Bicyclists: Following the Rules of the Road?
Photo: Video by kmir6.com
CREATED May. 22, 2013
Are valley bicyclists not following the rules of the road?
One local resident thinks so, and she asked us to investigate.
Ann Tobin from Palm Springs wrote us, "Have bicycle rules changed? I have seen and almost hit cyclists that have ran stop signs and stop lights. I thought that they had to stop just like cars if they are riding on the street. I see this almost daily."
The short answer is no the rules didn't change, bicyclists also have to stop at red lights and follow the same rules of the road as cars.
But we watched the traffic at a Palm Springs intersection for an hour, and saw a whole lot more violations.
We saw vehicles running red lights, pedestrians crossing in the middle of the road and yes, bicyclists not coming to a stop at a red light.
"I almost hit a guy on a bicycle because he ran the stop sign at a four-way stop here in Palm Springs. And I've seen it several times since then, and I just thought maybe if I contacted you could tell me if they can legally do that or not," said Ann Tobin.
Ann just moved back to Palm Springs from Colorado, and says the problem is worse here.
"I mean I lived in a college town, kids once in a while would do it, but not as much as I've seen here," said Ann.
Police say in California more than 100 people a year are killed, and thousands injured because of bicycle crashes.
"Bicyclists are held responsible under the California Vehicle Code, they have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers do," said Sgt. Harvey Reed with the Palm Springs Police Department.
By law you have to wear a helmet if you're under the age of 18, but for the sake of your head, police say you should wear a helmet even if you're over 18.
"Because it does significantly reduce the chance of being injured," said Sgt. Reed.
While we were recording, a bicyclist had to go around a vehicle trying to turn the wrong way on a one-way street.
"I knew what he was about to do, he did not look around. What you have to do, is you have to make eye contact with the driver," said the bicyclist, Peter Porowiak of Palm Springs.
Peter says he always stops at lights.
"I certainly do, because I have seen horrible accidents," said Peter.
Both Peter and Ann hope that bicyclists, drivers and pedestrians learn to share the road.
"We share the roads with everybody, we all have a car too I guess, but it is dangerous here," said Peter.
"Please be careful and stop at the stop signs, follow the rules of the road, you should do that, I mean everybody should," said Ann.
Palm Springs Police told us if you do break the rules as a bicyclist, they'll cite you.
You also have to wear a light in front at night, and reflector on back of your bicycle.