Monday, March 16, 2009

Pack of Cyclists fined $12,000 in Mill Valley for right turn on red light

Mill Valley, CA - March 14, 2009 - A pack of approximately 30 cyclists were pulled over en masse and each issued a citation for $400 for failing to stop at a red light before making a right turn from E. Blithedale onto Camino Alto.

That totally sucks!

I'm all for riding safe, but the punishment should really fit the crime. I believe moving violation fines shoud be based on kinetic energy (1/2 MV^2). So, if a 155 pound cyclist on a 20 pound bike going through a red light at 8 miles per hour is fined $400, then a person driving a 6,000 pound SUV going through a red light at 40 miles per hour should be fined $342,857.14.

Or conversely, if the SUV driver is fined $400, then the cyclist with 1/857th of the kinetic entergy should be fined $0.47


Eric Fischer said...

50 cents seems reasonable
was there like a stake out? how does one cop pull over and cite 30 people?

phipps said...

I heard it was a sting and the cops were lying in wait and they knew exactly when the Roasters ride would come by. I'm glad I was out of town racing or I'm sure I'd have a $400 ticket too.

Anonymous said...

Bullshit like this makes me really hate riding in Marin. and it makes me hate Marin in general.

I live off of Camino Alto and of course I bike there too. Cops are everywhere in Mill Valley pulling drivers and cyclists for harmless stuff like not coming to a complete stop or for going 30 in a 25. Camino Alto is their ultimate stake-out. Couldn't they be doing something useful? How about just sending them over to Oakland or the Tenderloin where they are actually needed?

A bunch of my AC teammates were pulled over around Ross a few weeks ago for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign, and they were each fined $150. And no, there was no cars around the intersection whatsoever.

This is touching on the building tension between cyclists and drivers in Marin, the SF Bay Area, and the country in general. This shit doesn't happen in Europe - this is pretty much just an American thing.

Anonymous said...

For those interested, here's my account along with some questions I'd like to ask the officer:

Pete aka Taxi777 said...

I'm glad I wasn't with that bunch either...I probably would of been put in jail after mouthing off about my $400.00

That's just insane!

Anonymous said...

I can sure sympathize. I got pulled over earlier this month in Menlo Park for not coming to a complete stop at a 4-way stop (there was no other traffic in any of the other directions). My ticket is $333.

Michael D said...

If you really have an issue with this, complain to law makers in Sacramento... that's who writes the California Vehicle Code, don't berate the police officers for trying to do their job. With the good weather returning, you should expect increased enforcement by law enforcement. Although it may not seem like it, police officers are doing this for the safety of everyone on the road, both cyclists and motorists. As a police officer who also acts as road support for a cycling team... I hear the same complaint from both sides. As someone who has had to repond to vehicle vs. cyclist traffic accidents, safety should always be your first thought. In the end, until the laws change, you have to follow it... be safe out there!

k.papai said...

It's BS to say cops do this as a "safety" thing. BULL CRAP. Pull over and fine cars who drive without their lights on in the morning (cops screw this up too) or fail to signal turns.

I must be lucky, because I've been pulled over by various Marin police a good 10 times and only received one ticket (by a CHP in Sausalito, when I started one second early at a light starting to turn green).

Again, it's insanely stupid (and too arrogant of a cop) to receive a $400 fine for a totally safe, slow R hand turn onto Camino Alto from Blithedale. -Ken

Anonymous said...

Rules are rules. You and your arrogance are not above the law... neither is a SUV driver

Its funny to see the 'outrage'... the laws apparently don't apply to YOU eh?

phipps said...

Dude, why do you hate cyclists?

I'm not complaining about the law, but rather thing that the fine is unjustly high for the offence.

$400+ for SLOWLY making a right turn on red (very close to the curb). Not BLOWING THROUGH an intesection

The day after I posted this I saw a front page article in the Examiner about a collision between an 18 wheel semi truck and a muni light rail vehicle. The 18 wheeler had made an illegal left turn into the train (how he didn't see it is beyond me!), and 4 passengers had to go to the hospital.

The fine for the illegal left turn (as mentioned in the article) was $169.

Now, lets see, an 18 wheeler weighing ?? tons turns into a commuter train sending passengers to the hospital. $169 fee.

A pack of cyclists making a right turn on red (much less combined mass and much less dangerous), total of fines, roughly $12,000.

Does that seem fair to you?

Plus, the cops were there waiting for the cyclists. Don't they have better things to do? The last thing police need these days is another reason for people to not like them.

...just ask Vicki said...

Close the roads on Saturday and Sunday to all motor vehicles!
Especially Camino Alto!

Rene said...

Hate cyclists? Get over yourself man. I bike myself and will admiot that I break the stop rule from time to time. If I get caught I will be pissed off that I got caught but will ACCEPT it

Just follow the rules and the laws

Nowhere does the book state anything regarding mass or velocity... they broke the law by not making a full stop


you are trying to apply NEW rules to existing laws.. and you are trying to make it FAIR according to what you think is FAIR... but none of that matters when a cop throws the boko at you

They were wrong and got fines

There is no such thing as fairness when it comes to applying the law... you break a law or you don't

If you have a problem withg it go vote and have your representatives change the rules.

Are the police staking out spots? Most likely. think about it... a $12K cash flow to tyhe city. Is this shitty? Yep. Guess what though... make a full freaking STOP at a stopsign and you don't have any problems whatsoever.

I live on a street where maybe 1 out of 100 bikers will make a full stop. I think its good that bikers get fined for that if the police are around. I agree they are fined way too much if they have to pay $400... but again, as long as the rules say that you need to make a full stop you better get used to increased policing during crappy city budget times. And again... the stop sign rules don't mention anything about WEIGHT or MASS... so don't try to use that as an argument for that violation that happened while that rulre/law was on the books... use it to change the law so FUTURE violations will be fairer according to YOUR opinion.

If a majority agrees with you the rules/laws will eb changed. Democracy works both ways and in the this case you will just have to abide by the rules. It isn't that hard.. not even for you guys.

As for closing that road on weekends? Sounds good to me. Doesn't mean you can race through a stop sign while I am trying to cross my street with a 5 year old though.... thats the BS that makes me happy to see police enforce exisiting laws..... share the road eh?

Wrong is wrong. Law is law. Stopsign means you need to stop

Same issue I have with people defending speeding on a bike.... if the rule is 25mph then that is the limit... and yes you should not be surprised if you get a ticket for speeding then

phipps said...

I guess my whole point was that when legislators came up with such a stiff fine for running a red light, they were thinking about trying to slow down cars that are racing through an intersection after the light has changed, an action that is a great danger to the public. They were not thinking about cyclists making a right turn on a red light at a low speed.

How many times have you heard of someone hit and killed by a hit and run driver? How about a hit and run cyclist?

Like Rene stated above, it is obvious that local law enforcement saw this as a great opportunity to raise some money in these tough times. I really don't think they were doing this because of any great risk to public safety.

We are all stopping more now (completely stopping and putting a foot down), since the police are making an effort to ticket us and most of us don't have $400 to spare.

phipps said...

Also, a question for Rene, if the law says nothing about mass or velocity then the fine should be the same for driving 26mph in a 25mph zone as it is for driving 100mph, correct? Or rolling through a stop sign at 2 mph (like many drivers do) or flying through it at 50mph?

I don't think those fines should be the same.

Anonymous said...

First off... I ride bikes too (Mountain/Road). But let's face it, a lot of cyclist's demand respect on the rode just like a car. But then they don't want to obey all the laws. I was driving up Mt Diablo the other day and gave quick honk about a couple hundred yards from a bike rider so he knows I am coming up the hill. He refused to move to the right of the road. Oh... and I blow thru stop too... sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Groan. I might take these anonymous posters a little more seriously, but they can't even spell or use the English language properly.

Loren Pokorny said...

Chris, you'll have to check out my run in with the law who stopped all of those cyclist:

I'm fighting the ticket. Only 4.5 hours invested so far. My cost: $562.50, My ticket: $164.50.

Anonymous said...

Next time, everyone should just wait for Johnny Law to step out of his car, then sprint like mad in a million different directions. He may get one or two of you, but with the amount of cyclists in the area, you should be able to just blend in to the surroundings a few blocks after your dash for freedom.

Don't make it easy for these jive turkey's. He'll get meter maid/traffic cop of the month with that sting. I say make 'em earn their stripes. What are they going to do, shoot you?

Anonymous said...

You could sprint and win the local crit this weekend and not even clear $400. I say go for it.