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Anti-Cyclist Bias: PoliceBlog

An Exercise In Absurdity

By September 28, 2009October 24th, 202233 Comments

In Bicycling & the Law, one of the issues Bob addressed under the rubric of anti-cyclist bias was police bias against cyclists. Anti-cyclist bias within law enforcement manifests in several ways. One manifestation of this bias is the one-sided investigation. This occurs when the officer investigating a crash between a cyclist and a motorist interviews the motorist, but not the cyclist (who may be too injured—or dead, even—to be interviewed), and based on that one-sided investigation, concludes that the motorist was not at fault—or worse, that the cyclist was at fault. In some cases, the first contact the cyclist has with law enforcement is in the hospital, when the officer presents the cyclist with a ticket.

In Portland, Oregon, the officer investigating a crash between a motorist and bicycle commuter Kyle Egertson concluded that the cyclist was at fault, because he couldn’t respond to questions (he was suffering from a concussion following the collision), even though the motorist was also unable to respond to questions (he had gone into diabetic shock just before the collision). These one-sided investigations are harmful to the individual cyclist whose right to a fair investigation is denied. They are harmful to the rest of us, as well. Because shoddy police work leads to shoddy data and false conclusions, these one-sided investigations perpetuate the anti-cyclist bias, putting us all at further risk of being subjected to biased investigations in the future.

Another manifestation of the anti-cyclist bias is when law enforcement refuses to enforce existing laws. Thus, in Chattanooga, police refused to enforce Tennessee’s 3 foot passing law when a motorist intentionally brushed a cyclist off the road, going so far as to arbitrarily dismiss an eyewitness corroboration of the violation because of a minor discrepancy in the two cyclists’ estimates of how far apart they were when the incident occurred.

The flip side of law enforcement refusing to enforce existing laws is when police enforce non-existent laws. Thus, in Chesapeake, Ohio, a Lawrence County Deputy, believing it to be illegal for cyclists to ride on the road unless they’re riding at the speed limit, despite both case law andstatutory law to the contrary, ordered a cyclist off the road, and thentased and arrested him when he continued to ride on the road. The cyclist in that incident filed a federal lawsuit against the officer and village on August 19, a year to the day after he was tased and arrested. When cyclist David Meek was killed by a driver who sideswiped him, Chattanooga police refused to ticket the driver for violating Tennessee’s 3 foot passing law, claiming that the cyclist, who was “lit up like a Christmas tree” should have been wearing a safety vest—a “requirement” that does not exist in the law. And when cyclist Brett Jarolimek was right hooked by a garbage truck, Portland police refused to cite the driver, on the basis that “the driver has to perceive that he violated the right of way”—another invented “requirement” that does not exist in the law.

One could perhaps write these off as past, isolated incidents, except for the fact that they’re not isolated—they have occurred across the country—and they continue to occur, most recently in Los Angeles. As reported by Stephen Box on SoapBoxLA, on June 1, 2009, a woman who was riding her bike on the sidewalk approached an intersection, and began riding through the intersection in an unmarked crosswalk. As she was riding in the crosswalk,

a large truck approached the intersection on Valerio and proceeded to turn right onto Louise. The cyclist and the truck collided, she fell to the ground and the truck crushed her head as she lay on the street.

The next day, Los Angeles Councilman Greig Smith, citing his own “law enforcement experience,” as well as that of his Chief of Staff Mitch Englander, and that of Public Safety Deputy Jim Dellinger, explained in an email that

“the bicyclist was reportedly riding on the wrong side of the roadway and traveling against the traffic flow; making her the initial “primary cause” of this tragedy.”

According to Stephen Box,

The LAPD’s Public Information Officer confirmed the report that the LAPD considered the cyclist the “primary cause” of the incident because she was riding a bike in a crosswalk which is a violation of CVC 21200 which requires a cyclist to obey the rules of the road. The PIO explained that a cyclist must either dismount at crosswalks or ride on the right side of the road with traffic.

It’s long been a tenet of League of American Bicyclists cycling educationthat it’s safer for cyclists to ride on the road, in the same direction as traffic, than it is to ride on the sidewalk. That safety advice notwithstanding, the combined “law enforcement experience” of Councilman Smith, his staff, and the LAPD could not overcome the very basic fact that they were inventing laws that don’t exist. It is not against California law to ride a bike on the sidewalk (although it may sometimes be against local ordinance), nor is sidewalk traffic “directional”—one can walk, or ride, with or against traffic while on the sidewalk. In fact, although Section 21200 of the California Vehicle Code states that

Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle,

Section 21201(d) makes it clear that it is not in fact against state law to ride on the sidewalk.

And that brings us to crosswalks. By definition, under Section 275 of the California Vehicle Code a crosswalk is an extension of the sidewalk across the intersection. Thus, generally speaking, the legality of riding within the crosswalk will be determined by whether or not it is legal to ride on the sidewalk. If it is legal to ride on the sidewalk, it is also legal to ride within the crosswalk; if it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk, it is also illegal to ride in the crosswalk. This is the general rule; state laws may specifically address riding in the crosswalk, but where no such state law exists, the legality of riding in the crosswalk will be determined by the legality of riding on the sidewalk.

So is it illegal to ride in the crosswalk in Los Angeles? Section 80.29 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code states that

The driver of a vehicle shall not drive within any sidewalk area or any parkway except at a permanent or temporary driveway.

This is analogous to Section 21663 of the California Vehicle Code, and as we know, California law does not prohibit cyclists from riding on the sidewalk. Furthermore, and more specific to the Municipal Code, the prohibition applies to drivers of vehicles, and under state law, bicycles are not “vehicles.” Additionally, Section 56.15 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code makes it clear that it is legal for cyclists to ride on the sidewalk; the sole restriction on cyclists who ride on the sidewalk is that they may not ride “in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Because it is legal under both state and city law for cyclists to ride on the sidewalk, it is also legal for cyclists to ride in the crosswalk.

And thus, when the Los Angeles Police Department identified the cyclist as the “primary cause” of the collision that led to her death, citing “laws” that don’t actually exist, the cyclist was denied her right to a fair and impartial investigation of the crash that took her life.

Fast forward four months. Damien Newton reports in L.A. Streetsblog that the Los Angeles Police Department is “training USC Security that ‘biking in crosswalks’ is illegal.” According to USC student newspaper The Daily Trojan, the LAPD and the University of Southern California Department of Public Safety will “ramp up bike safety” with a program of enforcement directed at three specific violations: biking against the flow of traffic, not stopping at stop signs, and “riding their bikes through intersections,” all of which, the paper dutifully reports, “violate regulations.”

Except there’s one little problem with that enforcement program: Riding a bike through an intersection doesn’t “violate regulations.” And in fact, if the cyclist is on the sidewalk, biking against the flow of traffic is also legal. Addressing the reason for the enforcement action, which will involve LAPD officers “dedicated entirely to monitoring bike safety at USC,” Officer Boyce of the LAPD noted that

We will have a task force because the bicycle issue is becoming a very serious issue.

Echoing Officer Boyce’s concern, the Daily Trojan reports that

DPS Capt. David Carlisle said DPS has seen many of the same types of traffic violations as LAPD.

It is, of course, is entirely believable that DPS officers have seen students riding through crosswalks, given that it’s perfectly legal for them to do so. They’ve probably also seen students walking on the sidewalk, for that matter. It’s also entirely believable that, some four months after botching the investigation of the cyclist’s death in the crosswalk, the LAPD is still inventing non-existent laws, and erroneously advising others about enforcing these non-existent laws.

And thus, it’s entirely understandable that the university’s DPS officers are as utterly confused about the law as their partners at the LAPD. As the Daily Trojan reported,

“If bicyclists want to ride through the intersection, they should do so as a car would,” [DPS Captain] Carlisle said. “If they’re going to be in crosswalks and they have a bike they’re supposed to walk it, but they usually don’t.”

At crosswalks, [LAPD officer] Boyce said, bikes are considered vehicles, and by riding through intersections they are interfering with pedestrians.

In fact, it’s as legal for a cyclist to ride through an intersection in the crosswalk as it is for the cyclist to ride through the intersection in a traffic lane. When the cyclist is in the traffic lane, the law treats the cyclist as a vehicle operator; when the cyclist is in the crosswalk, the law treats the cyclist as a pedestrian (albeit, a pedestrian who must respect the right of way of pedestrians who are on foot—and because the cyclist is a pedestrian under the law while riding on the sidewalk, the cyclist has the duty to exercise the same caution as a pedestrian when entering the crosswalk; thus, incautiously entering the crosswalk at speed would be as illegal for the cyclist as it would be for the pedestrian). Despite the law, as the Daily Trojan reported, students who ride in the crosswalk will be ticketed, with a maximum fine of $250. The point, Captain Carlisle noted, “is not to punish, it’s to change behavior.”

The question raised by this exercise in absurdity is just whose behavior needs to be changed—cyclists who are riding within what the law allows, or law enforcement officers who are botching investigations and enforcing non-existent laws?

Join the discussion 33 Comments

  • Avatar Dave says:

    So what does a cyclist or advocate group do about these type of law enforcement gaffes and non-existent laws? Clearly if what you described is correct, what recourse do we have?

  • Avatar Rich Wilson says:

    I don’t suppose [DPS Captain] Carlisle’s view of riding in the crosswalk comes from a local ordinance? From my experience, University Campuses often make up their own ordinances just like any city. The photo caption does say it’s “against California’s traffic laws”. It would be interesting to see what section of the CVC is specified on the ticket.

  • Avatar Rick Bernardi says:

    Rich, you raise an interesting point. If the streets in question are within the USC campus, USC regulations may be applicable. At my law school, the school even had an agreement with the city (part of an agreement to lessen the school’s impact on the surrounding neighborhood) that they would patrol the surrounding neighborhood streets and cite any student vehicles parked in the neighborhood, so they were in effect enforcing a campus parking regulation on city streets.

    In this particular instance, however, the LAPD is patrolling streets near the campus, and issuing citations, so it does not appear to be related to campus regulations. Based on police comments in the SoapBoxLA blog, it appears that the “violation” is based on CVC 21200, which states that cyclists have all of the rights and duties applicable to motorists. Furthermore, according to the Daily Trojan, police are saying that it’s illegal to ride in the crosswalk– something that is clearly not true in California, or in Los Angeles, and appears to be based on their previously expressed erroneous understanding of CVC 21200.

    We are aware from a reader comment on LA Streetsblog that there may be signs posted pursuant to Los Angeles Municipal Ordinance that may direct cyclists to walk at certain intersections, and if so, it may be a violation of local ordinance to disregard those signs. However, it is not a violation of California law to ride through a crosswalk, and police are misreading the law when they cite to CVC 21200 as prohibiting the practice.

  • Avatar Rick Bernardi says:

    Dave, you raise an interesting question as well– one that we are considering answering in a separate blog post. Stay tuned.

  • Avatar Rich Wilson says:

    “the “violation” is based on CVC 21200, which states that cyclists have all of the rights and duties applicable to motorists”

    Ah yes, the little known statute that require drivers of cars to get out and push them through crosswalks 🙂

  • Avatar David says:

    The problem or question as Dave points out, is a normal citizen cyclist does not have any recourse when it comes to being incorrectly ticketed or mistreated by officers. I am not going to get into a fight with a cop even if I am 100% right. I doubt I would file a lawsuit too. It seems like one of things where it’s a cops word (or knowledge) against yours and you know how that turns out.

  • Avatar bikinginla says:

    Thanks for providing the legal basis for arguing against the erroneous police action here in L.A. and over at USC. It’s one thing to know the law is being incorrectly enforced, it’s another to be able to cite chapter and verse.

    Obviously, anyone who receives a ticket for riding in the crosswalk can use this information to fight the ticket. However, in the long run, the solution rests in more effective training of police officers on bike law, both at the academy and in the local precincts. I don’t believe most individual officers are actually biased against cyclists, but I do believe their training, and therefore, their understanding and application of the law, has often been slanted in favor of motorists.

  • Avatar Khal Spencer says:

    In situations like these, although it is time consuming and sometimes fruitless, the best thing to do is to contest a ticket if cited, and file a formal or informal complaint with the police chief and local government even if not. Sometimes, as in a recent case involving yours truly, its a matter of educating individual officers as to what the law actually says. Of course, sometimes, I suspect its a matter of the PD making up its own rules of the game. Not too many of us have the time and resources to file a federal lawsuit.

  • Avatar Doug says:

    I recognize that your blog is about the legal issues surrounding cycling, and that this comment may be off topic, but the safety issues surrounding sidewalk riding, especially riding against the flow of vehicular traffic & riding through intersections on the crosswalk are quite concerning.

    Riding against the flow of traffic at 15-20 mph on a sidewalk directly through an intersection is tremendously dangerous. A vehicle turning left across the crosswalk in the same direction as a bicycle has an almost impossible task. Looking for a pedestrian who is travelling at 4 mph is easy. One does not expect a vehicle to be in that space travelling at 4x that speed.

    If a driver is waiting to turn left, sees an appropriately sized gap in traffic, checks the street crossing for pedestrians & sees none, they can be expected to begin their turn without looking at the 50′ or more of sidewalk before the corner to check for fast moving cyclists. At 15 mph you are travelling at roughly 22 feet per second. If it takes 4 seconds to get from a stop to the middle of the crosswalk while turning left (just a guess), it means that a driver must look back at least 60′ from the corner to ensure that there aren’t fast moving bicycles travelling there, a situation that happens to the driver maybe once every 6 months.

    A left hook is the only likely result of a fast moving cyclist on the sidewalk who rides straight through the light because they have a walk sign. I’ve witnessed it happen. The problem, from my standpoint is that the driver did exactly what one would expect him to do. Had the cyclist slowed to a pace more like that of a pedestrian they could have avoided the accident, and if they had been at the corner already, they would have been seen by the driver. Who was in the legal right I don’t know, but seeing it happen, as an avid cyclist, I felt that the cyclist was at fault, not the driver. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, no property was damaged, and everybody went on their way. It could have been much worse.

    The point is, as cyclists, we may be within our rights to ride on sidewalks against the normal direction of traffic at what seem like normal speeds, but in doing so we pose a significant risk to ourselves. We are outside the norm, and because of that we aren’t looked for by drivers. Because of that we are far more likely to be the victims of car/bike collisions than we would be if we were in the street travelling with traffic.

  • Avatar Khal Spencer says:

    In response to Doug’s post:

    Albuquerque, NM Ordinances state:

    Chapter 8, Article 3, Part 3, R.O.A. 1994, The Bicycle Traffic Code:

    (A) Bicyclists shall not ride upon a sidewalk when there is a wide right lane, bike lane, or bike trail adjacent to the direction of travel, or when signs are posted prohibiting bicycles on the sidewalk, or when within a business district. When riding on a sidewalk, a bicyclist is subject to the laws that apply to pedestrians.
    (B) If a bicyclist dismounts, the bicyclist is subject to the laws that apply to pedestrians.
    (C) Whenever a person must ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk, such person shall ride slowly, shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian, shall overtake on the left, and shall give an audible signal before attempting to overtake and pass such pedestrian, and shall only ride on the sidewalk on the right hand side of the street, moving with the directional flow of the motor vehicle traffic.

    (’74 Code, § 9-5-16.16) (Ord. 65-1974; Am. Ord. 19-2007; Am. Ord. 37-2008)

  • Avatar Rick Bernardi says:


    While I understand that there are significant safety concerns in cycling instruction regarding sidewalk riding, I avoided discussing those concerns (beyond noting that there is a safety issue), for one simple reason: It would distract attention from the point of the post– that the LAPD is wrong when it claims that it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk.

    That claim is not only wrong, it is having a direct harmful impact upon cyclists, as evidenced by a crash investigation that was cut short after police decided that the cyclist was violating the law (and therefore at fault) by riding in the crosswalk, and as evidenced by a traffic enforcement campaign that is ticketing cyclists for legal behavior.

    That is the problem I was drawing attention to, and I felt that addressing safety issues would have diverted attention from the very simple fact that the police are wrong on the law, and are in fact enforcing a law that does not exist.

    All that said, it is not legal for a cyclist to enter a crosswalk at a speed of 15-20 MPH, any more than it would be legal for a pedestrian to do so. Both are directed to enter a crosswalk with caution, and thus, if a cyclist is riding within what the law allows, at least some of the safety issues related to riding in crosswalks are mitigated by the lawful behavior.

  • Avatar Rick Bernardi says:


    Thanks for your observations. I agree with what you’re saying about the bias– Generally, the bias against cyclists is not so much a matter of overtly hostile “anti-cyclist” bias (although that attitude probably does exist within the ranks of law enforcement, just as it does within the ranks of the general population), as it is a matter of a pervasive, societal-wide automobile-centric bias. I think one of the consequences of that bias is that our rights, and our lawful behavior, are often perceived to be “unlawful behavior”– for example, some people believe we are violating the law by riding in the street with traffic.

    In this case, police have assumed, incorrectly, that it is illegal for cyclists to ride in the crosswalk, and are acting on that false assumption. An impartial investigation of the crash that killed the cyclist in the crosswalk would not have been conducted upon the basis of faulty assumptions, nor would an impartial police force conduct an enforcement campaign based on those same faulty assumptions.

    Overt hostility? I don’t think so. But a subtle, pervasive bias that makes false assumptions when cyclists are involved? I do think that is (at least partly) what we’re seeing here.

    Finally, as promised previously in response to Dave’s question in the first comment, we will be discussing (in a new blog post) what cyclists can do in response to an enforcement campaign of a “law” that doesn’t actually exist. Stay tuned.

  • Avatar Rick Bernardi says:

    Thanks Khal,

    I think that’s the first time I’ve seen an ordinance that requires cyclists on the sidewalk to ride in the same direction as other traffic.

  • Avatar Law-abiding Cyclist says:

    Regarding bicycles as vehicles has been profitable for some cities such as Newport Beach in SoCal. A clerk at the Newport Beach Municipal Court commented that there are several pseudo-vehicle citations from bicyclists each day. City traffic engineers Tony Brine and George Bernard acknowledged that a left-turn signal to a Back Bay preserve had been set back to not detect the hundreds of bicycles on weekends. NBPD motorcycle police chase bicyclists to fabricate vehicle citations. The concern has also been police chasing women cyclists in sports apparel when there is no traffic. The city profits and police show productivity, but the damages are hight to cyclists and a disservice to the community.

  • Avatar Eric Bruins says:

    The additional problem in the USC case is that officers are citing cyclists that are riding on the roadway as pedestrian violations, despite the fact that they write them up for violating the vehicle code 21200. There is a specific intersection between where a large student population lives and the campus entrance that is not bike accessible. Cyclists have the choice of riding on the sidewalk or riding on the street against traffic–two bad options. The first week of the enforcement campaign, officers were citing cyclists for riding on the sidewalk. The next week, all those cyclists switched to the roadway (against traffic) because that is what they understood the officers to prefer. Then, the officers started citing these wrong-way cyclists as pedestrians. A gap in the bike infrastructure creates the perceived safety issue. LAPD and DPS are attempting to fix an engineering problem with enforcement. The USC administration has adopted that attitude that discouraging cycling will increase safety, and their enforcement campaign seems to be aimed at that goal.

    As far as university rules for riding on campus, the bike policy states that DPS officers will enforce applicable sections of the CVC. Additionally, bicyclists are permitted to ride on pedestrian walkways on campus except where signed.

  • I’ve heard many complaints here in Chicago from bicyclists who have felt that they’ve not been well served by the Chicago Police Department following an accident. That noted, earlier this summer the CPD created and posted an excellent video about bicycling and the law and portrays a very good attitude about cyclists. It’s given many of us here reason for optimism about police attitudes toward cyclists. Here is a link to the video:

  • Avatar Christopher Miranda says:

    Apparently police are now citing CVC 38300 — failure to obey a sign, signal, or traffic control device.

    The signs I have seen are black text on yellow background, “Walk Bike in Crosswalk.” Unfortunately these signs do not command attention. Too many people don’t notice the signs until told of them.

    According to the MUTCD, the uniform standard is that yellow signs are warning signs.

    It seems like as long as a sign is posted to control traffic, a cop can cite a driver of a vehicle for not obeying, even if the background is yellow, as in a warning sign.

    I’m simply surprised by the power of CVC 38300 — it seems like this CVC makes so many CVCs unnecessary.

  • Avatar Christopher Miranda says:

    On second look, 38300 applies only to off-highway vehicles. Is the crosswalk considered off-highway? or Does the bicycle qualify as an off-highway vehicle? I have no clue… The definition of off-highway vehicles is too confusing for me.

  • Avatar Rich Wilson says:

    I just found this comment:

    My 12 year old son was recently hit by a car running a red light, and Palo Alto Police found him at fault, only because he was trying to ride his bike in the crosswalk across a busy intersection. But they teach children to ride on the sidewalks on busy intersections as it is much safer than riding on the streets and causing motorists ire.

    Here: (comment 172)

  • Avatar Bob Shanteau says:

    During 1974 I attended meetings of the California Statewide Bicycle Committee, which produced a report with several recommendations on traffic law, including prohibiting bicycling in crosswalks ;.

    Senator James Mills introduced the resulting legislation, SB 939, in 1975. On the Assembly floor on the last day of the 1975-76 legislative session, Assemblyman Vasconcellos objected to the crosswalk riding prohibition. Without any time to address his objection, Senator Mills’ aide and I decided to delete that provision. The bill then passed and was signed by the governor.

    The ironic thing is that a few weeks after this happened, one of Assemblyman Vasconcellos’ aides was injured while bicycling in a crosswalk. It was reported that if the accident had happened before the vote on the Assembly floor, Vasconcellos said he would not have objected to the prohibition.

  • Avatar Rick Bernardi says:


    Thanks for that clarification of the legislative history.


  • Avatar NBcyclist says:

    Newport Beach in SoCal has bicycle buttons to trigger signals. At some intersections, the buttons either do not work or linked to car traffic. The deception to cyclists is that if only one car is present, the green and yellow is only 5 seconds. The cyclist is a victim of the oncoming traffic at the quick light change. Meanwhile, the Newport Beach Police Department (NBPD) is aggressively citing cyclists as CVC 21453 and the Municipal Court is upholding the citations. How are bicycle buttons interpreted by California vehicle codes and cyclists using crosswalks?

  • Avatar Bob Shanteau says:

    As of Sept. 10, all new and modified traffic actuated signals in California must detect bicyclists who are stopped at or near the center of each travel lane <;. Bicyclist pushbuttons may be used, but only as a supplement to the travel lane detection.

    New bicycle signal timing guidelines were also adopted with the intent of providing bicyclists who are stopped at the limit line when the light turns green with enough time to cross the intersection before the next conflicting movement turns green.

    If NBcyclist would email me with the exact location, I will contact the traffic engineer for Newport Beach to discuss the importance of providing sufficient time for bicyclists to cross the intersection.

  • Avatar NBcyclist says:

    The flawed bicycle pushbutton in Newport Beach is on San Joaquin Hills Road going across Jamboree Road westward down into the heavily-cycled Back Bay state preserve. With no cars, the pushbutton does not work. With one car, the green is four seconds and yellow pause is one second. Two cars doubles to 10 seconds. The danger is that Jamboree is three through-lanes on each side in addition to left turn lanes. With five seconds, a cyclist cannot get to the median. An accident probably has not occurred because most often left turn traffic gives you a delay to get to the median. Newport Beach has not made a safe transition from motion sensors that detected bicycles entering a lane to the embedded wires. I have not been able to find a consistent “sweetspot” for the antennas in the loops or poles. The embedded wires will not change the light and stop the oncoming traffic if you are alone in the left lane. You have to wait for a car from the opposite direction to reset the light. Newport Beach circular loops detect a cyclist when a traffic light refreshes; the dipoles and quadrapoles do change the light but require weaving across the antennas to simulate a mass of metal like a car. On Sundays, cyclist groups can be seen in left lanes waiting for a signal change and eventually someone running over to the crosswalk button. My previous calls and emails have been obstinacy from city engineers and police commanders with the recommendation to use crosswalks. Thanks for evaluating.

  • Avatar g cooper says:

    Great blog. Earlier this week I was cited for cal vc 21650.1 “bike wrong way”. I was on the sidewalk in Irvine on the east side of Jamboree. I was cited by a Tustin police officer. His claim is that when I entered the crosswalk I was then obligated to follow the vehicle code requiring same direction as traffic. Any thoughts/ideas will be appreciated since I intend to contest the sitation. He also claims that I entered Tustin jurisdiction when entering the sidewalk.

  • Avatar NBcyclist says:

    The preceding Tustin incident reflects similar police behavior to Newport Beach in awaiting bicycles to contrive vehicle citations. A police officer should be expected to allow sidewalk discretion for Jamboree Road that is speedy and heavy car traffic with few pedestrians. The police officer saw the bicyclist riding the wrong way on the Irvine sidewalk, and waited for it to cross the Tustin boundary and get on the roadway even though it was a crosswalk. Newport Beachs non-detecting traffic signals are caused by disjointed collaboration between the police department (NBPD) and city engineers. During a telephone call with Traffic Commander Lieutenant Steve Shulman, I suggested calling Principal Civil Engineer Tony Brine and Traffic Engineer George Bernard. The Newport Beach city engineers had stated in an email that the new embedded wires were set back to not detect bicycles. Motion sensors had detected bicycles entering the left lane into the state Back Bay preserve for about a decade. Lt. Shulman responded a week later that Mr. Bernard had checked the crosswalk button and that cyclists should go to it after testing the left lane signal. Apparently Mr. Bernard did not check for bicycle detection or pick a time to observe the stranded cycling traffic. A field test could also have been done with the NBPDs police-modified mountain bikes. Perhaps, they did not understand the safety risk of entering a left lane and then dismounting to scurry across traffic lanes to a crosswalk button. And on Sundays instead of monitoring crowded beach traffic, the NBPD continued to cite bicycles entering the Back Bay preserve with CVC 21453 (c) vehicle violations.

  • Avatar CVC Victim says:

    The vehicle citation to a Tustin cyclist described above reflects the practice in SoCal cities to pursue bicycles with persons that can be identified, probably own a car, and likely to pay a high CVC vehicle citation. In Newport Beach, police officer David Darlings first question was if I owned a car. He did not say what the violation was. He then asked for my vehicles license number. I honestly could not remember my license plate number, and Officer Darling spent the next twenty minutes trying to access the information. I explained to him that I had ridden out to watch the sunset, do not drink, and was not visiting bars. I also explained that the signal light in the past had detected my motion when entering the lane and that I had safely let the traffic pass. He did not reply. As the detainment became prolonged, I said that I was getting cold and had not planned to ride home in darkness. Again Officer Darling did not reply and seemed unable to communicate. I rode home in the darkness on the sidewalk because the unlit parkway was unsafe.

  • Avatar Patnet says:

    Does anyone have legal advice on how to document the fact that you were riding safely in the case of a ticket for sidewalk riding? Los Angeles Municipal Code 56.15 allows sidewalk riding without the “wanton disregard” for pedestrian safety. Despite riding at pedestrian speed, I’ve been threatened with a ticket next time I’m caught, and I intend to dispute the ticket.

  • Avatar Sean Ralph says:

    I would be interested in knowing if there are any recent case examples of anti-cycling bias involving cyclists being cited for riding bicycles on the roadways in winter and particularly citing cyclists for the use of studded tires.

    I recent newspaper article here in Ottawa, Canada lit up the newspaper comments with anti-cycling bias and some comments implying that the regulations against the use of studded tires on vehicles were also applicable to cyclists.

    I do both (winter cycle and use studded tires) and my argument is that studded tires on motor vehicles tear up the road, while the impact of such tires on bicycles is akin to the traction aids many pedestrians use (traction crampons).

  • Avatar Marilyn says:

    I am seeing this absurdity in Denver Police. My 12 year old son was run over while riding through an interesecion. the driver dragged him across two lanes of a major intersection. The driver left the scene and didn not return the entire hour and a half the ambulance arrived and police continued to get witness statements . They did not include the statements from the men who chased her down and told here to return that she hit a child nor did she get a ticket for leaving the scene. My son got the ticket for riding on the sidewalk which i continue to believe is sager. if she had hit him going 40 mph in the street he would be dead. I do not know what rights I have except to try to show his side on his court date.

  • Avatar 4 season cyclist says:

    Sean from Ottawa …
    my understanding is the legislation in Ontario bans the use or studded tires by motor vehicles specifically (and that only in Southern Ontario). No such prohibition exists for bicycles.

  • Avatar Rich Wilson says:


    I feel the need to address: “riding on the sidewalk which i continue to believe is sager. if she had hit him going 40 mph in the street he would be dead.”

    Unfortunately that’s a misconception that is one of the major causes of bike collisions. Yes, getting hit at 40mph on a bike will very likely kill you. But getting hit like that by a passing vehicle is exceedingly rare. The fact that it makes the news is evidence of that. The flip side is that riding on the sidewalk makes you MUCH more likely to be in a collision. I don’t know your particular intersection, but legality aside, it’s very rarely ever a good idea to ride on the sidewalk. My advice is, if you really feel safer riding on the sidewalk, then you should ride no faster than a pedestrian. At which point you might as well get off and walk.

    For the record, there are 4 easy things a cyclist can do to substantially reduce their risk of collision.

    1) don’t ride on the sidewalk
    2) never ever ride against the flow of traffic
    3) be visible (especially in low light conditions)
    4) don’t ride drunk

    That’s it. Those 4 things are major factors, if not THE factor, in most cyclist-fault-injuries.

    I wish your son a full and speedy recovery, and hope he will continue to ride. And please consider contacting for safe cycling classes.

  • Avatar Tara says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more! This feels like it is specifically punishing cyclists who are just trying to find their place in the concrete jungle.