Stop signs do not stop most campus bicyclists

By Tom Collins
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 11, 1996

Karen C. Tully
Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA cyclists pedal their bikes straight through a stop sign at East Second Street and North Highland Avenue Sept. 4. Observation of four campus intersections over the past two weeks found that more than 50 percent of bicyclists did not stop at stop signs o n campus.


Campus bicyclists are breaking the law and getting away with it.

More than half of the bicyclists observed by the Arizona Daily Wildcat at various times and locations during the past two weeks did not stop at posted stop signs. Of the 1,025 bicyclists observed, 514 went through the intersections without stopping.

Bicycles, by Arizona statute, are required to obey all traffic signals; thus, bicyclists who do not stop are violating the law, according to Acting Lt. Brian Seastone of the University of Arizona Police Department.

Despite the fact that, in the course of one hour Aug. 30, 180 cyclists did not stop for stop signs at the intersection of North Cherry Avenue and East Speedway Boulevard, Seastone said UAPD issues an average of only 15 traffic tickets to cyclists each mon th. In fact, Seastone said he thought the Wildcat's statistics are lower than the actual percentage of cyclists who run stop signs.

"I would say that's a low number," Seastone said of the statistics.

"Because of our case load, it's difficult to just sit somewhere and do it," Seastone said of citing bicyclists. He said, however, that bicyclists who violate traffic laws and become involved in accidents are at fault.

Besides a normal traffic ticket that would force a cyclist to go to court, university police, its community service officers and security officers, and enforcement officers from Parking and Transportation Services are authorized to issue riders a universi ty citation, which is the equivalent of a parking ticket, Seastone said.

However, Joyce Childers, uniformed bicycle monitor for Parking and Transportation, said moving violation tickets are primarily given by university police community service officers, but CSO's are currently in short supply.

"We never have enough people to enforce everything," Seastone said. He said the department is currently hiring more community service officers.

Seastone said university police deploy officers on bicycles and motorcycles, as well as community service officers, to enforce traffic laws. He said the logistics of police work restrict the amount of time an officer can invest in catching riders.

A police officer in a cruiser, for example, will have a difficult time catching a bicyclist, Seastone said.

Meanwhile, Parking and Transportation bicycle monitors are usually not looking for moving violations, Childers said.

"At Parking and Transportation, we focus on the parking (of bicycles)." Some of the parking violations the department enforces include locking a bicycle to something other than a bike rack and blocking handicap access to buildings.

"I ask people to watch where they're going," Childers said. She said she warns bicyclists on a regular basis, but does not cite them.

"I've never had anyone not listen to me," she said, though she added that while at work that day she " just about got run over."

Charles Gillispie, creative writing senior, said, "When it's really busy, that's when I do stop. Other than that, it seems like an unnecessary formality."

Gillispie said he tends to treat stop signs as yield signs.

But, Seastone said, "It doesn't say yield. It says stop."

At peak times, Gillispie said, it is difficult to stop without fear of causing an accident.

"It's totally insane," Gillispie said of the bicycle traffic situation when classes change.

"I think a lot of people flinch because of the pedestrians and the bikers," Seastone said.

Herb Wagner, health and safety officer with the department of Risk Management and Safety, said, however, that the traffic flow patterns for campus bicycle corridors are approved by Risk Management.

Jesse Showalter, undeclared freshman, said, "I stop, but stay on my bike. It depends - if I'm turning right, sometimes I won't stop at all."

Showalter said he looks out for police officers because he has friends who have been stopped before.

Gillispie said he would be more likely to stop if there was more enforcement of traffic laws. He said he was warned for riding on the sidewalk last year by university police, and he stopped riding on sidewalks.

Seastone said UAPD is planning to change the way it deploys its officers to catch more traffic violators.

"Police oversee the enforcement of traffic laws," Wagner said. "We're hoping people will take responsibility to ride safely."

Although university bicycle statistics could not be obtained yesterday, Tucson Police Department reports showed, in the 12 months preceeding Sept. 1, 53 injury accidents involving bicycles occurred in the area bounded by East Grant Road, East Broadway Roa d, North Sixth Avenue and North Tucson Boulevard.

Wagner said the UA is not liable if a person violating a traffic statute is injured, whether the laws are enforced regularly or not.

"We can't stop the whole world from doing irresponsible things," Wagner said.