The Davis Police Department (DPD) and the UC Davis Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) are both advocating bicycle safety through programs designed to educate the public about bicycle laws and safety practices.
The DPD conducted a Bicycle Safety Education and Enforcement Operation during the week of Jan. 9. Due to the increased patrolling around areas frequented by bicycles, numerous bike citations had been given out. In the city, a fine for running a stop sign is around $200.
Likewise, UC Davis, in partnership with TAPS, has been continuing to enforce bicycle safety through its Bike Enforcement Education Program (BEEProgram) that was introduced in October 2011.
Lt. Paul Doroshov of the Davis Police said halfway through the safety week, about 115 citations were issued.
“The most common violation was rolling through stop signs,” Doroshov said. “The California Vehicle code states bikes have to follow the same laws as cars. At stop signs, bikes have to cease movement completely.”
Doroshov said other citations were given out due to the lack of bike lights or having headphones in both ears.
Simone Levy, a senior landscape architecture major, received a ticket in 2011 while biking downtown at around 11 p.m. Levy said she had just gotten off campus after 14 hours of studio work, when she was pulled over by a police car for not completely stopping at a stop sign on F Street.
“I’ve never gotten a warning before but he didn’t care about that and gave me a ticket,” Levy said. “It bothered me that I didn’t get that first warning. But I do feel tickets are necessary, although they could be less strict with bicycles by at least charging less for tickets.”
In reaction to the bike citations given out last week, students voiced their thoughts about the trend of bicycle traffic violators.
“I guess it’s good because it keeps the biking community safe,” said Jody Chiang, a sophomore biological sciences major. “When I see police, I intentionally take out my headphones or hop off my bike if I’m on the wrong side of the road.”
Ralph Nuno, the only full-time campus bike police officer, said the university has been utilizing the BEEProgram so that students, faculty and staff have 14 days within the issuance of the citation to go to the TAPS website, watch a 20 minute video on bike safety, take a test and then submit a $70 fee. This applies to citations given on campus, not in the city. Nuno said this way the public will be more knowledgeable in bicycle laws and practices.
Regarding on-campus bike safety, a student commented on the moderately new BEEProgram.
“Before, the money [from fines] would go to Yolo County,” said Chris Wilson, a junior psychology major. “Since the proceeds don’t go to the Yolo County traffic court and go to the university, the university enforces [bicycle laws] heavily now.”
According to Nuno, the $70 fines sustain the program, allowing for the university to keep it running.
“Now that we can offer reduced fines, that’s probably why you’re hearing people talk about the tickets,” Nuno said. “The citations’ fines are significantly reduced because police officers struggled with justifying writing a ticket that’s so expensive for everybody.”
With the DPD partnering with local bike shops, bicycle safety is more enforced around the City of Davis as well.
“With more traffic congestion on our city streets, and more people turning to bicycles as a transportation alternative, we need to make sure that all road users understand the rules, laws and safe behavior,” said the DPD in a press release.
Nuno said the challenge the police officers have every year is the 5,000 new students who have to be educated about bicycle laws and safety. He said he will be putting on a law enforcement bicycle class at the end of January to train five additional police officers. This will provide more on-campus officers on bikes to patrol every day.
“Bicycle citations are justified even though they might not seem like an impact,” said Nate Bales, a junior science and technology studies major. “Due to the poor economy, I’m not surprised that citations are being handed out.”
CLAIRE TAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.