Graphic by Kevin Black-Mustang Daily

In the busy morning commute, a cyclist rushes on Truckee Road and Village Drive, near Diablo Hall, runs a stop sign, almost hits three or four pedestrians and cuts off a car before running another stop sign.

If he had been ticketed it could have cost more than $500.

The University Police Department has started to crack down and enforce bicycle regulation on campus.

“It’s not that we are going to be handing out tickets to everyone, it’s a judgment thing, and it’s not always black and white,” Sgt. Robert Eckrote said. “We will be giving tickets and less warnings.”

Enforcement has been increased because there are hundreds more cyclists on campus this year than in previous years and too many complaints and accidents have been made, Officer Frank Herrera said.

Officers have been looking at bike traffic at busy intersections like California Boulevard and Campus Way, North Perimeter Road and Via Carta and Grand Avenue and Slack Street, to get an idea of how many people are violating the law.

Officer Chad Reiley found lots of violations during his survey.

“Between 15 to 20 minutes I saw 80 to 100 violations,” he said.

Checking traffic lets officers know which parts of campus are  more dangerous than others. Eckrote said the UPD found several common violations.

“The most common violations are failing to stop at a stop sign and no headlights (used) half-hour before sunrise and half-hour after sunset,” he said.

UPD designed and put up A-frame signs reminding cyclists to stop at stop signs and officers have been handing out informational flyers about bicycle laws. Since Oct. 1, officers have been going to dorms to educate students about campus safety, including biking.

Sgt. Lori Hashim said that the UPD had officers actively involved and helping to educate campus.

“It’s all part of the campaign, get everyone educated,” she said. “Let’s give everyone a chance.”

The UPD will be on foot, bikes and in cars regulating bicycilists, Eckrote said.

“Officers will be standing at stop signs and if a biker doesn’t stop the officer will radio another bike officer who will continue to pull them over,” he said.

If a person is trying to run from an officer and gets caught officers will arrest them for evading of a police officer and take them to county jail.

Officers will decide what to do if a cyclist is trying to escape, Reiley said.

“With any violator trying to get away, we would have to look and see if it is dangerous to chase,” he said. “We can radio giving a description but there is not much an officer can do at that point. It’s a case by case scenario.”

With a first time offense, the violator depending on the citation, has two options; pay the ticket or attend Bicycle and Skateboard Diversion class that is two hours long, Hashim said.

“If you attend the class then the ticket is dismissed. With a second offense you don’t get the class option,” she said.

The class goes over all laws pertaining to bicycles in detail and students watch safety movies, Reiley said.

A fine has to be paid in four to six weeks or it will turn into a warrant for arrest, Eckrote said. Getting multiple bike tickets will also raise car insurance rates.

Tickets also can be issued when a bike is locked to anything other than a bike rack.

“We do a warning with a slip, after that the bike is impounded with a bike lock and the owner will have to pay a fine. If not picked up in 24 hours the bike is seized and prices go up,” he said.

All bikes on campus must be registered with the UPD, there is no penalty but registering a bike can help in getting it returned after it is lost or stolen. Registration can be done online or forms can be picked up at the UPD office.

All Unclaimed bikes go to the lost and found for six months and then are are placed into the semi-annual bike auction. The next auction is Nov. 4 and 5 at the UPD.

Join the Conversation

40 Comments

  1. i got a ticket from a bike cop for rolling through a stop sign on perimeter rd…watch out, they’re serious about this. its 55 bucks with the diversion class and court fees

  2. These fines seem a little excessive for riding your bike. For example, not having headlights will cost you $106. Seems kinda ridiculous.

      1. I would like to know since when are bicycles considered motor vehicles. A motor vehicle is something that is powered by an actual motor or engine not yourself. A bike is NOT a motor vehicle.
        I love bike riding, dont get me wrong but bicyclists these days are getting way to out of hand; they think they OWN the road. Do you observe the road cyclists riding on the streets. They ride as close to the car lanes as possible and as far from the sidewalk as possible. Well hummm if I was riding my bike next to 1-ton cars traveling at high speeds you would think that they would ride as far away from the road as possible, but no they ride as close to the car lanes as possible. It makes you wonder, do they really want to get hit by a car and become seriously injured.

        Bicyclists need to understand that it is a privelage to share the road with cars. Riding a bike involves using all of your senses at all times. You need to expect the unexpected with cars on the roadways. While riding a bike you have no protection from cars. You need to give the right of way to cars and then and only then you may proceed. Dont trust a car to stop at a stop for you.

        This directly applies to college students riding their bikes on campus. They need to be fully aware of cars and their own surrondings. If they see the road is clear and use their common sense then they can run a stop sign.The unexperienced bikers are ruining it for the rest of us. For example: the unexpereinced biker will cut of a car without looking over his/her shoulder to see if anyone is behind them before making a turn.

        Being an experienced biker means making manuevers that you know you can make without harming anyone around you. I would be glad to demonstrate this to the UPD during normal school hours and show them what defensive bike riding is all about

        1. The California Vehicle Code establishes laws governing the use of vehicles in CA. While not a “motored” vehicle, it is considered a vehicular “device,” the use of which is subject to vehicle law. Here’s a few selections on topic:
          – Section 231. A bicycle is a device upon which any person may ride, propelled exclusively by human power through a belt, chain, or gears, and having one or more wheels. Persons riding bicycles are subject to the provisions of this code specified in Sections 21200 …
          – Section 21200. (a) Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic
          beverages or drugs …

          The true problem with cyclists on campus is that a (let’s be fair) substantial number of cyclists blow stop signs, ride where they shouldn’t, fail to yield to pedestrians, and generally ride about like asshats. As a result, tolerance for this behavior has gotten pretty low, which has resulted in lots of complaints. Ultimately, the police are ordered to crack down on “the problem,” which requires them to perform increased enforcement.

  3. Very informative article. I think it’s great that students are riding bikes. The fines are too steep for students though, and should only be given in severe cases such as when a bicyclist is endangering themselves or someone else.

    1. Fines are the same for all persons in the State of California. Officers routinely weigh the gravity of the offense when determining whether to warn or cite; however, laws are written and enacted with the expectation of compliance even when violation of the law would not pose an imminent risk to oneself or others.

      Suppose you are driving towards a 4-way, stop sign-controlled intersection. You see three other cars approaching, one from each direction. How confident are you the other three drivers will stop at the intersection? If you were to drive through the intersection without stopping or slowing, would you be offended if an officer wrote you a ticket? After all, if they all stopped, you went right through without severe consequence to yourself or endangering others.

  4. Guess I need to start driving to campus. $300 a year seems petty compared to these fines!! Plus any bike ticket will affect your insurance too, not worth the RISK!!!

    DRIVE TO CLASS!!!! Its cheaper than dealing with the Campus Police.

    1. A ticket received by a cyclist “may” impact your insurance. A cyclist that operates his bicycle safely and in accordance with the law wouldn’t need to deal with the police, unless they stopped along side an officer and engaged in polite conversation. Most of them seem pretty approachable, even affable.

  5. This is absurd. The fines are way to expensive for someone trying to bike to school. Do you think any college kids can afford these. Campus is already hard enough to get to with ridiculously high parking passes, a commodity of parking spaces, commodity of bike parking, no skateboarding, no crossing the train tracks, and over-crowded buses.

    These laws in no way support the use of alternative transportation, at a school that claims to be green. You have already convince Frank to drive to school. people know how to ride bikes, and im sure that they already know its dangerous, it should be up to them to enforce their own safety, not the campus police (on a case to case basis)

    1. 1. Bikers may be left to enforce their own safety but the problem is them jeopardizing the safety of other.
      2. The expensive fines are supposed to discourage you from breaking the law.

    2. These laws are provided for all cyclists and drivers in the State of California. They are not unique to the Cal Poly campus.

      Police are employed by the community for the purpose of enforcing the laws (among other responsibilities) their law makers enact. Where individuals prove unwilling to comply for “their own safety” the police are expected to provide incentive. Sometimes that requires increased education efforts, increased warnings, and even increased citations.

  6. Tough shit, obey the stop signs and yield to pedestrian traffic. I\’m tired of being almost runover by assholes who have no respect for anyone. Don\’t want to pay for running a stop sign? Don\’t run the stop sign. Don\’t want to get a ticket for riding your bike unsafely without a light at night and endangering other people who can\’t see you, don\’t ride your bike at night or strap a flashlight to it. Common fucking sense people, quit bitching about how much these tickets cost, they cost it to teach you to stop being a dumbshit. How can you possibly argue against this?

    It\’s college, people don\’t put up with your bullshit anymore. Deal with it

    I for one support increased fines for doing stupid shit on campus, maybe we can collect these fines and install flashing crosswalks on campus like they have downtown. That would be fabulous to not have to worry about getting hit by a car who\’s drive isn\’t paying attention. Speaking of pedestrians, can we start fining them for impeding the flow of vehicular traffic? I\’m mean seriously driving on campus can be next to impossible sometimes.

    1. You’re not alone. Recent campus surveys indicate many within the campus community are upset at the behavior of cyclists. Many have complained there is a sense of complete disregard by many cyclists concerning the manner in which they ride on campus. The programs and actions on the part of the UPD are in direct response to these concerns.

  7. The campus police need to use common sense when dishing out tickets to students on their bikes. I agree that people who ride dangerously should be ticketed, but there should be a different standard for bikers and drivers. It is understandable that drivers obey all traffic signals because they are operating a huge mass of metal that can kill people and can’t be stopped if moving quick enough. Bikers, on the other hand, have much better control over themselves and can observe their surroundings very easily. I never come to a complete stop at a stop sign if there’s no one around, or if there are no cars or people that are going to cross my path (unless there is a cop…) In these situations cops should use common sense and let bikers be. Further, bikers shouldn’t have to make “complete” stops. Its unfair that a biker should have to stop, plant a foot, then startup pedaling again if rolling the sign would harm no one.

    It all comes down to cops using common sense and decency. I remember a couple summers ago I rolled through two straight stop signs even though a cop was behind me. There were no cars at either intersection. He stopped me and said, “Are you kidding me?” I laughed and explained that I saw no point in stopping at stop signs if no one was around since I was on a bike, not in a car. He warned me that I would be ticketed the next time. Unfortunately I have seen people ticketed for exactly that, and its discouraging. I would encourage people to dart from the police if they try to pull you over for some BS biking violation (unless you deserved it), but since $2000 is at stake, the police might actually try to apprehend you. For now, be very aware of cops, don’t be a jerk biker, and bike according to common sense, not traffic laws geared more towards cars than bikes.

    1. While I do think some of those fines are ridiculous, I also think that Jose has a point, and your anecdote just shows ignorance. Who in their right mind would roll through stop signs when there is a cop behind them? That’s just like wearing a sign yelling “Ticket me! Ticket Me!”. Saying your bike should have different stop rules than a car because it is lighter is also not too good. A bike can’t instantly stop without the possibility of the rider flying over the bike and getting injured (if going fast). A bike colliding with someone still will injure the pedestrian, and possibly the rider as well. And just to say my gripe, all I want is for bikers to stop riding on the sidewalks by the Education building. I’m tired of having to walk in the grass (or dirt) because a biker feels that they have the right of way on the paved pedestrian path. Wear a helmet, stop at stop signs, have a flashy light, do hand signals when needed. How hard is that to do?

      1. I don’t think anyone would argue cyclists should have the right to blow through stop signs willy-nilly, cutting off cars and pedestrians. But I do think there should be a common-sense law allowing bicyclists to treat stop signs as yields, stopping when appropriate and slowly rolling though when clear…especially for right turns. Several other states permit this, as bicylists ARE fundamentally different than cars in their ability to maneuver and the operator’s field of vision. My roommate got a ticket for rolling through a stop sign at the top of a hill…I seriously doubt any of the naysayers here would take the effort to stop, plant their foot, and push off again uphill in a situation like this with no one around…well except the cop that was hiding. Why was this? Probably revenue…maybe a little bit of bike education…but I don’t think anyone gets to call “safety issue” on this.

      2. Have you ridden a bike before Sharon? It’s pretty damn easy to stop a bike on a dime if you aren’t retarded

    2. It is not uncommon to hear students proclaim that they are adults and have the same rights as others within the community. And, you know what? They’re 100% right! However, as adults and persons with rights, they also bear the burden of responsibility. The same responsibilities shared by all of us: responsibilities for themselves and responsibilities toward others. To recommend a person run from an officer attempting to perform traffic stop stop speaks plainly: “You can’t hold me responsible for my actions!” That’s childish advise. It destroys the credibility of your former arguments.

  8. I find it interesting that the police were going out of their way to enforce the stop signs at Via Carita and Perimeter, right in front of Rec Center. I’m not even sure why those signs are still there, since the whole area has been closed off to private motor vehicles. There is really no point to having a full stop sign on both Perimeter and Via Cara because there is really no traffic to stop for. Ditto for the stop signs down by Graphic Arts.

    Perhaps it’s time to lobby for a "Idaho Stop" law in California, which would allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yields when there is no other traffic present. There’s nothing stopping Cal Poly from implementing a similar policy on its own (with proper signage) along the newly-closed sections of Perimeter.

    1. Oh, and could Mustang daily fix this annoying problem with escape sequences getting dumped into the comment textarea when something goes wrong (like, a bad capta or invalid e-mail). It’s really annoying, particularly because the captas time out.

    2. Actually that area in front of the Rec center is being used for construction vehicles, which are in fact just as dangerous if not more dangerous than private vehicles.

    3. The Idaho Stop law sounds interesting. Judging from some articles online I just read, it seems many Idaho cyclists simply blow through stop signs when they are required to yield. Nevertheless, it may be a good change at some point, if cyclists would “yield” properly.

      However, Cal Poly cannot simply supersede state law. Until your lobbying efforts ares successful, you’ll need to continue to comply with the established law that requires cyclists to stop at stop signs.

  9. For all you morons complaining about the steep fine here’s an idea for you: don’t violate the law and you won’t get fined! Duh! And for the person who said fines should be for endangering yourself or others, not having a light after dark IS dangerous.

    1. Cyclists operating at night are difficult to see. No doubt about it, especially when reflectors have been removed and the cyclist is wearing dark clothes. Lights are inexpensive and really help motorists identify cyclists at night. Get one that flashes red to the back, too.

  10. Sure, an individual vehicle is still dangerous. So, if you see one, yes, you should still stop. Getting cyclists to see an approaching vehicle or getting an approaching vehicle to see the cyclists is easily accomplished with a single stop sign on the approach from Via Cara. (since Via Carta has an impaired view, this one stop sign makes some sense). My point stands about the stop signs at Graphic Arts. Those were always pointless.

    While we are at it, the campus should make bike lanes that are at back of a \"T\" intersection except from any stop sign that guards the intersection. Again, there\’s no safety reason to require cyclists to stop when their movements would not even cross the path of vehicles in an intersection.

    1. Ack, stupid escape sequences. Does the Mustang Daily even have access to the code for this otherwise fine web application?

    1. Never! You guys get hurt and die, then your parents sue the University for millions. It’s true. You guys hurt other people, then they sue the University for millions! It’s true.

      1. California has declared skateboarding a hazardous activity, which means they cannot sue due to injury on public property. So what you are suggesting cannot even happen, and if “it’s true,” provide proof behind your crazy assumptions. Plus, those people are what we call assholes, not skateboarders, way to generalize.

  11. This really seems ridiculous. It’s time for Cal Poly and SLO to catch up with the rest of the country in terms of being BIKE-FRIENDLY! The fact that there is not enough parking close to campus or on-campus, and the parking permit costs are prohibitive make this seem even more ridiculous!
    The students should be ENCOURAGED to both ride bikes and skateboards/longboards as a means of transportation to and from campus and around SLO town. Why not? It’s green, healthy, and is especially good for a cramped space without adequate parking. The weather here is perfect for riding/biking/skating year round, and yet skateboarding is out-lawed on campus? What is up with that?
    Would it be great if SLO officials, Cal Poly admin, and the police forced actually encouraged bike-riding and skateboarding by making it safer to do both? Where are the bike paths in SLO? Why aren’t there MORE bike racks on campus? Why don’t they allow people to skateboard to school?
    The attitude now is so punitive and unfriendly. Wake up! This is a college town! Make it FRIENDLY for college students!

  12. You need to re-read your California law, Section 831.7 of the Government Code and perhaps more importantly Assembly Bill 874. As soon as Cal Poly constructs and begins to operate a skate park on campus, your argument has no merit. Nice try. 🙂

    With regards to individual citations of law suits, I recommend you contact the CSU Chancellor’s Office. The CSU system is self-insured and tends to settle such matters quietly and privately. However, I’m confident they will affirm the use of skateboards on campuses throughout the system have created (and continue to create) significant liabilities, resulting in settlements that ultimately cost campuses big.

  13. I would like to know since when are bicycles considered motor vehicles. A motor vehicle is something that is powered by an actual motor or engine not yourself. A bike is NOT a motor vehicle.
    I love bike riding, dont get me wrong but bicyclists these days are getting way to out of hand; they think they OWN the road. Do you observe the road cyclists riding on the streets. They ride as close to the car lanes as possible and as far from the sidewalk as possible. Well hummm if I was riding my bike next to 1-ton cars traveling at high speeds you would think that they would ride as far away from the road as possible, but no they ride as close to the car lanes as possible. It makes you wonder, do they really want to get hit by a car and become seriously injured.

    Bicyclists need to understand that it is a privelage to share the road with cars. Riding a bike involves using all of your senses at all times. You need to expect the unexpected with cars on the roadways. While riding a bike you have no protection from cars. You need to give the right of way to cars and then and only then you may proceed. Dont trust a car to stop at a stop for you.

    This directly applies to college students riding their bikes on campus. They need to be fully aware of cars and their own surrondings. If they see the road is clear and use their common sense then they can run a stop sign.The unexperienced bikers are ruining it for the rest of us. For example: the unexpereinced biker will cut of a car without looking over his/her shoulder to see if anyone is behind them before making a turn.

    Being an experienced biker means making manuevers that you know you can make without harming anyone around you. I would be glad to demonstrate this to the UPD during normal school hours and show them what defensive bike riding is all about.

  14. From the CA DMV site:
    Bicycles riders (cyclists) on public streets have the same rights and responsibilities as automobile drivers and are subject to the same rules and regulations as any other vehicle on the road

    IMO, being an experienced rider means more than just the ability to control your ride, it also means that you ride in a manner which makes your intentions plain to all other drivers. In short, if you ride as if you’re driving in a car (riding in the traffic lane, signaling, obeying the basic traffic laws, and not weaving or going on & off curbs) you’ll be treated with more respect. Plus, the drivers around you will be more relaxed and will be more aware of you.

    1. Aaron, you make some great points, but the rules need to apply to everyone. I know experienced bicyclists can make incredible maneuvers with relative safety. However, it is oftentimes the perception and reaction of others that ends up defining the quality of your demonstrated skills.

      In other words … suppose I was well trained in car racing, had a nifty sporty car, and always wore a 4-point safety harness and helmet when driving my car home on the freeway. Would that mean it’d be okay for me to drive 100 MPH, while all the others were limited to 65 MPH? I’m sure I could get a cop to agree over a Starbuck’s coffee that 1) I’m a great driver, 2) my car’s uber stable at a mere 100 MPH and capable of going even faster, and 3) a 100 MPH speed doesn’t exceed the design of most areas of the local freeway system. Given that, why wouldn’t he give me permission to just jam the peddle-to-the-metal? Because, despite all the justification above, it’s not safe. It’s the other drivers for which you need to account. What are their reactions when you zoom up to, past, and beyond them? What are their perceptions? They might react safely the first time and say, “Asshat!” But, they’ll eventually get to the point where they’ll start complaining and Smokey will start warming up his RADAR unit. And, then there’s always that possibility an inattentive driver will react poorly, resulting in a horrible collision when I flash past them at Mach I 🙂

      Frankly, I think we’ve been lucky at Cal Poly. The way I see cyclists flying about on a daily basis, you’d think the groundskeepers would have spatulas issued to them to pick up the bits and pieces of the cyclists that got mowed down during the previous day …

    1. Hey, np. Just trying to provide another perspective. Let’s face it, the threat of getting a ticket isn’t a pleasant message.

      It would just be grand if everyone just understood that all the huss and fuss, the desperate attempt to shave off seconds on our commute or just make things a bit easier for “ourselves” isn’t always worth the potential incident (crash, fall, angry driver, ticked-off ped).

      I’ve been a cyclist myself, and I know well the perspective and tendency to just keep spinning past that red, eight-sided sign or steady-red light. If the majority of cyclists road more cautiously and with greater courtesy towards pedestrians and drivers, I’d bet there’d be a whole lot less pressure to write cites to those who otherwise slow for the sign and “California-roll” through a stop sign.

  15. It turns out that there is a website dedicated to the problem. For some time I have been reading (and contributing) to http://Biketards.net This problem has been growing for a long time. Check it out. Biketards.

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