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Posted by on Feb 4, 2013 in General | 60 comments

Over-the-top Enforcement

Truth is stranger than fiction.

Gary Elswick was out for a ride in his neighborhood when he was pulled over by an Orange County Deputy for running a stop sign and “riding the wrong way on a one-way street.” Here’s his neighborhood:


No one-way streets. In fact, there are a bunch of narrow, one-lane, dead end streets with no traffic. There is absolutely no need for stop signs on such streets, either, but that’s another topic.

Readers of this site know we have a cultivated good relationship with local Law Enforcement, but we’re not beyond calling BS when we see it. Seriously, Deputy Santo-Hernandez did you have nothing better to do? There is plenty of truly dangerous behavior out there, how pathetic to harass a guy trying to get some exercise in his quiet little neighborhood.


    • Local 6 had video of this guy last night, he recently had a heart attach and was riding around his neighorhood. They gave him 2 tickets for over $300 and potentialy 7 points on his license.

  1. I guess I should have followed the link BEFORE I posted, Sorry.

    • 🙂

      The link was kinda buried in the text

  2. While I agree that a warning was probably called for, for “rolling the stop.” He admitted that he did so. However if this is a dead end street then how is it a one way street?

    Also I just have this to say:

    Same Roads
    Same Rules
    Same Rights

    How many of us cyclists have complained when motorists do the same thing and nothing happens?

    • “…if this is a dead end street then how is it a one way street?”

      LOL! Maybe cars are manufactured and sold at the end. Alternatively, maybe there are a bunch of cars parked at the other end, with no legal way of getting out.

    • Obvious corollary to same rights: same enforcement. (Though I’d argue for proportional enforcement, based on how much damage your action can do.)

      • And proportional to the context. If he was ticketed for rolling a stop sign on a busy street, it wouldn’t have warranted a news story, a blog post, or any other attention it has gotten.

        I think it’s totally appropriate to stop a cyclist who is doing something unsafe (even on a quiet street) for the purpose of educating him. In my experience and dealings with many, many novice cyclists, I have discovered a surprising number who do not know they are supposed to ride on the right side of the road and do not know they are supposed to stop at stop signs like other drivers. I’m not saying that is the case with this guy. What I am saying is that the streets of a quiet neighborhood are an excellent time for a public servant to give a novice cyclist some good information. Slapping a bunch of expensive fines on him (and mislabeling the citations) pretty much ruins that opportunity.

        • Keri,

          As I think I as over at Facebook. Maybe bike shops, department stores and thrift/pawn shops need to hand out copies of 316.2065 and/or copies of the Street Smarts handbook with all bikes?

          Also as I’ve said before a warning was probably what was called for, but unless anyone from here was there when the stop happened it is very unlikely that we will ever know exactly what happened. Especially in light of the fact that apparently Orange County deputies don’t have dash cams.

          All we can do is speculate as to what happened, or what was said that day.

          There is one thing that I admit to doing when I stop arms stop sign. That is that I do not unclip and put a foot down. What I do, do is to do a trackstand at stop signs.

          From talking to my friend who is a Cycling Savoy instructor (who also uses the trackstand method at stop signs that is legal.

          • You are not required to put a foot down at a stop. You must make your wheels stop. That’s not even a track stand, it’s simply a brief, balanced stop. We teach it in CyclingSavvy.

            It would be nice if we could get proper information into the hands of people when they buy bikes. Street Smarts is too expensive, but a one-page, illustrated flyer would be ideal. It needs to be more pictures than words since we are often dealing with language barriers and illiteracy in the most at-risk populations.

          • Keri,

            Agreed, and it’s not just my friend who as I said is also a Cycling Savoy instructor, but friends who work at various bike shops have said it as well, i.e. that a trackstand, however long it’s held for (as long as one had come to a complete stop) is legal, and that one doesn’t necessarily need to put a foot down to be legal.

            However in this particular case the cyclist in question has admitted to “rolling” the stop sign. As such, sadly his admission of guilt is hard to ignore. The riding the wrong way on a one-way road is (or should be) a no brainier, as if the road is a dead-end road it cannot be a one-way road. What is also interesting, and I am somewhat surprised that this point hasn’t been brought up yet.

            IF it was a “one-way” road, and given if I remember correctly that the deputy was BEHIND the cyclist in question, then would that not indicate that the deputy was also traveling in the wrong direction on a one-way road?

            When you say a one page flyer, do you mean one side of a sheet of paper, or would one be able to use both sides of a single piece of paper?

          • both sides.

          • “It needs to be more pictures than words since we are often dealing with language barriers and illiteracy in the most at-risk populations.”

            Our club,, has done this.

            We have a two-page sheet printed, and it has been translated into multiple languages, some of which I’ve never even heard of.


          • Keri,

            I give out Street Smarts to anyone who buys a bike and more: anyone who visits my Store that I asses to have an interest in learning.

            I use Mindset The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck to assess their willingness to learn. Step-by-step I invite the growth mindset people to learn about their bicycle and their bicycling. (The fixed mindset people are too self-centered and narrow in their thinking for productive conversation.) Occasionally the conversation progresses to comparing the direction of separating bicyclists from traffic to the unhealthy, limited and counterproductive fixed mindset. I’ve found that the growth mindset people really get it – and very quickly.

            The progress made this way makes it all lots of fun and very worthwhile. Just love my Store – for the conversations.

  3. Since last year, when my daughter started learning to ride her own bike to school with me, I decided that, as a responsible father, I should start to really respect those stupid Stop signs. So I’ve been stopping at every Stop sign on our commute. It’s REALLY annoying to have to stop when you know damned well that such things are placed purely for noise abatement and traffic calming in quiet residential neighborhoods. It’s especially galling when you see every single motorist rolling through every single one of them.

    Whatever happened to the Yield signs that should be in such places.

    • Yield signs are one thing that recent sprawl often gets right.

      I wonder if there’s any way to get the county and city to look at existing stop signs and study replacing many with yields.

    • They get ignored even more then stop signs, hence stop signs bring used instead.

      • The fact that they’re ignored (if it is indeed a fact) is not a reason to put a sign there that DESERVES to be ignored. Government ought to put signs out that make sense. Putting a sign there that doesn’t make any sense just because more people are likely to respect it, and then ticketing those who don’t, is a form of hypocrisy, because it caters to the lawbreakers and turns people who might be willing to respect a law (as long as it’s rational) into lawbreakers.

        And when almost all road users ignore stop signs, I find it hard to believe that measurably more people ignore Yield signs. Especially given the fact that it’s a lot harder to measure whether a person has ignored a Yield sign.

        • Ian,

          As you’ve said it’s harder to prove that a person ran a yield signs vs. running a stop sign.

          I am sure that you know that one of the reasons for stop signs being installed, is politics, i.e. someone “feels” that there is a “need” for a stop sign.

    • Ian,

      If you were in your corner opposed to being on your bicycle would you have any problems with stopping for any stop sign? If not, the I do not see why there is a problem with stopping for it when you’re using your bicycle?

      All I can say is what I’d said in my original post:

      Same Roads
      Same Rules
      Same Rights

      If we want to be respected as legitimate road users, as well as have our needs accommodated, then we NEED to respect the laws and rules of the road no matter how “silly” it might seem.

      If we don’t, then we’ll end up with even more restrictive laws then the “mandatory bike lane law,” that former Governor Christ signed.

      • We all agree with Same Roads, Same Rights, Same Rules, Herman. Shouldn’t we also call for Same Enforcement? That’s the point here. I doubt the deputy would have written a citation to a motorist in this situation.

        • I agree, and as I asked how do we know that the deputy wasn’t planning to give the cyclist in question a warning? But that possibly the cyclist copped an attitude, and the deputy decided to instead issue the citations.

          Also, as you said the cyclist in question had admitted to not stopping at said stop sign.

          • That is a possibility. I’ve seen it happen with pedestrians, too.

          • Mighk,

            Agreed, I know a young lady locally who had “racked up” a large number of citations on her bicycle. Usually,.because she insists on sitting on the side of the road arguing with the cop(s) in question.

            “Sadly,” we humans do not like it when we’re told that we’re wrong, and will argue why we’re not. Sadly even when we know that we’re wrong.

      • In my ‘corner’? I don’t understand what you mean. Do you mean ‘in my car’?

        I have never driven a car. I am 100% car-free.

        As I said, nowadays I always respect Stop signs. I just think most of the ones I stop for are stupid. They’re stupid because the ones placed indiscriminately result in no one respecting ANY Stop signs – so we get motorists running the Stop signs that exist for good reason. That cannot possibly be a good thing.

        Laws only deserve respect if they make sense. If they don’t, they need to change, or the whole system breaks down.

        • Yes, I meant car. I’m using my Smartphone, and the autocorrect changed it.

          I agree with you that a lot of the stop signs in use would more likely then not be better off as yield signs. But that yield signs probably get ignored even more often then do stop signs.

        • Ian,

          The system also breaks down when people on their own decide which law(s) they’re going to obey.

          Yes, there are laws on the books that shouldn’t have been passed on the first place, or that should be repealed. And until such time that they’re rewritten or repealed.they have to be obeyed.

    • “It’s especially galling when you see every single motorist rolling through every single one of them.”

      Amen to that! Plus the ones who just fly through them! I now just assume a car is not going to stop, whether I’m biking, walking or driving. More often than not they don’t stop! If I’m in a good mood, I give a nice wave and smile, in a bad….

  4. That’s pretty sad. Jeez, give the guy a break.

    • Here’s a good question, how do we know that the deputy hadn’t planned on letting the cyclist off with a warning, but the cyclist copped an attitude? Or how do we know that the deputy in question had already had to deal with several other cyclists that day, who because they were on bikes thought that they were somehow “above the law” and didn’t have to obey the law?

      As I said before, with just what has been reported (and I’m sure we DON’T have the full story) I agree that a warning was probably called for here.

  5. Note that in the story the cyclist said he slowed and checked to make sure the intersection was clear. This is what most motorists do most of the time and officers and deputies never give it a second glance.

    No points are to be assigned for violations committed while cycling.
    322.27 (3) There is established a point system for evaluation of convictions of violations of motor vehicle laws or ordinances, … when such violations involve the use of motor vehicles, for the determination of the continuing qualification of any person to operate a motor vehicle.

    • I bet if we sat there with a video camera we wouldn’t see a single motorist come to a complete stop at that stop sign. Heck, we might not see many motorists at all.

      This is the problem with misusing a traffic control device. There should be a yield sign at that intersection, so most people will treat the stop sign as a yield sign. The meaning of the stop sign is degraded. This serves no one (except maybe an opportunistic LEO).

      • Two wrongs, don’t make a right.

  6. In more civilized parts of the country (mostly western states) that intersection would have no traffic control at all. First come; first served.

    • Yeah, I don’t recall seeing motorists speeding through those neighborhoods in Missoula and Bozeman last summer. Instead, they approached each uncontrolled intersection with appropriate caution, stopping only if conflicting traffic arrived first. It seemed like that kind of intersection awareness and caution carried over to increased sensitivity to ped crossing.

  7. dude should definitely go to court. he can easily be found not guilty on the wrong way citation, and can probably get the stop sign violation reduced, as well as have the points taken off. court fee shouldn’t be more than $35. to me it seems like much ado about nothing.

    • and that’s IF the deputy shows up. i’ve gone to court twice against citations from OC deputies who insisted they’d show up and prove me wrong, and neither one appeared. case dismissed.

  8. If he missed seeing the deputy from the stop sign, he clearly didn’t see everything. Most motorists that would otherwise make a rolling stop at a stop sign, make a full stop instead if LEO is in view. As for the one-way street – that is pretty easy to dispose of and weakens the stop sign charge as well. One does wonder what else happened that is not being reported to generate multiple citations. Sadly, but in truth, most people on bikes don’t even break cadence at signs like this one.

    • My guess is that he was on the left side of the street and the cop wrote down the wrong law. But is it illegal to be towards the left of a narrow street?

      • As far as I know only on a one-way street.

        • It’s legal to be on the left side of a one-way street, no matter what the width.

          • If I’m not mistaken, it has to be a one-way street with two or more lanes, and no bike lane.

          • My mistake – if there’s only one lane *and it’s wide enough to allow a car to pass within it* you have to keep to the right. But if it’s narrower than ~14 feet you can ride anywhere within it. The same would logically seem to apply to a single two-way piece of asphalt less than 14 feet wide.

    • Steve,

      You raise some very good questions. And sadly I do not think that we have the whole story, nor do I honesty think that we’ll ever get the whole story.

      On a kind of related subject a friend of mine, his wife, and their neighbor were out for a ride. A cop stopped them and accused my friend of riding too far left in the lane. My friend is also a Cycling Savoy instructor and informed her why she was wrong.

      When she went to her car to presumably look the law up herself and found out that she was wrong. When she came back she cited him for riding more then two abreast. They weren’t, and ironiclly SHE was his best witness.

  9. Some things that I’d like to see happen as a result of this and similar situations is:

    A) Schools/police/scouts bringing back bike rodeos
    B) Having them open to all ages
    C) Cycling Savoy instructors working in concert with their LBS’ to provide space/time for Cycling Savoy classes
    D) TV/radio/etc. provide airtime for PSA’s that truly “teach” bicycle safety
    E) Operators of ANY type of vehicle taking responsibility for their actions, or lack thereof

    It is possible that if the cyclist in the above article had done a little research he could have possibly avoided the situation he found himself in.

    And as unpopular an idea as I am sure that this will be. I think that if a cyclist has a drivers license and they receive a moving violation, that they should get points on their license as they are driving/operating a vehicle.

    • Interesting, so your view is that if I carry my passport, no points are appropriate, but if I carry a DL, I should get points? Doubly interesting in view of the note about LEO inventing charges when ignorant about the law as it applies to cyclists. Points in those cases as well? While I have never been ticketed while cycling, I HAVE been pulled over and threatened while entirely obeying all laws. As documented on my own blog.

      • Steve,

        My view is that, for better or for worse most people tend to operate their bicycles the same way that they operate their automobile and vice-a-versa. So that if they have an operators license, and they receive a moving violation while operating any legal vehicle on the public road. Why shouldn’t they get those points added to their operating license?

        I’m NOT saying that an operators license should be required to operate a bicycle, or a horse & buggy on the road. Just that IF they have an operators license that they should get the points. Kind of like the theme song from Baretta, i.e. don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time, no?

      • Steve,

        Also like you, I have been pulled over by an officer while I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I’ve also have had an officer get on his PA system and “order” me to either ride further to the right, or to get on the sidewalk. Being as I carry a hardcopy of 316.2065, as well as the Street Smarts handbook and the LEO training guide I motioned for him to follow me into a parking lot so I could show him that he was wrong. He didn’t follow me in.

    • Directly connected to your idea of points on one’s license is the concept that motor vehicle operators are required to take tests in order to qualify for that license. This presumes some instruction and education, which is often considered inadequate. If one is going to penalize a cyclist with points, one would then expect to provide and/or require instruction and education to the cyclist community.

      Cycling Savvy provides this instruction and education, but it is not a requirement. If all cyclists were educated, one would not need to penalize cyclists with points, because the education would result in most violations vanishing.

      I would object to schools/police/scouts performing any cycling related education. As many will attest, law enforcement and established high-inertia organizations such as school administrators will impart their own agenda which is not coincidental to safe cycling practices. Cycling Savvy instructors agenda is primarily to teach safe cycling.

      As long as society allows motor vehicle operators to kill or injure other people and call the incident an accident, we are unlikely to see an operator of any type of vehicle taking responsibility for his actions when it involves a crash or collision.

      Parents allowing their children to bicycle to school in a safe manner are being charged with child endangerment. This is a sad commentary on the overall aspect of safe cycling development.

      Those parents who have researched and learned of safe cycling practices and especially those parents who have taken a Cycling Savvy course are more likely, in my opinion, to provide reasonable instruction to their children. Unfortunately, those numbers are likely to be small in comparison to the population under consideration.

      • Fred,

        Based on my personal first hand experience with motorists I’d have to agree with you in that at least in this country that drivers education is little more then a joke and needs improvement.

        Yes, Cycling Savoy provides this instruction, and it’s not required. Do you really believe that? If that was true, then how do you explain all of the motorists who speed, run traffic control devices, etc., aren’t they “trained?”

        Sadly, these days just about EVERYONE has an agenda. Schools, the police, and scouts, ALL have one distinctive advantage over the average Cycling Savoy instructor. That is that they have the resources to hold bike rodeos and to offer Cycling Savoy (or other bicycle safety classes) that the average instructor doesn’t have. As far as the various organizations inserting their own agenda that is relatively easy to avoid. Here in Florida the FBA works with the various local bike clubs to develop a curriculum. The other states bicycle organizations do the same. Then the various state organizations work with LAB to develop a national curriculum.

        I agree with you on that. Here in the Tampa Bay Area we had an 8-year old girl hit while attempting to cross a busy 6-lane “highway.” Sadly, she ended up dying from her injuries. And even though the investigation is “still on going,” it doesn’t look as if theres going to be any charges filled.

        Again, I have to agree with you, and the reality is that most of these patents themselves rode and/or walked to school as a child. As I am sure did all of the “so called” experts who are “painting” these parents as being “unfit” parents for allowing their kids the same level of freedom that they had as kids.

        And yet again, I have to agree with you. But the “problem” is, is that there aren’t enough Cycling Savoy instructors to go around, as well as those that are “in place,” are having a hard time finding locations to give their classes.

        As I’ve said before I have a friend who is a Cycling Savoy instructor. And he’s told me how difficult it has been to find not only a “classroom,” but a parking lot or other location to give the class. The next problem that they have to deal with, is low turn out.

      • Fred,

        I just found this video:

        In it, it mentions that in the Netherlands starting in Elementary School are taught how to safety operate a bicycle. I think, but I’m not sure, that at a young age they also start to learn how to safely operate an automobile around bicycles.

        If bicycle safety can be taught in school in the Netherlands, then why can’t it also be done here in The States?

        • Is that a rhetorical question?

          • I didn’t study rhetoricals.

            I have dreams/fantasies of Mr. Ebeling’s concepts, but they keep getting destroyed by news reports of parents being arrested for allowing the children to bike to school.

          • Keri,

            It shouldn’t be, but I guess it is. 🙁

        • Fred,

          As I’ve ready said the irony is that these same (and usually) self-proclaimed, so-called “experts,” were walking and riding their bikes to school themselves. About the only thing that has “changed” between then and now is the perception that what they/we did as kids is now somehow “unsafe.”

          Thus mommy and/or daddy driving their “little bundles” of joy to and from school. Again, the irony is, is THAT is what’s making it “unsafe” for kids to either walk and/or ride their bikes to school.

          To that end, not only do I think that it’s a good idea to bring bicycle safety education back to school, but I think the Safe Routes to School is a good idea, as well as encouraging parents to walk/ride with their kids, as well as discouraging parents from driving their kids to school.

          • Fred,

            Also, and I think you’ll agree some of the problems that we’re currently having to deal with are that:

            A) no one is really teaching kids how to safely use their bikes on the public roads
            B) there people, both children AND adults who do not how to safely
            C) a lot of those adults are passing on misinformation to their children
            D) as we all here know cycling is actually safer the riding in a car, but because we have a small minority of cyclists operating their bikes anyway they want it gives people the impression that cycling is more dangerous then it is

            IF we brought bike rodeos and bike education to the schools we could:

            A) teach children how to safely operate their bikes on the public road
            B) educate the public to the fact that cycling and/or walking to school IS safe
            C) schools, parents, Cycling Savoy Instructors, etc. can work with the police, scouts and Safe Routes to Schools to develop safe routes to and from school

            The bottom line is that something HAS to change, and the best way to do that is starting at the school level. So I don’t understand your reluctance to work with organizations that have the resources to facilitate those changes.

  10. Oh, (sorry on smartphone and accidentally tapped the post button) the law enforcement community being educated as to just what the law is in regards to bicycles and their operation on the public roads. As safly just as with cyclists there are too many who are woefully ignorant as to what the law is.

  11. The best way to get rid of a bad law (the absence of an Idaho stop law) may be to enforce it strictly. But it sucks for those caught in the middle.

    • NE,

      I agree that for those “stuck in the middle” as you say it’s a difficult position to be in. But as you said strict enforcement maybe the only way to get a bad law changed.

      Which is why I think it should be very difficult to get a law passed, and very easy to get it repealed.

  12. I picked up a copy of the paper tbt*. They have an article about a car v car crash, presumably this past weekend. In it, it’s clear that one car rear-ended another car. Causing the car that was rear-ended to crash into a local restaurant. There were minor injuries to passengers in both cars, and $5,000.00 in damages to the restaurant. And the driver that rear-ended the car that crashed into the restaurant IS facing charges.

    Whereas, a few years ago, a cyclist driving on a different section of the road gets rear-ended, and killed and there are no charges filed.

    Does anyone else see anything wrong here? In one case we have some minor injuries and property damage, and charges are filed. In the other, a person loses their life and no charges are filed. That’s just wrong.