Making the roads safer for reckless LEO’s

Yesterday I blogged about some traffic tickets that we, a fearsome threesome of stretchy-underwear clad older fellows and a twig-man, incurred when we violated California Vehicle Code Section 42123.234(i)a-delta.

In other words, we ran a stop sign.

The Palos Verdes Estates cops wagged their fingers and told us about how it was for our own good, even though there were no cars on the road, at the intersection, or anywhere except in the garages of the rich and infamous.

We drooped our dicks in the dirt and let them get stomped on, then went home, scolded, punished, and left to contemplate our misdeeds.

Then this morning I got this message from a friend driving to work in Palos Verdes Estates:

Hey, Wanky! Listen to this …

I was driving northbound on Palos Verdes Dr. at 6:26 AM in the No. 1 lane. As I was crossing Hawthorne, there was a dump truck in the No. 1 lane. The car in front of me moved into the No. 2 lane and passed the dump truck. I did the same thing, and so did the vehicle behind me, a white Ford pickup. As the two lanes merged into 1 lane, the white truck began tailgating my vehicle. We reached Silver Spur and the road opened up into two same-direction lanes again. I pulled into the No. 1 lane and the white truck merged into the No. 1 lane. I came to a complete stop, but the white truck went through the stop sign, not touching the brakes, which I could tell because his brake lights didn’t go on. I estimate his a speed at 20 to 25mph minimum. The exact speed was hard to judge because I was coming to a complete stop.

At this point I decided to call 911 because the operator was driving recklessly, and it occurred to me that he may have been drunk. When I crossed Silver Spur, continuing on PV Drive North, the truck slowed down to 25mph, and was now in front of my vehicle. It began to slow as we approached the next stop sign. At that moment the truck swerved towards me and rolled the stop sign, this time at 3 to 5 mph. I was still on the phone with dispatch giving them a license plate and description of the vehicle and merged back into the lane to proceed on my northbound route. I followed the vehicle to the stop sign before Malaga Cove, where it proceeded to stop at that stop sign for 45 to 60 seconds. I knew at this point that the driver was either documenting my vehicle or just trying to harass me with the long stop. As I was making a left into Malaga Cove, the vehicle pulled into the police station.

I realized that the driver was a PV Estates policeman, and was shocked at his reckless driving. I’m a cyclist and know that the PVEPD has recently been ticketing cyclists for running stop signs due to safety concerns. I couldn’t believe the intentionally reckless behavior of the driver, and was even more upset by his harassment. I immediately filed a verbal complaint with the watch commander.

At the time I thought it had to be some whackjob or high school kid driving like this … but it was a law enforcement officer, someone who is supposed to “serve and protect” not “endanger and kill.” On top of that he used scare tactics, swerving towards me in his personal vehicle, a Ford F250 with blacked-out windows and an American flag on the back. What a great American he is!

This cop has probably done this before and will likely do it again. If you had been on a bike, in a car, or on a horse, and had made a complete stop before trying to cross PV Drive north on Silverspur, you would have been severely injured or killed, even though you were obeying the law. He should be prosecuted and lose his job. I don’t think he realizes or cares how dangerous his behavior was.



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38 thoughts on “Making the roads safer for reckless LEO’s”

  1. Makes it difficult to believe there are good ones.
    That, and the fact that he’s probably just going to get “atta-boys” at the copshop.
    Maybe they can prove otherwise?

    1. There are good ones; we ride with a couple of them. But the prevailing wind if you’re a cyclist is a headwind.

  2. In my state of CT, an analysis of the past 15 years of crash data available on line at approximately 24% of all the bicyclists that died in an MV crash, 24% failed to stop for a traffic control device.

    Re: Idaho Stop Law and lack of increased accidents after passage: Generally thought bicyclists behavior was unchanged since most did not comply with stop signs prior to passage, so no net gain in crashes since passage, but bicyclists no longer scofflaws.

    1. If 24% died because they were at fault, and 76% died because the motorist was at fault, then why the emphasis on cyclist behavior when the overwhelming cause of death is the motorist? Poor allocation of enforcement resources to go after the bike instead of the cage.

      Re: Idaho. Not being a scofflaw means no harassment, no fines, no bullying, all of which are huge deterrents to riding and enjoying a bike.

    2. You start out nice and scientifical by stating statistics, then jump to “Generally thought…”.

      By whom?

      When a statistic such as this does not make sense with the real world one needs to recheck the source.

      Just my general thought (backed by personal experience but not statistics), if Caly were to adopt an equivalent to the ISL I would definitely be more aggressive at stop signs. I can’t imagine I’m the only one or even kinda the only one. Cyclists in general would be more aggressive at stops.

      If the accidents did not increase, that is a strong indication that the law works.

  3. I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but, a white Ford F250 with blacked out windows and an american flag on the back……. Sound about right.

    1. Fortunately, you’re not judging a book, which is an inert object laying on a coffee table, but rather the bizarre and dangerous actions of a donkey brain driving a donkey car.

  4. Blacked out driver and front passenger windows are a violation of the vehicle code, too. California Vehicle Code § 26708.

    My wife keeps insisting that it’s only a few cops that are bad. I keep telling her that well over half are bad on a scale from this delta bravo to the murderers who shot an unarmed civilian trying to offer assistance in recovering a stolen bike. And that the rest of the cops are complicit and go along with it. This will continue until the responsibility for training new cops is taken away from cops. Their training is like a cult, “it’s us against the world.”

    1. I’m not sure cops are much different from other people. In some situations they behave well, in others, badly. The problem is that our society relies on policing and imprisonment to solve its problems, rather than education, health care, and living wages. And my experience on Sunday kind of proved it. In one scenario the “bad” cops were harassing us, in another the “good” cops were preventing punkdom from hurting me.

      Not sure it’s a good cop/bad cop thing except in extreme cases. Otherwise it’s people doing a complex job and making lots of bad decisions, as well as lots of good ones.

  5. I’m sorry, this is all wrong.
    According to the PVEPD web site:

    “The mission of the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department is to provide an assurance of safety, comfort and tranquility to the community; while in this endeavor maintaining the utmost in professionalism, competence, integrity, and discipline.”

    So, you see, this posting cannot be correct.

  6. I agree with the “it’s people doing a complex job”. Whether they make bad decisions or not is relative. From our view point it seems obvious that it’s bad decisions. I find until I walk in someone else’s shoes, it’s hard to a make value judgement on their decisions. I completely agree that education, on both sides, would be extremely helpful.

    I hate that any cyclist ignores stop signs. Stop signs mean there is a potentially dangerous situation. The way our brain processes information makes it easy for drivers or cyclists to overlook oncoming cars and pedestrians. It doesn’t really matter that the one moment you went through nobody happened to be there. There could have been and I think it’s fair for a cop to expect you to slow and LOOK to make sure it’s safe. I’ve ridden with enough cyclist to know that many don’t even try to look. (I won’t name names.)

    I also hate that even when I slow and look, I’m apt to get a ticket for not “stopping” for whatever definition a cop has for that. But I suspect there would be a lot less tickets given if everyone slowed down and looked at stop signs. Just because cyclist feel safe blowing through stop signs (whether they are or aren’t safe) they are often scaring the bejesus out of pedestrians and drivers. Those are the people that complain to the cops and cause them to come out and give excessive tickets.

    I understand that it slows a cyclist down to stop/slow (I can have a good 15 mins added to my 2 mile ride to group rides because of red lights), but it really does make the world a better place. And personally, I do strive to make the world a better place.

    As a bumper sticker I once saw said “World Peace starts with your turn signal”. I think world peace also starts with cars and cyclists slowing down a bit and being considerate for the other guy.

    1. When’s the last time a biker running a stop sign hurt anyone but himself?

      Stop signs aren’t made for bike safety, they’re made for car safety. And if stop signs are so effective, why have speed limits on residential streets, since they’re all dotted with stop signs?

      On the other hand, if speed limits are so effective, why have stop signs as “traffic calming” measures?

      Only the US has developed punitive laws backed with gun-toting police to control cyclists. We aren’t the enemy. Would PVE residents prefer we were on their roads with cars instead of bikes?

      1. “Would PVE residents prefer we were on their roads with cars instead of bikes?”

        No, they would prefer you were not on there streets at all. If they thought all of their money would allow them to get away with it, they would turn the entire peninsula into a gated community.

      2. Last pedestrian I heard of that was killed by a cyclist running a so sign was San Francisco. I don’t check for that regularly though. Does someone have to be killed to require slowing down and looking? Also, my point is we shouldn’t be required to stop, yielding is sufficient, but many cyclist don’t even yield. Cyclist I’ve seen in other countries typically ride slower than we do here so it’s not as much of a problem. Actually, even in Evanston, IL there seems to be much better cop/driver/cyclist relationships, but the cyclists and drivers are slower than here.

    2. >> Stop signs mean there is a potentially dangerous situation.

      I wish all stop signs meant this. If we only had stop signs in places that required them for genuine safety considerations, I’m confident that more people would respect them. I know I would (please note that I treat them just as you do. I never “ignore” them, yet I also only come to a complete stop when I’d otherwise be swiping somebody else’s right-of-way, or endangering somebody). One of the problems is the overwhelming number of what I call “gratuitous” stop signs. It is like crying wolf when stop signs are put up for “consistency” and speed control (like a speed bump) and other non-need-to-stop situations. Not many stop signs around my town mean “potentially dangerous situation” except under the umbrella concept that simply being on the road is potentially dangerous. And I guess if we all just stopped and stayed stopped, we’d sure be safer!

      If we need stop signs at EVERY intersection, for all directions… then the speeds are too high. Bring speeds down to human-scale, and suddenly everything moves along just fine without complete stops every hundred feet.

      At the UCD campus, all major intersections were once 4-way stops. Between classes, you’ve got 30,000 people converging on these things. At first a solid attempt was made to force every rider to come to a complete stop at each intersection. I’m talking about hundreds of cyclists per minute. Sanity eventually prevailed, and the UCD campus is almost 100% round-abouts now. Suddenly everybody is safer, and nobody is breaking the law.. by basically doing exactly what they were doing anyway…. but now in a more controlled, and properly-infrastructured fashion. Amazing.

      It is an uphill battle to force people to do what makes no sense. Yes, we should all respect stop signs. And stop signs should be used only in those places where they make sense.

      >> I also hate that even when I slow and look, I’m apt to get a ticket for not “stopping” for whatever definition a cop has for that <<

      I'm really glad that you included this. I completely agree. We have "zero tolerance crackdowns" here a couple of times a year. Lasts a day or two, then we go back to just ignoring all rolling stops from everybody. What a waste of effort and an extra helping of ill-will toward law enforcement. :sigh:

      1. NAILED IT.

        Stop signs are 90% used to slow down cars, not because of issues at intersections. There are nine on Via del Monte, less than 2 miles long.

      2. Stop signs are put in because something happens or someone complained. We have one on our street because a dad didn’t like cars “racing” down our street during rush hour avoiding a nearby busy street with stop lights. He wanted a speed bump, but Torrance won’t put in speed bumps (thank you! for that correct thinking.) 20 hours a day the stop sign is ridiculous, but the 4 hours during rush hour, it’s helpful. Not necessary, but helpful.

        The issue gets back to if we didn’t have too many people trying to hurry through they’re life, there would be zero problems. And cyclist zipping by pedestrians, scares them. Just because we’re “braver”, are we better or more correct?

      3. Yet rolling through empty stop sign
        Intersections is in no way the same thing as buzzing Pedestrians. Two different concerns that should not be combined or confused.

        1. The fundamental assumption is that bikes don’t belong in the roadway and therefore you deserve whatever bad things happen to you. If you don’t like it, get a car.

  7. Stop signs are tempting to ignore. I ride with my son often, we stop. He would prefer to GO, but for him stopping provides a better chance of a safe bike ride. As a PVE local, a “T” intersection is a tough one to stop at.
    This town is unique locally due to the lack of signals, stop signs are the price of that.
    Consider it interval training.

    1. Tons of stop signs in Hermosa, Torrance, and Manhattan Beach, but only PV has the hots for that kind of enforcement. Bottom line is that PVE residents don’t want anyone else here on “their” streets. I’ve heard it voiced at council meetings, plainly.

      1. PVE is unique that the main road intersections do not have signals, but stop signs, some are four-way but not all. Traffic signals get more respect from the vast majority and are obeyed to a higher degree in comparison to stop signs. The nearest four-way stop intersection to me gets seemingly daily a motor vehicle blasting through with nary a touch of the brake, they are depending on the cross traffic on obeying the law.
        That is the crux of the problem, a failure to stop places one’s safety firmly in the hands of another beyond the typical risk.

        The number of stop signs in the other cities is not relevant.
        As to many wishing for a gated community, an extrapolation of keeping outsiders off “their” streets, that is probably true but not a point of argument regarding obeying a stop sign. it might be the basis of pulling over 20+ year old unwashed vehicles with dents though.

        Selective enforcement, possibly. The double sided coin of a low crime rate perhaps too. They need to be doing work.

        1. Because 20+ year-old unwashed vehicles with dents are driven by criminals and poor people; same thing.

      2. >> That is the crux of the problem, a failure to stop places one’s safety firmly in the hands of another beyond the typical risk. <<

        From my vantage point, this is not the crux of the problem. The crux is that we have so many unnecessary and useless stop signs, that your typical road users cannot possibly know which ones are relevant. Google "the boy who cried wolf."

        Without proper infrastructure and laws, none of this works.

  8. I stop at every stop sign, though I roll through 4-way stops. Slowly. (I’m Canadian)

    Lot of good it did me though as last Sunday, the day before my 60th birthday, while on the mega ride for that 60th, I was rear-ended on the road up to my third mountain on a bright sunny day at 11:30AM.

    I’m ok, sore and bruised, but ok, bike isn’t.

    So, you can be as safe and law abiding as possible but some idiot might still nail you. The idiot complained that the police gave him a $230 ticket. 9LIKE $12 USD)

    Meanwhile, I have been in pain all week, have to run around to various therapists, get my helmet replaced, GET multiple quotes on my bike, hire a lawyer, and miss some key rides I had planned for the summer. Also, didn’t get to complete the mega ride.

    I am very lucky though. A few weeks ago, two cyclists were killed by a drunk driver near Whistler. In fact, when I was lying on the road waiting for the ambulance, I mentioned to someone that the next day was my 60th. He replied “Well, you still get to celebrate your 60th”

    1. The reward is they didn’t kill you. Because as a cyclist you’re lucky, as a person you have rights.

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