Police crack down on WBWD

According to one letter to the editor in the daily camera that the (unknown if Boulder or CU) Police used Winter Bike to Work Day as an opportunity to capture reckless and lawless cyclist. Was that a good choice to use this day to target illegal cyclist?

From the Daily Cameraa

I'm a 32-year-old graduate student in civil engineering at the University of Colorado. On Jan., 20, national Winter Bike to Work Day, I was ticked for failing to yield at a stop sign. I was in a bike lane wearing my helmet and nearly came to a stop at the stop sign. For the record I was riding a 1968 Schwinn racer not much faster than most people walk. Every cyclist riding in this area was hit with the same $100 ticket, for failing to yield at the same stop sign, obviously it was mostly students.

Certainly there are reckless bicyclists on campus; however, I'm not one of them. I could continue to enumerate the outrage of this situation, but I'm hoping it's pretty clear. I always thought Boulder was a bike-friendly town. What are the police hoping to accomplish? Public safety, I would assume, but what about all those jaywalkers why didn't they get tickets? Come to think of it, it's pretty dangerous around here when people don't shovel their sidewalks; maybe they need $100 dollar tickets too. OK, you get my point, a warning would have done fine, I think.

I watched the police issue $1,000 in tickets in a few minutes. I was thinking that if the police enforced traffic laws for cars on National Drive to Work Days, the other 364 days of the year, the city would have a real revenue source on their hands and a safer city to boot.

News Item: 

6 Comments

police crackdown

It doesn't sound like this cyclist was riding recklessly. Winter Bike to Work Day should be a day for education and a day to build good will so that more people feel comfortable riding to work.

Reckless riding should not tolerated and everyone should abide by the law; nonetheless still frustrating.

Reckless? I think not...

While there are always two sides to a story, what I read above does not describe reckless behavior. I wonder if you paid careful attention to police cars if they would ALWAYS come to a full and complete stop at every sign, in the precise location required by law. I doubt it. And regular drivers routinely do the same things that cyclists do, such as roll through a stop sign after making sure that it is safe.

Lest anyone think there is only one "right way" to manage bike traffic, take a moment to Google the "Idaho Stop Law" (best article is lawyer Bob Mionske's in Bicycling Magazine) where rolling safely through a stop sign (stop as yield), and allowing cyclists to treat stop lights as stop signs has successfully been around for 26 years.

This isn't to encourage anyone to break the law here in the 303, only to understand that perfection is rare, and maybe we need to work with our own police and legal system to consider ways to improve these types of issues.

As a cycle commuter, mtber,

As a cycle commuter, mtber, road rider, tourer I shake my head in disbelief when I stop at stop signs/red lights only to watch another cyclist blow through while myself and other road users are sat watching and obeying the traffic laws. You get no sympathy from me, I hope you learn your lesson, if a car rolled through a stop sign and hit you you'd be the first to complain.

Hypothetical for sake of argument...

12 riders are in a pack on the road, riding single file and safely. They come to a stop sign with a planned left turn. All stop in their single file positions, and when clear the first rider goes. It continues to be clear, but must each of the 12 stop completely as they arrive at the stop sign? In the same situation with a stop sign, a right turn, no traffic and both a wide shoulder and an acceleration lane after the turn so traffic could not be impeded - must each of them individually stop at the sign before turning? I'm not a legal expert but I'm guessing the strict letter of the law says yes. I'm also guessing that nobody would expect that, not even the police. And can you imagine the impatience of the drivers caught behind?????

My point is that safety is important, and riders MUST be cognizant of their actions given a) the existing laws, b) some drivers' perceptions of cyclists (although their opinions are just that, opinions and no more) and c) the physical challenges of bikes and cars sharing the road. But if someone illegally jaywalks, nobody concludes that all pedestrians are bad. And if a driver is going 43 mph in a 40 mph zone nobody gets irate, and the police will never ticket that offense, even if they are sitting there with a radar gun. Why? It didn't unduly compromise safety, it's just not worth it. The same flexibility should be given to cyclists in certain situations.

Again, I'm not advocating wholesale violation of the traffic laws by cyclists, I'm just suggesting that NOBODY follows every law of the land perfectly, including the folks calling for cyclist perfection in this forum I would guess. The world just isn't that perfect, and it doesn't need to be. Just my opinion and that's what this forum is for.