Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Crossing Against the Red Hand, Are “No Parking Signs at Swim Meets Enforceable + MUCH MORE

August 18, 2014 14:00 pm · 31 comments

Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Every Monday at 2pm on

TRAFFIC JAMMER: Greetings, all! This 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

COMMUTER: This is something I’ve always wondered. Can you get a ticket for crossing on foot at an intersection when the red hand is showing? Even if the light is green?

–Should I stay or should I go?

TRAFFIC JAMMER: That is a great question, SISOSIG. California’s Vehicle Code specifically says, “No pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of the signal … while the “Wait” or “Don’t Walk” or approved “Upraised Hand” symbol is showing.” (If you’re already in the crosswalk, you’re OK.)

Dunno how likely it is that a law enforcement officer would ticket you, SISOSIG; but do remember those signs are there to help you escape getting into a confrontation with several tons of metal that you can’t possibly win.

COMMUTER:I was driving down Cowell Road this weekend and it didn’t take too long to figure out that there was a swim meet in progress! I saw quite a few orange “No Swim Meet Parking” signs posted on side streets. My question is: Are these enforceable, or just wishful thinking on the part of the neighbors?


TRAFFIC JAMMER: Several readers have asked about these signs. The Jammer asked Joan Carrico, Concord’s director of parks and recreation, about it, and here’s her response:

“I have been with the city about nine years; the signs were put in place by my predecessor around 2003 or 2004, around the time Concord Community Pool was renovated and reopened. The city met with neighbors who lived near the pool and agreed to put the signs up on surrounding streets.

The idea was to encourage swim meet attendees to respect the neighbors’ needs by thinking twice about parking on the street.

As to enforceability, it is limited to illegal parking, such as blocking a driveway or parking in a red curb zone. If a car is just parked in front of someone’s house, there’s not much the police department can do about that.

It is a difficult situation. We do everything we can to park as many attendees as we can at the pool, and we encourage attendees to carpool if possible.

The police department and Parks and Recreation are going to meet to discuss other avenues and will also get together with meet organizers to discuss alternatives. One possible alternative would be to use the parking lot at Loma Vista Adult School about a quarter-mile or eighth-mile down on Cowell Road. We could get a permit from the school system and create a shuttle system.

That is tricky, because you must have vans, drivers and insurance. But it’s not impossible. In the meantime, one measure of comfort might be that there are no more than three large meets per year; the smaller meets don’t impact neighborhoods.”

COMMUTER: I was flying down the highway and the spousal unit got annoyed because I was going the regular speed limit – that would be 65 — past signs reading, “55 mph, Construction zone.” There was no sign of any forklifts, cranes or other Caltrans vehicles and no activity going on, so why should I slow down?

–I Can’t Drive 55

TRAFFIC JAMMER: ICD55, the Jammer does see your point. However, even if work isn’t being done, under the law you must observe the posted speed limit.

Commuter: Claycord is full of side-right-hand-turn lanes. By this, I mean the lanes that are next to the right-hand lane as you approach a traffic light at an intersection. They are separated from the right-hand lane by a raised triangular island, and they are a mystery to me.

If I am driving up to a red light, is it legal for me to take the side-right-hand-turn lane and not stop?

Under any circumstances, regardless of the color of the light, is it OK to make a right-hand turn if I’m not in the auxiliary lane to the far right, but just the regular right lane?

—Baffled and Bewildered

TRAFFIC JAMMER:  B&B, thanks for writing in. After poring over the Vehicle Code sections pertaining to right turns, the Jammer turned to Officer Leo, our resident Claycord police officer, for help. Here are Officer Leo’s thoughts:

“First, let me say this: I am not confident that I understand the reader’s description of the turn lane/intersection.  When it comes to traffic enforcement, a seemingly innocuous detail can dictate a ticket/no ticket enforcement.

With that in mind, I am going to respond with some generic information from the most validated sources.

If you are facing a red signal and do not stop, you are subject to citation. There really aren’t many exceptions.  So, I am going to refer directly to the California Department of Motor Vehicles Driver’s Handbook to answer at least part of this question:

Right turn against a red light–Signal and stop for a red traffic light at the marked limit line. If there is no limit line, stop before entering the crosswalk. If there is no crosswalk, stop before entering the intersection. You may turn right if there is no sign to prohibit the turn. Yield to pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, or other vehicles moving on their green light.

No turn against a red arrow – You may not turn right or left against a red arrow.

I think there are two governing sources to cover the second portion of the question. Again, from the Driver’s Handbook:

Right turns – To make a right turn, drive close to the right edge of the road. If there is a bike lane, drive into the bike lane no more than 200 feet before the turn. Watch for bicyclists or motorcyclists who may get between your vehicle and the curb.

And here’s from the Vehicle Code:

Section 22100.  Except as provided in Section 22100.5 or 22101, the driver of any vehicle intending to turn upon a highway shall do so as follows:

(a) Right Turns. Both the approach for a right-hand turn and a right-hand turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway

I would argue that if you’re in the right lane, but there is another lane to your right (albeit separated by a safety island), you’re not “as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge.”

TRAFFIC JAMMER: That’s it for this week – see you next Monday. Be sure to cruise by 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

1 RunnerDope August 18, 2014 at 2:49 PM

>> One possible alternative would be to use the parking lot at Loma Vista Adult School about a quarter-mile or eighth-mile down on Cowell Road.

It’s more than a half-mile.

2 RunnerDope August 18, 2014 at 2:54 PM

>> … one measure of comfort might be that there are no more than three large meets per year; the smaller meets don’t impact neighborhoods.

Well, then just let people park in the surrounding neighborhoods for the three meets. And why is the city complicit in attempting to deceive its citizens? I’m sure the city won’t let me paint the curb in front of my house red, so why are they encouraging this deception?

3 Cracky McGee August 18, 2014 at 3:09 PM

Good to know about the NO SWIM MEET PARKING signs! It’s a free for all now!

4 Sacto Rob August 18, 2014 at 3:46 PM

I’d feel like I was taking my life in my hands walking that far along Cowell road with skinny walkways between Cowell park and the Loma Vista campus. Can you imagine how dangerous that trek would be for families with kids loaded down with wagons full of bottled water, lawn chairs, etc?
Adding a shuttle bus system would be very expensive what with insurance, etc, and be a brutal cost to the families involved.
At the same time I sympathize with park neighbors. How screwed is it that on some of the hottest weekends of the summer you have cars taking the spots in front of your home at the same time your own family is denied use of the pool to accommodate swim meets full of out-of-towners? While renting out the supposed community pool to swim leagues is no doubt a financial boon to the city, Concord residents are getting the short end of the stick. My family moved to Concord in 1972 and I sure don’t remember such massive swim meets back in the day. Maybe it’s time for a policy change that puts the locals first.

5 Dwight Schrute August 18, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Public street…therefore the public can park on it.

You are welcome because I have solved this problem for you…bow to me and call me your king!

– DS

6 ThreeFeet August 18, 2014 at 4:04 PM

What is Claycord doing to educate motorized drivers to the new three foot minimum requirement for passing bicycles that becomes a ticket-able offense in September?

7 Whatt!!!??? August 18, 2014 at 4:36 PM

I can’t believe you actually responded with:

TRAFFIC JAMMER: ICD55, the Jammer does see your point. However, even if work isn’t being done, under the law you must observe the posted speed limit.

The overwhelming opinion on the issue of *legal speed limit* vs *what I want to drive*, (so slow drivers keep left), is that the drivers in CA get to set the speed limit. The posted signs mean nothing, unless a cop is bored and wants to give a ticket. Anyone who believes in following the posted speed limit is just dumped on by all the readers (and kinda by you too, Janis).

8 Whatt!!!??? August 18, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Oh, sorry, I meant (so slow drivers keep RIGHT). My bad.

9 Janis Mara August 18, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Why, @ThreeFeet #6, good on you for bringing this up. Here’s a link to a story with the basics. More to come.

10 Shiloh August 18, 2014 at 4:49 PM

The best thing to do, if you live near Cowell pool, is to park your own vehicle in front of your house the night before a big swim meet. Then, if you have guests, they can park in your driveway.

11 Melanie August 18, 2014 at 4:56 PM

I can’t believe all of the people complaining about swim meet parking! I live on one of the side streets by the pool, and it is absolutely no big deal. Large meets occur 3-4 times/year. Look at it this way: those are nice families with healthy, active kids. Those kids will not vandalize or burglarize your house or cars. They are too busy exercising to get into trouble. We should encourage that. I invite people to park in front of my house and offer to shuttle them to the pool if they have a lot of stuff. It’s called being a good neighbor and giving our city a good name. The city makes a tremendous amount of money during swim meet weekends (hotels, restaurants, stores, etc) that helps to support our economy. Plus the City of Concord has a lot of serious REAL crime that I would rather they worry about.

Here is what you should do on swim meet weekends: drive slowly and safely, don’t let your children play in the street, if you don’t want parking in front of your house put up cones. Most people will find that if they act welcoming to these nice families, they will personally feel better. If you don’t let something ruin your day, it won’t.

12 RunnerDope August 18, 2014 at 5:04 PM

>> What is Claycord doing to educate motorized drivers to the new three foot minimum requirement for passing bicycles …

Shoot, where am I gonna get another foot?

13 Janis Mara August 18, 2014 at 5:20 PM

@RunnerDope #12, get with the program and stop complaining. Your attitude is not bicycle-friendly. If all else fails you can just walk on your feet and one hand and put a shoe on the hand.

14 MrDioji August 18, 2014 at 5:23 PM

Regarding the speed limit when there is no construction:
there is also the possibility that surveyors, engineers, etc. may be doing something in the construction zone even when there is not heavy construction occurring. Please obey the speed limits at all times – like going 65 instead of the usual 75 :-)

15 NoMoreFreeRide August 18, 2014 at 5:24 PM

@Melanie – Thank you

16 Dorothy August 18, 2014 at 5:43 PM

Regarding that 3 foot rule and bicyclist: What the heck do you do on a two way, two lane street with bike lanes on both sides and the bicyclist rides ON the line nearest the cars? Some of them not only need to learn how to ride their bikes but be made aware of the rules of the road also apply to them.

That said, I have noticed that more bicyclist are obeying traffic laws at stop signs and cross walks.

17 I'm The Urban Spaceman August 18, 2014 at 6:22 PM


Add a double yellow line to your scenario…

18 Silva August 18, 2014 at 6:53 PM

Again regarding the 3 foot rule; On several occasions while driving on 2 lane winding roads, I’ve come around a curve and immediately encountered cyclists on my side and oncoming traffic on the other with no wiggle room for anyone. I’ve just had to squeeze through, on top of the double yellow line yet not crossing it. I doubt that the cyclists had more than 2 feet if that much. I’ve been driving more years than I want to say, and I always give cyclists as wide a berth as possible, even driving on the other side of the road when I can, but in some instances this rule is impossible to follow.

19 tredogandi August 18, 2014 at 8:19 PM

@ Melanie Thank you for a thoughtful response to an underwhelming problem. I’m glad to be your neighbor.

20 Teacher Wannabe August 18, 2014 at 8:23 PM

@Silva #18. I apprecate the attempt to try to work with bikes. I know its difficult in some situations. Not much “wiggle room”. I’ve been buzzed intentionaly, yelled at, etc. for no other reason than that I’m riding my bike. In general the attitude toward bikes by many drivers in the US is negative. Big difference when compared with the Netherlands.

@Janis #13, thanks for the support also.

21 death August 18, 2014 at 9:13 PM

per the cvc, funeral trains do not have to stop at a red light if the first car is already through.

22 anon August 18, 2014 at 10:18 PM

Is it legal for people to put cones outside their houses just because they don’t want the public to park on a public street traffic jammer???

23 Momsence August 19, 2014 at 12:09 AM

@ Sacto Rob #4.
Not sure about solutions to parking limitations. I do agree that walk from Loma Vista campus is too far a distance and dangerous (especially at sunrise and sunset/sun in drivers eyes.) As for size of swim meets; I disagree. Born (1969) and raised in Concord, have lived all but 2 years in neighborhoods off of Cowell Road. Swim lessons there as a child, volunteered and first job at pool as teenager. Take my kids there now for lessons. I remember swim meets and events as much larger when I was child and teenager. Campers, tents in the park, cars parked up on the El Monte Elem. Campus (also was my school.) The pool was originally build to accommodate Olympic trials; platform diving boards and much deeper deep end. These featured were some that were remodeled “away” during aforementioned renovation in ’03 or ’04 by Parks and Rec. Director Joan Carrico. I assumed these changes were made to save money; decrease insurance liability and costs associated with larger water capacity. This also would limit the size of events the pool was able to accommodate. As for parking in surrounding neighborhoods; seems like lot more cars in St. Francis neighborhood in earlier days. As for the “right” attitude; a big Thank You to Melanie #11. We should all have more neighbors and Claycordians like this.

24 RunnerDope August 19, 2014 at 12:14 AM

>> per the cvc, funeral trains do not have to stop at a red light if the first car is already through.


Not in California.

25 Cracky McGee August 19, 2014 at 7:11 AM

We’ll said Melanie!

26 Connie Dobbs August 19, 2014 at 7:38 AM

#24 Strike a blow for the rule of law and ram the next funeral procession you see running the light.

27 Cowellian August 19, 2014 at 8:33 AM

I think that’s the case most everywhere. Here in the South, traffic in both directions usually stops as a funeral procession passes. It’s not the law, but it is a widely adopted custom.

28 BusBoy August 19, 2014 at 9:19 AM

@ RunnerDope #24

Unless its a LEO procession… mess with that and youll get a ticket.

29 Suzie August 19, 2014 at 12:37 PM

@melanie. Give me your address so I can put your address on the large SUV’s that block driveways, leave trash, and have people who dart out in the street having you almost kill them with your vehicle. I’m sorry why should I be hospitable to rude people from other cities? There are people constantly jaywalking on Cowell, and making illegal left turns from the park exit. Oh it’s called “being a good neighbor”? NO THANKS!

30 jp5air August 19, 2014 at 7:24 PM


What is up with the never ending road work/construction at The Crossings at Buskirk and Monument in Pleasant Hill? They have had lanes blocked for months. Seems like it is taking way too long with no sense of urgency to finish?

31 To Baffled and Bewildered August 19, 2014 at 9:53 PM

The answer to your question is NO. You do not have to stop when separated by a triangular island making a right turn. Traffic officers call that a “pork chop” island. However you DO have to yield to cars on the highway (street) you’re turning on to. Usually there is a triangular “yield” sign posted at these locations. But coming to a complete stop? Not required.

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