law states that cyclist must make a full stop at traffic signals, but under certain conditions they may treat inoperative stop signals as stop signs just as a car may proceed through a red light if a signal is broken. Traffic signals are controlled by one of three methods (timer, induction loop, and video feed). Induction loops are the most common type in this area, and most will not be triggered by bicycles that are not primarily made of steel (which would be most bikes made in the last ten years that cost more than $500). Under that circumstance (I believe) cyclists are allowed to proceed with caution (yielding to traffic) after a full stop and a full cycle through the signal sequence. This is not often an issue as an automotive "sponsor" is usually in the area to trigger the signal. Unfortunately I cannot find a convenient link to support this statement, though I will continue to search and post it as available.

By the way, I apologize for co-opting this thread to continue this discussion and post information. As I have many cycling friends in this community I was monitoring this thread with the hope of finding the name and condition of the cyclist injured in this crash. I wish him, his family, and anyone else affected by the crash a speedy and full recovery.

Best regards and see you on the road,

Steve Rosefield


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Posted by Ken
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2009 at 11:24 pm

Banning cars from Main St is a great idea.


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Posted by spacini
a resident of Parkside
on Apr 22, 2009 at 8:47 am

Jim V and others chose to pick apart my comments to look for loopholes or to critique my use of adjectives, so let me please clarify the point I was trying to get across, using an analogy this time:
While it may be legal to impede car traffic my blocking lanes with multiple bike riders (knowing full well that it backs up traffic and enrages motorists), common sense would dictate that you may be endangering yourself by doing so. The best analogy I could come up with is the practice of lane splitting on the road by motorcycle riders. It's legal, but how many times to you hear of bikers dying from this questionable practice?
I like to ride also, but I'd rather ride on the sidewalk occassionally to avoid near misses (provided there are no pedestrians on the sidewalk) than to take my chances with cars on the road.
Ride safely.


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Posted by bike rider
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 22, 2009 at 10:19 am

Steve says "This is far less disruptive to the flow of traffic than the alternative."
It is only less disruptive when you are in the bicycle group! If you are a car, waiting for ONE vehicle to move at a time, it is NOT less disruptive to allow an entire group of riders to go at once. This kind of behavior is what enrages drivers and thereby endangers bikers. Stop being rude and start giving way, you will never win the car versus bike battle.
As for motorcycle lane splitters -- I observed a biker drag his metal-booted foot on the side of a car to try to force the driver further away. Wonder if that driver will give extra space to the next lane splitter or maybe swerve over at the last minute. Not every lane splitter is bad, nor is every bike rider. Just show some courtesy and stop trying to take the whole lanes. Single file please! And observe the traffic laws. You would be the first to complain if a car rolled through a stop sign.


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Posted by road cyclist
a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2009 at 11:28 am

I do alot of weekend rides around Pleasanton and I have to say there are plenty of cyclists who obey the traffic laws and still get honked at. A cyclist pulls up to a stop sign, unclips and puts their foot down, while a car pulls up after them. The cyclist starts out, legally, from the stop sign and the car still tries to go and honks or drivers yell, despite the fact that the cyclist was there first. Just because we don't move as fast as a car doesn't mean we don't have rights.

As for large groups who blow through stop signs, signals etc, I have no patience or respect for them. And the p-ton police should be handing out traffic tickets. I've seen cops in Fairfax, Sausalito and other Marin areas have a field day pulling over cyclists who disobey the rules of the road.

I agree the law applies to all of us...but so do the rights. Treat cyclists with care and most will treat motorists with respect.


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Posted by PW Reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Although I financially supported several friends who rode in the recent Cinderella bike ride in Pleasanton, I was dismayed to see the flagrant violations of traffic laws (blowing through the 4-way stop sign on Kottinger @ Bernal, Mirador @ Angela, etc.) The space between groups of riders for cars to go through the 4-way stop was enough if the bicyclists had stopped or even made Hollywood stops at those intersections. The Pleasanton Police Department previously informed the organizers of the event that the traffic laws needed to be obeyed (especially stop signs and signal lights), but there was total disregard by many of the riders.


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Posted by Rider
a resident of Stoneridge
on Apr 22, 2009 at 12:21 pm

To The Jackal's comment: 'Cars and bikes should not use the same roads.'

How about we spend our currently non-existent tax dollars to build bike lanes next to all of the roads in the county?

I wouldn't mind riding in a dedicated bike path everywhere I go, but frankly, most of the bike paths in Pleasanton seem to go nowhere useful. For instance, the Iron Horse trail runs from the corner of Santa Rita & Stoneridge to the corner of Valley & Busch. Other than the fact that the trail is using the old railroad right-of-way, I can't imagine a more useless place for a bike path. For bike paths to be useful, we need bike paths running along all of the major roads, which we currently don't have. I'd love to ride more on bike paths, but that means we need to spend many times more money than we currently to build bike paths that are actually useful for getting from one place to another.

A bicycle is a legal means of transportation for use on the public roads. There is no choice but to share the roads. Drivers need to be more careful about other users of the public roads & Cyclists/pedestrians also need to follow laws in their usage of the public roads.


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Posted by unclehomerr..
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 22, 2009 at 12:37 pm


48hrs... no news.

unclehomerr..


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Posted by emanon
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2009 at 2:52 pm

"PW reader" wrote:

"The Pleasanton Police Department previously informed the organizers of the event that the traffic laws needed to be obeyed (especially stop signs and signal lights), but there was total disregard by many of the riders."

Then they need to inform the organizers of the event (and follow through on it) that next time there will be officers with full ticket books there, observing and enforcing.

It's also important from the law-abiding cyclist's point of view, that Pleasanton PD enforce vehicle laws that impact them. Cars speeding down Santa Rita caught by speed traps rarely endanger cyclists; but a car downtown, failing to signal a turn or a merge, or ignoring a stop sign or red light, robs the cyclist of information he needs to stay safe - and even alive.

Like the cyclist group mentioned above, such drivers don't bother because they don't believe they will be held accountable. Our police disabusing them of that notion will be performing a service to all the rest of us, cyclists and drivers alike, who try to be safe.


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Posted by A Dad
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 22, 2009 at 3:24 pm

I ride a bike. I drive a car. I have a couple of kids who would kind of miss their Dad if he didn't come home from a Sunday ride.

As a car driver and err, human being, I would never want to look a couple of kids in the eye one day and say I know your Mom or Dad is critically injured or dead, but he was kind of slow/two abreast/whatever and I know with a little more tolerance and patience this could have been avoided, but here's my lawyer with the book that says the law was on my side, so there you go kids, that's life. And your Moms death. No-one gets over that, ever.

I am not anti car or anti driver. I drive 15,000 miles a year in my car like most of us cyclists! I like my car. It just happens that as a driver and person I realize that I will never feel good or 'right' about an accident however caused so I take care. Particularly realize I do not want to go out of my way to assert my 'legal rights' with a moving vehicle against flesh and bone, even when I see cyclists doing something blatantly wrong, by which I mean defying COMMON SENSE rather than law #xyx.

As a cyclist, I also accept that car-car accidents happen and car-bike accidents will happen also, even when all parties are taking proper care. There is an element of risk of getting on the road in a car or bike. The consequence of an accident just multiplies tremendously by my choice to ride sometimes. I take the inherent risk. I just don't expect anyone to deliberately or subversively increase my risks because of general prejudice or anti bike sentiments, whether they don't like what I am wearing or they have a view that they 'sshouldn't' have to wait 15 seconds to pass safely. With life at stake it's kind of crazy to be aggressive don't you think?

I completely support cyclists getting busted for law violation which infuriates drivers and ratchets up the anger. There are 99% good people out there who do not want to hit you and have the weight of the consequence on their mind because you flew the stop sign.

Face a fact cyclists, the majority of drivers (and cyclists) will never be educated on the finer points of traffic law, and you will never win the car bike clash. So cyclists don't rely only the book, use common sense and courtesy, drivers the same and particularly as you have the one ton blunt instrument at your control.

For me, on both sides of the fence its about being a good citizen and realizing the awful consequences of car bike impacts. Drive and ride carefully.

And whoa ! regarding a specific safety issue, absolutely no in-car texting ever PLEASE. Law enforcement please bust anyone heavily for doing this. How crazy would it be if you saw them with a newspaper resting on the wheel or pen and paper in their hands at 60mph? Its a life that being played with just up ahead. Driver- texters writing the next 'urgent' message are killers in waiting. Its just not acceptable at all at any time for other road users, cyclists and motorist alike.

None of this relates to the accident. I have no facts to the accident at all and do not wish to imply any responsibility to rider or driver in this case. Best wishes to the injured party regardless of 'fault'.

Jeans and car in the week. Spandex and bike on the weekends. Your neighbor with a family. Take it easy out there.


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Posted by Joy
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 22, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Have any of you ever been to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission meeting to voice your opinion on these important issues? Seems like it would be more effective than voicing them here.

Just a thought.


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Posted by unclehomerr..
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 23, 2009 at 9:08 am


72hrs - no update to vague original story. This used to be a NEWSpaper!!

unclehomerr..


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Posted by The Jackal
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 24, 2009 at 8:17 pm

Steve: thanks for making my point.


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Posted by Steve Rosefield
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 24, 2009 at 9:36 pm

Hi Joy,

I actually went to a couple of the committee meetings last year. Listening a lot, and occasionally speaking, helped me to realize just how complex and difficult planning for these transportation usage issues is with limited space and resources. I believe that the group that is doing this work for the city is doing a very competent job of trying to find reasonable compromises for all concerned. I was particularly impressed with the city traffic engineer, whose name I cannot recall (Michael something, perhaps?). He had an excellent grasp of the legal and practical aspects of road uses for all types of users, as well as a firm feel for what was achievable. While it is hard to give Pleasanton much more than an average grade for improvements in making our roads more accommodating for all users, I came away from those meetings with a much clearer appreciation for the task. It inspired me to study further and become more involved as appropriate.

I very much appreciate the posting from "A Dad". I think he articulated many important points. Perhaps the most important of which is that we are all humans beings that deserve respect and care. It is easy to make a mistake on the road, regardless if you are driving a car, walking, or riding a bicycle. And distractions are everywhere. If you doubt that, I invite you to click the link below and see if you can count how many passes of the basketball are made:

Web Link

Let's all make it home to our families and loved ones this weekend.

Best regards to all Steve Rosefield


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Posted by Traffic Cycling Instructor
a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2009 at 10:53 am


Steve, you've written a lot of good stuff here, and I agree with most of what you say, but I think you haven't really addressed one of the fundamental points being made. Many of the posters here, like The Jackal for instance, seem to believe that it is fundamentally and inherently too dangerous for bicyclists to share the road with cars, and, therefore, those who do are morally responsible for what happens to them. That last part is implied, but I really think that that is what they believe. That's just plain wrong, of course, but we need to address this root misconception before we can make any progress. The sad thing is that even many bicyclists agree with this basic sentiment, like spacini for example: "I like to ride also, but I'd rather ride on the sidewalk occassionally to avoid near misses (provided there are no pedestrians on the sidewalk) than to take my chances with cars on the road."

Of course it is true that if a bicyclist and vehicle try to occupy the same space at the same time, the result is never good for the bicyclist. From that one may conclude that by not sharing space, but remaining in totally physically separated space, is the only safe thing to do. And even if you point out that it is practically impossible to achieve that (there is not enough space or money to have grade separation at every intersection of every street, alley and driveway), it may seem reasonable to conclude that at least risk can be mitigated by limiting how much time one rides in space used by vehicular traffic... so that should be the goal. Sadly, that is the goal of many bicyclists, and they end up getting killed because of it.

They end up getting killed because of their goal to not share space with motor vehicles as much as possible mostly because they overestimate the very low risk from overtaking faster same-direction traffic behind them, and underestimate the relatively high risk from cross traffic ahead of them. The particular crash discussed here is very typical - it happened at an intersection, and has nothing to do with what most bicyclists seem to fear: being hit from behind.

Whether the driver or bicyclist ran the red light is only relevant to the question of who is legally responsible, but it is irrelevant to the issue discussed here: traffic cycling safety. Regardless of the color of the light, no defensive driver, motorcycle or bicyclist has any business entering an intersection prior to "clearing" it. That's the lesson here, not that bicyclists and motorists don't belong on the same roads.

I mean, if you're going to blindly believe that all motorists are going to always drive legally and never overlook you, and all you have to do is stay out of their way, yeah, you probably don't belong on the road. But if you learn and follow the rules yourself, and remain vigilant for those who are not (include the inevitable red-light runners), you will be safe by any reasonable measure.

Speaking of learning and following the rules, CVC 21202 and 21208, the laws that allegedly require cyclists to "keep right" and "in bike lanes" respectively, have so many exceptions that they, in practice, arguably mostly do not apply in most urban and suburban environments. Not only are cyclists not required to ride as far right as practicable (or in bike lanes) when riding the speed of other traffic, or to avoid hazards like door zones, or when preparing to turn left, but also whenever approaching ANY PLACE where a right turn is authorized. That means any time you're merely approaching any intersection, alley, mall entrance or driveway, you have no obligation to keep to the right side, or in the bike lane when applicable. Think about that.

I also want to address this one comment from "The Jackal":

"Cyclists can argue this point forever but they will never be safer when travelling next to cars."

Traveling next to cars is actually relatively safe, but often (more often than almost all cyclists realize) traveling IN FRONT of cars is often much safer, especially when approaching "any place where a right turn is authorized." (which is exactly why those exceptions are in 21202 and 21208).

What you don't want to do is appear out of seemingly nowhere in an intersection, which is exactly what happens when bicyclists are traveling in space not used for vehicular travel as they approach an intersection, and the enter vehicular space only suddenly and momentarily in the intersection itself. Even riding in bike lanes arguably makes bicyclists more likely to be overlooked and hit, because bike lanes make it easier for motorists to ignore bicyclists.

In short, bicycling safety is almost exclusively about bicyclist behavior, and has almost nothing to do with whether the space used by a bicyclist at any given moment is shared by motorists or not. To not be hit, you need to try to be as visible and predictable as you can (while remaining vigilant for rule-breakers), and that often means riding in vehicular space where drivers are paying the most attention, and riding according to the vehicular rules of the road, which are designed specifically to avoid crashes.



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Posted by part-time cyclists
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2009 at 12:49 pm

I want to commend Jackel for saying what most of us think. I truely believe that most people are annoyed when they are driving peacefully and a hoard of cyclists are taking up over half the road. I ride my bike 3-4 times a week and always use the sidewalks or bike lane and stay close to the curb. It is for my safety and others. I use cross walks and obey the signals 'walk' and 'don't walk' (unlike the other). I understand you feel entitled to the road, but its really not fair to complain and blame the car when the cyclist gets injured. I am willing to admit that 'sometimes' it might be the drivers fault...if you guys will admit that the law need to be changed. I think it would be better for everyone if the cyclist ride in a straight line. Not side by side, or even 3-4 riders wide. Maybe change the law to limit the number of cyclist that can ride together. Just FYI, there are plenty of organized cyclist rides in the area that are planned and safe. AKA- there is a time and a place to ride.
PS. keep your head on a swivel guys...its dangerous out there on the ROADWAYS.


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Posted by Traffic Cycling Instructor
a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2009 at 2:19 pm

part-time cyclist... you would like to see the law change to require cyclists to ride in single-file. At least you recognize that the law does not require that now.

Why do you want cyclists to ride in single-file? So they are easier to pass? So they are safer? Both?

Groups aside, most of the time cyclists are riding too far to the right, wondering why everyone is passing them so closely. Unless the lane is wide enough for a car and cyclist to both comfortably fit within the lane side-by-side (see CVC 21202), the cyclist should be out in the center of the lane, or even in the left tire track, but certainly no where near the curb or edge of the road, to make it crystal clear ASAP that drivers approaching from behind must notice the cyclist, slow down for the cyclist, and pass by changing lanes only when safe to do so. The alternative to this - riding near the edge of the road, inviting close passes, is simply not safe (again, unless the lane happens to be wide enough, but they rarely are).

As to groups, what difference does it make if it's one cyclist in the center of the lane, or an entire group taking up the whole lane? Either way, you must slow down, and change lanes to pass only when it is safe to do so. Whether it's a group or a single cyclist riding properly should make very little, if any, difference to you.

Bicyclists have as much right to be in the road, slowing you down, as anyone has to stop in the middle of the lane (to back up and parallel park, for example), to cause traffic to stop in order to be able to cross the road, or to slow others down while going on a Sunday drive, or while hauling a huge slow-moving load of something.

Relax. The only reason you're bothered by cyclists in the road is because you have really accepted their right to be there. Get over yourselves. Accept our right to be there, and all will be well.





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Posted by part-time cyclist
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Instructor, well put. I mean, we disagree about what is safe, but you are being respectful. Thank you
Now, I do recognize the laws and obey them. I slow down on the street when they are in front of me. I don't ever want to be involved in an accident. I never want to hurt anyone, (plus the driver is always at fault). The groups riding I was referring to is when the speed limit is 35-45 mph and the group of cyclist (20 or so)are going 20 mph and there is no room to pass. So I (as well as others) are stuck going bike speed and I feel that is comparable to "impeding traffic". I understand its legal, but I feel that should change.
Are the rules the same for everyone? What about skate boarders or scooters? What about a rider pulling his children in the "trailer" that attaches to the back of the bike? I assume you're mostly referring to the real 'cyclists' with proper equipment and bright colors and a proper bicycles. But shouldn't the rules be the same for everyone? Now, what about the 13-16 year old kids on bmx bikes? They travel about 5-10 mph. Should they be in my "left tire track' or the middle of Santa Rita road? What about riding a bike while holding a dog on leash? Does he stay with me in the middle lane? I apologize for the flurry of questions. You seem really informed and some of these are valid questions.


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Posted by Traffic Cycling Instructor
a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2009 at 4:37 pm

Part-time cyclist, it's all too easy to get into pointless debates on the web, so let's not do that, but you're making interesting points, and asking good questions.

The rules are not the same for everyone. However, CVC 21200 makes it clear that bicyclists (whether they are in bright clothes or not, whether hauling a child or not, whether on road bike or on bmx bike) in particular are subject to all the rules and responsibilities that apply to drivers of vehicles that govern behavior on the roadway (so cyclists have a right to be in traffic lanes are required to stop at stop signs, but equipment rules like headlights and horns do not apply, unless they are specific to bicycles). In contrast, skateboarders and push-scooter riders are, legally, pedestrians.

The speed of the bicyclist, whether 5 mph or 25 mph, is usually not very relevant to determining the appropriate position in the lane. Other factors are much more important. If, for example, faster traffic is present and the lane is wide enough to share, and it is safe and reasonable to be there, the cyclist should be off to the side sharing the lane to allow the faster traffic to pass. But if faster traffic is not present, or the lane is too narrow for side-by-side sharing within the lane, then he shouldn't share regardless of speed. As I said before, sharing a narrow lane is simply not safe, regardless of how fast you're going. For the most part. I will say that on hills I'm much more likely to be sharing the lane on the way up at 5-10 mph, than on the way down at 25-50 mph...

We do disagree on what is safe, but I suspect I've read and researched this topic much more than you have. In particular, studies on car-bike crashes are eye-opening. Traffic cycling safety has a lot in common with defensive driving, and motorcycle safety, and even SCUBA and airplane safety - and stems from studying actual crashes, and their causes, and what could have been done to prevent them. Much of what is realized when you do that flies in the face with what convention safety has to say about bicycling safety (which mostly amounts to simplistically "stay out of the way of cars!").

If you're interested, here are some good resources.

'Effective Cycling' by John Forester (most of it is dated now, but advice on how to ride in traffic is still the best out there. It's still "the bible" on traffic cycling).

'Cyclecraft' by John Franklin (of British origin, but the North American edition is about to be published).

'Streetsmarts' by John S. Allen (dry, but available for free in PDF on the web - google for it).

bicyclesafe.com (quick and dirty, but helpful, and the price is right)

'The Art of Cycling', Robert Hurst (has some serious problems, perhaps due to the subconscious predilection for scofflaw cycling by the messenger-cyclist author, but the stuff on vigilance and personal responsibility is unique and outstanding, and worth the price of the book in my opinion).



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Posted by Richard
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 28, 2009 at 5:46 pm

I recently purchased directional turn signals for my bike and the 1st day I used them they saved my life at an intersection where a truck was making a right turn.
It's a no brainer. I purchased mine at www.safetybikesignals.com.
I just can't understand why more riders do not have these on their bike. Do You?


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Posted by Traffic Cycling Instructor
a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2009 at 5:58 pm

I use my arms to signal my turns, Richard, how would electronic signals help? Because they signal an intent to turn continuously? I rarely see a need for that, except maybe on steep downhill left turns.

The way to avoid being hit by right turning trucks (or cars or buses) is to move away from the curb/edge whenever you approach any intersection where you are not turning right. This requires looking back, and, if someone is there, potentially negotiating for right of way prior to the move, which takes time and space and is why you should initiate this relatively early. In fact, I like to move far enough left so that those who are turning right have enough room to pass me on my right to make their turn. It's sad to see cyclists stop at the curb, often with their foot on the curb, oblivious to the perilous position they are putting themselves in as right turners pass them on the left.



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Posted by Traffic Cycling Instructor
a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2009 at 6:22 pm

By the way, for anyone who wants to get an idea of what safe traffic cycling looks like, please see the CyclistLorax channel on youtube.

Web Link

CAVEAT: these videos are made with cameras attached to helmets (forward and back), so, in order to preserve film integrity, the cyclists use rearview mirrors, and do not turn their heads to look back. This is the only exception in these videos to how safe traffic cycling should look like. If the lack of head turning bothers you, that's good.


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Posted by part-time cyclist
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2009 at 7:05 pm

Instructor, thank you. I wasn't trying to debate. Like my name implies, I am a part time rider. I appriciate all of the research you have put in on this subject. Honestly, I have put nothing into it and my questions were sincere. Thanks for sharing your info.


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Posted by Traffic Cycling Instructor
a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2009 at 7:46 pm


Hey, if just one more person learns to be a bit more accepting about bicyclists in the road slowing them down, it's all worth it.

One more book that was mentioned by Steve above, I believe, is Bicycling and the Law by Bob Mionske. Not so much a how to do it book as a great explanation of the law as it applies to bicyclists.

I really like the clear explanation about "impeding traffic" in that book, and why it does not apply to bicyclists who are traveling at a reasonable speed for bicyclists. That reminds me, going back to your question about bmx bikers - if they are going slower than a "reasonable speed for bicyclists", then they're arguably in violation of the slow vehicle law. But for bicyclists -- riding solo or in a group -- moving along at a reasonable speed for bicyclists (not cars!), they are not impeding traffic (legally), by definition.

As to bicycling traffic safety, remember, the basic principle of defensive driving is that almost all crashes can be avoided by EITHER driver. There is no reason that should not apply to bicyclists who are riding legally, vigilantly, conspicuously, predictably and defensively (which isn't necessarily intuitive, but not that hard to learn either).



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Posted by Riding more than 2 abreast is illegal in Ptown
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 28, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Per Pleasanton Municipal Code 11.52.090

11.52.090 Riding two abreast.
Persons riding or operation bicycles shall not ride or operate bicycles more than two abreast, except on paths or parts of a roadway set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles where it is safe to do so. (Prior code 4-2.46)


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Posted by Traffic Cycling Instructor
a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2009 at 9:46 am

That Pleasanton ordinance prohibiting cyclists from riding more than two abreast needs to be challenged on the grounds that it violates CVC 21:

----------------------------------------------------------
Uniformity of Code

21. Except as otherwise expressly provided, the provisions of this code are applicable and uniform throughout the State and in all counties and municipalities therein, and no local authority shall enact or enforce any ordinance on the matters covered by this code unless expressly authorized herein.

Web Link
----------------------------------------------------------


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Posted by You need to get past chapter 1
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 29, 2009 at 10:56 am

The CVC doesn't expressly allow OR prohibit more than two abreast riding. It DOES allow local authorities to regulate the operation of bicycles on local roadways. I would recommend reading the CVC section on bicycles (21200-21212).

CVC 21206. This chapter does not prevent local authorities, by ordinance, from regulating the registration of bicycles and the parking and operation of bicycles on pedestrian or bicycle facilities, provided such regulation is not in conflict with the provisions of this code.


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Posted by Traffic Cycling Instructor
a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2009 at 11:07 am

CVC 21 is quite clear, "no local authority shall enact or enforce any ordinance on the matters covered by this code unless expressly authorized herein".

Yes, 21206 does expressly authorize local authorities to regulate "registration of bicycles and the parking and operation of bicycles on pedestrian or bicycle facilities", but it does not permit local authorities to regulate the operation of bicycles on highways (roads), which is exactly what the Pleasanton ordinance attempts to do when it tries to prohibit cyclists from riding more than two abreast "except on paths or parts of a roadway set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles". In fact, it is on the "paths or parts of a roadway set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles" where the City can regulate bicyclist operation by ordinance, but not on the roads.




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Posted by san
a resident of Pheasant Ridge
on May 26, 2009 at 2:05 pm

it sounds like the bike was at fauilt he had to stop on red light


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