Those darned self-entitled cyclists

A parking lot for bicycles in Niigata, Niigata, Japan
A parking lot for bicycles in Niigata, Niigata, Japan

We hear it all the time. “Those damned self-entitled cyclists!” We hear the word privilege thrown around too. Terms generally used to refer to socio-economic issues. They are often invoked in discussions about running through stop signs and stop lights. I’ve always found it frustrating, as I suspect that many of the people that are saying it are using it as a slur without really understanding what it means.

So what is the term “self-entitled” even supposed to mean, if anything? I think we can all agree to the context there. It implies that some people believe that cyclists believe they have a right to ignore certain traffic laws. Yes – I know that was confusing, some people believe that cyclists believe… I’ve always tried to be very pragmatic about stop sign and stop light running. We all know it is illegal in most places. Many are working to change that, but until then I couldn’t imagine any cyclist honestly believing that running through stop lights was their “right.”

Damn I’m naive…  Keep reading →

Sacramento woman recovers bike from Craigslist ad

From CBS Sacramento

Bike thefts linked to Strava

Strava_Feed_iphone6A recent news story from Albuquerque, NM ends with a dire sounding warning about using GPS tracking apps:

Authorities also say a big tip to prevent having your bike stolen out of your home is to avoid using any GPS tracking apps to map and share your routes. That can lead thieves straight to where you store your expensive ride.

“High-end bike owners, retailers believe theft ring taking stolen cycles to Juarez”

The implication here is that bike thieves are monitoring ride-sharing sites like Strava and Map My Ride, figuring out where routes start or end and targeting those houses for theft. How much of a threat is this really, though? Keep reading →

California DUI law and bikes

20150711_152006The vast majority of people I talk to either think that DUI laws apply equally to bikes, or not at all. But both of those groups are wrong.

Up until recently, I myself was in the first group. The group that believe that the same penalties and fines for driving a car while intoxicated apply to bikes. I imagine this line of thinking has to do with the “bikes follow the same laws as cars” mantra. You know, the phrase that is constantly used against cycling when someone rolls a stop sign, but completely ignored when we’re told to get out of the lane.

On first glance the law would actually seem to support this notion as well. While many states have DUI laws that refer only to “motor vehicles,” California does not: Keep reading →

One earbud only please…

Do you recall that scene in The Hunt for Red October where Sean Connery’s character asks to verify the distance to target… one ping only… ?

Well California SB 491, which became enforceable Jan 1 2016, now says “One earbud only, please.” Keep reading →

Create demand. Suppliers will follow.

20150910_171233As long as there are people willing to buy stolen bikes, there are people willing to supply them. While we can all do things to help protect us as individual riders, and our bikes, it doesn’t really go to the source of the problem. Many local jurisdictions have come up with some great and creative programs to try and stem the supply. But as long as bike theft is a relatively safe activity (as far as illegal, slimy activities go) it will continue to run rampant.

This is actually part of what was driving my recent post about bicycle licensing. Sure, the original article was written somewhat tongue-in-cheek (something that the folks over on reddit seemed to have missed.) It is easy to argue for bike licensing as an anti-theft activity, because, well, bike licensing ain’t ever gonna happen™. But it drives to a real, different way of thinking about bike theft.

Keep reading →

SURPRISE: I’m all in favor of bicycle licensing

bikepl8Let’s be clear what I’m talking about first. I’m not talking about a special license for people that would be required to operate a bicycle on the roads.  As as been stated over and over, most cyclists are actually already licensed drivers. What I’m talking about is a license (or registration) on the bicycle itself. Yup. I’m actually 100% in favor of this. This will probably surprise some of the motorists that like to bring this up as a requirement or them to feel like they need to share the road with me.

And I will undoubtedly piss off some of my fellow cyclists. But let me tell you why… Keep reading →

Tacky Behavior

NBC Bay Area reports that the CHP is investigating the dumping of tacks on a popular local cycling route. Kings Mountain Road, which climbs to Skyline Blvd near Woodside, CA, has generated several reports of cyclists getting flats. Keep reading →

Mayor set to veto SF stop sign ordinance

By Mayor_Ed_Lee.jpg: Nancy Pelosi derivative work: Tktru (Mayor_Ed_Lee.jpg) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In a disappointing yet not entirely unexpected move, San Francisco mayor Ed Lee has threatened to veto pending legislation that would change enforcement of specific traffic violations by cyclists.

I’m not willing to trade away safety for convenience, and any new law that reaches my desk has to enhance public safety, not create potential conflicts that can harm our residents.
— “Lee says he’ll veto legislation OKing rolling stops for cyclists.” SFGate.

Keep reading →

Reducing, or not even getting, tickets

Police on bicycle in San FranciscoBig changes afoot for traffic violations for cyclists.

In San Francisco, an ordinance co-sponsored by city supervisors John Avalos, Jane Kim and Eric Mar appears poised to pass. This ordinance will change stop sign violations by cyclists to the the lowest priority of the police department. Functionally, this will create a similar situation to the Idaho Stop law, but within the city boundaries only. In the state of California (unlike some other states) an actual change in the law would have to take place at the state level.

At this time,  6 of the 11 supervisors support the ordinance. Those currently in favor are Avalos, Breed, Campos, Kim, Mar and Wiener. According to KQED, supervisors Christensen, Cohen and Farrell are currently undecided

Supervisor Malia Cohen has not yet taken a position on the issue, said aide Yoyo Chan. “We are still continuing to hear from all perspectives,” Chan said in an email.

— “Majority of S.F. Supervisors Back ‘Idaho Stop’ Proposal for Cyclists” KQED.

That is the majority required to move the ordinance along to the mayor. However, support of Mayor Ed Lee is still unclear, and it would take a vote of 9 supervisors to override his veto should it occur.

This shift has come about in no small part due to a recent “stop in” demonstration on the famous Wiggle of San Francisco.

By Mayor_Ed_Lee.jpg: Nancy Pelosi derivative work: Tktru (Mayor_Ed_Lee.jpg) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

At the state level, there was another change. Governor Jerry Brown has signed a law creating a means to allow cyclists and pedestrians that have received a traffic citation to have their fines reduced by attending traffic school. These diversion programs would be set up and run by the local jurisdictions. This is similar to the system already in place for motor vehicle moving violations. As the BikingInLA blog points out, the provides more than just a reduction in fines. Instead, it creates a unique opportunity to educate. And there are certainly enough folks out there that could do with a little bit of that.

Ed Lee photo credit: By Mayor_Ed_Lee.jpg: Nancy Pelosi derivative work: Tktru (Mayor_Ed_Lee.jpg) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons