Monday, August 30, 2010

Mike Moule Weighs In On St. Pete Bicyclist Crackdown

I was sad to see Michael Moule leave the Tampa Bay area. Mike was a super bicycle supporter who knew the technical aspects of road building for all users -- peds, cyclists and cars. I respect his thoughts on cycling, which is why I am posting his Facebook comments about last week's St Pete Police/Mayor Bill Foster crackdown on bicyclists:

First, Mike discusses the Pinellas Trail crossings:

Since the Pinellas Trail was discussed here, I thought I'd point out that the majority of unsignalized intersections along the Pinellas Trail have traffic control designs that are incorrect per the national guidelines on how these intersect...ions should be signed. In many cases, the trail should be given the right-of-way instead of the road that it is crossing. In other cases, yield signs are appropriate instead of the stop signs that have been used. It would be interesting if someone ticketed at one of these intersections used this as an opportunity to show that the intersection is improperly designed - this is potentially a way to have the ticket dismissed.

And Mike on the general concept of singling out every cyclist at a stop sign:

Enforcing the exact letter of the law in every case doesn't make sense. For example, it doesn't make sense to ticket the single cyclist... who was ticketed after rolling slowly through a stop sign when presumably there was no one she needed to yield to. However, when a cyclist (or group of cyclists) goes through a stop sign when there are vehicles already there who should be given the right of way, this should be enforced.

In most areas of the country that I've ridden in, cyclists behave appropriately, yielding when necessary, but not necessarily coming to a complete stop. In St. Pete, many of the group rides often don't treat stop signs appropriately - riders roll through even when other vehicles or pedestrians are already in or near the intersection and should be yielded to. I've nearly been rear-ended by cyclists in groups in St. Pete because I tend to take a more conservative approach to stop signs than many of the riders there.

Ironically, the behavior that I describe above is probably one of the big reasons why St. Pete is cracking - if group ride behavior in St. Pete was better, this likely never would have become an issue.

Personally, I'm fine with the police enforcing the law when groups treat stop signs inappropriately as I describe above. However, clearly, the Police in this case are taking it too far. The vast majority of drivers (whether driving a car or a bike) roll through stop signs when there is no one to yield to; they do this in particular when these stop signs are unwarranted by the standards that we traffic engineers use. Strictly enforcing this law solely on bicyclists simply doesn't make sense.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a bicyclist Pinellas Trail crossings are a pain.

99 times out of 100 the driver wants you to cross first*, often waiting even when you are quite a ways from the intersection. I try to give the driver the right of way if they arrive first, but most won't take it, leading to the time wasting and dangerous "no, you first" routine.

Sometimes I have to turn around and ride back up the trail TO GET THEM TO MOVE!

Then there are the 1 out of 100 that get upset when you roll through after you both arrive about the same time. One cabbie looked right at me then charged at me with his cab (if life were fair, he would have received a free ride in handcuffs for that little stunt).

* I consider that a good indication that most would like the trail crossings changed so bikes wouldn't have to stop.