Widgets Magazine

Police issue more tickets to cut crashes

Bill Larson, spokesman for the Stanford Department of Public Safety (SUDPS), confirmed that the Stanford police department has recently increased its efforts regarding bicycle safety and education in an effort to reduce the number of collisions on campus.


Larson noted, however, that “bike enforcement is [an ongoing] part of our education of the Stanford community to obey traffic laws,” and that enforcement efforts periodically increase throughout the year, especially during times such as New Student Orientation (NSO).


SUDPS Chief Laura Wilson said an in email to The Daily that the increased patrols by Stanford sheriffs are in response to concerns raised by, among others, members of the Board of Trustees and the University Cabinet. According to Wilson, education-based bike safety programs had previously failed to change the actual behavior of bikers around campus.


Enforcement has increased around the intersections of Campus Drive and Escondido Road, Lomita Drive and Santa Teresa Street and Serra Street and Galvez Street.


Larson emphasized that the increased time spent on bicycle safety has not necessitated redeployment of deputies from other tasks – a particularly salient point following two assaults reported on campus this past weekend.


Larson said that enforcement efforts have been predominantly situated in response to observations and complaints from the community.


While cycling violations, the most common of which are stop-sign infringements, can be penalized by fines ranging from $100 to $200, students are often offered a choice between paying a monetary fine and attending a bike “diversion” program intended to educate students about bike safety.


“We have always enforced cycling laws on campus,” said Deputy Allen James, the program’s coordinator and developer. “We hope that by enforcing the laws and educating the community, we can change the whole bicycling environment.”


The hour-long class, which is offered twice a month, is a collaboration between the SUDPS and Parking & Transportation and was created in 2011. The program is free and open to all students, but repeat offenders are barred from attending the class again within 18 months.


John Burke ’14 was at the most recent class in the Parking and Transportation building, along with about 50 other students.


“They talked a bunch about various rules involving lane changes and what to do at intersections,” said Burke, who received a ticket for not having a bike light. The instructor “told a couple stories of bad accidents he’d seen, and told us it’s not that uncommon to have bike accidents and get hurt in them.”


Burke noted that the class didn’t teach him anything new, however it did serve to remind him that biking is not as safe as students sometimes think it is.


“The bike diversion program offers an opportunity,” James said, “to change a punitive endeavor into an educational situation.”


James noted that a significant majority of students cited on campus choose to attend the class rather than pay a fine. He added that, while there is no data to suggest conclusively that ticketing levels have fallen, feedback for the program has been almost entirely positive.


“The program’s been very successful for the University,” James said. “It’s good for our community, and we’re very proud of it.”

Brendan O’Byrne contributed to this report.

About Marshall Watkins

Marshall Watkins is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily, having previously worked as the paper's executive editor and as the managing editor of news. Marshall is a junior from London majoring in Economics, and can be reached at mtwatkins "at" stanford "dot" edu.
  • •  Great way to avoid dealing with the problem of speeding cars.

  • Student

    I am tired of the police and their incompetence at this school!

  • Jbrooks

    Detail about the accidents and their rate of increase is sorely lacking. Hard to assess an action without knowing the problem it is attempting to solve.

  • ’10

    I mean, this happens every few months. Even as a biker I’ve had my share of bad bikers who whiz through stop signs and almost run into me (when I’m on bike), or who don’t have a light  and are on the wrong side of the street and who I almost run into (because apparently they don’t see me with my light). So yeah, how else are you gonna get college kids to bike safely?

  • Cyclist69420

    Collisions on campus are frequent and always have been. I remember talking to an alum who went here in the 60s about how getting in a bike crash is almost like a right of passage at Stanford. I personally consider myself an excellent biker, have participated in both mountain and road races, and previously worked in a bike store, and I too have gotten in numerous accidents. What the committee of public safety here fails to realize is that avoiding bike collisions on campus comes as a consequence of being an experienced and confident biker, not because kids are coasting through stop signs. Last week I watched 2 freshmen girls get pulled over and ticketed for going about 5 miles per hour through a stop sign with no other cars or bikers in site. They were minding their own business, just trying to get to class, and in no way exhibiting reckless or irresponsible biking behavior. There is no feasible way to track collisions on campus, but I highly, highly doubt these measures are decreasing the amount of collisions. What I do think these new measures of cracking down on bikers is accomplishing is creating a sense of trepidation when biking around campus, and overall adding to the poor image the police department have in the community. While this article may feature a number of quotes from those in charge of safety at the school, the quotes I have encountered in regards to the bike tickets being issued are far more profane and generally all carry a tone of resentment towards the police. While I’m all for biker safety, I’d like to see the policemen approach this issue  in a more reasonable manner. If people are flying through stop signs, not using bike lights on busy streets, and being reckless then they should be reprimanded and sit a class on bike safety. But, if students coast through a stop sign when nobody else is around, or are biking cautiously (on the usually empty streets) inside campus after dark without a light, then ticketing these students is creating a negative perception of police in the community rather than promoting safety as this initiative claims to do. I similarly have a problem with the fact that policemen are willing to camp out and hide in the dark in order to pounce and bust kids for not having bike lights, but aren’t willing to perform similar measures to try and stop the rampant bike theft that occurs at night on this campus. Bike accidents will continue on this campus forever, but it’s yet to be seen whether police camping out to ticket students trying to get to class will. At the very least I’d like to see a little more common sense and thought put into these “community safety” measures, and a little friendlier approach from those “protecting us.”

  • Rose

    You just don’t get it!  The use of bicycles on campus is governed by the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles.  The Stanford University campus is not excluded from those rules.
    Here is a quote from their handbook:

    Bicycle Rules and Safety

    Bicycles riders (cyclists) on public streets have the same rights and
    responsibilities as automobile drivers and are subject to the same rules
    and regulations as any other vehicle on the road.Bicycles
    Are entitled to share the road with motor vehicles.Have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicle and motorcycle drivers.Must obey all traffic signals and
    stop signs.Are lawfully permitted
    to ride on
    certain sections of
    roadway in rural
    areas where there
    is no alternate route.Must ride in the same direction as
    other traffic, not against it.Shall ride as near to the right curb
    or edge of the roadway as practical–
    not on the sidewalk.Are legally allowed to ride in the
    center of the lane when moving
    at the same speed as other traffic.May move left to pass a parked or
    moving vehicle, bicycle, animal,
    or avoid debris or other hazards.May choose to ride near the left
    curb or edge of a one-way street.Should ride single file on a busy
    or narrow street.Must make left and right turns
    in the same way drivers do,
    using the same turn lanes. If the
    bicyclist is traveling straight
    ahead, he or she should use a
    through traffic lane rather than
    ride next to the curb and block
    traffic making right turns.Must signal all their intentions
    to motorists and bicyclists near
    them.Must wear a helmet if under the
    age of 18.Should carry identification.Shall not operate a bicycle on a
    roadway unless
    the bicycle is equipped with:
    A brake which will enable the
    operator to make one braked
    wheel skid on dry, level, clean
    pavement. During darkness, bicyclists must
    have the following equipment:
    A front lamp emitting a white
    light visible from a distance of
    300 feet.
    A rear red reflector visible
    from a distance of 500 feet.
    A white or yellow reflector on
    each pedal or on the bicyclist’s
    shoes or ankles visible from a
    distance of 200 feet.Your argument about those 2 girls being cited for failing to stop at a stop sign when no one else is there and  “were minding their own business, just trying to get to class, and
    in no way exhibiting reckless or irresponsible biking behavior” and equating it simply to police harrassment is laughable.  Would you say the same applies to cars or motorcycles using the same arguement?
    When it comes right down to it bicyclists on campus have been a priviledged lot.  Even the police felt so sorry for the poor student and the high cost of a fine that they let it go.  Gee, I feel sorry for them.Didn’t do them any favors in the long run.  If an offender keeps breaking the law and getting away with it – why should he all of a sudden change of his own accord and becaome a non-offender?I think the police are doing a splendid job considering they have to deal with thousands upon thousands of people who are supposed to be among the top young minds in the country. Based some of their quotes in the articles in question and conversations I can’t fail to overhear as they walk (or bike) around with a communications device held to their ear, I wonder how they ever got in.I have been a Stanford staff member for 32+ years.  I do not drive around campus in my car anymore because I’m afraid to.  I’m also getting afraid to walk around campus because of bicyclists.Let them share the road, not just with cars, but with pedestrains as well.  Let them take responsibility and pay!