Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Brush with the Law--!@%#*$ Woodside

This episode seems insignificant in comparison with other events this weekend, but it's still worth blogging, I suppose.

Saturday, while my family were off at skating lessons, I decided to up the ante of my usual rides and take on a serious hill. I made it to Woodside, and headed north on Cañada Road. After a mile or so, I decided to head up a random side street, and was surprised to see blue lights behind me.

Yeah, I got a ticket for failing to stop at a stop sign. Which, I suppose, I really did fail to do--albeit, while making a right turn.

The officer eyed me suspiciously, asked for my license, and asked "there's not going to be any surprises when I run this, are there?" I admit I was fairly unshaven, but didn't think I had a fugitive-from-justice vibe or anything. I kept my cool, and by the end I think maybe he felt a little sheepish over the whole thing. He said I would need to pay a fine, but because I was cooperative, the ticket was one that wouldn't go on my record. Or do bike tickets ever go on your driving record? Maybe he was trying to seem magnanimous for something that's just the law anyway. I don't know.

I would chalk all this up to the need to fill quotas, except that the officer said they'd gotten a lot of complaints in the area, and sure enough, while all this was going down, a local driving by leaned out his window to give an encouraging word to the policeman, and something to the effect that "you can catch a lot of them right here!"

Woodsiders' antipathy to bikers is well known (scares the horses? or maybe they just don't like sharing their little patch of the forest). Seems they've enlisted the county sheriff to the cause of harassing us.

They'll be first against the wall when the revolution comes.


Fritz said...

I think you're right that tickets while cycling don't go on your driving record.

gttim said...

On my little stretch of road in Atlanta, the locals started an effort to get cyclist completely banned. The county ended up passing an single file ordinance that applies only to my road, and seems to contradicts state law. Lawyers have waited for a ticket to be written so they could fight it in court, but in a year none have been issued. However, a few of the anti-bike homeowners have been hassling the police about staying down there. They may have called too many times. There have been license checks, for cars not cyclists, since and police hanging out there have written a ton of tickets to drivers. A little bit of backlash I imagine. Funny, the cyclist were complaining about the drivers during the county commission meetings but were basically ignored.

Anonymous said...

You know, I am tired of cyclists complaining of being harassed for being ticketed for breaking the law. I am a cyclist, and have been known to run a stop sign or two, among other fairly harmless violations. But I recognize that it's against the law, and I would have no room to bitch if I got stopped. This attitude that suggests that we don't need to follow silly mortal laws is part of what pisses drivers off so much.

Winston said...

I can assure you that cycling tickets DO go on your driving record in California. Going to school in Davis, CA I knew more than a few people who got DUI's (including the absurdly large fines and license suspensions) on their bikes. I also knew a guy who got carted off to jail for unpaid speeding tickets that he racked up on his bike.

295bus said...

Just to be clear--bitching about getting a ticket does not mean I believe bikers should be immune from ticketing.

But--I've been biking all over the Bay Area for a long time, always try to be safe, and follow traffic laws, more or less--just like the vast majority of the public does, whether driving or biking or walking. And I must be doing something right, because in 7 years, I haven't gotten a single ticket--until the one day I happen to ride through Woodside, the Town that Hates Bikes.

If I'm advocating anything here, I guess it's that traffic laws should be enforced to maximize safety, not just to appease a particularly whiny and well-heeled, constituency!

Kathy Schrenk said...

Local traffic law enforcement is not about safety, it's about revenue, unfortunately, as evidenced by the many speed patrols on Farm Hill and Jefferson, where people tend to go 45 or 40 in 35 and 30 zones, respectively. No cops patrol on my street, where people regularly go 45 in a 25.

I'm with you, 295, and anonymous is full of it. These cops are targeting cyclists when there is much more dangerous behavior exhibited by cars that don't stop at stop signs or use their turn signals.