If you are going to ride a bike, follow the laws.

by on August 2, 2012 · 18 comments

in Culture, Life Events, Ocean Beach

Although no longer a bike rider because the roads around Ocean Beach scare me, I usually support those people that have the nerve to ride their bikes along Cable, Sunset Cliffs, and Bacon.  But my sympathy ends when I follow the rules and the biker doesn’t.

A case in point: I was traveling down Cable Street towards a meeting on Voltaire when I came to a stop at Santa Monica and Cable, as did two cars coming in opposite directions. But the woman riding her bike did not stop and rode right through the intersection and barely averted being hit by the car that had the right of way. And what did she do? She gave the finger to the driver of the car. Why? She was the one at fault. She didn’t stop at the stop sign; she ran the stop sign and made absolutely no effort to slow down. What gave her the right to disobey the law and then act indignant about it?

As I continued down Cable to Voltaire, virtually the same thing happened but with a male bike rider. There were cars stopped at all four corners, yet he did not stop and went through the intersection oblivious to the cars doing the right thing. He didn’t give us the finger; rather he yelled at us, calling us “ass holes” because one car was already going into the lane and came close to him. Why? He should have stopped at the stop sign just like we did.

These are only two examples that happened today, in a space of 3 minutes. It is not the exception; it seems to be the rule.

If the bike rider wants my support, then they must follow the laws just as the drivers must follow the rules. The bike rider does not have the “right of way” just because he/she is on a bike. Sometimes he/she has the right of way; sometimes not.

Is it so difficult to realize that if the rider is hit by a car he/she might be severely injured or worse, killed? When there is a flagrant disregard of the laws, the fault is not always that of the driver of the car. The driver doesn’t want to hit the bike rider any more than the rider wants to be hit, but laws need to be followed and adhered to at all times.

It seems that “road rage” is not just restricted to auto drivers; it affects the bikers, too. That young lady was lucky today. May her luck never run out. As for the male? His arrogance was so unnerving he’s asking for trouble. I just hope it doesn’t happen in Ocean Beach.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe Hartley August 2, 2012 at 9:33 am

Well said.

Traffic laws do apply equally to those who ride a bike and those who drive a car. Running a stop sign or light results in the same ticket and fine whether your on a bike or in a car.



Jerry August 2, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I travel frequently on West Lilac Road in Valley Center. This road is narrow and winding and is favored by bicyclists especially on weekends. In spite of this narrow passageway, I regularly observe bicyclists riding side by side instead of in single file. Additionally, I occasionally observe folks who have stopped on the roadway to rest or text or? Is it too much trouble to move a bike out of the traffic lane onto the shoulder when stopped or to ride in single file?


judi Curry August 2, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Common courtesy is lacking from both auto and biker riders. How simple it would be if people followed your suggestion, Jerry.


billdsd August 2, 2012 at 9:30 pm

If the lane is narrow, then there won’t be room for you to pass at a safe distance (minimum 3 feet) while remaining in the lane even if they are riding to the far right. If you’re going to move into the next lane to pass, you might as well move all the way into the next lane to pass. CVC 21202(a)(3) explicitly exempts bicyclists from the requirement to keep far right in this situation. Narrow lanes are the WORST place for bicyclists to keep far right.

To make matters worse, it is dangerous to ride close to parked cars due to the risk of doors opening or drivers pulling out because they can’t see bicyclists riding close to parked cars. Many years ago I had a car pull out next to me as I was passing and I collided with the front left fender. I don’t ride close to parked cars anymore. CVC 21202(a)(3) exempts bicyclists from the requirement to keep far right when necessary to avoid any hazardous condition that results from riding to the far right.

Shoulders on surface roads are usually not wide enough for bicyclists to ride safely or have other safety issues. That’s why they are shoulders and not bike lanes. If it was wide enough and safe enough to be a bike lane, then it would be a bike lane.

Too many motorists seem to think that bicyclists have zero width and that it’s safe to pass within inches. Neither of these things is remotely true. A safe and legal place to pass will come up soon enough.

As for obeying the rules of the road, every time I’m out on the road I observe numerous drivers speeding, failing to signal, rolling stop signs, rolling right on red and tailgating. I also usually observe at least a few entering intersections after the light turns red, failing to move as far right as practicable before a right turn, turning across bike lanes instead of merging first, failing to yield to pedestrians at cross walks or uncontrolled intersections. I also regularly observe several other violations though maybe not every time I’m out on the road.

Let’s not pretend that bicyclists are worse about obeying the law than motorists. They aren’t. Complaints about bicyclists breaking the rules are really just an excuse to vent anger at having to share the road with bicyclists, even though it’s a trivial inconvenience.

There are lots of ways to learn real bicycle safety. Here are a few:

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


DJP August 4, 2021 at 3:16 pm

In response to the comment “Let’s not pretend that bicyclists are worse about obeying the law than motorists”….they 100% are worse.
I have lived in OB my entire life and people who ride bikes think that the laws of the road do not apply to them. If you cannot follow the rules the same as a car would, either don’t ride a bike or expect to get hit. I will absolutely will not stop for a biker if it is clearly my turn to go. I would rather hit them or have them hit me…I will not be the one with injuries.


Sam August 5, 2021 at 12:38 am

Oh please billdsd! Cyclists are 1000 times worse about following traffic regulations. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen packs of 10-20 cyclists blasting through stop signs without so much as a glance at the rest of traffic, let alone slowing down or God forbid actually stopping at a stop sign. Or how about riding their bike on the sidewalk and speeding into an intersection in the crosswalk? 100% illegal. I have no sympathy for these cyclists!


dave rice August 2, 2012 at 10:36 pm

I’ll admit that I (kind of) am guilty of this behavior. The main reason is that while gaining momentum in a gasoline-powered couch is as easy as tapping your foot, it takes a bit more exertion, especially for a fat guy on a little bike like me, to get going again from a stop.

But because I recognize this, I’ll slow to a busy intersection and follow a car going my direction that has the right of way. Slowing is easier than stopping, but for the most part I’m not getting in anyone’s way.

That said, I get the jerks that blow through intersections without a care or concern for who has the right of way at all virtually every day, and they encompass everyone from casual beach cruiser riders to full-bore spandex warriors on their skinny-tire 36 speeds (or whatever). And they’re not just on bikes, a lot of times they’re ignorant pedestrians. Ever tried to get a car through the intersection of Bacon and Newport?

But this is a pedestrian/bicycle driven town, so I accept that when I’m in my car I’ve got to yield to everyone, even those that really deserve to get mowed down – they’d scratch my bumper something fierce.

P.S. – F Captchas!


Steve August 2, 2012 at 11:13 pm

If stupid people on bikes want to die or get seriously hurt… some people just have to learn the hard way.


Zach on the side August 3, 2012 at 6:10 am

Don’t you all realize that right of way belongs to ME? That none of you should even be out on the road because it belongs to ME? That you’re all taking up space on the planet that in fact belongs to ME? ME? ME? ME?

How ironic that, in that attitude, the one thing missing is that person’s true higher self. I’m a self-concerned, oblivious, megalomaniacal little child. Get over it!


Andy Cohen August 3, 2012 at 11:32 am

As someone who frequently rides his bike through OB, I gotta admit that I don’t always come to a complete stop at stop signs, mostly for the same reasons that Dave Rice mentioned above. But I always check for cross traffic before I enter the intersection, and always let cars with the right of way proceed ahead of me. And you’re absolutely right, Judi: It’s really not that tough to have some common courtesy and obey the rules of the road–even if you do bend them a bit like I do. Just because we’re on a bike doesn’t mean that everyone else owes us any kind of deference on the road. EVERYONE who rides a bike should keep that in mind.


John August 4, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Today a guy on a motorized bike tried to kill himself with my truck. He passed a car turning right at at stop sign…on the right…and then was almost hit by me going straight. He did not slow and it sounded like he actually accelerated through the stop sign. I had stopped and looked properly but he was going so fast from such an unexpected place that I never saw him until the last moment. The annoying weedwacker sound is really what saved his ass. If only I was drunk or stoned like half the people around here then he would have been in the market for another illegal annoying motorized bike…or dead.

You someplace paradise and you can kiss it goodbye!


judi Curry August 4, 2012 at 7:58 pm

I wonder if he is the same person that made a left hand turn from the extreme left lane and missed running into my car by inches. Thank goodness for a new car and great brakes. And….he, too, gave me the finger, even though he was in the wrong lane for the turn!


billdsd August 4, 2012 at 8:36 pm

I’m confused. The left lane is where you’re supposed to be when making left turns.

Passing on the right when there’s a chance that what your passing could turn right is suicide. It is one of the unfortunate byproducts of the delusion that bicyclists should always keep far right. Today I had a semi-close (but not really close) situation with a bicyclist on the sidewalk. I was making a right turn on red. I stopped, looked, and was about to go when I realized that this guy was going to go into the street and through the red light (straight). If bicyclists were taught to ride in the middle of the lane like they should, they would be far less likely to make the suicide pass on the right.

I also hate those noisy gasoline powered motorized bicycles. In addition to the horrible noise, they really put out a nasty stench of exhaust.


smuffy August 6, 2012 at 12:42 pm

I might be the only person in OB that follows the rules of the rode when I ride my bike. I have seen many bike riders carelessly blow through stop signs and disregard other moving object sharing the road. It is disappointing. To me it says they don’t care.

One time I was called out by a motorcycle cop at the intersection of Santa Monica and Cable. He publicly commended me for stopping and using hand signals. I even had a witness to this glorious event.

I am proud to show respect for the people I share the road with.

Glad to see folks touching base on a topic that we witness in our community.


judi Curry August 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Call me the next time you are riding in OB. I’d like to follow your lead and see what it is like to not worry that you are going do a crazy maneuver that may get both of us injured.

Thanks for being so aware.


kh August 4, 2021 at 10:50 pm

I’ve spent enough time on both ends of this. So many of the cyclists here seem to have a death wish. Running through stop signs when there are cars… ridiculous. Now if you can slow way down and can still yield the proper order, and ride predictably, fine I get it, momentum. Wanna cruise through after checking both ways that there’s no cars coming? Fine.

As a cyclist the biggest hazard is probably drivers that think they’re being courteous. Please do not stop where you are on the through street in order to wave me into traffic. Please just take your right of way. Don’t screw up the flow of a 4-way stop because you think I should go out of order or run the stop. Don’t park there for 5 seconds to do the hand jive with me over who should go. We have established laws for how to take turns. The other drivers on the road that are trying to follow the rule book and you are just enticing them to run me over. And don’t tail me because you’re too afraid to go around or cross that centerline that nobody is on the other side of. I don’t want a 4,000 lb hunk of metal hovering right behind me.


sealintheSelkirks August 5, 2021 at 11:19 am

I used to build my own beach cruisers in MB in the 60s through the 70s and, like Dave Rice and Andy Cohen, I’ll admit I didn’t always strictly follow the rules, either, even when I moved back to OB in 1980. But riding from MB to PB Jr High and then the even-farther Mission Bay High three years later was brutal even when you know the quickest route to avoid most of the stop signs. It just kicks your butt up having to stop all the time and re-start. But I was never stupid about it!

But blowing at speed through a stop sign? Passing cars on the passenger side that are turning right? In heavy city traffic? Blocking lanes riding side by side? And traffic has to be WAY worse now down there! That is beyond hubris and definitely falls into the Darwin Awards category…

And bluntly, all those bike riders should be happy to stop when necessary and always use hand signals to turn because up here there are almost NO places to ride! I have the Gary Fisher ‘Tassajara’ mtn. bike that I bought from my stepson in 2000 when he was racing single track in the mountains and went soft-tail, and it is undoubtedly the best most fun to ride bicycle I have ever owned. I rode it all the time instead of driving even though it was too big for me and I had to switch out and drop the seat post as low as possible (he’s 6’6″ and I’m NOT even close to that) and I could still barely tippy-toe the ground standing…

But when I moved to these mountains 18 years ago I found shoulders on the 2-lane State 231, the ONLY road that connects me to nearby towns, incredibly scary because they are non-existent. As in none! Hwy 395 is 60mph and 2-lane but it’s 7 miles away! And the gravel/dirt county roads I live on are even worse because the idiots in vehicles blow by flinging rocks at 40-50mph (when the washboards haven’t reformed) because they are in such a hurry. Don’t get me going on washboard roads, either…forget that.

I won’t even mention trying to breathe in the prevailing dust clouds generated… So I don’t ride the bike or very rarely (sometimes to a nearby neighbors) except when I take it down to Spokane and ride the Riverside Park trails along the extremely beautiful river once or twice a year.

So what I have left is rolling one of my 70s pool rider skateboards down the streets when I go to my local town for mail and bank etc instead because it’s really small and there is a distinct lack of sidewalks in most of it. And it’s illegal to ride a skateboard on the 3-block square Main Street sidewalks, the town core area, though I often do anyway so I’m still not following all the rules. But pushing a skateboard down the street I’m using hand signals from bike riding because…it’s freaking safer! I always have a skate in my old 4Runner…

So all you bike riders acting like hormonal teenagers count yourselves blessed to be ABLE to ride a bike. And learn to use your head instead of those hormones!

And Dave Rice, I agree. I HATE Captchas because I’m on an old computer that they don’t load. Just more computer crap that some company makes money on.



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