Here are questions from Road Warrior readers:
What happened to the sidewalks?
Construction just finished on Shiloh Road west of Highway 101 in Windsor. They seem to have left pedestrians out during this recent construction. All existing sidewalks were in the north side of Shiloh Road this includes both the area in front of the Wyndham Resort and the highway overpass. The south side of the road has very narrow shoulders with (in some cases) not even a bike lane. The new section that was recently completed runs west from the south side offramp, and includes a sidewalk on the south side of the road (opposite all existing sidewalks). Pedestrians are left to cross 3-4 lanes of traffic, including drivers exiting the freeway and a hill crest within
200 feet, with no crosswalk to move between sidewalks. There is no safe way for pedestrians to travel this stretch of road that was obviously important enough to include sidewalks.
The answer comes from Richard W. Burtt, Windsor’s public works director/town engineer: “There are several unimproved parcels along Shiloh Rd. where a sidewalk was not installed because the right of way has not been dedicated to the town. Typically, the public improvements for unimproved parcels are installed when the parcels are developed. These improvements include sidewalk, curb and gutter, street paving and trees, as examples. The Shiloh Rd. project reconstructed and widened the roadway between Caletti Ave. and the railroad crossing. A double arch culvert bridges Pruitt Creek, the railroad crossing was upgraded, the intersection of Conde Ln. and Shiloh Rd. was realigned and signalized, street lighting was installed and bike lanes were included. Sidewalk was installed on the south side of Shiloh Rd. because the property owner paid for those improvements and the Town of Windsor funded the remainder of the work. The traffic signal installed at the southbound Shiloh Rd. offramp and 101 highway was installed by Caltrans. This part of town is in transition with several properties yet to be developed. In these cases there is discontinuity in some of public improvements, like roadway width and sidewalks. We hope that with these improvement on Shiloh Rd. that further development will occur that will promote the full improvement of this area.”
Car vs. pedestrians and double-yellow lines
Driving on Petaluma’s roads is getting risky. Cleveland Lane going from Bodega Avenue south to Western Avenue is one of those dangerous ones. Lots of pedestrians who feel safe walking 2 abreast toward traffic. The road is barely wide enough for a car or truck. So I must drive over the double yellow lines to avoid hitting the pedestrians. Paula Lane is another risky road. Mothers with their babies in the jogger-stroller feel safe heading into traffic. If there is oncoming traffic, I must stop and wait till clear to drive over the double yellow lines. This is not a share the road issue. They are forcing the issue of right-a-way. Please let me know the rules.
The answer is that your choice is to drive over the double-yellow lines when absolutely safe or stop and wait for the pedestrians to pass you. To me it’s not a question of right of way but rather one of safety. If the pedestrians aren’t watching out for themselves, then you have to.
There have been efforts in the Legislature to allow drivers to cross over double-yellows to pass bicyclists, and they’ve been rejected by Gov. Jerry Brown. But out in rural areas drivers do it all of the time to pass bicyclists, and few, if any, officers would ticket you for doing that to pass cyclists or pedestrians as long as you do it safely.
Can police ignore traffic laws?
I saw two Santa Rosa police motor officers riding side by side on Guerneville Road headed east as they came to a stop in the lane next to me at Marlow Road on at about 3:45 p.m. on a Monday. Being a motorcyclist most of my life and a CA resident since 1971, I noticed both officers’s motorcycles had no headlights or tail lights on.
As we waited for the red light to change I asked the officer closest to me why they’re headlights were off because, as I understood it, all moving motorcycles on public streets must have headlights turned on. The officer replied that there is no law requiring headlights to be on for motorcycles and they do it to appear less noticeable. But then his partner said something to him and the first officer turned back to me and said, “I stand corrected. All bikes after 1973 have to.”
With that, the light changed to green and off they went with no headlights or tail lights on.
I realize there are a few things officers are allowed to do that the rest of us drivers cannot do, such as talk on cellphones. But I am increasingly witnessing law enforcement breaking traffic laws for absolutely no apparent reason other than they can without consequence (including observing a SCSO patrol car cruise through a red light late at night without even slowing down; not in a hurry, no lights, just lazy).
I believe obeying the laws of our land is increasingly becoming a personal option when it’s convenient and that includes law enforcement and public officials. So what do you think?
For the answer to the motorcycle issue, I direct you to California Vehicle Code Section 25650.5: “Every motorcycle manufactured and first registered on and after January 1, 1978, shall be equipped with at least one and not more than two headlamps which automatically turn on when the engine of the motorcycle is started and which remain lighted as long as the engine is running. This section does not preclude equipping motorcycles used as authorized emergency vehicles with a switch to be used to turn off the headlamp during emergency situations or when the light would interfere with law enforcement, if the switch is removed prior to resale of the motorcycle.”
The Vehicle Code also excludes police and other public safety workers from the hands-free cellphone law while driving an emergency vehicle in the course of their duties. Unfortunately, not all do.
I would like police officers to set an example for other drivers when out on the road, but I also am happy to grant them some slack. They should use their turn signals (I’ve been told that they don’t so as not to tip off possible traffic violators they’re following. Really?), but if a CHP zips by me on 101, I don’t mind. I figure either he’s going to a call and if I needed help, I’d want it asap. Or perhaps he’s just cruising along to look for traffic violators. After all, the officer is not going to catch anyone if he’s going 65 next to me and the rest of the traffic.
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