From Road Warrior readers, a question about whether it’s OK to drive a bus without passengers in the carpool lane, what to do with an inconsiderate neighbor with a loud Harley, and when the county plans to repave Llano Road, in that netherland between Santa Rosa and the Laguna.

Question: I am wondering if it would be legal for a bus driver to drive solo in the commuter lane during commute hours. Would I be cited by the police if I drove in the commuter lane during the commute hours without any passengers on my para-transit bus? We are often on a tight schedule, and it would be helpful. I have never done it because I don’t want to risk a ticket. – Linda

Answer: No! You need to have at least two breathing human beings in your vehicle to use the carpool lane. Dogs, fetuses and potential passengers do not count. — Jon Sloat, CHP spokesman

Question: We live in a fairly quiet residential neighborhood. All sorts of people live here in relative harmony, including a few motorheads of various kinds (myself included). There are Japanese car fans, old muscle cars, big trucks, motorcycles, etc.  Several people here own Harleys and it’s fine – with a window open I can hear them approaching through an industrial neighborhood clearly enjoying their rides, but when they approach the residential area they respectfully take it easy on the throttle.  They only use what they need to get where they’re going.

Except for one guy, and he’s the source of my question. This guy has no respect at all, and raps hard on his motor all through the several blocks of residential housing to his home.  Even with the windows closed, the sound is jarring.  He’s woken our baby up many, many times as he rides past.

His immediate neighbors clearly fear him and possibly for good reason.  For my part I don’t want to paint all the Harley riders in the neighborhood with the same brush as this guy as I feel that the rest of them are respectful.

Given that, what can be done about the miscreant?  Is this one of those “have to catch him in the act” issues, or can a complaint be filed that will have teeth to it?  – Anon (for obvious reasons)

Answer:  Unfortunately, this is a “catch him in the act” situation as described. If someone can get a license plate number, a warning letter could be sent. If it is a matter of safety where someone could be hurt, then a citizen’s arrest is possible by someone willing to do that. These things aside, people who behave like this and have no regard for others will always screw up and get caught. Always. — Jon Sloat, CHP spokesman

Question: Does the county have plans to repave Llano Road from Todd Road south? The pavement has been completely falling apart on that stretch as far south as the Santa Rosa sewer plant for the past couple of years, and it seems like it’s been much worse this year. They repaved (or chip sealed) Llano north of Todd, and it wasn’t nearly as bad. — John Green, Sebastopol

The answer comes from Tom O’Kane, deputy director of Sonoma County’s Transportation and Public Works Department. “Llano Road south of  Todd certainly needs pavement repairs, but this segment is not included in the 200 miles of the primary road network identified by the Board of Supervisors,” he said. Since 2010, the county has focused long-term maintenance funding on those designated “primary” roads, just 14 percent of the county’s roads. (Read a longer story about that decision HERE.)

O’Kane said an ad hoc committee on roads is considering the priorities for next year, “and there is the potential for this section to be included. But just to be clear, their focus is on the primary road network and connecting links to parks and other areas that stimulate economic activity.” 

In other words, if you want to lobby for your paving project, now’s the time to contact your supervisor.


Follow the Road Warrion on Twitter at @PDRoadWarrior.


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  1. John

    I See plenty of Golden Gate Transit buses that show out of service on their signage and they drive in the carpool lane solo.

    September 9th, 2013 12:00 pm

  2. Road.Warrior

    I just ran this one past Officer Sloat, who said, “They are in violation if there is only one person inside.” Next time you see one, get a plate number and make a report.

    September 9th, 2013 1:13 pm

  3. Scott G

    Regarding the CHP’s answer to the loud, disrespectful Harley driver: this is a classic public nuisance where all or some of the area residents could sign a letter demanding that he slow and quiet down. If he refuses, then he could be sued in small claims court by what’s called a “mass action” (as opposed to a class action). A mass action is where a group of people collectively file separate small claims lawsuits. Video and audio evidence should be submitted, and if 10 people each win $1,000 each (or more) it will probably get his attention.

    September 9th, 2013 1:17 pm

  4. cara

    We’ve got a guy on Raccoon Ln overcompensating with his Harley too. Good luck with that.

    September 9th, 2013 1:57 pm

  5. David Ballo

    There is an exception to the rule “at least two breathing human beings in your vehicle to use the carpool lane”. Single-occupant cars with a green or white Clean Air Vehicle sticker can legally drive in the HOV lanes. These apply to plug-in, fuel-cell, and CNG vehicles. See http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/carpool/carpool.htm for details.

    September 9th, 2013 2:31 pm

  6. Road.Warrior

    Good point, David. Breathing human beings and those working to help all of us keep breathing.

    September 9th, 2013 4:20 pm

  7. Jim

    My brother has a noisy Harley, and I tell him how wrong it is. He does attempt to be quiet some of the time. His argument is the loud noise is only something he uses to alert a motorist of his presence, which is sometimes necessary. I still disagree and there should be a law regarding the maximum decibel level allowed by vehicles, and yes, leaf blowers.

    I have not used Golden Gate Transit in a long time, but do recall on more than one occasion, the driver was going as fast as the bus could go, which seems to be about 83 MPH. Again, this was many years back, but they would also leave the Santa Rosa Transit Mall way too early for the posted schedule. So, it does not shock me to hear they are running an empty bus in the HOV lane.

    I have experienced where transit drivers believe their 40 foot beast puts them above the law. About 8-10 years ago, I was forced out of the crosswalk I had every right to be in, by an out-of-service SR CityBus. I contacted Management, who did nothing about it. I had my green walk light, the bus made a right-hand turn directly into my path. I even made eye contact with the driver, who was a bus fix-it employee, and was still forced to return to the curb.

    As mentioned in another Mailbag article, all the rules should apply to everyone. I also feel only legal CA residents should have the right to drive a vehicle in out state.

    September 18th, 2013 12:04 pm

  8. Katie

    Para-Transit buses are exempt from occupancy requirements. From the Caltrans website: “Motorcycles, public mass transit and para-transit vehicles are also exempted from the occupancy requirement under California Vehicle Code §§21655.5 . Other bus services, such as school bus, charter, or sightseeing transports, are not exempted and must carry the minimum number of occupant to be eligible.”

    October 8th, 2013 6:51 pm

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