spoke with campus police today- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    spoke with campus police today

    I nearly turned an idiot into road kill on my way back to the office after lunch (yes, I drove today) because he blew through a stopsign on a cross street without even looking. And no, he was not a fixietard. Just a run-of-the-mill idiot college student on a 'mart bike. And he blew through the next stopsign, also. In traffic.

    It reminded me I've been meaning to speak to someone at the UPD about how many people on bikes I've nearly hit recently. It's bad. Most of them are clueless - no lights, no reflectors, no helmets, riding the wrong way, blowing through stopsigns, etc, etc.

    I gave 'em a phone call and one of them came by my office a little bit later. I explained what happened on this case (obviously nothing he could do then...even if I had called right away, the idiot was truckin and nobody would have caught him short of throwing down stop sticks or something). I also mentioned the problems I've had with the "stealth" riders going the wrong way, and described to him the locations I was having those problems (they do try to hide and catch people, so maybe knowing where these issues occur can help them target enforcement?).

    He did assure me that they're aware of those problems and that they do try to catch people when they can. He told me that they even caught the roadie club not long ago (thank goodness, I've had a couple problems with them in the past). we had a nice chat, and I'm happy that they're trying. I wish they could do better, though. I see many of the same problems elsewhere in town and it seems to me that there needs to be a much more widespread education program.

  2. #2
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    I also mentioned the problems I've had with the "stealth" riders going the wrong way, and described to him the locations I was having those problems (they do try to hide and catch people, so maybe knowing where these issues occur can help them target enforcement?).

    I see many of the same problems elsewhere in town and it seems to me that there needs to be a much more widespread education program.
    DId he mention that they already knew of specific places where that kind of stuff is extra likely to occur? I`ve never seen a "cyclist trap" like they do the speed traps, but it might help. I know that people eventually slow down where they know the cops frequently set up speed traps.

    Yeah, I often fantaisize about drivers ed for bike operators, as well as rider rights and responsibility training for MV drivers and traffic cops. I just can`t imagine a way to implement the rider part without licneses and registrations, which would be a whole other issue.

  3. #3
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    This is not new. During the 70's through 80's bike boom, many college students rode with little adherence to traffic laws and controls or any sense they were endangering themselves. One young lady after riding the wrong way on the 4-lane University Avenue, turned left into the left turn lane of a 4-lane one way street without signaling. I saw her just before she entered the right side of the intersection but lost sight of her in front of vehicles to my right. I was moving my Mustang Turbo into the left turn lane (extreme left lane), before she appeared from in front of the vans and box truck in the lanes to my right and turned into my lane. I gathered the car up and squeezed left close to the vans, but she panicked, rode too far left, and curbed her right pedal, and so stopped. I stopped at the intersection just ahead of her and she started haranguing me about almost hitting her.

    I was a bit upset with this attitude of hers, after a near Herculean effort to get her all the room I could on such short notice. I got out and told her I was a pedestrian, cyclist, and motorist who was fed up with ignorant cyclists, and that if she was going to ride the wrong side of the street, not signal a turn, ride the wrong way on 1-way street, not have legally required equipment on her bike, or a helmet, then it would be far better for everyone concerned if she took her bike home, put in the garage, and left it there!

    I'll take my deserved knocks from screwing up, but to be scolded by a nincompoop after doing the best anyone could do for her, was more than I could stand. Someone labelled such beautiful, clueless, and oblivious young women as 'Beautiful Godzillas'. I met one before the name was coined.

    BrianMc

  4. #4
    since 4/10/2009
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    He said they do set cyclist traps around campus.

    I SO hope for some kind of education program enforced nationwide. I think it might work if it was rolled into the existing driver's license program where you could get endorsements for bicycles or cars once you hit age 16.

    But there is also the problem of enforcing existing traffic regs. The bike cops on campus pretty much can't catch any fit rider who tries to run. Especially roadies. Not when the bike cops are on mtb's with a bunch of equipment.

    Maybe there need to be a few "unmarked" bike cops on race bikes that can catch those people...kinda like how some states have unmarked sports cars doing highway patrol.

  5. #5
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    Sounds like a job for a select squad of deputized students who need some cash. They only need track the culprits to ground and call in reinforcements.

    BrianMc

  6. #6
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    I don't think the police are necessarily the right venue for this.

    While I agree that existing traffic laws should be enforced, I also agree with the idea that the problem is more one of rider education.

    I don't know if your university has this. When I was an undergraduate, one of my friends talked me into going to a university transportation meeting with him to talk about bikes. If your school has one and it's actually active and capable of doing anything, I think they'd maybe be the body to talk to.

    I think, at least for riders who are also drivers, the biggest point to emphasize is that when you're operating your bike, you're still operating a vehicle and fit in the same laws. For me, the reason not to blow stop signs (not that I don't roll them, but I slow down enough to make sure I don't get myself killed and stop for real if necessary) is that I don't want to get myself killed and I know that drivers expect other vehicles behaving like vehicles on the road. But I think that people in their late teens and early twenties are too tied up in exceptionalism to think that maybe their luck won't hold out this time, so I'm not sure if warning of this particular consequence is going to do much. Hopefully they'll have minor falls and learn a little conservatism first, but I think they might be more receptive to the idea that they're vehicles than the idea that they're endangering themselves.

    EDIT: Oh yeah - flyer campaign, maybe some workshops covering maintenance and pushing better compliance with traffic laws (and etiquette, can be a bigger motivator for a lot of people) and maybe handing out some swag to get people to come - water bottles, blinky lights.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  7. #7
    since 4/10/2009
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    yeah, there's no bicycle education program here. I mentioned that to the officer, so hopefully hearing it from someone else might get some gears turning. I'm in no position to do much more than that - I'm trying to finish a master's thesis in a couple months and get outta here.

    they do need something, though. the LBS is in a good position to help, too. they're right on campus (my aforementioned incident happened just a couple doors down from the shop). they can help with flyers and swag and whatnot.

    it honestly should be run at least once a year, preferably at least once or twice per semester. and if you get a bicycle citation on campus, you'd be required to attend the next one, yada yada yada.

    and I hear you regarding rolling stopsigns vs. blowing through them. I'll roll an empty one, too. slow down to check for traffic and pedestrians and whatnot. if it's empty, I'll roll it. if there's someone there, I'm going slow enough to stop without hurting myself. esp since I'm running a tallish gear ratio on my SS commuter. it can be a real PITA to get it started from a stop if there's an incline at the stop. no problem if I have even a little momentum. and no officer has had a problem with the way I handle things around here. I work to keep myself alive when I'm on the road (whether I'm in a car or a bicycle, there are a lot of idiots out there).

  8. #8
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    it honestly should be run at least once a year, preferably at least once or twice per semester. and if you get a bicycle citation on campus, you'd be required to attend the next one, yada yada yada.
    That sounds plausible. On campus, if 80% or so of the traffic is either enroled in or employed by the university, there`s an extra lever to use.

    In the general population, all I see for incentive is the threat of getting yourself plastered (which apparently isn`t enough for a lot of people) and the threat of a fine (which rarely happens). Without licensing and refistration, there`s just not much of a "stick" to convince people to take any training (even if a training program existed), so the only people getting trained would be the ones who generally behave anyway.

  9. #9
    namagomi
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    Rode behind some DUI cyclist today(I can only guess he just started riding because I doubt he could have made it very long without being hit) ... black clothing, black bike, no reflectors or lights and swerving on and off the sidewalk in the pitch dark.

    I'm sure him and the guy in the beater with only one halogen headlight left from the original install in 1990 have a date in the future.

    Godspeed.

  10. #10
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by electrik View Post
    Rode behind some DUI cyclist today(I can only guess he just started riding because I doubt he could have made it very long without being hit) ... black clothing, black bike, no reflectors or lights and swerving on and off the sidewalk in the pitch dark.
    I`ve been that guy. By all rights, I should have either killed myself and/or somebody else between my no license phases, and for riding many times just like the guy you mention today, I have no idea how it is that I`m still here. I haven`t had a drink since 1996 though, so hopefully I won`t go there again.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    That sounds plausible. On campus, if 80% or so of the traffic is either enroled in or employed by the university, there`s an extra lever to use.

    In the general population, all I see for incentive is the threat of getting yourself plastered (which apparently isn`t enough for a lot of people) and the threat of a fine (which rarely happens). Without licensing and refistration, there`s just not much of a "stick" to convince people to take any training (even if a training program existed), so the only people getting trained would be the ones who generally behave anyway.
    In my current city, at least, the density of stupid riding goes up around campus and even more so on campus.

    I think, at least in university towns, it might help the general level of street/commute riding for the universities to really emphasize it. It won't cause the people who'd also drive like ******s to stop riding like ******s, but I bet it would do something.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    That sounds plausible. On campus, if 80% or so of the traffic is either enroled in or employed by the university, there`s an extra lever to use.

    In the general population, all I see for incentive is the threat of getting yourself plastered (which apparently isn`t enough for a lot of people) and the threat of a fine (which rarely happens). Without licensing and refistration, there`s just not much of a "stick" to convince people to take any training (even if a training program existed), so the only people getting trained would be the ones who generally behave anyway.
    The student population of the university equals roughly half of the whole city population, and I'd bet a good proportion of those students were counted in the last census, so the bulk of people who ride bikes on campus are either registered students or employees. The university absolutely has sway on them.

    You're right about the others, for the most part. They could continue getting bike citations on campus and noone but the university would have a record, most likely. Such a thing could eventually become quite a headache, though. The university definitely has experience in the matter, with the whole parking permit/ticket racket that they run.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    While I agree that existing traffic laws should be enforced, I also agree with the idea that the problem is more one of rider education.
    I sort of disagree. I think that the base problem is a lack of cycling infrastructure in an area with a large cycling population. If you're going to have a lot of pedestrians and cyclists, you need dedicated infrastructure to support those masses. After that, definitely education.

  14. #14
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Well, driver education too.

    People speed on city streets all the time. Including me. Enforcement tacitly allows this by not bothering to write tickets until someone speeds by more than 10 mph, or does something else they shouldn't. Cyclists tacitly allow this by hugging the gutter. But people's instantaneous speeds, while dangerous to cyclists, pedestrians and other drivers, rarely get them anywhere. Usually it just means they get to the next traffic signal sooner. If you look at someone's average speed driving on city streets, it's usually pretty low. In my city, I think it's probably on the order of 10-15 mph. So it wouldn't slow anyone down that much if everyone drove and rode bikes with some measure of civility, and it would make driving and riding bikes suck less.

    Cars already have dedicated infrastructure - the freeway system.

    I'm not a car-free kind of a guy. I was actually just messing with my new one, figuring out how to carry bikes with it. But people using cars for trips of a couple miles, close to home, when they're not even carrying more than themselves is both incredibly stupid, IMHO, and incredibly common.

    Here's something interesting...
    Seattle Cyclists Find Safety in Numbers | Streetsblog.net

    I'm too lazy to hunt down something about it, but something a little unsavory about cycling infrastructure is that where it intersects proper roads, there're often a lot of accidents.

    So my attitude about the whole thing is that I try to make intelligent route selections, I try not to ride further to the right than is safe, even if that sometimes means eschewing the bike lane (there's a specific section that I always avoid in favor of taking a lane on the route I took to my job last section, incidentally,) I don't believe I'm actually slowing down anybody's average rate of travel through the city while I'm saving myself the time and expense of having to park, buy gas, and maintain my car more, and if people want to get pissy about it, that's their problem. When people agree to follow the rules, at least more-or-less, it's quite low-stress. And I find this as a driver, cyclist and pedestrian, whichever I happen to be. When people just wander all over the road and in and out of the road willy-nilly, it sucks for everyone. Even the person who thinks he's getting away with something or saving time, although not everyone seems to have a sense of perspective.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  15. #15
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    I totally agree with your philosophy.

    Just keep in mind that the OP alluded to the fact that the incident he encountered was on campus. While a city might not erect proper cycling infrastructure, for a number of possible reasons, there's not much excuse for a campus not to do so. It exists for the students and faculty, and is reasonably responsible for their safety.

  16. #16
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    I'm going to go ahead and be "that guy."
    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Here's something interesting...
    Seattle Cyclists Find Safety in Numbers | Streetsblog.net

    I'm too lazy to hunt down something about it, but something a little unsavory about cycling infrastructure is that where it intersects proper roads, there're often a lot of accidents.
    Like I said, I'm too lazy to hunt down a reference for the second thing. I leave the rigorous writing for places where I'm paid. What I see going in is that more cyclists on the street are more safe, and special infrastructure usually just gets us hit more, not less.

    That's my philosophy. You're free to still agree with it.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  17. #17
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    I've had almost all these thoughts in my head while bike commuting to campus.
    Lots of idiots on bikes and in cars.
    I think one of the main points of Engineering school is to teach future engineers that most people are dumb, inattentive, and have little critical thinking skills....
    Before you turn on the key, turn on your brain, turn on your eyes, and turn off the attitude.

  18. #18
    namagomi
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    I`ve been that guy. By all rights, I should have either killed myself and/or somebody else between my no license phases, and for riding many times just like the guy you mention today, I have no idea how it is that I`m still here. I haven`t had a drink since 1996 though, so hopefully I won`t go there again.
    I know some people who didn't have suck luck and their drinking irreparably ruined their lives. Congrats on staying away from the drink and best luck in the future!

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