Dallas' Months-Old Cyclist Protection Law Isn't Being Enforced, Records Show

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You're on your own, guys.
It's been eight months since the Dallas City Council passed new rules forcing drivers to be nice to cyclists. It's been six months since the short-lived, ill-conceived public education campaign. It's been almost a year since some asshole shot up me and my bike with paintballs.

So, what has become of the city's effort to make the city safe for bicycles?

See also: City Hall Wants to Make It Clear to Drivers: Don't Be a Dick to Cyclists

Apparently nothing. We filed an open records request with the city to see how many citations have been issued under the new vulnerable-road-user law, which levies a $300 fine on motorists caught unsafely passing, cutting off, throwing things at or otherwise endangering the health and welfare of cyclists. It turned up nothing.

Maybe Dallas cops are still in the education phase and are issuing stern warnings. Maybe Dallas drivers have learned to not act like Dallas drivers when there's a squad car nearby. Maybe DPD decided it has more important things to focus on.

See also: Here's Dallas' New Campaign to Make Drivers Be More Courteous to Cyclists

That last bit is true to an extent, but the vulnerable-road-user law was touted as a tool to help improve public safety. What good is a tool if you never use it?

We've reached out to city spokesman Frank Librio for a response.


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67 comments
r.bryantgoodall
r.bryantgoodall

One thing seems to be forgotten here: It's much easier to kill someone with a car than a bike...

brigi_jordan
brigi_jordan

Well, if the DPD don't see it happen no summons will probably be issued.  I was hit on Winsted at the Loving intersection by a car turning left.  I was going straight towards him and he did not yield.  He admitted it and the DPD said if they don't see it they will not ticket.  So YMMV as far as a motorist getting ticketed for almost killing you.  I was lucky and saw what was about to happen and tried to ride away from the car.  

David Worthington
David Worthington

MOST, not all but most instances of cyclists choosing to forgo common traffic laws are not only for safety reasons but also as a courtesy to motorists though few realize that. Some states already have laws that apply different rules to cyclists at stop signs and red lights for example. In my own experience I've learned the times it is actually safer to "take the lane" and slow traffic than to rely on drivers to safely pass.

CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

While running around White Rock Lake, I've seen DPD pull over motorists passing cyclists unsafely (Is that a word? Shit, too tired to care.). Guess they're only giving out warnings.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart

Jaywalking - yes. Pan handling - no. Your car is a weapon of mass distruction against a cyclist. Only takes an impact at 35 mph to detach the brain from the stem & kill a human.

Kristin Scott Dorsey
Kristin Scott Dorsey

Yes, but abiding by the rules. As stated above clearly, the ones I have encountered were not abiding by the laws set in place. Again, the ones I have encountered..........

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

There are two givens here: 1) Dallas motorists are, with precious few exceptions, self-absorbed, oblivious and a menace to themselves and others most of the time; 2) The only difference between Dallas motorists and Dallas cyclists is the method of conveyance.  Cyclists ride the way drivers drive and drivers drive the cyclists ride.  They deserve each other.  (as a Dallas driver, unfortunately, I include myself in this analysis)

Luckily for me, and the cyclists I encounter, there is no place in Dallas I'm in a particular hurry to be at any given time.  I don't care who else is in a hurry, because I learned long ago that there is some mysterious traffic cam dispatch consortium that constantly reroutes blue-hairs and other tedious drivers into my path.  I won't ride a bike in Dallas because I've seen the way Dallas drivers conduct themselves.

I did see a police car with lights going and a bike stopped on Maple the other day.  I didn't have time to look to see if the cyclist was wearing a helmet.  I was too busy keeping both eyes on the other 10 or so cars that took the opportunity to speed through an active school zone.

J_A_
J_A_

Can't we all just get along? I might be annoyed there's a cyclist in front of me while driving but I would not be a jack wagon, even if they disobey traffic laws. I'm in a car, they are on a bike. Period. God forbid I'm inconvenienced 5 seconds to switch lanes.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Before my bike got stolen, I used to bike to Fair Park or Downtown from the edge of Lakewood often. It can be done safely, legally,  and without being an ass to drivers.

The problem goes both ways between cyclists and drivers. Cyclists can be suicidal idiots taking major thoroughfares (just last evening I saw a guy biking down Garland Rd. proper when there was a fucking bike path 5ft from him at White Rock). Drivers complain that cyclists slow up traffic which is true, so the cyclists will slowly coast through stop signs to be considerate to drivers. The drivers then get angry that the cyclists aren't following the law (which is true).

This city will never have the cycle culture or bike lanes of say Portland, but nonetheless cyclists and drivers will have to figure out a way to share the road. Cyclists need to learn to use lower traffic routes and trails when possible, and drivers need to learn some patience especially when driving on highly biked roads. A little patience and a little common sense goes a long way.

ruddski
ruddski

Cyclists should do as Euros often do, helmet cam. Dunno if the cops can act on that evidence, but it's worth a shot. I have a dashcam on my car for the same reason.

Angela Williams
Angela Williams

I get that cyclists should feel safe on the road, what I don't get are the wannabe professional cyclists riding ON Preston, Coit, or other busy main streets at peak traffic hours. They are asking for something bad to happen to them.

bind0
bind0

The overtly hateful sentiments of some drivers toward cyclists is completely baffling to me... I understand that some cyclists do not obey the rules of the road and that sharing lanes may hinder your ability to get somewhere 5 minutes faster, but does that really necessitate wishing harm or ill-will on another person (acting rightly or wrongly) simply because they chose to ride a bike? The fact of the matter is that bikes have as much right to the road as automobiles do. As a cyclists, I would love to have buffered lanes and/or trails that keep me from having to be constantly on the lookout for careless or aggressive automobiles. Unfortunately, there is not adequate infrastructure available to allow cyclists and motorists from coexisting, so can't we just do that? Let's make a deal... I promise to stop at every red light and stop sign, signal my turns, stay off sidewalks, etc. (actually, I already do). In turn, you just give me the due respect I deserve as a fellow human being/citizen that is just trying to get around or get exercise safely. Deal?

Kimberly Strouble
Kimberly Strouble

Going through Keller about to enter a roundabout on Dove road this weekend, I had the driver of a white pickup truck yell, "Get off the road, ASSHOLE!" I was correctly merging into the roundabout. The driver was exiting the roundabout, so I was in no way, shape or form doing anything other than sharing the road. I've also been honked at and flipped off by a truck pulling a trailer on a one-way country road going about 80 and pulled out in front of several times. I've witness cyclists not obeying traffic signs. However, I've had far too many friends hit by cars and I have never one time heard or read about how a cyclist hit a vehicle and really messed up the driver. I'll just keep obeying the laws and sharing the road while I pray that I continue to be lucky and don't get run over and die.

Americano
Americano

Eric we are all torn up over your paintball incident.  I'll be sure to tell my brother in law who sustained a serious brain injury while riding on Mockingbird, (the bike lane was closed for construction) after being hit by an illegal alien with no money or insurance.  I'm sure he'll understand why you are still whining about that a year later.

thegreenlanternofear
thegreenlanternofear

Uggh, the bicyclist ran a red light complaint. It's been my experience as a cyclist that if you have cars behind you at a red light, and there is no oncoming traffic, that you should go. Drivers get violent when a light turns green and you aren't immediately accelerating to 30 mph

Kristin Scott Dorsey
Kristin Scott Dorsey

I am going by my experience. You can go by yours. I have had cyclists cut in front of me, drive past me extremely fast not watching where they are going. Running thru lights, stop signs. I have witnessed this with my own eyes. This is MY experience and that is why I have the mindeset that I do.

Rooster0620
Rooster0620

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say out of all the things Dallas cops have to worry about in keeping our fair burg safe, following groups of people on bikes around so they can write tickets to people who are rude to them probably rests near the bottom of the list?

Jason Harris
Jason Harris

Seriously? Cyclists make up maybe 1% of the traffic on the road, but they're the menace? Not the person in 4000 lbs of steel and fiberglass speeding down the road with their mind on everything but the road? Yes, there are some riders who are jerks, but cyclists sometimes have to feel entitled to the road, because if you so much as move an inch from the center of a lane it's perceived as an invitation for a drive to move within inches of you. Cyclists won't ever win in a collision. I can certainly empathize when some ride aggressive because I've almost ended up a hood ornament several times because of drivers not paying attention.

Warren Johnson
Warren Johnson

some law needs to be passed forcing cyclists to be nice to pedestrians.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Please tell the cyclist that recently ran the red light in front of me at a major intersection that bicyclists are also expected to obey traffic laws.


PS to the cyclist:  To paraphrase a situation that the late Dent Arthur Dent was once in, if my vehicle were to have hit you, it would not have noticed the slightest bit.  You on the other hand would most likely have become very well aware of the problems encountered when attempting to occupy the same space-time coordinates as another blob of matter.

Tipster1908
Tipster1908

@RTGolden1 This is the 100% truth, although I'd qualify it. In my anecdotally-influenced opinion, there are more asshole car drivers than bikers due to the disparity in number of cars relative to bikes. But I'm willing to throw it out there, based on my anecdotal experience, that a higher percentage of bike riders skirt traffic laws as the see fit. 

The big problem I've got with bikers is that they combine the unpredictability to a pedestrian with the speed of a vehicle, albeit one that is smaller and slower than a car. 

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@ruddski 

I'm not saying that it's a bad idea, mind you, but it does not surprise me in the least that you are an early adopter of the dash-cam technology

Have you had occasion to make use of the data collected?



codypritchard99
codypritchard99

@Angela Williams I'd like to submit the idea that the people you're seeing aren't wannabe pros, but are instead some of the several dozen long distance bike commuters in your area. I gladly go 3-4 miles out of my way everday to make sure I stay on side streets, but I don't have the legs, lungs, or disregard for my own fragile mortality that these guys have. Just keep your head up, text and email at stop lights only, and everyone should be able to get along just fine. 

Wilson
Wilson

@Angela Williams So, there are streets / times where cyclists aren't allowed?  News to me. 

Wilson
Wilson

@Kristin Scott Dorsey And I've had car drivers cut in front of me, right-hook me, run lights/stop signs, not paying attention, texting in a school zone, stopping in a crosswalk, street racing, swerving at joggers, swerve at cyclists, throw beer bottles at me... that I've witnessed with my own eyes.  And there are a lot more bad car drivers out there than there are bad cyclists. 

dfwheathen
dfwheathen

@Kristin Scott Dorsey And that mindset is? It is acceptable to throw things at them or hit them with your car? If that's the case, I hope you treat reckless car drivers the same way! (Actually, I don't want that either)

bind0
bind0

@Rooster0620 Right, because protecting the health and safety of every citizen should not be one of DPD's primary concerns. There is a very fine line between a motorist's rude behavior to a bicyclist and a motorist's deadly behavior to a bicyclist.

Wilson
Wilson

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul 

Tell you what, Paul.  Find a 4-way stop sign, pretty much anywhere in Dallas.  Bring a lawn chair and a beach umbrella, and something to drink. And two sheets of paper. On one sheet, count all the cars that fail to come to a complete stop. On the other one, count all the cars that do stop.  Guess which one fills up sooner?  So don't come crying about how bikes disobey the law - EVERYONE does.

Every time you speed, you're giving a cyclist an excuse to run a stop sign or red light. Be the change you want to see in the world, Paul, and start obeying EVERY traffic law, all the time.


ruddski
ruddski

" bicyclists are also expected to obey traffic laws". You're joking, right? I suggest motorists carry paintball pistols loaded with indelible purple dye, which would clash with most of those oh-so-gay Lance wannabe spandex costumes. Repeat offenders would be easy to spot and run down.

markzero
markzero

@TheCredibleHulk @ruddski Yesterday I wished I'd had my windshield mount for my phone up and the dashcam program running: someone in a white SUV, possibly a soccer mom with too much wine in her sippy cup, decided to speed up to 45 through a school zone on Royal Lane, near Greenville Avenue. I thought it would have been neat to have the video to shame them on Youtube, even if the cops did nothing.

(Psst, hey cops: people speed through that school zone every weekday afternoon. Make your quota fast and help prevent another death like Riley Rawlins', who died on Royal a few blocks east when he was hit by a speeding, unlicensed and uninsured moron)

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Wilson so you think its a brilliant idea to cycle down preston at 515 in the afternoon?  Hmmm

russp
russp

@bind0 @Rooster0620 

Despite what it may say on the side of some police cars, the police are not assigned the job of protecting anyone. It is their duty to enforce the law which usually means little or no involvement until a law has been violated. So in the course of a day, how many times do you think a cop witnesses someone not giving a cyclist quite enough space?

Rooster0620
Rooster0620

Dude. It's not like there's an epidemic of people running over cyclists, or shooting them with paintballs.

I realize this is a subject you are passionate about, but we live in a city of limited resources. The DPD can't be everywhere at once, and providing a police escort to cyclers really isn't practical. Responding to "insert bigger threat here" (armed robbery, murder, etc.) is probably a bigger priority.

I would imagine the best way to guarantee you won't get run over, is to ride your bike down roads less traveled.

Yes, I fully realize and agree bikes have the same right to the road as everyone else, but lying dead in the middle of the road screaming "I had the right if way" won't provide you much comfort. Personally, whenever possible I try not to rely on the city for my safety, and try to exercise caution whenever possible.

You may continue to shoot the messenger if it makes you feel better.

kduble
kduble

@Wilson This is why 4-way stops ought to be replaced with roundabouts like we see in the rest of the world.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Wilson  

Wow, I haven't seen projection like this since the Gemini Drive In closed down.

BTW, Thank you for the reductio ad absurdum.  If you would like to debate this, please come up with something a bit more original and relevant.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Wilson cept when you disobey the law and get crushed by a car, you suffer much worse

russp
russp

@ruddski 

No joke, cyclist are expected to follow the rules regarding what side of the street to ride on, signalling turns, following traffic signals, lights at night, etc. Few actually do yet they wonder why they are not given any respect on the road.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin @Wilson  

I don't think that it is even a good idea to drive down Preston Road at 5:15 in the afternoon.

Rooster0620
Rooster0620

Or be reasonable about it and not expect a police escort whenever you take your bicycle for a ride (which is essentially what it would take to enforce the "meanies to cyclers" law).

Or the next time someone is rude to you on your bicycle, call 911 and wait an hour like everyone else for a cop to show up?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@ruddski well when a domestic disturbance call comes in frm a lady saying her husband is trying to kill her, they could actually enter the residence instead of showing up 35 minutes later after another stop and then deciding nothing ws wrong without making contact

ruddski
ruddski

Then exactly how do you propose they "protect", the same way they "protect" your house from burglary? Assuming they watch your house 24/7.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@russp so I guess we can ignore the part of the sticker on the patrol car that clearly states "To Serve & Protect" 

opusthepoet
opusthepoet

@ScottsMerkin @Wilson And when a driver disobeys a law someone else gets hurt but usually not the driver that's disobeying the law, because modern cars are tanks that allow people to walk away from wrecks that would have previously been unsurvivable.

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