Kansas University police are stepping up efforts to raise cyclist’s awareness of traffic laws on campus. They are issuing warnings and fines for stop sign violations and other infractions.
In August, four new stop signs were installed around campus. According to a statement issued by the KU Public Safety Office, the signs purposes are “regulating traffic” and “increasing pedestrian safety.”
KU Public Safety officers, who have previously issued only warnings to cyclists who fail to abide by traffic laws, have begun issuing citations to bicycling violators. A stop sign violation can cost perpetrators up to $120.
A story from the University Daily Kansan, Stop signs befuddle cyclists, relates the story of KU student Max Kozak, who was ticketed for running a stop sign on campus. “You’d think a cop would have something better to do than ticket somebody on a bicycle,” said Kozak. “Does KU really need the money? It’s absolute bullshit.”
In a later letter to the editor, Kozak was unrepentant:
“Yes, I got pulled over on my bike. If you were on campus and witnessed this, please laugh it up. Although I thought it was hilarious, the officer did not. He informed me that I was indeed endangering lives by “failing to yield at a stop sign.”
Students: please learn from my $130 mistake. The University obviously doesn’t have enough money. Now it seems like we are in the middle of a war between the University police department and the KU Parking Department to see which can give out the most ridiculous tickets.
Another KU cyclist, Andrew Blann, said “I don’t see a problem with going through the stop sign. As long as you’re slowing down and paying attention, I don’t think you should have to stop.”
Sorry, guys. You’re wrong. You need to stop. Someone riding a bicycle has the same responsibility for obeying traffic laws as do motorists.
Diane Novak, a member of the cycling organization KanBikeWalk, which promotes bicycling safety and environmental issues, said the issue was black and white for her.
“The rules of the road are the rules of the road,” Novak said. “They’re rules for everybody.”
Novak, who identified herself as a 24-year cyclist who always stopped at stop signs, said that cyclists needed to obey traffic laws if they wanted motorists to respect their presence on the roads.
“It has to be a two-way street for everybody,” Novak said.
On the other hand, there is some support for Idaho-style laws, where cyclists would be able to treat stop signs as yield signs, and red lights as stop signs. That would certainly make some sense, as it would essentially legitimize existing behavior — which, though technically illegal, is largely safe — rather than force car-centric laws on bicyclists.
However, as it is now, everyone is required to stop at stop signs, cyclists and motorists alike. That’s the law. If you break the law, you shouldn’t be surprised or outraged when you get a ticket.