BY DAVE PRICE
Daily Post Editor
One of the scariest things drivers face are bicyclists who don’t stop at stop signs or stop lights.
Nobody wants to hit a bicyclist with their car.
Increasingly, I find myself slowing down at intersections where I don’t have a stop sign or stop light because I’m worried that a bicyclist in the cross street will ignore their stop sign or light.
I think back to Aug. 1, 2016, when a 73-year-old cyclist ignored a stop sign at the intersection of Greenwood and Hutchinson avenues in Palo Alto. He was hit by a car and killed. Palo Alto police determined the bicyclist was at fault.
I know what some of you are thinking: It’s OK to blow through a stop sign or red light as long as you look for traffic in both directions. Cyclists call it an “Idaho Stop,” named after a state where cyclists are allowed to treat stop signs as yield signs.
I understand the argument — it’s inconvenient for a cyclist to come to a complete stop and then try to gain momentum again. But is convenience worth risking your life? I’m not writing this to put down bicycling. I’m happy to see the increase in bicyclists on our streets, and I generally favor improved bike lanes as long as car traffic isn’t impeded. However, bicyclists need to heed stop signs and red lights.
Police say they will ticket bicyclists that they see violating stop signs and red lights. But maybe the police can do more. Police do saturation patrols to catch drunken drivers and seat-belt violators. How about a saturation patrol of intersections where bicyclists ignore stop signs and red lights?
At this time of year, when it gets dark early, the problem is compounded by the number of bicyclists who don’t ride with lights. I don’t understand why a bicyclist would risk their life by refusing to attach a light to their bike.
When the police stop a bicyclist for not having a light, turn it into an educational experience. Give the cyclist a light that can be attached to the bike right there during the traffic stop. Then give the cyclist a “fix-it ticket” that says they can avoid a fine if they return to the police department and show an officer that they have installed their own light on the bike and they give back the light they received from the officer.
I don’t think the purpose of the ticket should be punitive. The ticket should be designed to change behavior.
Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.