Berkeley cops crackdown on cyclists

September 23, 2010 7:42:26 PM PDT
Bike riders in Berkeley should watch out for police who are cracking down on cyclists who don't obey traffic laws. If cyclists roll through a stop sign, they will be ticketed. Police say it's all about safety, but some cyclists say it's not fair.

Many bikers act as if they didn't even see the stop sign. Thursday afternoon, one cyclist after the next rolled right through the stop sign, bringing a sound no cyclist wants or expects to hear -- a siren.

It was a crackdown on bike safety and in this city of peace and love cyclists felt like they got neither, let alone a break from the police.

"The city's very congested. We have a lot of collisions. That's why we're out here today," said Berkley Officer Jennifer Coats.

Over the last 26 years. There have been four fatal accidents involving bikes here in Berkeley. It might not sound like much, but police say in all four cases, it's the cyclists who were at fault.

"Were out here hoping to educate and enforce bicyclists who are riding hazardously or recklessly. We want people to slow down at intersections, to look both ways, and be aware of their surroundings, other vehicles, pedestrians," says Berkeley Sgt. Robert Rittenhouse.

In two hours, police issued 19 tickets to cyclists, most of them because the rider blew right through a stop sign. It's a moving violation the same as driving a car and it can come with a hefty price tag up to $200.

When asked if it seems fair, cyclist Paul Reed says, "No not really."

"I think it's a great idea. It's about time. They're subject to the same laws as a car, they should be stopping at stop signs. They should be yielding, they should be stopping at lights," says Martinez motorist Steven Andrews.

This year alone 129 cyclists have been injured on Berkeley streets, but whether the crackdown is worth it, depends on which side of the fence you're on.


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