San Francisco Cyclists Balk at Traffic Law Enforcement Effort
Bicyclists argue they should not have to follow the same traffic laws as cars.
Considering how vulnerable to injury bicyclists are compared to vehicle occupants, you would think that cyclists would be eager to obey any and all of the traffic laws that are designed to keep our streets safe from traffic accidents. However, in a strange and perhaps short-sighted turn of events, members of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition are actually protesting local police’s efforts to enforce the laws that will keep them safe.
This summer, local law enforcement began a campaign to put an end to bicyclists’ common practice of rolling through stop signs. According to Station Captain John Sanford, the campaign was prompted by numerous complaints about reckless bicycle riders “ignoring red lights…ignoring stop signs…running into people in the roadway…hurting and injuring people.”
In an effort to educate cyclists about the inherent dangers of violating traffic laws by running stop signs and red lights and failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, police began issuing tickets for these behaviors. In particular, an uptick in tickets for rolling through stop signs in a popular bicycle corridor called “the wiggle” earned cyclists’ ire.
The Bicycle Coalition’s position seems to be that they should be allowed to break the law so long as they do so carefully. Representatives have said that it is not necessary for cyclists to obey traffic laws related to stop signs to the letter, because they can easily yield right of way without coming to a complete stop. Of course, the same could be said about vehicles—yet vehicles are required to come to a full and complete stop at a stop sign, not merely slow down to a crawl to check that the roadway is clear.
In arguing for bicycles to be allowed to run stop signs at their convenience and in violation of the law, the protestors may be overlooking an important point:
Obedience to traffic laws provides important protection against liability in traffic accidents.
In the state of California, it is possible for multiple parties to share liability for an accident. If a bicyclist runs a stop sign and is injured by a speeding car, both parties would probably share a portion of the liability for the bicyclist’s injuries, because both had negligently or recklessly violated a traffic law. Had the bicyclist come to a full stop as required by law, proceeded when it was their turn, and still gotten hit, the situation would be quite different, as there would be no way of arguing the cyclist held any share of responsibility for their own injuries.
If you have been involved in a bicycle accident and you are being accused of having some share of liability, it is essential to get an experienced attorney such as Fernando D. Vargas on your side now. Attorney Vargas can help you find answers to the complex legal questions raised by your case and present the strongest possible argument for you to receive the compensation you deserve.