Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cyclists riding MS 150 ticketed for running stop signs

According to the Post article A Safety Issue to Officers, Poor Form to Cyclists, eight cyclists were ticketed for not coming to a complete stop at stop signs in the Purcellville/Lovettsville area:
To several who took part in the annual event - which is estimated to have raised more than $700,000 for research and assistance for those with the incurable illness - the tickets were poor form, even if cyclists had rolled through the signs. To authorities, who said they received numerous complaints from motorists about cyclists crowding the roads and running stop signs, the citations were necessary to ensure safety on the roads.

"After I picked my jaw up off the ground, my feeling was, 'You've got nothing better to do at 10 o'clock on a Sunday morning than sit there and wait for people to run a stop sign?'" said David Jennings, 47, of Vienna, a cyclist who did not ride for charity but was ticketed in Lovettsville while out with his biking club.

Jennings said he and another cyclist, a charity participant, slowed to about 1 mph before proceeding through a stop sign in Lovettsville, only to find a sheriff's deputy nearby, who flagged them down.

"What was amazing to me was it seemed to me they were there because of the MS ride," Jennings said. "They've donated their time and all their money, and they've donated to a charity, and you've got the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office just sitting there waiting to hand them a ticket. It didn't seem right."
The comments on the article contain most of the stereotypes about renegade cyclists who don't obey the law; motorists who do the same; cyclists who shouldn't be riding in the road, etc.

Capt. Thom Shaw of the Loudoun County Sheriff's office was online Friday "to discuss the incident and to answer questions about safety and rules of the road when bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians meet."

One question regarded the street corssings on the W&OD Trail and how few motorists stop for cyclists in the crosswalks. Capt. Shaw doesn't see a problem, completely ignoring the fact that motorists are required to yield to pedestrians and cyclists in a crosswalk:
Mclean, Va.: I bicycle regularly on the W&OD trail (and obey the law). I have witnessed far more cars who fail to yield to stopped cyclists at a crosswalk (or moving cyclists in a crosswalk) than bicyclists who blow through stop signs without regard to traffic. Aren't drivers required to yield at a crosswalk in Virginia (assuming, of course, that the bicycle has stopped at the crosswalk)?

Capt. Thom Shaw: All intersections with state roadways are governed by a stop sign for the cyclists. If the rider stops and yields correctly this should not be an issue.
In two subsequent comments, Capt. Shaw states that cyclists on the W&OD Trail stop signs must wait until all traffic clears before cyclists proceed:
Cyclists must stop and yield at these intersections, whether or not they have dismounted. A rider should allow themselves enough time and space to cross the roadway safely, as they would if they were driving a vehicle.

Yes, in cases where the trail crosses the roadway and a stop sign is only present for the cyclist, the motorist has the right-of-way.
This interpretation completely ignores the presence of the crosswalk and explains why police often accuse cyclists of not yield to motorists, which is contrary to state law, which states that "46.2-92, A. The driver of any vehicle on a highway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing such highway: 1. At any clearly marked crosswalk, whether at mid-block or at the end of any block;"

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It doesn't surprise me that he missed this point.

There is also the implied point that they were strictly enforcing a requirement to come to a complete stop at the stop signs. Do they impose this same exact same requirement on cars? I would tend to doubt it - in most jurisdictions rolling stops aren't a big deal.

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