Dear PoPville: Ticketing Bicylists – Safety Measure or Fundraiser?

Photo by PoPville flickr user [F]oxymoron

A reader shares an email sent to CM Jim Graham:

This year, I decided to take advantage of the Capital Bikeshare. I am so pleased that DC has (or had) begun to make this city more walk-able and bike-able. Since I am a new biker, I am a very conscientious rider (and probably much slower than the average bicyclist). Well needless to say the other day I got pulled over by two police who set a “bicyclist trap”. They literally were pulling over bikes for rolling stops at a stop sign.

Ok, so while I agree we need to obey the rules of the road too, I have to say this “trap” felt particularly like the cops were just trying to raise revenue rather than raise awareness. I also am a bit concerned that we can afford to have two police officers stand out and trap bikes while we have a huge gang and murder problem going on in our Ward. I especially thought it was offensive given that it was just a couple days after the craziness that happened at the Caribbean Fest.

Again, I don’t make excuses for not following the rules of the road….I just question the use of our (what seems like scarce) police to actually set a trap for bikes. I think if we are trying to raise awareness for bicycle safety there are much better ways to do that.

The reader writes that the incident took place a couple of weeks ago at 8:05am around 14th and U St, NW.

Anyone else get a ticket on their bike for rolling through a stop sign?

Do you think this is a safety measure or a way to raise revenue?

250 Comment

  • I think this is a good idea. Of course, there always have to be a balance. I have seen too many bikers act like the road is there. Swirving in and out of traffic and not stopping at stop signs, even if they can see there is no other car coming. It’s just about safety. I would like to do rolling stops whenever I can, but I know it’s wrong. So I don’t do it. Same should apply for bikers…

    • I am convinced that anyone who says bikes should have to stop at every stop sign has never ridden a bike before. Stopping and starting on a bike is not the same as moving your food from the gas to the break and back to the gas.

      Bikes should not have to stop at every stop sign. I would completely destroy the efficiency of biking, thus causing less people to bike (I know this is probably everyone’s ultimate goal but the goal in cities should be to have less cars on the roads not less bikes).

      Here a are just a few reasons Bikes should not have to stop at stop signs

      • Thats moving your foot

        I am going to go act like the road is there (I hope it is)

      • Yeah, squeezing a brake control is so much harder than stepping on a brake pedal!

        • It’s not stopping, it’s starting and building up momentum again.

          • Exactly. A more apt analogy would be that it’s like a car having to turn of its engine at every stop sign.

        • You’re right, it’s not. But pedaling again once the light turns green is sure to incur the wrath of many cars behind you.

          I did not believe this until I started biking myself, but running red lights is often a cyclist’s way of handling a different (I’d say more important) demand that cars have on cyclists – keeping up with the flow.

          • Especially when you’ve been in a higher gear to keep up your speed. Starting from a higher gear is a bitch. Gd forbid you slow down the cars behind you for .5 seconds as you’re starting to pedal again while trying to make a left turn.

        • i think it’s the building your speed back up that’s the harder part.

      • Entitled jerk.

      • Well, don’t get mad if I run your ass over then….

        • Because killing someone is the proportional punishment for a minor traffic infraction. Don’t worry, we’re back to peanuts when it’s time to punish the driver for killing a cylist: $250 fine.

          • So with that line of thinking, is running a stop sign worth getting killed?

          • You assume every cyclist does it on purpose. Sometimes they space out or don’t see the stop sign. Good thing you’ll be around to kill them so they don’t make that mistake twice.

      • i completely agree – if you’ve ever biked in the city, you would understand completely. rolling through stop signs is like a pedestrian jaywalking – you’re telling me if you come to a red light, no cars in sight in either direction, you’re going to stand there for 30 seconds before you walk across the street?

        • The jaywalking thing: Car-drivers say this doesn’t hold water because bike and cars are vehicles, and pedestrians are not.

          The real factor is line of sight. When a driver is in a car, he is about 7 feet back from the front of the car – meaning he has to get 7 feet in harm’s way to see if he can cross the street safely.

          Bikes and pedestrians have a MUCH easier time looking out for possible dangers because they don’t have this 7-foot berth.

          I didn’t think that much of it until I got in my first zipcar after months of biking. I felt like I couldn’t see ANYTHING around me and I was nervous to even cross a street under a green light.

      • This is really the wrong attitude for urban biking. Urban biking is not foremost about speed or efficiency; it’s about getting there safely and cooperating in the flow of traffic. The point of stopping at stop signs is to make sure the intersection is clear and safe for you to proceed. You should not sacrifice safety in the name of efficiency and speed.

        There definitely are some times where it’s safe to roll through stop signs if the way is clear. However, I’ve found in several months of bike commuting that automatically stopping (or slowing way way down) at stop signs is the best way to make sure I am ACTUALLY PAYING ATTENTION to the traffic at the intersection. Otherwise, if I’m prioritizing speed, I’m not being as careful as I should.

        In short: urban bike commuting is not a race or a chance to get your aerobic activity in for the day. Every intersection should be approached with safety in mind first; efficiency second.

        • Amen!
          I adhere to this principal most of the time while riding (if I’m on an lonley street inside a neighborhood I don’t).
          As the old saying goes – if you want to run with the big dogs you can’t piss like a pup.
          The best way for all wheeled traffic to co-exist is to behave in a predictable manner – obeying the same rules.

        • +1 Perfectly reasonable.

        • No one here is saying you should completely ignore stop signs, slow down to a reasonable speed and if a car is waiting let the car go (although this often causes more problems as the car is not expecting you to let it go). Also my comments are address at stop signs only, not red lights.

        • Perfect logic. I could stop reading right here. There will never be 100% compliance with traffic laws, but enforcement is the only way ensure more cyclists and motorists will adhere to ALL the rules ALL the time.

          Sure, it’s more convenient to pick and choose which laws you should follow, but then that gives too much leeway to the judgement of knuckleheads–and there are a lot of them out there, on two wheels and four.

      • if you’re in the street, you need to follow rules of the road. i’ve been at a corner where i didn’t have a stop sign, but the people to the right and left of me did…. a cyclist BLEW THROUGH the stop sign and didn’t even acknowledge the fact that he could have gotten hit if my reflexes weren’t as good as they needed to be.

    • I disagree. The rules of the road were developed because motorists kill thousands of other motorists and pedestrians every year. It is important for motorists to follow them so they stop killing people. It’s not important for bikes to follow them. There are bike lanes for almost the entire length of 14th St. NW, with the exception of the area between U St. and Columbia Heights. People on bikes who go through red lights or stop signs shouldn’t be ticketed, just like jaywalkers shouldn’t be ticketed. Thousands of people are killed on the roads every year because of cars, not bikes.

      I bike 14th St. NW every day from H to Colorado. I see lots of drivers blocking the box, double parking, making U turns, talking on their cell phones, veering into bike lanes, and speeding. Those actions can kill people. A biker going 3 miles and hour and looking both ways before crossing a stop sign or red light isn’t going to hurt anyone.

      • well said, thanks nick.

      • +10

        I see cars barely make yellow lights, do rolling stops at stop signs, and refuse to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, even when I am already stopped for them. When you are operating a multi-ton motor vehicle with limited sight lines that is capable of killing others, you bear greater responsibility under the law.

        What we need, however, are laws and infrastructure that better recognize the differences between and greater vulnerability of pedestrians and bicyclists vs. motorists.

        • Not to mention all the cops who are talking on their cell phones while they are cruising in their patrol cars or checking their Facebook pages while on foot patrol.

          • Yeah – seriously – I’ve seen this WAY too many times. I’ve actually seen some cops using their friggen laptops while driving!!!!

          • Neither of which are against policy or the law…

          • I saw a cop do this on 14th St by Q St NW the other day. He was on his cell phone and decided to make a U turn in the middle of the block. So, he flipped on his lights (just for the turn, he wasn’t speeding away) and nearly slammed into a bicyclist in the opposite bike lane, who had to some to a screeching halt to avoid the cop. I’m not sure the cop even noticed, as he was so busy talking on his phone.

            I get it that sometimes cops have to take calls from their bosses, etc. But isn’t that what the radio is for? Would it be that expensive to put a bluetooth stereo connection into the car?

      • I agree…people on bikes that run red lights/stop signs shouldnt be ticketed…but neither should the driver of the car that kills that bicyclists after stopping at his red light/stop sign.

      • Reality check time: It doesn’t really matter whether you disagree or not. We already decided as a society what the rule should be, and then we wrote it down so everyone could find it and called it a “law.” Part of the deal for living among the rest of us is that you follow it or pay the consequences when you’re caught not following it. The reason cyclists routinely violate the law with impunity is because, for the most part, there’s little to no enforcement of it. So either write your councilmember and try to get the law repealed or suck it up and take your medicine when you get a ticket for violating the law.

        I’m glad the cops set a bike trap, and I hope it raised lots of money, because they don’t have the resources (nor would I argue they should make them routinely available) to police above-the-law cyclists constantly. But nab a whole bunch at one time, hope they talk to their friends about it (like the OP has facilitated with his post), and you might actually get some deterrent effect in addition to the additional revenue.

        And I write this as someone who jaywalks all the time. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, I’m just saying I know I’m wrong in doing it, and that one time when I’m sure it’s safe and it ends up not being safe, it’s going to be my fault. If I got ticketed, I’d be pissed, but not indignant. I also write this as someone who twice in the last two years has felt like I came way too close to killing another human, both times because some cyclist blew through a stop sign/red light at a high rate of speed at night.

        • And when we start having enforcement of the 99.99% of cars that fail to come to a complete stop at stop signs, we’ll talk about how everyone should obey the laws. Go after the most dangerous offenders first.

      • Apparently you’ve never been almost hit by a bike then. I have been walking through intersections with the right of way on several occasions and narrowly dodged being hit by a bike. My dog has also almost been hit by bikes going way too fast on sidewalks in Columbia Heights. Lesson learned: If you’re going to walk around the corner at 13th and Clifton where there is a wall blocking your view around the corner, stop, lean around wall, and make sure there isn’t a speeding bike about to kill your dog.

        I’m not sure if a bike going 15 mph would actually kill someone, but I’m fairly certain it wouldn’t feel very good.

        • Don’t you remember the rabbi from (I think) the first season of Curb Your Enthusiasm? His brother in law was killed by a bike messenger on 9/11!

    • Finally!! I almost t-boned a cyclist on Friday who charged right through a red light on 14th. The arguement that cycling is different because cyclists have to start and stop is just silly. They need to obey the rules of the road too! If for their safety.

      • Red lights are different than stop signs because cross trafic will have a green light.

        Bikers should stop at red lights, although I think at some small one way streets bikers should be entitle to treat them like pedestrians do when it is clear that no traffic is coming. At streets like K street I always wait for a green light.

      • I too, as I was going thru my green light!

    • +1. Amen to that. Bicyclists never follow the rules.

      • Never follow the rules? Really? Never ever? Don’t lump a few asshole cyclists with the rest of us. The golden rule of commuting is to use common sense and don’t be an asshole.

        • How about don’t lump about 95% of asshole bikers in with the rest of us who follow the rules….

          Seriously, I’ve lived in DC for 11 years and could count on my fingers and toes the number of cyclists I’ve seen being courteous to others (both pedestrians and cars with the right of way).

          My observation is the vast vast majority of cyclists are assholes who think they get to follow their own rules, regardless if it’s unsafe for everyone else trying to go somewhere.

    • Last Saturday a male cyclist was in a serious collision with a car at 14th and Columbia Rd and AS HE LAY IN TRACTION at the GW Hospital ER he was served two citations by the police. One was for riding bike on a street with no bike lane, and one was for the collision.
      [ REPEAT ]
      The MPD officers delivered him his citations *in his ER bed*, even before the results of his CAT/CT scans were returned.

      Where’s the balance in that? I think this speaks volumes about the place of cyclists in the DC food chain.

      Note: A major DC cycling advocacy group has been made aware of this.

  • they were doing it because people call the city and complain, not to raise money.

    they have to look like they are responding to citizens complants.

  • If you can’t follow the rules of the road, don’t ride a bike.
    This letter is ridiculous!

    • For reals. “They literally were pulling over bikes for rolling stops at a stop sign.”

      The horror! They were stopping people who were breaking the law!

      Bikers: get over yourselves.

      • Then why do they never ticket cars for doing the same thing all the time?

        • Cars do get ticketed for this. Car drivers are just less likely to write to PoP to complain about it, maybe because they realize that they broke the law and are being punished accordingly.

        • A two-officer ticketing team is often set up at the corner of 8th and C, SE, on the Hill to ticket cars that roll through the stop sign.

          To the OP: I am a jaywalker. I know this is illegal. I do it smartly, but at my own risk. But I sure as hell don’t do it IN FRONT OF A POLICE OFFICER. If you saw the officers, why didn’t you come to a full stop?

      • Totally agree! I am horrified by the comments that cyclists should be allowed to ignore stop signs. I have had to slam on breaks or swerve to miss a cylist who failed to yeild too many times to count. It makes driving in parts of this city a nightmare.

        Oh, and some feel entitled on sidewalks too. A few weeks ago, after I had surgery, and was walking slowly down a sidewalk in Columbia Heights, and a cyclist had the audacity to tell me to get out of the way.

        Now, just to be clear, I know plenty of responsible, considerate cyclists. But there are some bad apples.

        • Every day I have to dodge cyclist while walking through a crosswalk and more commonly on the sidewalk. They just don’t even consider stopping/slowing down for pedestrians. There are exceptions, but few. The sidewalk bikers are the worst. They drive 20 mph on the sidewalk and act like there’s no danger when they drive by 6″ from people who are walking.

      • When you ride your bike and run over a kid because you weren’t riding safely, your “-1” will be appropriate since you killed a kid.

    • Agreed. It’s not like bikers don’t know that it’s a rule. They know and choose not to follow it. As someone who has been hit by a biker as a pedestrian I’d appreciate if they paid a little more attention to their surroundings, stop sign or not.

      And to say there are more needy places in the city for the cops to be put to work is kind of silly. You don’t know how many cops there are on duty, there were probably plenty of them at work in what you consider more dangerous areas… it just so happens that traffic control is one of their jobs too.

  • Two weels good. Four wheels baaaaaaaad!!!

  • I also think this is a GREAT idea, especially at 14th and U. Sure, DC could use the money, but making examples out of some novice/street-stupid cyclists will hopfully make the roads a little safer.

    • me

      Well said, Kalorini. I am not speaking about bad drivers out there- that is a different argument. When telling stories of how I almost hit bikers for going through red lights or for otherwise pedaling unsafely, the response shouldn’t be “Well look at all the bad drivers out there!” Only speaking to the quality of bikers out there, there are some that definitely need to learn how to share the road with drivers and pedestrians as well, not just drivers sharing the road with them. I’ve seen cyclists ride in ways that I would never dream of. More than once have I feared for their safety.

  • I’m a cyclist and I typically fudge traffic laws as well. But, I think it’s a great idea. If we want to be treated as a vehicle then we should respect the vehicle code (especially if the cops are there!). Educate the motorists and pedestrians as well. Philly’s doing it:

  • Why is this on PoP now if the incident took place “a couple of weeks ago”? Oh, wait, let me answer that. Graham didn’t respond like you’d hoped and you want another forum to whine about breaking the law and having to pay for it. Gotcha.

    • Why are you so negative? This is good question because bikes and cars are not the same- you can’t ride a car on the side walk but you can with a bike; if you were driving a car on the rode 2 or 5 mph you would probably get pulled over, bicyclists would not; you can’t ride bikes on the freeway, etc.

      Also, I don’t think it is good to be overly rigid. There is a difference between riding a bike dangerously and using good judgement but rolling through stop signs.

      For those supporters of giving out tickets- do you think it would be a good idea if the police started pulling people over and giving tickets for going 26 or 27 mph when the speed limit is 25mph? It is against the law isn’t it?

      I do think the issue needs to be addressed but maybe the police can give warnings just like what happens when they first install speed cameras- the first few months if you speed you get a warning in the mail.

      • I’m trying but I can’t understand putting so much faith in “good judgement.”

        By that rationale, we could just do away with stop signs altogether

  • 14th and U has a stop light, not a stop sign.

    • Post says “around 14th and U”, New Hampshire south of that intersection for instance.

      No biker should be against this. The police are never going to set up a trap in one of the less-trafficked blocks. If anything, this is a little heads up — “pay attention, this is a dangerous intersection”. Drivers are getting nailed by all kinds of purely revenue-based ticketing, so it’s kind of silly to hear someone complain about one bike trap.

      • *that is, “it could be at New Hampshire south of that intersection”

      • Drivers are getting nailed by all kinds of purely revenue-based ticketing

        Examples please.

        I do believe that running red lights and speeding are illegal are they not?

        • Red light cameras. Speed limit cameras.

        • Parking violations, for instance, like the right wheel to curb example someone cites in this thread. Every ticket can be said to reduce law-breaking to a degree small or great, so I guess we can’t say unequivocally that any ticket is 100% revenue-motivated. Some tickets, however, clearly would not be issued but for the fact that they raise revenue.

          • Hmmm.. not comparible to me – though they are both ticketing situations, Parking violations are not moving violations. Bikes cannot get parking tickets – the bike is simply impounded. Comparison cannot be made.

            “Some tickets, however, clearly would not be issued but for the fact that they raise revenue.”

            Examples please. And the sting doesn’t count – I cannot find the parking laws, but if those tickets were on a flat street – that can and should have been fought.

          • A $30 ticket for going 10 mph over the limit is a deterrent to speeding on a DC highway. A $125 ticket for the same is a deterrent, but mainly a revenue grab by the city. Moreover, speed limits set artificially low would be an example of actions motivated by revenue generation rather than safety.

            NY Ave inbound, for instance, suddenly drops from 45 to 35 mph, without any justification. It appears to be a calculated move to capture revenue. I’m one of the few people who drops their speed to the limit. It would be safer for me to keep pace with traffic — about 10 mph over the limit — rather than be the lone person dropping their speed, having to switch over to the slow lane while traffic shifts to get past me on either side, etc. I’m put in a situation where I have to choose between safety and a fine.

            The system isn’t perfect. The city and the companies it subcontracts are sometimes motivated by green. Those facts should be taken as given in any discussion like this.

            But really, my larger point up the thread was that bikers are now being treated like everyone else, which in a way is a compliment — it signals their increasing prominence.

          • “A $30 ticket for going 10 mph over the limit is a deterrent to speeding on a DC highway. A $125 ticket for the same is a deterrent, but mainly a revenue grab by the city.

            $30.00 deters no one as the majority of traffic in DC exceeds 25 mph.

            A $125.00 ticket – that I do believe might deter drivers from speeding.

            NY Ave inbound, for instance, suddenly drops from 45 to 35 mph, without any justification.
            This is the only area people in DC mention. So, one area in all of DC. But I do agree – that the speed there should be the same, and that it should be 25 mph – the limit in DC.

            I’m put in a situation where I have to choose between safety and a fine.
            Well thank your fellow drivers for putting you in that situation. If the speed limits were followed, there would be no need for you to choose safety or a fine. It is those who are speeding who are forcing that choice on you.

            bikers are now being treated like everyone else car drivers
            I didn’t realize that was your point – and I agree, consistency is nice. I will await a speed trap for bicyclists and a rolling stop-trap for cars 🙂

          • The point is the posted limit can be higher or lower than is reasonable. Just because a law is enacted, doesn’t make it right, sensible, or safe in practice. Imperfect universe filled with imperfectly made decisions.

            $125 is a commuter tax, and in that respect I’m fine with it. I just don’t know of any other jurisdictions that levy that kind of fine for 10 mph over. It’s a racket. Why do we do it? Way of creating a de facto commuter tax.

          • The point is the posted limit can be higher or lower than is reasonable.
            Define reasonable. The point is: there is a posted speed limit. Drivers rarely follow the legal limit, and in my anecdotal world, drivers follow the limit if 1 of 2 conditions are present: 1) speed camera or 2) police presence. Otherwise, cars will zoom at whatever speed the driver thinks is “reasonable”.

            $125.00 is an amount that might actually deter someone from speeding. Fines should be set to actually deter the behavior, should they not? I am glad DC does it, and wishes they increase the fines for other moving violations (but I also wish the points system should go away. That is an insurance racket if ever there was one.) Having your dog off leash in a park is a larger offense than speeding.

            And don’t get me started on mandatory minimum prison sentences for drunk drivers. Gah.

        • i’ve received a ticket when my car was locked in a carpark. only found out when i got an overdue notice in the mail. i have NO WAY to contest this, as i don’t even have a physical ticket. DC is broke and they make mad money in parking tickets.

  • I think it’s about time the police start enforcing rules of the road for cyclists. The motives could have been about the money, but if that stops cyclists from riding recklessly in this city then it’s worth it.

    On another note, rules for pedestrians should also be enforced. A few months ago they were fining jaywalkers in Chinatown. Stop lights and crosswalks exist for a reason. There’s no way you are in too much of a hurry to wait 30 seconds to cross the road.

    • me

      The key to all of this is education! While people should know not to do some things, it needs to be stressed! There are billboards on buses and bus stops about aggressive driving- put something up about aggressive cycling or not walking when you have the red hand!!!!

    • And drivers in this city SORELY need an education about stopping for pedestrians in unsignaled crosswalks, especially on Florida Ave. If there is no signal, you MUST STOP for a pedestrian in a crosswalk until they have finished crossing. In most towns where I grew up this was strictly enforced. It was an annoyance to me as a driver, and I got ticketed for it once. After that, I learned my lesson. After all, it’s life and death. How about some enforcement for that?!

      • me

        Yes, people need to be aware of that. But this is a discussion about cyclists, not drivers. It seems like people on these comments will bring up the fact that there are bad drivers and “Well, drivers break the laws all the time!” when we discuss cyclist behavior. Two different conversations.

        • Ah, right. And someday, in the very distant future, we’ll have the discussion where MPD actually enforces traffic laws against cars to dissuade them from doing stuff that actually kills and injures people in large numbers.

          Til then? Let’s focus on making sure bicycle riders come to a full stop at every stop sign. Also, that pedestrians don’t enter the crosswalk when the little orange hand is flashing.

          Great that we’ve got our priorities straight.

  • Oh lordy. the letter writer clearly admits he/she broke the law, complains about being set up by a “trap,” then claims that they don’t `make excuses for not following the rules of the road” and then turns around and says the police should be out catching murderers instead. The police have a wide variety of responsibilities, including traffic enforcement, that’s why you were stopped. Pay the ticket and next time observe the rules of the road.

    • ah

      +1. Every ticket is a “revenue raiser”

      The only way for the police to enforce the law is to set up “traps” like this. They can’t efficiently go out and just wait to observe.

      There is a totally fair point about stop signs for cyclists, but the law is what it is. Speed limits are often unreasonable as well, but it doesn’t mean you didn’t violate the law when you’re speeding.

      BTW, points off for taking your gripe here not GGW.

  • On one hand, I agree that we have bigger problems to address.

    On the other hand, as an oft cut-off pedestrian, I fantasize about clotheslining a hipster off their bike now and then.

    Overall, my feeling is that the bicycling culture in DC is permeated by a sense of god-given-right-of-way and that needs to change; so ticket-away.

    • ah

      Sorry, but DC is permeated by a sense of god-given-right-of-way for drivers and pedestrians as well.

      • Sorry, but DC cyclists are goddamn wild cards. You typically can gauge what a car or pedestrian is going to do in certain traffic situations.

        When a bike comes along in the same situation, I always pay more attention to them because 50% of the time they do something that completely disregards the other entities on the roads and the laws that govern them.

        • You typically can gauge what a car or pedestrian is going to do in certain traffic situations.

          There is absolutely nothing predictable about the movement of taxicabs in this city.

  • you know, when i’m cycling through hood when i know people have been mugged and assaulted i’m not stopping at the stop sign and ya’ll can kiss my ass.

    on main roads, yes, i obey the laws.

  • I support cyclist rights to the road, but there is a certain set of CB riders who consistently piss me off — those who ride aggressively on sidewalks on busy streets. One nearly hit my 4 yr old this morning while we were crossing Connecticut with our light. I seriously wanted to punch this rider. It’s riders like this that get the cops out as a public safety measure, but I wish they would focus on this kind of eggregious behavior rather than something as trivial as a rolling stop.

  • DC Cops are useless.This is a way for them to feign real police work kind of like when they issued parking tickets to the reisdents of the 1400 block of R Street for not turning their front wheels towards the curb…on a flat surface. I’ve said it beofre and I’ll say it again “I hope I’m never on the wrong side of the law in htis city.”

  • Insofar as I know, most bicycle tickets are capped at $25 dollars. If they were really trying to raise revenue, they’d ticket vehicles, not bikes.

    Besides, if you’d read this blog long enough you’d know 3rd District does these from time to time.

  • It’s the classic indignant response by someone who is ticketed by the police, but whio deep down feels they should be above the law: “well, yeah *technically* I was in the wrong, but why aren’t they out catching murders and drug dealers?!”

    Take your lumps and quit whining.

    • TSM, that’s exactly the comment I was going to make.

      What next, someone caught for burglary who writes to the interwebs saying “Shouldn’t the cops be focusing on solving all the murders?”

    • Right, the hypothetical gangs folks are complaining about aren’t even out of bed at 8am. I’d wager the majority of 911 calls put in at 8am are traffic-related, so the best place to be is right where that trap was, near where accidents might occur.

  • Does anyone think that it’s annoying as hell that people ride their bikes on the sidewalk in dc? Especially all around Adams Morgan, Mt. Pleasant, Columbia Heights? Get on the road people! First of all, you will always ride slower on the sidewalk so it’s not like you are actually saving time by riding your bike. Second, you are a hazard to pedestrians by weaving in and out of people walking on the sidewalk. Most of the roads up there actually have bike lanes too. If you don’t want to ride in the street, then don’t ride a bike.

    • +1 I HATE when people are on bikes on narrow sidewalks and expect me to get over so they can ride place. No thank you, ride on the road. I fully support bikers — I think it’s a great way to get around town, but follow the laws. As a pedestrian, I’m definitely more often almost hit by bikers than by cars.

    • It is annoying, but its legal. Perhaps if it was illegal to ride on the sidewalk and legal to treat a stop sign as a yield sign we wouldn’t have this problem.

    • I am a regular biker and it drives me CRAZY when people are on their bikes on the sidewalks. This is especially maddening on 11th and 14th where there are BIKE LINES. I admittedly turn to snapping at bikers who have come close to running in to me/my dogs when we’re walking appropriately on one side of the sidewalk and the bikers are weaving all over…bike lanes are there for a reason and not using in favor of the sidewalks them gives those who just can’t staaaaand the fact that people bike around this city additional fodder.

    • +1 and…that the vast majority of the bikeshare ppl don’t wear helmets.

      • Because the brilliance of bikeshare is that it’s for spontaneous, one-way rides. I would prefer to wear a helmet, but I’m just not willing to carry one around all the time just in case.

      • i don’t.
        what do you care?

      • A)there is no law requiring adults to wear helmets in the District,VA,or MD.

        B)do you get the distinction between motorcycle and bicycle helmets? Motorcycle helmets are designed to protect your head in a crash;bicycle helmets are designed to protect your head in a fall. Bike helmets are usless in almost all car collisions. If you were to wear a motorcycle helmet on a bike in the weather we’re having now,you would be putting yourself at serious risk of heat stress injury.

        Helmets are mandatory for motorcycles,optional for bicycles.

  • Rush hour (presuming a weekday ride) at a busy intersection in a major city. Safety issue.

    Would you not feel like you had to obey the law on a moped? Motorcycle? Smart car? Where do the laws start applying based on size or locomotion method?

    The system works best when everything is predictable and everyone follows the same rules. It goes out of whack when one or a group of people change things up. Unpredictability is not a boon to safety.

    Follow the rules whether you drive a car or ride a bike or walk in those weird toe-shoe things. It’ll make everything flow smother.

  • When was the last time you saw traps like this for cars rolling through stop signs, turning right on red when there is oncoming traffic (cars and pedestrians), passing unsafely on the right, making u-turns on major streets, etc?

    • There was an NPS officer on Piney Branch this morning looking for speeding drivers.

      • That guy is there constantly. In that little cut out under the bridge. I assume he is there 30% of the time I drive by that spot. As a consequence, I drive 25 MPH down that hill.

    • Pretty often at 7th and H St. NW. A few times a month I see police ticketing vehicles turning at this intersection.

    • There’s a “no left turn” sign if you’re going northbound on 18th Street where it meets Columbia Road.

      I remember a few occasions where cops would be waiting in front of the Blockbuster (back when there was still a Blockbuster there), ticketing the cars that made the illegal left turn onto Columbia.

    • frequently on 11th street and the W and V intersections.

  • I bike, and most bikers blatantly run red lights AND stop signs. It’s ridiculous. Just because “it’s hard” to start and stop, doesn’t mean you are immune from safety and traffic laws.

  • I must say I’m a little surprised by the comments so far. Bicycles make the city so much more accessible and much less crowded! Crowded streets are what make it dangerous when you’re out driving/riding around. While I do think bicyclists need to know the rules of the road and obey right of way, especially at stop lights and busy intersections, setting up a corner where they are specifically targeting bicyclists is excessive. I can’t tell you how few cops I actually see stop correctly at a stop sign. I know it can be annoying driving behind a bike but you will spend the same amount of time waiting for your next red light anyway. Most bicyclists I see riding are safe, but the ones you remember are the daredevils. I think this sting is not targeting the right group.

    • You are joking right? This is a PoP thread – it will reach over 100 comments, and bikers will bear 99.9% of the ire.

      Do you not understand that bikers and dog owners are worse than Genghis Khan and Charles Taylor?

  • I think bicyclists need to be more heavily policed. As a multi-modal user, all too often I see bikes not following the rules of the road. We need more enforcement to get more compliance.

    The poster admits to rolling the stop sign. No complaining when you admit you broke the law.

  • Were they only ticketing bicyclists or did they ticket the cars who were also rolling through the stop signs? That’s the only way I could get behind the OP. Otherwise: you got caught. Pay the palty fine and STFU

    Bikers: you’ll have to learn to deal with the hate. You will never be given the respect of a car, even from those who do not have a car.

    Dear CMs Graham & Bowzer: The speed limit in DC is 25 miles/hour.

    Can you set speed cameras at North and Southbound on 16th & Euclid, 16th & U and one camera every 3 blocks on 16th after Arkansas to the DC line. Also, can you trigger all speed camera’s to ticket drivers who go more than 29 miles an hour – and not provide that speed cushion. We could pay for more police off the revenue of those cameras. Hell, we could pay for most city services off those cameras. Get on it members of the council!

    • Speeding cars on 16th are a problem, made worse by the almost nonstop green lights after several cross streets were changed to pressure-pad-triggered traffic signals where they cross 16th.

      But interestingly enough, if you are driving northbound on 16th in the early-to-mid afternoon you’ll find the lights from Arkansas all the way to Walter Reed are set at 38 mph.

      PS: The speed limit in DC is 25 mph unless otherwise posted. For instance, 16th street is 30 mph.

  • I think the submitter was referring to 14th and W. When I was biking to work last week I noticed a cop lying in wait.

    If anyone thinks these sort of stings make the roads better, you’re delusional. I cringe at the behavior of many of my fellow cyclists during my morning commute – blatantly blowing red lights and making cars slam on their breaks, refusing to yield to pedestrians, speeding down the Mt Vernon trail without so much of a “On your left”. These people are just jerks and no amount of tickets are going to get them to change their behavior (I think the same holds true for motorists). Meanwhile, they generate ill-will towards cyclists in general.

  • i think “sidewalk” translates into “bike-lane” in Spanish.

    • +1…it definitely seems that 95% of the bikers on sidewalks are hispanic. i also notice that 95% of hispanics on bikes don’t wear helmets. don’t know if there’s a correlation but don’t know what the other reasons may be

      • I’m Hispanic and wear a helmet. Seriously, why are comments like the last two even approved since they’re obviously trolling?

        • it’s like people start frothing at the mouth when they see posts like this.

        • There is a subtle difference between “trolling” and “posting things you personally find offensive”.

          I support dy no mite’s observation. If you’d like to sit in front of Target in Columbia Heights for a weekend and break down the sidewalk-riders by probable ethnicity and helmet habits, I promise to be very gracious if proved wrong.

  • Bikers should be ticketed for rolling stops about as frequently as pedestrians are ticketed for jaywalking. There’s a big difference between blowing through a stop on a bike (where you’re consciously assessing your vulnerability) versus in a car when it’s mostly careless oversight.

    Honestly, the dangers on the road are the huge two-ton hulking pieces of metal that are being driven by cautionless cell-phone users, iPod twiddlers, and Big Mac munchers, and GPS addicts.

    Disclosure: I do not bike on roads.

    • Agreed that the rationale that bicyclists should be ticketed for rolling stops is fairly equivalent to pedestrians being ticketed for jaywalking.

      As a bicyclist, many of the most dangerous situations I’ve been in are when I clearly have the right of way (green light), and pedestrians think that I will stop for them, or that they can cross without looking because I’m not a car. If I accidentally hit a pedestrian that walks out in front of me without looking, I’ll probably get the brunt of the injuries. A friend of mine got pretty injured once when a small child pushed another child right into her bike as she was riding. The kid was fine.

      When I have a red light and there’s no one around, I’ll usually go ahead and cross the street. However, I always check not just for cars, but also for pedestrians entering the crosswalk.

      Moral of the story…everyone needs to watch out, and not act like an idiot

  • Depends on the situation for me. If there was nobody around and you slow down (but don’t fully stop) for a stop sign, then I don’t really have a problem with it. I do see plenty of my fellow cyclists fail to take into account traffic on the street they are cross at all and just breeze right through. That’s just not polite.

    My biggest pet peeve is when I do stop for a stop sign and then the idiot in a car who has the right of way (they got there first) just sits there and then motions me to go before them. It just creates confusion when people expect me to go out of turn.

    • Agreed! On a bike you can see and hear much more clearly around you, so if there is no sign of a car, I’m just going to slow down and carefully look, not stop completely. But if there’s a car already at the intersection, they have the right of way, so I’ll slow waaaaaaaay down (ideally not stop because it takes a lot of work to get back up to speed, but be just rolling enough to keep balance) and give them their right of way, and then they don’t take it so I completely lose speed since they took too long and have to put my foot down, and then they get annoyed because I’m holding them up. I can’t win!!

  • I’ll come out and make the admission that I am a biker and regularly fudge the motorist laws at stop signs and red lights when I feel that I can do so safely. The bikers who run reds/stops in the middle of traffic sans helmet scares the bajeesus out of me. I for one don’t necessarily have a problem with a trap like this, since I’ll admit that I’m breaking the law. On the other hand, treat motorists equally. Don’t set up a trap to ticket all BIKERS rolling through a stop sign but not ticket all the CARS rolling through the exact same stop sign. As long as the police act with that double standard, bikers are just going to keep doing what they do. In fact, thinking back to all my years of driving, the ration of rolling stop to full stop is like 20:1. Most people don’t come to a full stop. Then again, I’m from New Jersey.

    Now, if the police really want to set an example for bikers in the city, how about first training your own police cops the bike laws. They are some of the worst offenders, no lights, biking down the wrong way on a bike lane, riding on the sidewalk, slowing bike traffic, etc. Not to mention most are barely in biking shape. If you really want to affect change (which I’m not pretending like they do) then start internally.

    • Good point 97% of the time the police cyclists have no official business to be breaking the law either

  • I think rolling stops on bikes are ok as long as their isn’t any traffic in the intersection. I say this because I understand trying to keep up momentum. However, the amount of times I have been in a car, stopped at a stop sign, and had a biker blow past me and turn across my car is truly unbelievable. I am not one of these drivers that believes only cars should be able to use the road. I respect bikers as well. However, bikers take extremely unnecessary risks. When I am at a stop sign and it is my turn to go, I go. I should not have to anticipate that a biker is going to fly up on my right hand side and cut across me making a left turn. This has happened more times than I can count and more often that not, I get cussed out by the biker for almost hitting them. Well, if that biker would have stopped and waited their turn, that would not have happened. Bottom line is, stopping at the stop sign is the law for both car and bike. Both cars and bikers alike would benefit from actually following that rule. Until the law is changed to say that bikes do not have to fully stop at stop signs, I do not have a problem with police enforcing it.

  • This post has to be staged. It’s almost like the entitled chick who got “assaulted” last week and expected everyone to come to her aid.

    Vehicles have to endure speed/stop traps all the time in this town. I don’t remember the “outrage” from that.

    I am constantly amused at the lengths cyclist will go to conjure up some reason why its ok for them to ignore whatever traffic laws they see fit, yet go all scorched earth on anyone else. Their sense of entitlement is hilariously astounding.

    “Awwww…its unfair I have to stop at lights and signs because it takes effort for me to get started again”

    Umm, disregarding for a sec that that is the most juvenile excuse ever, isn’t that the whole reason you cycle? A little exercise? If exertion bothers you so much, get one of those electric bikes.

    Lastly, to those cyclists claiming its ok to break whatever rules they want because bikes and cars aren’t the same, here is the rub…”It doesn’t matter because you are both using the same street”.

    Gliders and jumbojets have to follow the same rules of the air, 12 foot sail boats and half mile aircraft carriers have to follow the same rules of the water.

    There has to be a common, uniform law that everyone knows and follows when there are dissimilar vehicles useing the same ROW (air/water/street/rail). Its for the safety of EVERYONE involved. One set of rules allows everyone, Peds, Bikes, Cars, Tractor trailers) to reasonable predict and anticipate what will happen next.

    Cyclists in this town what everyone else to be responsible for their safety, then go out of their way to ignore every rule of the road, making it impossible to know where they are going, whether they will stop, turn etc…

    You want to know what it would be like for cyclists in this town if drivers simple took the lead of cyclists and did what they wanted? Fine, go bike on a street in Athens, or Istanbul.

    • First time ever that I’ve agreed with you.

    • “Gliders and jumbojets have to follow the same rules of the air, 12 foot sail boats and half mile aircraft carriers have to follow the same rules of the water.”

      Actually, I think sailboats always get right of way.

    • joker,
      many people do not bike for exercise. some of us bike for transportation.

      • And that somehow excludes you from following the rules of the road?

        No, try again.

        • reading comprehension is important.
          you try again big guy.

          • i had been responding o this
            “isn’t that the whole reason you cycle? A little exercise?”

            but i should have know better. he didn’t really want an answer. or a conversation.

        • joker: “Because you do A, you can’t use excuse B.”
          Anonymouse: “Well, I don’t do A.”
          joker: “Well, you still can’t use excuse B.”

      • Right, so as he said, get an E-bike. They’re commonplace in other countries. Get one with a removable battery (batteries themselves are worth a couple hundred dollars), so you can lock it up outside.

        Seriously, I don’t know why more people don’t get an E-bike. You could bike from downtown to CH without breaking a sweat.

    • Vehicles have to endure speed/stop traps all the time in this town.

      Weasel words. What’s a “speed/stop trap”? You’re talking about red light enforcement? That’s completely different. And as far as I know, speed cameras give drivers something like 10+ mph of cushion. The reason we have speed limits of 25 mph is that if you hit a pedestrian at that speed, they’ve got a 80% chance of survival. If you hit them at 35 mph, they’re dead meat.

      Frankly, I have no problem with MPD ticketing jaywalkers or cyclists–though that behavior is almost completely benign. The problem is, there’s no equivalent enforcement effort aimed at auto drivers. That’s a problem. As someone put it up thread, drivers are the ones killing people in droves.

  • I’d love to see a couple of cops pulling over every idiot car driver that does not come to a complete stop before making a right on red. When then start doing that, then I’ll believe the bike traps are more than just harassment.

    And, if they really want to raise revenue, how about strict enforcement of traffic laws, speed limits, right on red, double parking, signaling turns, you name it. We’d solve the budget problem in a week.

  • Bikers are like zombies. The just keep growing in numbers.

    We need to stop the biker epidemic before it reaches critical mass.

    • A shot or blow to the head is the only way to stop them. Kill the brain, kill the biker.

      • Have you ever tried shooting a target on bicycle in the head from a moving car?

        It just can’t be done. The biker zombies will multiply too fast.

    • You put your finger on it. The problem for the auto-centrists is that bicycling in a smallish urban area like DC is incredibly compelling. And as we’ve seen with the success of CaBi, the more adoption you get, the more attractive it becomes. And the shittier the driving experience becomes. It’s a zero sum game: better cycling means worse driving; better driving means worse cycling.

      Eventually, folks who want an easy motoring experience will get frustrated and move to the suburbs, where that lifestyle is catered to.

  • Maybe asshole bicyclists should think about having to “build up momentum” after stopping before they get on a bike.

    its the reason the rest of us drive cars. You decided to ride something that is a pain in the ass, you shouldnt expected everyone else to absolve you of any responsibility of following the rules just to make it easier on you.

    • Yeah, i am sure you would love it if every biker instead drove a car, good luck getting anywhere with that traffic.

      The easier you make it for bikers, the more people will bike instead of drive, the more people that bike instead of drive the less traffic for drivers.

      In the long run it benefits everyone to encourage biking in the city and to make it as easy as possible for people to commute by bike.

  • What a self righteous circle jerk. You all must be perfect drivers. I guarantee 100% of you brake some motor vehicle law every day you drive.

    • I wonder if these upstanding citizens are the same ones that honk at me and pass me in my own lane on Rhode Island, or hang out in the bike lane while waiting to turn.

  • I stop at every stop sign and red light on my bike and always get where i want to go faster than I would in a car anyway. I also generally cover more ground than the other cyclists who breeze through the stops, and I ain’t Lance Armstrong.

    What is the problem with stopping? Yeah you have to pedal harder… obviously. Are people really that lazy?

    Methinks it’s probably the complete lack of muscle tone and bulk in the hipster community that is behind this problem.

  • I bike and very seldom drive but I think urban cyclists should have to at the very least slow down to check surrounding traffic at a sign or light. Then it becomes equivilent of a petty jaywalking issue if they slide through the intersection with no cars coming.

    The other thing that Capital Bikeshare should do better is educating and encouraging their users to use simple hand signals. Cars don’t know where you are thinking of turning next!

    Cycle on and get more bike lanes DC!

    • Agreed. You can definitely keep a bit of momentum if you improvise a track stand of sorts at the stop sign. Although I guess on a fixie it may be a different story…

    • claire

      This might just be me (as I am only just learning how to bike in the city) but I find it really difficult to lift my hand off the handlebars in order to signal while on a Capital Bikeshare bike – it’s hard to keep the bike balanced and going straight. Any advice? Or just practice?

      (Note to stop any potential criticisms: I wear a helmet, stick to roads with bike lanes 90% of the time, and stop at red lights and stop signs.)

  • haha, not even going to read the mess of comments here.

  • I drive 50% of the time, walk 40% of the time, and bike 10% of the time so don’t paint me as some militant cyclist. Egregious red light running should be punished. But, on my bike, I’m supposed to come to a deserted 4 way stop with no one around and completely stop my bike and put my foot down and then take off again? That ain’t happening. If I get ticketed for rolling through a stop sign at 1 MPH, I’ll take my ticket and tell the cop he’s a moron and should find a real crime. Same thing I’ll do in my car when I get a speeding ticket for going 71 MPH on the Beltway at 7 am on a Sunday morning by some redneck Virginia cop. Guess I’m just not a believer in black and white laws and law enforcement like all of you who have never rolled a stop sign or jaywalked. Probably never walked down a street when legally intoxicated either. Barrels of fun in the sack too I suspect.

    Echoing what someone above said, if you think a bike should come to a complete stop at every 4 way stop sign, you’ve never ridden a bike. Too bad, learning to ride a bike was a big part of my childhood. Probably another one of those innocent childhood treats we can no longer enjoy due to dangerous drivers and the fact that bikes get stolen when left unattended for 30 seconds.

    • ” But, in my bike, I’m supposed to come to a deserted 4 way stop with no one around and completely stop my bike and put my foot down and then take off again? That ain’t happening”

      See how easy that was, yet I am sure you would and do go all scorched earth on any car you see roll through a stop sign.

      By your logic, someone driving a 7 horse power 1974 Yugo that takes 2 minutes to get up to speed again after stopping at a redlight should be immune from stopping in the first place too?

      A cyclist complaining that it takes effort to get going again once they stop really is the height of laziness.

      • “in my car” I meant to say

        • The difference was stated earlier by someone. Your visibility on a bike is an order of magnitude better than in a car, because you don’t have anything surrounding you, and you don’t have 6 more feet of vehicle in front of where you are sitting. That’s why you can safely roll through a stop sign on a bike. You can’t safely do the same in a car.

      • Yugos should not have to stop either. Although I must point out that the proud and classic Yugo was not around in 1974. 1987 I believe.

      • Wow, I just can’t believe what a douchebag you are.

        Let me guess: you wear aviators and loafers, with searsucker shorts and a polo. You describe yourself as well informed and politically moderate, but write off all politicians as being corrupt (except maybe Ron Paul) and you don’t actually vote. You idolize Nietzsche thanks to the three pages of his writing you actually read, supplemented by the dozens of one-liners of his you’ve seen cited in pop culture references. You probably had that lesbo “The Kiss” poster hanging up in your college dorm room, right next to the peg where you would hang your double beer-coozie hat.

        Come on, am I close?

        • I’ve come to the conclusion that joker is not really human, but more of a foggy mist like substance that feeds off the hatred and negative comments of others. There is no way an actual person could be that awful.

    • “…tell the cop he’s a moron and should find a real crime.”

      Dude, this is D.C. You’ll get arrested for disorederly conduct.

  • I want those damn lazy traffic cop expensive Segways (which we use my tax dollars)to be removed off the roads!!
    Are they legal?

  • “I have to say this “trap” felt particularly like the cops were just trying to raise revenue rather than raise awareness.”

    “Raise Awareness”? How stupid do you have to be not to know what a STOP sign means?

  • I’m not sure this is all DC revenue driven, as the Park Police have been ticketing the Hains Point cyclist who don’t stop for years now.

    and I do believe that not stopping is a safety hazard

    • I don’t even like taking my car to Hains Point. There are signs below the stop signs clearly stating that all bikers must stop as well. The last time I went. I stopped at a stop sign on my way out, waited until it was my turn. When I started to go, 3 bikers came flying through the stop sign and we almost collided. Guess what, I had 3 bikers tell me what an asshole I am. Apparently I hadn’t gotten the memo letting me know that bikers are a higher life form and rules don’t apply to them. I’m also not stupid either. I recognize PLENTY of drivers fail to adhere to the rules of the road as well. Its just that the majority of bikers I see nowadays have developed this F you attitude and act like they can do whatever they want and if I as a driver have a problem with their not following the law, I am the one who has some sort of issue. I mean, if you look at many of the comments in here, a lot of the biker responses are along the lines of “oh yea like drivers don’t roll through stops”. Well, yes, they do. But this isn’t a discussion about drivers getting ticketed for rolling through stops. Its about bikers.

      • Exactly.

        3 undercurrents from the “pro-cycling” crowd unerlie everything they say:
        (1) Bikers are better than you because [we make choices that are good for urban transportation/take up less space/don’t release greenhouse gases … really, take your pick].
        (2) Bikers are different than cars because of some reason [better line of sight/more maneuverable/aren’t going to kill somebody if they hit them … again, take your pick.]
        (3) Oh yeah? So what if we break the law? So do cars and jaywalkers. Aren’t there bigger fish to fry?

        As to the first point, I agree that biking in a city is a good and socially beneficial choice, but it’s not a license to break the law. As to the second point, I also agree, but who cares … unless some cyclist is willing to assert his infallibility in judgment, it doesn’t suggest they should be above the law because of greater maneuverability, etc.. As to the final point, that’s the way third-graders argue. None of it is a reason someone should break the laws.

        This is like the “graffiti artists” who always have some reason their brand of vandalism is OK.

    • Look, everybody who rides out there knows that you’re supposed to stop. However, Hain’s point is the closest thing to a dedicated recreation facility for cycling that we have in this city, and given that 90% of the time cyclists are 90% of the people out there, folks are going to treat it like that’s what it is and bend the rules a little when it hurts no one. Most bikers there also accept the occasional ticket as the price to pay for the ruthless enforcement of the laws against brown-bagging out there, which creates a relatively safe environment for us to practice our sport in what would otherwise be a drunk driving convention most of the time.

      Yeah, people know they’re breaking the law out there, but this is a city that provides dedicated recreation facilities for swimmers, tennis players, sailors, paddlers, hikers, horseback riders, basketball players, softball players, dogs, golfers, mini-golfers, soccer players, skateboarders, and even bocce players (though to be fair the bocce people at least held a fundraiser and do all their own maintenance). When there is a dedicated facility where we can do our thing without getting run off the road by cars doing twice our speed, or breaking the speed limits on multi-use paths or Beach on the weekends,then fine, great, we’ll all act like saints out there at Hain’s and totally avoid it on summer weekends. Until then we’re just going to keep engaging in this back-and-forth with the park police and rolling through two right turns where you can see for half a mile and a 3 way stop where there is almost never anyone coming. Our apologies to those drivers that can’t sleep at night knowing that a biker has run a stop sign somewhere in the DC area in the last 24 hours, but that’s how it is.

      • So basically your reason for breaking the law is because there is no designated recreation facility strictly for biking? Look, nobody is saying they have a problem with people biking at Hains Point. I personally think its good that people do have a place to go and enjoy themselves. My problem is that when I go to Hains Point in a car and I follow the laws, I find it extremely aggravating that the certain bikers that don’t follow the law, act as if its my fault when an accident almost occurs because they blew through a stop sign. As you pointed out in your own comment, Hains Point is not a designated recreation area for bikes specifically. Its a designated recreation area for everybody. If you want to blow through a stop sign at Hains Point when there is NO traffic in sight and risk a ticket, go for it, but as driver I shouldn’t have to just assume that at any given time, a biker will choose to ignore the stop sign just because they feel entitled to do so.

      • I ride my bike everywhere, and by far the dumbest behavior I see from fellow cyclists is from the people on $9,000 bikes at Hains Point. They don’t even attempt to be polite to anyone else (in a car or other cyclists).

        I’ve been riding there during my lunch break recently, and I wouldn’t describe what I see as “bending the rules.” You’re right, bikes are a lot of the traffic, and I certainly don’t stop at every one of those stop signs with the little reminder that “bikes must stop” when it is safe to cruise through, but I have seen some really idiotic behavior from the Cat 2 wannabees.

        But I have little sympathy for the people I’ve seen pass to the left of a car stopped at a stop sign and then make a right turn in front of said vehicle. Or the 6+ person paceline that decides to pass me with one foot of clearance without any sort of verbal warning – that will be really great one day when you scare me and we end up piled up on the pavement together. There are two full and 99% empty traffic lanes to use, so there’s no need to pass so close.

        Bend the rules if you want but one rule it seems like these people didn’t learn from their mommies is “don’t be a dick.”

  • Honestly, it sounds a lot like a quick way to raise a couple bucks, but I find it altogether unobjectionable. There is a fairly straightforward way to avoid contributing to the fund–obeying the law. Do I always come to a complete stop at stop signs or wait for red lights to turn green when walking, running, or biking in the city? Not exactly. But if I were to be stopped and ticketed for it, I’d freely concede that I asked for it and pay the fine.

    More generally, if you don’t like the law, try to get it overturned. If you succeed, awesome. If you fail, oh well, at least you tried. Meanwhile, we don’t get to pick which of the laws the police may legitimately enforce and which ones they can’t. That’s not how it works.

  • Was it a rolling stop or just completely blowing through? Because cars make rolling stops all the time. I would hope that if these cops were ticketing bike rolling stops, they were ticketing car ones too.

  • I’m an avid biker and think this is fine: bikers should follow the law. If we don’t like the law, then we should change it. I don’t follow the law 100% but I’m a lot better than most bikers. Considering the amount of dangerous activity on bikes out there, I think the cops have more than enough cause for enforcing the law. I also think that it’s worth their time and effort. Sucks to get a ticket though….

  • People bitch about ‘militant cyclists,’ but I think militant motorists are a bigger problem.

    Here’s the thing – the more cars in the road, the worse the ambiance of an area. Motorists in a city effect pedestrians and bikers. I bike, and I bike very safely – I don’t cut off cars, I don’t speed into crowded intersections, and I don’t weave through traffic. But, if there is no one in an intersection, I won’t come to a complete stop because I am not going 30mph surrounded by several tons of safe metal. It is tough to regain momentum, sure – but it is also dangerous to spend precious seconds building up motion again in the middle of a road taken up by large vehicles going much faster than I. As other commenters have noted, this is a great way to get motorists to honk loudly at you or swerve around you to save time – and these are both more dangerous than going through an empty intersection on a bike.

    For those mocking the complaint about starting and stopping on a bike, why don’t you get out of your damn car and get on a metro or bus? I bet you have a whiny excuse about that, too.

    • What about those of us mocking the complaint about starting and stopping on a bike who already take metro and bus instead of driving? We’re good, right?

      I’m not going to argue that *more* cars makes ambiance better, but face it, they’re not going away either. What makes things better is if *everyone* on the roads behaves reasonably and predictably – and in practical terms, this means obeying the rules of the road. Whatever your mode of transportation, if you’re granting yourself exemptions from that (especially based on your own particular worldview), then you’re not really helping.

  • I’m an admittedly semi-aggressive recreational cyclist, but I focus it on “right side trail walkers” and “headphone runners”. When I commute or bike around town, I stop for stop lights, and always stop at stop signs if I see a car there first. 99% of the time the car sits there waiting for me to roll through, presumably because they’ve come to expect that cyclists will ignore the laws. While I appreciate the consideration, I think MPD is right to make a point of busting novice cyclists to normalize traffic flow.

    • “99% of the time the car sits there waiting for me to roll through, presumably because they’ve come to expect that cyclists will ignore the laws.”

      That’s the whole danger. What happens when you think that stopped driver is presuming when they are actually in the process of stomping down on the accelerator?

      Traffic laws draw bright lines. Even situations like “two vehicles come to four way stop at same time, who yields?” are covered. (Yield to the right, BTW, but in my experience it seems that almost everyone knows this). These lines are clear, and common sense is meant to bridge the gaps. If you are young, you may have not grasped the following: If you find yourself applying common sense to something, it means you have already given up on getting exactly what you want.

  • Egregious waste of Police resources. Until crime in this city is down to a non ridiculous level, these highly trained armed police should be patrolling the streets and alleys of our neighborhoods on bike, Segways and on foot. 2 officers standing by a stop sign writing tickets to bikers? Are you kidding me?

    • For me, asshole bikers lead to a more personal and significant reduction in quality of life than the level of crime.

      I say go out there and ticket the hell out of bikers. I see maybe 1 in 10 that stop at stop signs. maybe 2 more in 10 that even bother slowing down.

      • there is a place for you, its call the suburbs

        • You’re a fool. Typical urban commentariat bicycling fool.

          • you implied that a world without people biking on the roads is one of your most important quality of life issues. I am just saying, there is a place where people don’t bike on the roads.

            Cities should make it their priority to reduce cars on the roads. More cars are bad for everyone, more bikes are good for everyone, you can ignore the truth all you want.

          • He didn’t imply that. He qualified his noun with an adjective.

          • To clarify, I qualified my noun with the word “asshole”. So, yes, a world without asshole bikers is far more desirable than a world without crime. Some level of crime is unpreventable, but having a civil bicycling population is possible.

        • It was implied because I assumed that living without fear of being raped/murdered/robbed, etc… is somewhat (very) important to him. If asshole bikers are more of a worry, they must be high up there on the worry list. Granted, there was an assumption, but I think it was a reasonable one.

  • If you think every motorist is a Big Mac-eating, cell-using, entitled fatass, you’re part of the problem.

    If you think every cyclist is a reckless, arrogant, moneyed hipster, you’re part of the problem.

    Odds are if you bike and never drive, or drive and never bike, you’re part of the problem.

    Cyclists: borrow a friend’s car or zipcar account and take a spin around the city one afternoon. See how fucking grating it is to play reverse whack-a-mole with a bunch of kids who couldn’t be bothered to stop at the light, let alone wear a helmet?

    Motorists: borrow a friend’s bike or get a bikeshare account and take your own tour. See how fucking grating it is to be expected to stop for every four-way-stop sign, regardless of whether any traffic is approaching? See how tiring that is?

    • This is first reasonable post in this whole fucking hatefest.

      I like living in DC except when I make the mistake of reading the comment section. People pretend to worthwhile more often when you can see them.

  • As a regular biker and driver, i feel no sympathy towards this writer. and living at the bottom of the 11th street hill, i’ve seen a number of riders just flying by the stop signs on W and V. Certainly i wish no one harm, but something is going to happen and someone is going to lose their life.

  • I would love to see some bicyclists given some jail time for a change. perhaps that would start to change their dangerous and entitled behavior.

    • I would love to see a driver who kills a cyclist get jail time. Perhaps that would start to change the dangerous and entilted behavior of drivers.

      But in this city you can drive a dump truck over a cylist in a bike lane and not go to jail for it. Instead, the police will blame the cyclist because she wore flip-flops.

      • +1

        I hope the people deriding bicyclists for their dangerous behavior realize that most deaths and serious injuries result from when the biker was 100% compliant with the law.

  • newsflash: we all hate each other.

    carry on.

  • To the original poster: be an adult, except the consequences and pay the ticket. Amortize the amount over a lifetime of stop sign running, and you still come out way ahead.

  • It would be great to get teams of people to go out and film activity at controlled intersections to quantify how many cars adhere to the rules, and how many bicycles do. About 20 minutes of activity. Categorize infractions as flagrant (running a red light that had been red for a while, running a stop sign without braking) or minor (running a red light that just changed from yellow, rolling through a stop sign after braking).

    I am guessing that the raw number of minor infractions would be about the same for cars and bicycles, because there are so many more cars than bikes. Rate of minor infraction would be probably 5x higher for bikes. As far as flagrant violations–well. . .that would probably be different.

    At least some facts might go toward settling the car/bike sniping.

  • Where is this magical stop sign at 14th and U? Last I checked, it is an extrememly busy and dangerous intersection with a light, not a stop sign.

    Anyway, cops have been hanging out there periodically for over a year to primarily catch two things: those on cell phones, and people who are stopping in the crosswalk. Yes, I have seen at least three cars in the last several weeks get waved over to the side of the road for being a couple of feet into the crosswalk. It is a $100 ticket.

    Enough of the bikes vs. cars conspiracy theories – the cops are enforcing rules for everyone, not just those on bikes.

  • If you think that the traffic laws should be changed for bikes – and there’s something of a reasonable argument for that – then get off your ass and work to make it happen. But as it stands, you broke the law and got a ticket, so pull up your big person undies and deal with it.

    I drive a car and have lots of friends who bike, and I would bike myself if I felt more comfortable with it.

    The main problems with bikes and cars on the road:
    1. People are assholes – people both ride bikes and drive; therefore there are lots of assholes on the road.

    2. Most people in cars have no idea how to deal with sharing the road and there is almost no education available to help people figure it out.

    3. Since some cyclists want to be treated as vehicles and some don’t, some follow the laws and some follow what they’d like to have be the laws, it is nearly impossible to anticipate what any cyclist is going to do at an intersection, stop sign, etc. And that’s dangerous. I have no idea if you’re going to stop, run the light, signal if you’re turning, cut me off, etc. So it’s hard to figure out how to proceed safely.


    • Lol, dog-lovers vs. -haters, cyclists vs. cars, all within a week. Now we just need a crime with a racial subtext and we’ll have the trifecta.

  • i agree with everything you said. good points.

    we’re all assholes. No one knows what a cyclist is going to do because it is impossible to distinguish good ones from bad ones just by looking. And non-asshole drivers still don’t know what to do with bikes in the road (they tend to follow along behind me at 15 miles an hour even as i am waving them on…).

  • As a pedestrian who has been hit by bicyclists, and the spouse of a pedestrian who has been hit by bicylcists, and then assaulted by the cyclist for complaining, I find all of the arguments why bicyclists should obey the law particularly unconvincing. Obey the law, or get off your bike. Period. When you get caught disobeying the law, it is not a trap or a money-making scheme. You were disobeying the law and got caught. Period. My life and safety are not disposible for the benefit of your convenience, nor for any consideration of traffic flow. Period.

  • I have never seen a car not roll through a stop sign in DC.

  • My vote for the PoP comment hall of fame: “I’m Hispanic, and I wear a helmet.”


    By the way, thanks for all who posted. I had a private wager on the number of comments that would show up. The over-under line was 200. I took thje over. Other than gentrification and crime, nothing gets the PoP crowd going like a thread about biking.

  • I think it’s ridiculous that I have to stop at a stop sign whenever I’m driving, even when there’s nobody else at the intersection, which is why I roll through most of the time. What’s the big deal?

    • I do it to reduce green house gas emissions and save me some money at the gas pump. Thats ok, right?

      • And we appreciate your .0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001. contribution!

    • no a big deal to me.

  • All of these bikers who are talking about going through an intersection when there are no cars or pedestrians present are clearly not the subject of peoples’ concerns. If no one sees you do it, then its between you and the traffic gods.

    However, it seems there are a lot of people talking about instances where people are present to see the law being broken.. you know, since they saw it happen and all..

    • It’s not about whether someone sees you or not. It’s more about whether you interfere with someone who has the right of way. I could care less if someone sees me.

  • There is much more dangerous bike behavior that should be policed for example swimming up stream (going the wrong direction on a one way street or in the wrong lane) and not signaling, imo. What sucks about being ticketed on a bike is that it can add up to points on your license. As far as I know there is no “failure to heed a stop sign on a bike” box when a dc cop writes a ticket, it’s considered a moving infraction. This sucks because failure to heed on a bike is probably a lot closer to jaywalking than the motor vehicle equivalent, in terms of danger that can be caused to another person or vehicle.

  • “What sucks about being ticketed on a bike is that it can add up to points on your license. As far as I know there is no “failure to heed a stop sign on a bike” box when a dc cop writes a ticket, it’s considered a moving infraction.”

    I’ve written tickets to cyclists before, but given what I know about DCMR Title 18, there’s definitely no points when bicycle specific infractions are given out and I believe the Bureau of Traffic Adjudication doesn’t given points out for bicycle infractions considering a having a license isn’t a condition of riding a bicycle. Hell, you aren’t required to carry ID in D.C. and as long as you give a REASONABLE identity, D.O.B., address, etc. you can rack up bicycle tickets all day long (I.E. don’t give the name Donald Duck, Rusty Trombone, etc.)

    Don’t listen to any officer who tells you that you’re required to furnish ID for a bicycle stop or you’ll be arrests. They’re wrong and if they do arrest you, you’ll be no papered at the bare minimum and they’ll be open to a nasty lawsuit along with whoever signed off on their arrest paperwork.

  • This is the way bicyclists should handle stop signs. Come to a rolling stop (i.e. don’t put your foot down), give way to those that have the right of way (pedestrians, cars, other bicyclists, etc.), when all before you have gone then cross through the intersection. If there’s a car at the intersection before you, slow down, let them go, then you go. If they wave you through, look at them all puzzled, tell them that’s not how stop signs work and that you would rather not have their front bumper aimed at you when they have the right of way and then do an awkwardly long track stand and attempt to wave them through by titling your head back and forth because, unless you’re awesome, waving them by with your hand and doing a one handed track stand will result in you falling. If you’re awesome, attempt the two handed wave/no handed track stand and wave the vehicle on by but refrain from using finger guns in any of the motions because although no-handed track stands are awesome and will make you want to bring out the finger guns, this is frowned upon by the residents of the district of criminals we currently live in. Once all have passed before you, then you can go. Coming to a complete stop and putting your foot down is not necessary unless the traffic at the intersection and your level of awesomeness requires it so.

  • I bike to work every day, and here’s my take on it:

    1. Remember that some of us cannot afford to own/maintain/insure a vehicle in the city or even pay for Metro everyday, so keep that in mind the next time you think you’re running over some bastard with an Audi parked under his condo.

    2. The fact that bikes are often required to change between street, crosswalk, and sidewalk negates their role as a vehicle to be treated the same as a car.

    3. I yield to every vehicle, pedestrian, and bike that has the right-of-way at an intersection. I do not blindly blow through intersections. If it’s obvious that my proceeding will not interfere with anyone else, I do so on a red light or at a stop sign.

    • Also – in my car I’ve chased down bikers who almost ran over pedestrians, have yelled at bikers on my bike who almost ran me over when I had the right of way and have walked right in ,front of bikers when I had the right of way as they blew red lights. So, I’m no blind apologist for bad biking. I just think there’s a middle ground that’s reasonble.

  • +100

    If you do something against the law, in the sight of a law enforcement officer, you have to take responsibility for your actions. That’s how this whole “community” thing works.

  • It’s weird because every single bicycle rider I’ve ever met or encountered on this forum says he or she is responsible and don’t break the law. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to a bicyclist who’s broken the traffic laws. So I guess I must be hallucinating when I nearly get run down by a bicycle at least once a week. I’m such an idiot.

    • lots of us have admitted that we break the laws. you’re reading very selectively if you think otherwise. i run lights and stops signs. i ride on the sidewalks too.

      also, when walking, i jaywalk.
      and when driving i speed. i sometimes let my parking meter run out. i’ve parked too close to the cars in front of me and too close to curb cuts.

      and i’m pretty average.

    • Well, yeah, but I don’t hear motorists or pedestrians admitting they break the law either, Ryan, yet I see people running reds in their cars and jaywalking all the time too.

    • I break the law everyday that I bike to work. There. Your hallucination problem is solved. Now what are we going to do?

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