Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lawlessness among cyclists? I have proof


From page A2 | October 14, 2012 | 4 Comments

I’m sitting in my $6.99 woven plastic lawn chair in the middle of a small traffic island along East Eighth Street on a stunning fall afternoon. Or as stunning as a fall afternoon can be in East Davis.

My little island, which I’ve named “Motley Island” in honor both of our late mayor and the diverse collection of people who pass by this spot, has trees and shrubs and endangered wildlife and no doubt would be an excellent place to hang out during a neighborhood game of hide-and-seek.

There are actually two islands at the intersection of J and East Eighth, Major Motley and Mini Motley, both surrounded by an asphalt sea. I’m on the larger one, just to the east of the smaller. Each island has one large tree and their respective branches nearly touch near the top as they stretch over J Street.

Mini Motley also has an exceedingly tall cell phone tower that is virtually indistinguishable from an old-growth Douglas fir.

I’d like to fire up the barbecue and toss a burger or two on the grill, but I’m sure if I did in no time at all several members of the Natural Resources Commission would show up on their bicycles to write me up for any number of violations.

I’m here not to work on my tan but to observe the behavior of this town’s thousands and thousands of cyclists, many of whom traverse this busy east-west thoroughfare on a daily basis.

As you no doubt are aware, there’s a raging debate in this town concerning the behavior of cyclists, which like all other forms of human behavior, varies from individual to individual.

Folks who drive cars in this town frequently claim that bicyclists routinely ignore the rules of the road that all moving vehicles on the pavement are expected to observe. Dedicated cyclists — the ones who wear the fancy striped body-hugging pants and the colorful aerodynamic designer helmets — claim that their breed is as law-abiding as is anyone behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

I am here during the five o’clock rush hour, notebook in hand, to test that assertion.

There are many options at this four-way-stop intersection. Bicycles and cars are heading westbound or eastbound on East Eighth. Many are turning north onto J Street to find their homes among the hundreds of apartments and duplexes that line J Street all the way to Covell Boulevard.

A few are turning right or left onto J and heading south, while some have been on J all along and will remain on J as they cross East Eighth.

In 15 minutes of careful scientific observation, aided by the meticulous note-taking of my 11-year-old daughter, Maev, we determined that fully 84 cars and two Unitrans buses passed through this intersection, which features a large “STOP” sign for all participants, no matter which way they’re heading. All 86 vehicles came to a full and complete stop. Not once did we observe that all-too-common, slow-rolling “California stop.”

The same could not be said for this town’s bicyclists. Not even close. Even the Above-Pictured Columnist, who has witnessed aberrant cyclist behavior many times before at this intersection, was shocked at the level of lawlessness.

Of the 54 bicyclists we observed during this busy period of time, only seven bothered to stop. Maev and I compared notes and our figures matched on the dot. Another six did the brief hesitation just prior to their assigned “STOP” sign, then pedaled for all they were worth.

Shockingly, 31 cyclists actually sped up as they approached the intersection and bolted through their “STOP” sign at full speed. Two of those even glared at the drivers of cars they encountered in the intersection.

The remaining 10 cyclists rolled through the intersection at various speeds, seemingly oblivious to the fact there were other human beings sharing this small part of Planet Earth with them on a gorgeous afternoon.

Next time one of those well-outfitted cyclists tries to tell you that “virtually everyone” on a bike obeys the law, send them my way.

Very clearly, just the opposite is true. I have the proof, recorded in Maev’s spiral-bound notebook.

— Reach Bob Dunning at


Discussion | 4 comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Really...October 14, 2012 - 5:45 am

    Bob, thank you and your daughter for the scientific study. I think anyone that drives through downtown will back up everything you wrote. Cyclists act rightous and seem to think that they have the right-away and that it's up to drivers to steer clear of them. I've had cyclists scream at me when they were the ones breaking the law. Maybe because we now have your scientific study laded with facts our city will do something about the careless bikers.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • MartinOctober 14, 2012 - 9:03 am

    A scientific study that resembles the reliabilty of Apple's new ios 6 maps.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Alan MillerOctober 16, 2012 - 7:50 pm

    "our city will do something about the careless bikers" ¶ In my 33 years in Davis, this has been called for each year and the act of bicycles running stop signs continues. As it should be. ¶ Nothing will stop this. Davis could not hire enough police officers. Davis struggles to keep one bicycle officer going part time. ¶ Bicycles stopping at stop signs is the '55mph speed limit' of bicycling. Very few CHP ticketed people for going 65mph when the speed was 55mph, and few Davis Police will ticket someone for not stopping at a stop sign. As it should be. ¶ In 1980, I was stopped by an officer for blowing through the stop at 3rd and A Streets . . . and blow through it I did. I received both a ticket and some advice: "I gave you a ticket because you didn't look. Next time, slow down and look both ways. I don't know an officer in this town who would give you a ticket if you do that." And in the following three decades I have always slowed and looked, but not stopped unless I had right-of-way to give. And I have not received a stop sign ticket since. I have received the knowing nod from a few officers of witness who moved on to more significant offenders. As it should be. ¶ So let's be clear: the problem is bicyclists who do not look and do not yield the right-of-way, not bicycles that do not stop at stop signs. Perhaps if our laws were not so mis-directed from reality to some unrealistic ideal no one follows, we could focus our limited resources on what matters, rather than wishing for a cop on every corner that will never come. Long live the Idaho Stop! (Google it.)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Alan MillerOctober 16, 2012 - 7:55 pm

    If you do google it . . . check this:

    Reply | Report abusive comment


UC Davis biodigester hungers for food scraps, belches out electricity

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

New mosaic mural reflects Peña family history

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Davis businesswoman presides over conference

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Bible fun featured at Parents’ Night Out

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Fire damages Woodland home

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3

Davis Arts Center: See ceramics, join the Big Day of Giving

By Erie Vitiello | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Register to vote by May 19

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Birch Lane sells garden plants, veggies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Team Blend hosts fundraiser for Nicaragua project

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3

Sign up for enviro organizations during Earth Week

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Fundraiser benefits Oakley campaign

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Odd Fellows host culinary benefit for nonprofit

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

UCD to host premiere of autism documentary

By Cory Golden | From Page: A4

400 bikes go up for bids at UCD auction

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Fire crews gather for joint training

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

UFC hears from two local historians

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Church hosts discussion of mental health needs, services

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Sunder hosts campaign event for kids

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

UC Davis conference showcases undergraduate research

By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Train to become a weather spotter

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Fly Fishers talk to focus on healthy streams, rivers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Learn survival skills at Cache Creek Preserve

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Veterans, internees may receive overdue diplomas

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

UCD professor to talk about new book

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Slow Food tour showcases area’s young farmers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10



Will anyone notice?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

My votes reflect city values

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

I support Sunder for board

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

A plea on the Bard’s birthday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Sharing fire services has been a success

By Our View | From Page: A6

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6



DHS thunders back to win an epic DVC volleyball match

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Seniors send Blue Devil girls past Broncos in a lacrosse rout

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Davis gets to Grant ace and rolls in DVC crucial

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Walchli is under par in another Devil victory

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

DHS/Franklin I goes to the Blue Devil softballers

By Chris Saur | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Sharks go up 3-0 with OT win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Baseball roundup: Rangers rally to beat A’s in the ninth

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8



Field to fork: El Macero’s chef offers spring tastes

By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A8 | Gallery



Music, wine flow at Fourth Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Biscuits ‘n Honey will play at winery

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Five Three Oh! featured at April Performers’ Circle

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Celebrate spring at I-House on Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9





Catharine ‘Kay’ Lathrop

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



Comics: Wednesday, April 23, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6