What Is the San Diego Street Sign Department Smoking?

by on June 20, 2012 · 47 comments

in Culture, Environment, Health, Ocean Beach, Popular, The Widder Curry

Since Ocean Beach and Pt. Loma have begun to have the streets paved, a mysterious sign has appeared that should be discussed.

On the new paving is a picture of a bike – a “two wheeler” every block or so. And on a pole near the decal, is the following: a picture of the decal and these words under it: “May Use Full Lane”.

You have to be kidding?

Let’s, for one moment, take a “snapshot” of Chatsworth Street, going west, just past Dana Middle School. Pay attention to how wide that street appears to be. Got the picture? In the center of this extra wide street is a lone biker. Not a “hog biker” but a 9 speed biker. You are behind him. The decal on the pavement indicates that bikes are fine and the sign tells you that that biker can use the full lane. What are you going to do? Stay behind him until he moves so that you can pass him? Do you pass him on the left or do you pass him on the right? What if he moves to the right the same time you do? Or, what if he moves to the left at the same time you do? Or what if you decide to pass him on the left and run cause a head-on collision between you and the car going east on Chatsworth?

Won’t happen?

Bull! I almost saw it happen on June 15th (and then I saw something similar happen today- the 20th.

On the 15th, there was a lone bike rider huffing and puffing to get up the hill. (He should try going up Hill Street!) He was smack dab in the middle of the street. There were no cars parked along the curb and there were no other obstacles blocking his way.

But…he had the right of way and he was taking it. A car came up behind him and, in actuality, passed me so he could get where he was going faster than I was going. Except he didn’t see the biker in front of me. When he did, he swerved to the left so that he didn’t hit the biker, but almost ran right into the car that was driving eastbound. Fortunately that driver saw what was about to happen and swerved to the right. How lucky he was that there was not another car on his right – or even luckier – there was not another biker coming along side his car.

I stopped riding my bike years ago when Sunset Cliffs became so congested. Quite frankly, it scares me with doors opening; drivers pulling away from the curb without looking, etc. But this new scenario scares me even more. The next time I get married – and I hope I do – I want to marry an attorney because he will become quite wealthy defending either the biker, the driver, or maybe even the city.

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Jack Hamlin June 20, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Judi, I could not agree with you more. When I first saw those signs, I thought to myself, “Myself, the City Streets Department has once again proven they hire the intellectually and common sensically challenged.” The signs are actually in contradiction to the California Vechicle Code, which requires all bicyclists to adhere to all traffic laws. One of which is slower traffic must keep to the right. But what do you expect from a city department which thinks traffic control is putting a set of signal lights every 100 yards or so.


judi Curry June 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Hi Jack, today’s near miss was even scarier because there WAS a biker on the other side of the street. And…once again it was a maniac driving his car faster than the speed limit; honking his horn at me to get out of his way. As he gave me the “one finger salute” in passing me, the look on his face when he saw the bike rider was one of fear. (I can only imagine what the bike rider’s face looked like! – maybe his shorts too!) The driver made almost a complete “U” into oncoming traffic – and what was coming up? Yep! Another bike rider. Fortunately the biker was able to swing to the right and get out of the way, but something needs to be done about educating the public on these new signs. I don’t remember seeing any warning about them; I don’t remember reading anything about it when the new traffic laws for 2012 were mentioned. And BTW, this was not on Chatsworth. These signs are cropping up all over. It is scary!


dave rice June 20, 2012 at 11:08 pm

I’ve heard a bit about the “sharrows” being painted on the street to tell cars they need to share the road, but these signs are new to me.

Common sense dictates that cyclists would yield the right of way whenever possible, only looking to share the middle of the road when approaching a hazard like a parked car with a door that might swing open at any moment. I know I normally hug the right and will even dip off into the parking area on the side of the road if there’s a car trying to get by, but I’m sure there are jerks out there that will hog the lane just because they can.

Not sure how to react to your post, Judi – on one hand you make good points, on the other a bicycle is my preferred method of transportation for any trip that doesn’t involve leaving OB and I’d like to do anything possible to increase rider safety, especially as my daughter is getting to the point where she’s going to have to get off the sidewalk and learn to navigate the streets in the not-too-distant future.

In your example, though, I place at least as much blame on the cager (one who encloses themselves in a metal cage such as a car when navigating the roadways) that swung around you to pass going the wrong way…there’s a gal who sometimes does the same thing to me in my car heading down Bacon toward W. Pt. Loma in the morning because 25 isn’t fast enough for her to drive in a visibility-impaired residential neighborhood.


Serge I June 22, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Which do you think is more likely:
(1) Signs approved for use in the CA MUTCD contradict the CVC, or
(2) Jack Hamlin is mistaken about the signs contradicting the CVC

First, the general keep right law, CVC 21654, requires slow traffic to use the right-most lane on laned roads, not the ride side of the right lane.

Second, the bicycle-specific keep right law, CVC 21202, for excellent safety reasons, has an exception for roads where the lane is too narrow for safe side-by-side travel within the lane, which is exactly the type of road on which the CA MUTCD allows the placement of sharrows and the BMUFL sign.

The main reason we need these signs is basically because so many, like Mr. Hamlin, are unaware of what the law and safe traffic cycling practices are with respect to bicycle lane positioning on roads with lanes too narrow for safe sharing.


billdsd June 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm

@Jack Hamlin: The signs do NOT contradict the CVC. Unfortunately, people like you never bother to read the vehicle code but for some inexplicable reason, you pretend to know what it says anyway.

CVC 21202(a)(3) exempts bicyclists from the requirement to keep far right “When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge”

These signs are installed in places where that is the case.

The problem is that you are common sensically challenged. Anyone who had any common sense would think to make sure that they knew what the law says before claiming to know it.

Furthermore, these are white rectangular signs with black lettering. That makes them regulatory. The fact is that in the places where they are being installed they aren’t needed for bicyclists to have the legal right to use the full lane but wherever they are, they would grant that right even if CVC 21202(a)(3) didn’t (but again, it does).


Glenn June 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm

You think dumb decisions are being made NOW by city employees?

Wait til new pension and salary “reforms” come into effect, bringing in
a new crop of “dedicated public servants”.

This town will be know as Tijuana North.


JEC June 21, 2012 at 8:23 am

Hey – let’s not put down Tijuana.


John June 20, 2012 at 9:00 pm

This defies logic. Why should a 10 MPH vehicle have an entire lane of a 25 MPH road? Bikes are highly maneuverable and only as wide as my shoulders. In some countries, the laws are consistent with the laws of physics. The heavier vehicle has right of way. The lighter vehicle can maneuver easier and will usually receive the most damage in a collision.


judi Curry June 20, 2012 at 9:47 pm

I am trying to get in touch with the traffic planning department to see if there is an explanation for this. Will also check with the SDPD re: the laws involved. When I hear something I will post it. Judi


Mary C. June 21, 2012 at 12:04 am

You are STRONGLY encouraged to get in touch with the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition http://www.sdcbc.org/
They will be more than happy to explain the rules of the road to you and help you with your dilemma.
They even have a 1 hour Motorist Safety Education class: “Directed towards motorists in general, topics covered include laws, roadway positioning of cyclists, traffic and hand signals, principles of right-of-way and left and right turn problems. Pedestrian issues are also included. Materials include Share the Road literature for bicyclists and motorists as well as other fact sheets.” Watch the video same page. http://www.sdcbc.org/Motorist-Education.html
Share the Road
Same Road
Same Rules
Same Rights

These “sharrow” signs AREN’T CHANGING any rules of the road. They are reminders to cars that bicycles legally can use a regular lane for travel. Nothing new. I’m really surprised so many of you are surprised. You even claim you once rode a bicycle, Judi. Maybe it’s time to get back on as an adult and get up to speed.


billdsd June 22, 2012 at 4:53 pm

@judi Curry: The problem here is that you don’t know the rules of the road. Bicyclists already have the right to use the full lane in all places that these signs are being places. You need to read CVC 21202 and in particular pay attention to the exceptions in 21202(a)(3). Bicyclists can use the full lane on most roads. It’s not the fault of bicyclists that you didn’t pay attention in driver’s education.


judi Curry June 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm

The problem here is that you are a negative person that knows all the answers. When I TAUGHT the vc, not so many years ago, sharrows were not part of the code. I know the exceptions to the law. I know the rules re: bicyclists. My question had to do with the sharrows and others not as knowledgeable as you that might question the signs. I was merely trying to alert others to the appearance of these signs. There is no need – on your part – to call any of us names; and, in fact, you should congratulate us for being more aware.


billdsd June 23, 2012 at 5:15 pm

They’re still not part of the Vehicle Code. They are a part of the MUTCD, though both the Vehicle Code and the Streets and Highways Code reference the MUTCD either directly or indirectly by citing marking and sign standards established by the California Department of Transportation, which are in the MUTCD.

After reading your article, you could have fooled me that you know the exceptions. It certainly does not seem to indicate that you understand them or bicycle safety. Your article makes it seem like you were shocked that bicyclists could ride in the middle of the lane and it makes it seem like you think that the bicyclists riding in the middle of the lane are causing a driver crossing the center line and getting into a head on, which would clearly be the fault of the driver who tried to pass when there was not sufficient clearance.

If I’m so negative, it has a lot to do with the fact that I get harassed regularly for riding completely legal. Yesterday I was riding south on Pacific Highway and I had some idiot tailgating me from Laurel past Grape. It was here:


There are three south bound lanes there and he could have changed lanes at any time but he could not accept the fact that he needed to change lanes to pass a bicycle. I just missed the light at Hawthorn and after I stopped, he started yelling at me that I had to get over to the right in spite of the fact that both 21202(a)(3) and (a)(4) exempt me from the requirement to keep far right. I informed him of that fact since we had some time waiting for the light at Hawthorn. He said he didn’t care about my codes. Right. I then had to explain to him that the CVC is the law and that he’s saying that he doesn’t care about the law. Then he tried to claim that it’s about being considerate, because apparently I have to endanger myself so that he won’t have to change lanes.


billdsd June 22, 2012 at 4:51 pm

@John: ” Why should a 10 MPH vehicle have an entire lane of a 25 MPH road?”

Because the lane is too narrow for a bicycle and a car to travel safely side by side within the lane. Furthermore, I only get down to 10mph when climbing hills. I typically cruise at around 20mph on level roads on my bicycle.

What is so difficult about changing lanes to pass a bicyclist safely? Were you taught in driver’s education that you should never have to change lanes to pass a bicyclist safely? I sure wasn’t. In fact, I was taught that they have a right to use the road and I have maintain a safe distance when passing.

You haven’t worked out the logic and you clearly do not understand the rules of the road or how to drive properly. You need to go back to driving school ASAP.


Marie June 20, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Don’t blame the city employees, they are only doing what city council told them to do . Write to the city council.


Randy June 21, 2012 at 12:34 am

Streets are for people, not just for people in cars.

Streets are meant to connect people to destinations whether they choose to walk, bike, or drive. The sole purpose of streets is not to move cars at the highest speed possible irrespective of society’s safety. No law exists which claims such a thing.

CVC 21200 gives cyclists the right to the full lane when we feel it’s safest to do so. Most cyclists would never ride in the middle of the lane unless there was a good reason to do so. If you don’t ride, please don’t assume you understand the perspective of a bicyclist. Try riding to work and may be surprised by how much you learn about the built environment.

Traffic in the United States operates under the “first come, first serve” principle. This means that you must yield to all road users before you — motorists stopped in the middle of the road to turn left at an intersection w/ no turning pocket, motorists driving slowly, motorists stopped in the middle of the road and backing up to parallel park, pedestrians indicating a desire to cross at any legal intersection (whether a crosswalk is there or not), and yes, even cyclists.

Slowing down is good for society. You can save lives, save gas, slow the progress of global warming, slow the deterioration of public roads, make eye contact w/ other people, reduce the likeliness that you’ll die in the event of a crash, and you’ll create a more human friendly environment where people can walk, bike, get to school, get to work more safely. It’s a simple concept w/ amazing benefits for a multitude of parties.

We deserve safe access to public roads, just as you do.

League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor, SD County Bike Coalition
Office of Traffic Safety Certified


john June 21, 2012 at 5:30 am

Wow, such contempt for those whose chosen method of conveyance leaves a much smaller footprint on the world than thou. Did you know that if everyone got out of their car a day or two a week and on a bicycle, two of America’s biggest problems, obesity and dependence on foreign oil, would virtually be solved?
Don’t you people realize the more people on bicycles, the less in cars in front of you stuck in traffic? Even if filling the pockets of oil companies and filling the air with smog doesn’t bother you, surely you must realize bicycles are good for you too-just think we’re one less car for you to fight for a parking space!
However let’s stick to State vehicle code discussion. I can’t speak for every sign on every street but I see them on Voltaire where I ride my bicycle regularly, usually pretty close to 25 mph thank you unless there is a stiff wind.
The vehicle code states that the bicycle must travel on the right side of the lane, HOWEVER if the street is narrow and if a car going around the cycle cannot safely do so, THE CAR MUST GIVE THE CYCLIST HIS RIGHT TO THE LANE. That’s right, there seems to be some thinking here that if the lane is only wide enough for a car only, the cyclist is expected to vaporize, ride off the shoulder into the dirt and get off, or fly into the bushes lest your progress to your destination be delayed by our existence. The stencil is merely to remind you that cyclists do have the right to the entire lane as well if it is necessary for their safe passage- which I have to educate you is NOT hugging the mirrors of parked cars as we go by. “The Door Zone” should be avoided as often as possible, many people are seriously injured and even killed every year by motorists flinging their doors open without checking to see if anyone is coming in their mirror.
I’m a very thoughtful rider. I’m the guy who actually stops at 4 way stops (when there is any traffic) and waves for you to take your right of way if due. I actually stop and wait at almost all red lights, if I don’t it’s because I’m turning left and it’s safest to navigate around you. And as I said, I’m going 25 mph down Voltaire if I can. I’ve got lights as bright as yours, and a taillight. There are a lot of boneheads who cause contempt for cyclists, but make no mistake, we have a right to be on the road just as any car does.
Finally to Judi, you do have some research in front of you: The State of California is responsible for the vehicle code, not San Diego Police Dept. The stencils are not changing or creating any laws by the city, but reminding drivers of the State vehicle code as I’ve described above.


RB June 21, 2012 at 8:09 am

John, I agree with everything in your post. I also ride here. But painting big bikes pictures in the middle of traffic lanes without a public educational campaign is only inviting misunderstandings of the meaning. Also, I worry about the city using paint rather than construction bike paths in the future.


judi Curry June 21, 2012 at 10:35 am

Thanks RB for being so concise re: the painting of the pictures. That was what I had in mind when I wrote the article. The problem was NOT with the bikers; it was with the car drivers. Yet, when I asked people what they thought about the “right of way” posters, I received all sorts of comments from “you’ve got to be kidding” to “if they don’t get out of my way I’ll run them over.” There is no doubt in my mind that there needs to be an educational campaign – your words – to alert the public of what is going on. Perhaps the signs have always been there, but it wasn’t until the streets were repaved that I noticed them. And… for the first few weeks I even wondered what it was all about UNTIL I saw the signs on the sidewalk. And since the two incidents I witnessed were on different streets – Chatsworth and Voltaire – there needs to be a whole lot of education going on – and quickly.

Please, reader, know that I am not attacking the biker; rather I am saying that someone dropped the ball on this one. And…Editordude – I did read the original article, but never put the two together. Thanks for the enlightenment. Should have known you’d be on top of it.

Am still waiting for some calls from other departments.


john June 21, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Hey Judi, thanks for clarifying you intent with the article being the dangerous situation created by impatient drivers, to be clear myself I was most irritated by the statement from another reader about “heavier vehicles have the right of way”. (which is why I only mentioned you by name at the end of my reply)
As for the “heavier vehicles” thingy I’m pretty sure that applies to maritime navigation rules only, and while this may be observed as the status quo in a few of the most primitive third world nations, such “law of the jungle” rationale being applied as a pecking order for road rules is not something we should strive to emulate.
As for the signs creating misunderstanding, that may be the case but can easily be cleared up by including “CA VC 21202” on the signs themselves. It’s a shame to think this is even required but apparently it is.
All in all the article is welcome if it clears the air and educates in the end.


judi Curry June 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Thanks, John. I just wanted everyone to know that this is a legitimate sign; to be obeyed by all. Looks like there is no such thing as “tolerance” anymore.


billdsd June 22, 2012 at 4:58 pm

It is a legitimate sign indeed. It has been in the national Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) since 2009 but was just added to California’s version of the MUTCD for 2012. California tends to run a little behind the curve. The sharrow markers have been in both since 2009.


billdsd June 22, 2012 at 4:55 pm

What is so confusing about a bicycle symbol in the middle of a traffic lane. It means “bicycles go here”. How is that confusing?


editordude June 21, 2012 at 7:38 am

Judi and everybody: we posted this article a while back about the sharrows: http://obrag.org/?p=61435


OB Mercy June 21, 2012 at 9:12 am

How do you guys think I feel in my 3 wheeler? I take up even more space than a regular bike. It scares me, but I keep thinking….I live in a town with tons of bikes, people will see me right? People will give me the consideration when opening their doors, right? No, of course not. You have to be uber diligent when riding here in OB. I really hate it when someone swerves a little to the left to avoid me, but then seems to speed up whilst doing it. Purple tricycle, Xmas lights all over it…could I be any more conspicuous?! Lol.


Jim Baross June 21, 2012 at 1:28 pm

The most relevant California Vehicle Codes include:
21200 – people bicycling have the same rights and responsibilities as people using vehicles (did you know that a bicycle is not a vehicle under Califoria law?),
21202 – bicycling at speeds slower than other traffic is to be done as far to the right on the roadway as practicable with several exceptions including when a lane is too narrow to share side by side with a motor vehicle and several other exceptions (look it up),
21654 – slower moving vehicles (including bicycles) are to use the rightmost/slow lane,
21656 – on two lane roads (one lane in each direction) a slow moving vehicle with five or more vehicles behind is to turn out of the way where and when it is safe to do so.
I am a Spokesperson (pun intended) and a bicycling instructor for the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. I am pleased with the public discussion about how people are to share public roadways lawfully and courteously. We offer classes and free information about bicycling lawfully and effectively in with other traffic – info. at http://www.sdcbc.org.
We would be happy to discuss with any group what the law provides and are best practices for people sharing the public right of way. Just ask.
Roads are for people not only for people in cars. We all will benfit when we understahnd how to deal with this.


beach head June 21, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Maybe it’s time that all of the fats asses complaining about bikes, get on a bike and see what it is like to get passed too close by some jack-ass in a car. I’ll use as much of the lane as I need and if somebody in a car has a problem with that, they can stop me and tell me about. We’ll see how that works out for you.


judi Curry June 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I just got off the phone after talking to Michael from Kevin Faulconer’s office re: the “sharrows.” After we did research together, it was discovered that Cal Trans approved and adopted the “share roadway policy – Section 9C.103 several months ago. (You can go to the website by going to this link: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/signtech/signdel/policy/05-10.pdf.) Mr. Faulconer’s office is aware of some of the problems that these markings have generated and there is a meeting scheduled with the Bike Coalition later this week. We talked about “educating” the public and I suggested that flyers be handed out at the OB Street Fair Saturday explaining the right of way rules. Michael wasn’t sure if it could be done so quickly but he thought that last year they had a “valet” service for people riding their bikes to the fair and perhaps they could get something together for Saturday. He did tell me that many other cities in San Diego now have the markings, i.e. Pacific Beach, Hillcrest; “A Street” downtown, etc. Let’s see if the public can be educated quickly to prevent accidents and road rage.


Serge I June 22, 2012 at 2:53 pm

The BMUFL signs and sharrows are new, but the laws supporting what they indicate have been on the books for decades, and the safe practices on which they are based are solid, it’s just that very few knew about them, much less understood and appreciated them.

In my view the signs and sharrows are necessary, because “education” is ignored. Many people have been trying to alert anyone who would listen about the rights and best safety practices of bicyclists on roads with narrow lanes for decades, mostly to no avail. But in just a matter of weeks since the sharrows and especially the BMUFL signs are installed, all of a sudden there is all this awareness, questioning and discussion. Now, finally, people are receptive to “education”, which has to come through the media, and comments like this one…


jk June 21, 2012 at 9:53 pm

The laws concerning bicycling haven’t changed. The signs and sharrows are part of an outreach to help clarify these existing laws.

Sharrows have been added throughout SD over the past couple of years.

Personally, I think the sign is pretty self explanatory.


Jim Titus June 22, 2012 at 6:25 am

I’m from Maryland so I may be missing the point, but it seems to me that the challenge here is that the road is wide enough to allow parking, and parking is not prohibited, but it is rare. If you simply had an 11-ft lane with no shoulder, you need this sign. If you had a 22-foot lane with a line of cars parked along it, then you still only have 11 feet outside of the door zone, so you need this sign. But it is a greater judgment call when parking is allowed somewhere. So here you have a sign that makes sense when there are parked cars, but that everybody should ignore when there are no parked cars. Remember the “when children are present” plaque that goes under school-zone speed limit signs? But the MUTCD does not have a “when cars are parked” limitation. Maybe it needs one.

The research on this sign showed that it led the median cyclist to ride 3 inches to the left of where she would otherwise be, but that drivers moved left enough to increase the median passing separation by 3 feet. Unfortunately, the research on this sign seems to all be for roads with at least 2 lanes in a given direction, so it is easier to change lanes to pass.

In Maryland where the state highway administration is starting to adopt these and has published some relatively specific guidance which I uploaded to the URL at the end of this message. It still needs work, but they are on the right track. The standard is 13 feet plus gutter–I am trying to get that 13 feet expanded foot or so if there is heavy truck traffic.

Regrettably, they did not think about door zones so they won’t post the signs if there is more than 13 feet to the left of the parked cars, e.g. for lanes wider than 21 feet to the curb I think they need to go up to lanes with 24 feet to the curb, i.e., the many 22 feet lanes with parking need to have these signs–at least on bike routes. Most drivers understand that an 11-foot lane is narrow. But when there is 14 feet to the left of a parked car, they don’t realize that to the cyclist that is really a 10-foot lane because of the door zone.

See also MD guidance at


Frank J June 22, 2012 at 7:34 am

I ride bicycles on the street and I drive cars on the street. Stupid signs or not, I’m as far to the right as is safely possible if a car approaches behind me. And if a bicyclist thinks they have the right to the full lane if he is riding at half my speed, they will get a tap on the horn and I expect them to move over. This is not rocket science, its about getting from point A to point B as efficiently and safely as possible.


Serge I June 22, 2012 at 2:57 pm

If the lane is too narrow for safe side-by-side sharing within the lane, then the motorist needs to change into the adjacent or oncoming lane to pass, and needs to slow and NOT PASS if that lane change is not possible. By riding far right you are encouraging these motorists to pass you unsafely within the lane.

Further, by using the full lane as the sign suggests, the cyclist makes it clear and obvious to the motorist that the lane change is required, giving the motorist plenty of time and distance to plan and prepare accordingly. The cyclist who is far right in a narrow lane is much easier to ignore as being irrelevant to the motorist, until it’s too late, and suddenly unsafe braking and/or passing is required. That’s the point of the sign. Note that it’s only installed where it’s approved: on roads with lanes too narrow to safely share side-by-side.


billdsd June 22, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Riding close to parked cars is dangerous. Riding as close as safe means riding about 5 feet from them, unless that means that there’s not enough room left within the lane for a car to pass within the lane with a safe passing distance (at least 3 feet) in which case they should take up the whole lane and drivers will need to move entirely into the next lane to pass.

This is not rocket science. It’s basic driving 101. I learned that bicyclists had a right to the road and that I had to make sure that I passed safely in driver’s education in 1979. You’re supposed to already know this.


Jim Baross June 22, 2012 at 8:40 am

To Frank J:
Sorry if I am mischaracterizing your message but, it seems you expect to be able to ride your bicycle “… as far to the right as is safely possible…” but are you really also saying that you will honk at and expect other people on bikes to get out of your way – even if it is unsafe for these bicyclists? I may be too sensitive about this, having been illegally harassed while bicycling a few times.
Just to clarify, the law states that you and anyone bicycling should ride (per CVC 21202) as far to the right as “practicable” when traveling slower that the other traffic present – but no one is required by California law to bicycle or drive so far to the right as to be unsafe due to conditions such as potentially opening car doors, potholes or debris, when passing others on their left, to avoid right-hook/left-cross motorist errors, or when preparing for making a left turn and WHEN A LANE IS TOO NARROW TO SHARE SIDE BY SIDE with you in your car, etc. When you or anyone approaches behind a bicyclist and especially when it is NOT required by law for the bicyclist to move over, your “tap on the horn” is ILLEGAL and will likely be considered discourteous bullying and frightening to anyone bicycling. Please do not do this anymore!
As you typed, “This is not rocket science, its (sic) about getting from point A to point B as efficiently and safely as possible.” I agree and people traveling by bicycle are allowed to get from A to B as safely and efficiently (actually bicycing is already lots more efficient in may ways) as people traveling by motor vehicle.
When someone is lawfully traveling slower than we want to travel, we are supposed to wait our turn and only pass when it is safe. Honking, close passing/brush-backs, and similar actions intimidate people bicycling or traveling slower than us and abridges their right to travel lawfully on public roads – harassment is not acceptable behavior. Right?


Nicole Burgess June 22, 2012 at 11:35 am

Education!! Yes! Awareness!! Yes!
I have been trying for the past 8 months to get The Beacon to publish an article informing the public. I even wrote the article for them. The article was published the same day through the OB Rag – thank you.
I have also presented information at the Point Loma Association, Dana Middle School, Ocean Beach Elementary, The Peninsula Planning Board, The OB Planning Board, and parent association meetings as local schools. If anyone has a group to share information with, I would be happy to come out. (nicole23@cox.net)
I am an advocate for active transportation and encourage all to become active in their commutes. We have beautiful sunshine all year long and the benefits are great for everyone. We do need better facilities and encourage all of you to advocate for better facilities for cyclists and pedestrians. We would love separate roads, but there is reality.
Sharrows were needed on Voltaire and Chatsworth as it was the most efficient way of protecting riders – many of which are local school age children riding to their neighborhood schools. As an advocate, I hope the number of students commuting by bike will continue to increase, showing them independence and sustainability rather than dependency on a car. It would also eliminate the need for parents to drive in circles to and from all the activities, which creates much of the traffic in the area. Remember if you are a motorist, you are not stuck in traffic, you are traffic.
I have been working with Kevin Faulconer’s office to establish a District 2 Pedestrian/Bike Advisory Committee and with their support have requested for installation of sharrows on Voltaire and Chatsworth as well as Ebers; these are streets that are routes for students commuting to schools. The next meeting will be on July 3 at St. Peter’s Church at 6:30pm. All are welcome.
Hopefully motorists in the area will become a bit more aware of the increasing number of cyclists and slow down so that we can all be a bit safer in our commutes.
Take a ride – the fresh air will do wonders!


judi Curry June 22, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Hi Nicole, I think what you are trying to do is wonderful, but the non-riding public is so negative to bike riders. When talking to Michael in Kevin’s office yesterday I suggested that some thing – some flyer – some poster – etc. be set up at the OB Street Fair tomorrow. Can you get something together fast enough to answer questions there? Maybe just a poster that says “do you know what this means?” or some such thing. Good luck, Judi


Jim Baross June 22, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Yes, the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition will be providing bike parking near the corner of Bacon & Newport and I will be on hand part of the day with a Sharrow display and Contest. Tell me what the Sharrow pavement marking means and get a green bike pin… or make a $1 donation to the Coalition and choose a colored pin of your choice. We will also have a few of the San Diego Regional Bike Maps to give away, compliments of SANDAG.
‘See you there!


Citizen Cane June 22, 2012 at 11:22 pm

I ride on the sidewalk at lowrider speed. I’d rather stay alive than be legal.

Riding my bike gives me time to ponder things. I’ve been thinking lately about how bikes and pedestrians might do a better job of sharing the sidewalk. Basically it involves the bikers and pedestrians staying (mostly) on their side of the street. Sure you might have to walk a short distance from your house to your car on the bikers sidewalk. And bikes might have to travel a short distance on the pedestrian side of the street, but travelling long distances on the wrong sidewalk would be frowned upon.

I don’t think we need a thousand metal signs on poles to do this sidewalk sharing. You just have to remember N.E.W.S. and that bikers get the first two…North and East. Pedestrians get the last two…West and South. Example: if you ride your bike on the Cable Street sidewalk, then you must try to stay on the East sidewalk regardless of your direction of travel (coming from or going to the Farmer’s Market.) Another example: Walking your dog on Saratoga Avenue would be done on the South sidewalk if you plan on walking more than one block.

Or maybe we just focus on one street, like Abbot Street. We call it the East Side Bicycle Sidewalk. We just can’t lose any car parking to make new bike paths here at the beach. I think the best solution is for pedestrians to give up some sidewalk…at least on some streets.


OB Mercy June 23, 2012 at 8:45 am

Citizen Cane, that is some thinking man ideas there, me likey. That’s what I love about having a three wheeler, there is basically no balancing involved, so I can ride real slow next to pedestrians on the sidewalk. Because I have to do that a lot these days with my arthritis, it makes it easier when I walk around OB with my friends…I can stay on sidewalk with them. That is, until someone yells at me for being on there, which has happened.


Mike June 26, 2012 at 10:12 am

What a minute ? You’d rather stay alive than be legal ? Then as the phrase goes, “You reap what you sow” because if I, as a pedestrian on the sidewalk, get hit by your bike and I’m injured, you can better believe you’ll be hearing from my attorney. What’s with this militant attitude of bicyclists that they think they own the road and the sidewalk ?


billdsd June 26, 2012 at 9:26 pm

I don’t ride on the sidewalk except for short distances at very low speeds.

Bicyclists do have a right to travel on the roads safely. That often means using the entire lane, which is what these signs and sharrow markers are about. It’s very often unsafe for bicycles and cars to travel side by side within the lane.

Unfortunately, many people who have never studied bicycle safety think that they understand it anyway. They never do. Understanding bicycle safety requires studying bicycle safety.

Effective Cycling by John Forester, ISBN 0262560704
Cyclecraft by John Franklin, ISBN 0117064769


Jim Baross April 25, 2013 at 9:39 am

I got a notice that an additional comment was posted. I didn’t see any new ones, but I thought it might be useful to revisit the issue of the new pavement markings, signs, and whether and how more people are reacting to the reminders that people on bikes may lawfully be “in the way.”
Are people more comfortable using the roads on bicycles?
Are fewer people/automobilists harassing people who are bicycling “in the way”?



Jon April 25, 2013 at 11:02 am

Revisiting some of the uninformed comments, and the tone of the article itself just makes me sad. People in their cars get way too aggressive IMO. Like the road belongs to their car, and nobody else. Hey, I’ve been guilty of it too. But I think it’s gotten slightly better. The more people choose to ride their bikes, the more aware motorists will have to become right?

Also, I have to say the worst offenders….MTS buses! Those guys are really dangerous when you’re on your bike. They will literally run you off the road. I’ve had to physically punch the side window of one that tried to squeeze me in between his bus and the curb while crossing at a green light on cable across Newport. I was at the joint crossing toward willies shoe shine, and he didn’t like the fact I was there or something. Those guys are bad. Watch out for them, and report reckless driving.


billdsd April 25, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I disagree about MTS buses. Most MTS drivers are actually quite good about going around bicycle safety with plenty of space. I can’t say I’ve never had a problem with them but on average, they’re not too bad. Other buses can be more of a problem though.

I’ve had some scary incidents with other buses. One of the worst incidents was with a USD shuttle in Old Town that ran me off the road and drove up onto the sidewalk to do it. He was mad because I was controlling the lane going north on Juan street, nearly going the 25mph speed limit. He passed me across the double yellow, passing dangerously close and drove onto the sidewalk by Casa Guadalajara to make sure I couldn’t go around. He was stuck behind cars and couldn’t go forward. It took all my self control to not push in his door and kick the crap out of him. He assaulted me with a multi-ton vehicle so that he could save himself ZERO time.


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