Andrew Bamberg ran a stop sign, presented photos of a different intersection to “prove” the absence of a stop sign and then — when a traffic engineer offered to take a look at the intersection — switched street signs around to confuse the court.
The 42-year-old former car salesman was sentenced in San Mateo County Superior Court to a year in the county jail after he was convicted of three felonies – two counts of perjury and one of preparing false evidence – for trying to dodge a traffic ticket by taking photos of another intersection and then lying about it in court.
Bamberg was driving on Whipple Avenue in Redwood City when he allegedly ran a stop sign at King Street. Bamberg argued he had stopped at the sign at the intersection of Whipple and Copley avenues, but had not stopped at the intersection of Whipple and King because there was no stop sign.
In fact, King Street and Copley Avenue are the same street, but the name changes at Whipple Avenue – something prosecutors believe Bamberg tried to obscure when he was making his argument. The intersection is a four-way stop.
Bamberg, who was then representing himself, offered five black-and-white photos in his defense at a May 10, 2005, trial in traffic court, two of which he said showed no stop sign at King Street, according to court documents. Traffic Commissioner Susan Greenberg suspected those two photos were not of the relevant intersection but from one block away.
When Greenberg said she would go to the scene herself to investigate, prosecutors suspect Bamberg replaced the King Street sign at the Whipple Avenue intersection with one from Copley – essentially erasing any trace of the intersection of King and Whipple – in an attempt to confuse her.
I’m not familiar with this intersection in Redwood City, but Google Maps shows me a residential thoroughfare. I’d guess the four way stop is in place to slow traffic, and this abuse of stop signs leads poor stop compliance at these intersections. Bamberg probably got what he deserved when he tried to fool the court, but there are plenty of reasons to fight failure to stop tickets at these kinds of intersections. Multiway stops are appropriate for high volume streets, where there are a high number of accidents, where there are problems with visibility, or from balanced traffic volume at intersections. In most other cases, 4-way sstops are not appropriate because drivers (and cyclists) don’t stop for “unnecessary” stops, stop signs don’t slow speeds and in fact drivers speed up to make up for the perceived lost time, and the unneeded stops increase noise and pollution in the immediate area of the intersection.