Appeal won! A small but significant step toward re-training Sheriff and traffic enforcement personnel in general where and when bicycling may legally occur – “in the way” when warranted. We should provide a loud Thank you to Ron Lacy for making the significant effort to bring this about.
Now it’s important for us to help anyone bicycling to Ride Right; but not too far to the right. And if cited while doing it right, to consult with SDCBC locally or CABO Statewide, to determine when to fight back. Please spread this information to your club, friends, family, etc.
Here’s what just occurred.
This morning, July 18th, I sat through several traffic court appeal hearings at SD Superior Court under Superior Court Judge Kelly Wells. I was there to observe and provide moral support to Ron Lacy for his appeal of a CVC 21202 citation he had been given by SD Sheriff Officer Garcia. Ron had been cited on southbound Pacific Coast Highway south of Swamis for not riding as far to the right per CVC 21202. Officer Garcia claimed that Ron riding slightly to the right of the center of the number 2 (outside) lane was illegally positioned and that this was further established as illegal since another bicyclist road next to and by Ron on his right – that bicyclist thereby being as far right as required. At that trial expert (LCI trained) witness testimony was provided by SDCBC’s Board member Serge Issakov – Serge is also active as an Area Director for CABO. Trial Commissioner/Pro Temp Judge Codaz found Ron guilty. Ron paid his fine and decided to appeal that court’s decision – he didn’t think that he’d been treated fairly, that there was evidently bias against him as a bicyclist, and that the commissioner and Sheriff were not applying the law accurately.
Today Superior Court Judge Wells decided in favor of Ron’s appeal, reversing the decision of the Commissioner. The judge stated that the testimony of Ron and the expert witness about the exceptions to the “… ride as far to the right as practicable” law, CVC 21202 (copied in full below) were not rebutted at the original trail, that riding “in the door zone” can be considered a potential hazard that it is appropriate to avoid by riding further out into a lane. Ron and you won another step toward proving our roadway use rights!
It may be that Judge Wells was more likely to be amenable to considering Ron’s lane positioning as reasonable since, as she stated, she and her husband ride bicycles (“my husband is an avid bicyclist”) and are aware of the lane positioning issues. We’d do well to encourage more traffic enforcement personnel to become bicyclists, familiar with traffic laws and best practices; cops, sheriffs, commissioners, judges, attorneys.
Some notes of the appeal hearing:
1. There was no evidence presented at the original trial that the exceptions in 21202 did not apply; there was no rebuttal to Ron and the expert witnesses assertion that the exceptions were applicable.
2. The opposing attorney tried to bring up that Ron was not riding single-file when the other bicyclist was next to him; the judge state that there is no CVC against two-abreast riding… that single-file riding is not required.
3. The opposing attorney mentioned that Ron was impeding other traffic – a fact disputed by Ron’s testimony (and Ron was not cited for CVC 22400)
4. The opposing attorney was asked by Judge Wells if she was a bike rider; the attorney said she rode a bike but not much in traffic.
5. The judge would not accept that there was any evidence at the original trail establishing that there was bias shown by the Commissioner or the Sheriff Officer (maybe the reversal of the verdict will send a message to Garcia and Codaz).
5. Judge Wells suggested that bicycling advocates might pursue legislative changes and more Bike Lanes to help make roadway positioning rules more clear.
I recommend that we all make all our bicycling associates to ride lawfully but is cited inappropriately, to contact SDCBC or CABO to discuss options; fighting bad tickets is one way to turn around the bias against our roadway rights.
CVC 21202. (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:
(1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
(2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
(3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
(4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.
(b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway of a highway, which highway carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of that roadway as practicable.
Amended Sec. 4, Ch. 674, Stats. 1996. Effective January 1, 1997.
San Diego, CA