Make Video Evidence Ticketable by Police – the Movement

If you video a tailgating motorist blasting the horn at you, revving their engine, maybe “brush passing” inches from your elbow, that’s assault.
And if that motorist actually hits you or your bicycle, that’s battery.

CaptureBut if that callous and aggressive attack on you isn’t witnessed by a police officer, that video evidence cannot be used– legally– to cite or arrest the perpetrator.
Here’s the site of the organization behind the movement to change things:

http://www.3footcycling.com/castro-valley-california-incident-bike-mounted-video-deconstruction-and-analysis/

“We are very happy to announce that our mobilization and pressure resulted in a Summit at CHP Golden Gate Division Headquarters with Chief Ernie Sanchez, a key representative from CHP Headquarters, key staff members from CHP GGD, 3FootCycling.com’s Founder, Craig Davis, and our member cyclist. It was a respectful and productive meeting where CHP stated that they are prohibited by law from citing reckless driving or 3 Foot law violations using bicycle mounted video evidence. They also said that our persistent pressure forced an internal review and learning process that that they appreciated.”

Get involved on the national level here: 3footcycling.com

SB 1464 Vetoed by Gov. Brown

Hopes of the Governor signing the watered down “3 Feet Bill“, or Senate Bill 1464 by Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, were dashed when he vetoed the bill on new-found fears of state liability in the event of a collision. The governor wrote in his veto message that, “Crossing a double yellow line is an inherently dangerous act that increases the risk of head-on collisions”, and noted that the law could result in the state being sued if such collisions occurred. While the section allowing drivers to cross a double yellow traffic marking remains unchanged from its first incarnation, and having been vetted by both houses twice, the Governor’s fear of lawsuit, (or protecting the assets of the state depending on your view) prevented him from signing the Bill into Law.

About 20 other states have a “3 Foot Rule” so there must be some precedent to indemnify the state from  motorist collisions resulting from passing a person riding a bike.

3 foot states

The good news, at least in Sacramento, is that new census figures show less cars being used in the Sacramento area according to an article in the Sacramento Bee.  Highlights of the article:

  • number of households without a car in the Sacramento-area  rose more than 25 percent from 43,700 in 2007 to 55,600 in 2011
  • More than 90 percent of Sacramento-area workers who make more than $25,000 annually and bike to work, also own a car, census figures show.

So despite the lack of a 3 foot safety buffer, there are less drivers likely to infringe on a bike rider’s “space”, and even people that own a car are using their bicycles more. The decreasing number of drivers, or those willing to drive is shrinking the states’ revenue stream from motor vehicle operation.

And we pointed out in an earlier opinion, the trend in decreasing motor vehicle use will create a funding gap for the nation and the state, that will trickle down to the city that we illustrated here.

Perhaps with this growing realization, the Governor signed Assembly Bill 2189 by Democratic Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, Los Angeles, giving undocumented immigrants the right to legally drive in California.

Documents expected to be provided by the President’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program were not approved by California’s list of specific documents to obtain a drivers license, and this Bill adds the documents to the list, thus enabling the undocumented to become documented licensed drivers. Voila! A short lived artificial stimulant is created by increasing the number of people who can legally drive in the state. With the veto of SB1464, are bike riders at risk from these new drivers anymore than they already are?

Assemblyman Cedillo contends that issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants will enhance public safety by ensuring that they are trained and tested, and making it more likely that they will buy insurance. Or not, as the state of New Mexico discovered after passing a similar law.

From the article, New Mexico State Rep. James White said,””The law was originally designed to increase the number of insured drivers and there really is no evidence that has happened.”

Considering AB 2189 may affect as many as 400 – 450,000 undocumented immigrants in the President’s program, Assemblyman Cedillo figures it would apply to less than one in every four undocumented immigrants in California.

All these “new” drivers are more customers for the gas pump and car market to slow the rate of diminishing revenue to state coffers.

While it would be nice for California to join the growing list of states more interested in their citizen’s safety than maintaining the status quo,  commonsense should prevail among road users so that everyone makes it home safely. Statistically speaking, it is still safer to ride your bike down the street than it is to walk across it.

SB 1310 Vetoed by Gov. Brown

The “Distracted Driving Bill” or Senate Bill 1310  by Democratic Senator Joe Simitian of Palo Alto would have raised the base fine for motorists who violate the texting or hand-held cellphone bans by $10.

In his veto message Governor Brown said that the increase was unnecessary because current fines and penalties for cell phone (use) and texting while driving are a powerful deterrent, and “I severely doubt that it will further reduce violations.”

Thanks to Governor Brown’s “severe doubts”, we’ll never know if increasing the fine would reduce violations or not.

We’d like to point out if current fines and penalties were such a powerful deterrent, there would be no need for the Senate and House to have spent their time and our money by passing the bill and placing it on his desk.

Sometimes at the start of an event such as your first century ride or Ironman, one has severe doubts about completing the event. The results are guaranteed if you fail to show up and start.

The law applies to cyclists as well, so don’t think that drivers of motor vehicles are getting a pass. If you are caught multitasking on two wheels you may be cited just as equally. With additional “fees” (taxes) tacked on to the fines and penalties, the original ticket cost of $20 to $50 balloons to $213 and $336.

Perhaps the doubting Governor is right; thanks to this veto we’ll never know.

You may thank the Governor at his contact page and use the pull-down menu to select SB 1310 as the subject of your e-mail.

Why Cyclists Run Red Lights

One of the common complaints of drivers against cyclists is that cyclists run red lights.

This complaint is echoed across the water to Australia, where researchers from the Monash University Accident Research Centre surveyed over 2,000 cyclists to find out why. In a paper published in Accident Analysis and Prevention, the researchers broke down the reasons given and found that “the most common reasons  cited for riding through red lights could be at least partially mitigated by more inclusive road infrastructure, amendments to road rules and targeted education programs“. Based on the research,  there are 3 mitigation measures to reduce infractions: infrastructure, laws, and education.

Infrastructure

Sensor Trip Marker

Sensor Trip Marker

Apparently cyclists “down under” are just as frustrated at signalized intersections that do not sense the presence of their presence just as many of the signals here in the OC fail in a likewise fashion.

Supposedly we are to have painted decals on the road sensors that will indicate where to place the bike so as to trip the sensor, and the researchers in Australia suggest doing the same. When you see one, be sure to let us know.

From the release:

Dr Johnson said infrastructure adjustments could help resolve the problem of detector loops not being triggered by bikes and leaving cyclists stranded during low-traffic periods.

“Cyclists across Australia were frustrated by their inability to change traffic lights,” Dr Johnson said.

“At some sites, cyclists can activate the signal change if they ride over the right spot. Painting that spot with a bike symbol may be an easy and very cheap solution. At other sites, we need to reconsider how these detector loops are calibrated to ensure all roads users can activate the signal change.”

The sensitivity of traffic sensors can be adjusted, although  more intersections are using cameras at intersections to sense traffic flow and trigger signal changes.  So although you properly rode all the way to the intersection, if the light doesn’t change what do you do; especially if you’re trying to turn left in a two lane turn pocket?

As the suburbs of the OC decay into the high-density tax generating urban developments that are needed to accommodate  growth in population, infrastructure design and implementation becomes a key in allowing all road users to go about their way in a timely and safe manner.

An earlier survey in England found:

“While 54 per cent of cyclists surveyed agreed that cyclists should improve their behaviour by sticking to the Highway Code at junctions, 48 per cent said that poor road layout at such junctions was their top safety concern.”

Martin Gibbs, policy director at British Cycling, said: “Some junctions are so badly designed that people on bikes feel they have to choose between riding legally and riding safely, and this urgently needs addressing.” Mr Gibbs added: “Cycle provision and cycle safety must be designed into roads and junctions before they are built, and existing problem junctions re-engineered, so we create an environment in which people can cycle safely and no-one feels excused from obeying the law.”

Alton Cycle Sensor

Alton Cycle Sensor – LF – credit BdS

As a recent example of cyclist provisioning into roads before they are built, look no further than the most recent new pavement in the OC , Alton, in Lake Forest, continuing from  from Trabuco/Irvine reveals a cycle sensor placed in the pavement in the bike lane  to trip the new signal – yay!

With all the new and planned development about to occur in the County, not to mention the 54 road projects approved by the OCTA, it’s encouraging to see progress in the implementation of cycle-friendly road design in the OC. Kudos to the city of Lake Forest! (and happy Anniversary)

Brea is another city with these sensors, and they work great – when properly calibrated!

Laws

So the motorists are right, cyclists are running red lights all over the planet! Madness, Mayhem, and Chaos ensues! Or not.

Enforcement of flagrant stop sign and red light violations will help curb bad behavior of both cyclists and motorists, while good infrastructure will encourage safer travel and better behavior by all parties.

As far as amending road rules; California could adopt the Idaho Stop Law. After all, there isn’t a “requirement” that drivers “put a foot on the ground” to indicate a complete stop. Even if you can track-stand for 15 minutes, some jurisdictions will consider you “moving” and issue a citation.

Carl Bianchi is regarded as the father of the Idaho Stop and says, ““Police were ticketing bike riders for failing to come to a complete, foot-down stop. Judges, however, saw “technical violations” clogging up their courts. “We recognized that the realities of bicycling were a lot different than driving a car,” Bianchi said. But the year after the Idaho Stop became law, bicycle injuries in the state actually declined by 14.5 percent.For a history of how the law came to be, see here.

For a “debate” about the law, see here. A FAQ about the law is here, and the San Francisco Bike Coalition’s 4 point plan to “Idaho-ize” California is here.

Education

With respect to the Idaho Stop, it would appear greater awareness and education would be required throughout the state and in fact education was a requirement in the original 1982 version. In 1988 the  provision authorizing bicycle safety education programs was eliminated from the codified statute because as it turned out, special training was unnecessary; people naturally understood the concept and respected the right of way of others.

Education is an on-going effort for road users, developers, and  traffic engineers alike. New technologies, lessons learned (ie: best practices), and new laws all require an occasional update to our worldview.

The OCBC incorporates the latest and best practices in its cyclist education and outreach efforts to teach rights and responsibilities, safe and defensive riding skills, and good behaviors. Sign up for our next class here. Additionally, we provide input to planning processes to represent cyclist interests – contact us for details.

Wrap Up

Since there are many cities in Orange County, not all have their signals synchronized with their neighbors, nor are all signal detectors set to detect cyclists. You can help identify and fix this by noting the intersection, and contacting the appropriate city through our Street Repair page, or tell us by Blowing the Whistle On It, and we’ll take it from there.

For answering the question of why cyclists run red lights, sometimes it’s because the car-centric infrastructure gives them no other choice, sometimes the signal timing is too short to safely cross an intersection at bicycle speed, and sometimes it’s because they’re just jerks willing to risk their life at the expense of another’s right of way.

While better enforcement, or (sadly) natural selection will take care of the latter, join us to lead Orange County to a more cycle friendly future.