Portola Valley, California is a wealthy town nestled in the hills of the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco. With an average median income of $244,000 per year, it’s the sixth wealthiest community in California with the ninth most expensive housing in the nation.
It’s also a great place to ride. Residents of Portola Valley and nearby Woodside perpetually complain about the weekend traffic jams as hundreds of road cyclists pass through their towns. When the wealthy residents of this area (including the CEO of my employer, who also happens to be the fifth-richest individual in the world) ask San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks to intervene, the sheriff listens.
They can’t legally keep bikes off of California roads, so they harass them with nuisance tickets
because safety in the hopes that the cyclists will go somewhere else. Large groups of a dozen or more people will be pulled over at once and motorcycle officers write citations for all the cyclists. Some of tickets — especially those for supposed violations of CVC 21202 (California’s keep far to the right law) — are routinely dismissed by the court. Others are bona fide violations, especially when cyclists roll through the stop sign as they make the right turn at the T-intersection from Alpine Road onto Portola Road.
Sure, cyclists should obey the law. The selective nature of these enforcement actions, however, really grates on the people affected. Cyclists are routinely ticketed, motorists are routinely let off the hook.
In case you doubt the assertion that everybody breaks the law on Alpine at Portola, I invite you to view this brief video from Slonie. Unlike the two cyclists shown in the Streetview image above who have their feet down at the intersection in spite of the complete lack of cross traffic, every one of the drivers in this video fails to come to a complete stop at the stop sign.
So how about it, Sheriff Munks? When will you begin to write tickets to these motorists?