For a college town like Berkeley, it can be pretty dangerous to bike, walk, and drive anywhere. A lot of rule-breaking seems to be at the root of this road anxiety.
Drivers have to look out for swarms of jaywalking students and swerving cyclists. Pedestrians need to stay alert for cyclists coming up from behind at very quick speeds. And because cyclists in Berkeley share both the road with cars and the sidewalks with pedestrians, they are in as much danger of hitting a pedestrian listening to their iPod as they are of getting hit by hurried drivers.
So far this year, 129 bicyclists have been injured in Berkeley. President David Campbell of the Bicycle Berkeley-Friendly Coalition suggests that reckless riding might be one reason for accidents. According to Campbell in a recent Oakland Tribune article
, many cyclists don’t follow road rules because they have never learned them. Because unlike driving, where a test and a license are required, cyclists need only a bike to start roaming the streets.
As a result of complaints from the community, Berkeley police have been on the lookout for rule-breaking riders with citations ready. Last Thursday, within just two hours, officers handed out 19 citations, some costing cyclists more than $200.
Berkeley police are hopeful that this crackdown will encourage cyclists to pay attention to the rules. And to aid in their mission, the BBFC
is offering free classes to teach rules of riding, the basics of which are, “Stop at stop signs, yield to pedestrians, stop at red lights, don’t ride on the sidewalk and don’t ride in crosswalks.”