Cycling Crackdown

Earlier today, I wrote on Twitter

some guy just called into our local NPR station monthly interview with the Police Chief to ask if they’d crack down on cyclists

and reader Todd responded with a link to a Toronto crackdown. We posted earlier on a helmet crackdown in Seattle.

Are you seeing crackdowns in your cities? Do we need to crackdown? I will say that I’d like to see safer commuters. That’s not a crackdown, but education.


If we really want bike commuters to be safer, we need the police to crack down on car drivers.  Sure, they’re not as easy to catch as bicyclists, but they are even more common (both drivers and driving violations), and they do much more damage.  Even a simple comprehensive and consistent enforcement of the speed limit within city limits would make a tremendous difference to everyone’s safety, from pedestrians on up.  Devoting extra manpower to cracking down on cyclists will not keep them safe from agressive and inattentive drivers.  The only thing it will do is satisfy frustrated commuters who blame cyclists for the fact that they can’t get to work on time.

We’re not seeing a crackdown in Columbus, but we’re hearing plenty of calls for one.  My response is always “why don’t you start with the people who are speeding, first?  That’s more of a safety problem than cyclists.”

At this point I would put up with a “crack down” if it just stopped the stupid argument against anything bike related due to “scofflaw” bicyclists running red lights, ridding the wrong way on one way streets, and causing anxiety in the general population.

Clearly it is the occasional bicyclist zipping by, not the streets gridlocked with personal vehicle traffic that makes getting around so aggravating for drivers.

*Sarcasm flag* in case it wasn’t blatantly obvious.

I agree with Nate! It really boils my bacon when I hear drivers excuse their poor share-the-road skills by talking up lousy riders. Then I REALLY get annoyed when I see the bad riders - they’re making my life a lot harder…

I was in the car with my husband the other day. He was about to start passing a cyclist, then the light turned red. He backed off and settled in behind her in the lane. As I was congratulating him on not being an ass, she continues on through the red light, not even slowing. I was aghast.

It’s not just her safety - it’s all of ours, and I *would* support a ‘crackdown’ - if only to raise public awareness of cyclists!

law enforcement for it’s own sake is a bit preposterous, i’d argue.

i don’t think we need a crackdown on bicycles and i honestly don’t think we need a crackdown on folks driving 5mph over the speed limit or even jaywalking.  the police should spend their time trying to stop actual problems.

you know, like tweakers stealing bikes and using them to buy methamphetamines.  or people getting shot.  or drunk/distracted drivers killing people on the freeway.

Bicycling = terrorism. 

Last time I complied with the police while riding in downtown Seattle (Sept. 2007) I was rewarded with a $120 infraction for passing a metro bus on the left on 3rd Ave.

When pulling over for the police, I’m 2/2 on bicycle tickets being issued.

In an automobile it’s more like 1/5 that I actually get a ticket.

Next time, if I think there’s any chance, I plan to evade the cops while on bike.

Plenty of crackdowns in our neck of the woods. And plenty of stupid bikers who deserve to get caught as well.

Here in Montclair, NJ, the local police have actually just begun a campaign to ticket drivers who do not stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk.  No real relation to cyclists, but a positive step in that drivers are being trained to be aware of those not in motor vehicles.

On the other hand, I ride pretty much every day and also see bicyclists running lights and riding on the wrong side of the road, or on the sidewalks.

The problem as I see it, is that there is no rider education program as there is for auto drivers.  Hopefully this will all evolve in a logical fashion.  It is kind of hard to convince cyclists to obey the rules of the road when they are disenfrachised.  We kind of need our own roads first.

but hold on - Chief Kerlikowski’s (sp?) response to the crackdown request was pretty much: Nope.

He takled about increasing enforcement of the helmet law, but generally was very supportive of cyclists as part of the Seattle traffic mix.

Nothing will stop some of the outraged drivers perceiving that all cyclists are scofflaw free-loaders.  Not Ride Civil, not Licensing cyclists, not a city-wide system of sharrows.  My thinking is, though, that there are a lot of undecided citizens and the light-runners and lane-splitters really do makes us all look bad.

I’ve rationalized the poor behavior: using the sidewalk for half a block, rolling through stop signs (I have to make all my momentum / kinetic energy, I always abide by the rules when there are other vehicles present, this intersection was laid out for big boxy vehicles with four wheels, etc) It’s pretty lame, though, and I’m sorry that I’ve probably contributed to the perception problem.

And if I ever got pulled over and were cited(which seems unlikely) I’d take the ticket without complaint.

Traffic is a system and it doesn’t exist for your or my benefit - it exists for everybody’s benefit.  If you’re double-parking your towncar in the bike lane or blowing through a red light on your fixie - well… you don’t belong in the system.

the cycling community (if there really is such a thing) can avoid a crackdown through its own actions.  But let’s not forget: the Chief said: Nope.

While we’re discussing scofflaws, give this a read:  It’s a bit long, but relevant and thoughtful.  Pass it on, eh?

Val - that was a really good read - well worth the time - thanks.

big enforcement here in ann arbor:

i’m guilty of running stop signs, lights, etc (safely, trying to get away from traffic). would rather see motorists forced to comply with laws.

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