Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Every Monday at 2pm on Claycord.com.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Greetings, all! This Claycord.com column is for everyone who negotiates the highways and public transit of the Bay Area. It runs every Monday at 2pm and answers your commuting and transportation questions.
Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
COMMUTER: I was in a crash almost six months ago, but no tickets were issued at the time and the police didn’t ask me to sign anything. To my shock, I just got a $500 ticket in the mail. Is this legal? Why did it take so long for me to get the ticket?
TRAFFIC JAMMER: This is a very interesting question, Puzzled, and the Jammer turned to our resident Claycordian law enforcement officer, also known as Leo, to help shed some light. The answer was surprising to the Jammer and may be surprising to others as well:
“Often tickets are not issued at the scene of a collision. Accidents are not as black-and-white as our patrol vehicles.
The investigating officer collects all the statements (drivers, passengers, and witnesses), measurements, and photos (if any). He or she sees what matches up with his or training and experience. Based on the evidence, a citation can be issued based on the collision.”
COMMUTER: My block, and much of the surrounding area, have sloped curbs. The streets aren’t very wide and anyone who has lived here more than five years and has seen the craziness when the school lets out, parks with their passengers side tires on the curb.
Last week, according to a neighbor, more than one car was ticketed for parking like this.
What’s the scoop? On a curb that has a right angle edge, it’s obvious. But I can’t find anything sloped curbs. Thanks!
–Curb Your Enthusiasm
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Once again, our beloved Officer Leo came to the rescue to help us understand things from the law enforcement perspective. The Jammer initially thought Curb Your Enthusiasm was referring to disabled access ramps, but Officer Leo clarified this. Here are his insights, along with some helpful hints:
“This is a toughie without knowing the neighborhood.
First, as I understand them, sloped curbs are not the ‘ramps,’ my dear TJ, that you describe. Rather, these are the soft or rounded curbs/ gutter combos. I usually see these in neighborhoods that don’t have sidewalks, but do have these ‘improved’ drainage thingamajigs.
I suppose an enthusiastic parking enforcer could cite from Vehicle Code section 22500 which prohibits parking…
(f) On any portion of a sidewalk, or with the body of the vehicle extending over any portion of a sidewalk… Lights, mirrors, or devices that are required to be mounted upon a vehicle under this code may extend from the body of the vehicle over the sidewalk to a distance of not more than 10 inches.
I would only cite this if the vehicles were parked on the “high side” of the slope … and only if the violation was flagrant … like blocking passage of the sidewalk.
In my neck of Claycord, officers only issue these tickets if we are called to the neighborhood. If we are, it’s a philosophy of “cite one; cite all.” That’s another point to remember: if this hasn’t been done before, someone probably called. It’s unlikely it will happen again, but you might just consider this the so-called ‘shot across the bow.’”
COMMUTER: I was stuck in the mother of all traffic jams one morning two weeks ago at the Richmond Bridge. It took more than an hour just to get through the backup to the toll booth. Meanwhile a motorcycle startled the daylights out of me loudly revving his engine as he cruised between the cars to the plaza. Is it really necessary to make things even more miserable for your fellow commuters in such nerve-wracking circumstances?
–Working My Last Nerve
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Yes, if not necessary, it was still probably a good idea, Working My Last Nerve. Consider this: First of all, by lanesplitting (driving in the spaces between the slow-moving cars in the backup), the motorcyclist removed one vehicle – his or hers – from the backup. And the backup is the problem, yes? So the motorcyclist was doing you a favor.
Second, lanesplitting is dangerous. If a car directly in the motorcycle’s path suddenly decided to change lanes, the motorcyclist could be badly injured or killed. Motorcycles can be difficult to see because they are so much smaller than other vehicles on the freeway. So the loud noise served as a warning to car drivers that a lanesplitting motorcycle was coming.
Your question also brings up an important point about maintaining a high visual threshold. As you drive, it’s good to keep aware of everyone immediately in front of you, further ahead of you, on your sides and behind you. Even in a situation like this, a high visual threshold is important. A safety vehicle such as an ambulance might be threading its way through the backup, for example.
If you are constantly scanning the area around you, the motorcycle won’t come as such a shock, because you’ll likely see it before you hear it.
Lanesplitting is not against the law in California. Some tips on how to handle it:
When you see a motorcycle coming up on you or passing you splitting the lane, check your mirrors. If it’s safe, ease over and give them some more room to pass safely. You’re more likely to see them in the carpool lane, as they are legally allowed to ride there. To learn more about lane-splitting, check out www.laneshare.org.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: That’s it for this week – see you next Monday. Be sure to cruise by Claycord.com at 2pm for more traffic intelligence. Remember, whether you drive, walk, bike or hop Amtrak, BART or AC Transit, Traffic Jammer Janis Mara is here to answer your questions.
Send your questions to email@example.com