Author Archive: Russ Roca

The indignity of commuting continues…

Just received in my email a photo from an anonymous source (to be known as “Deep Vs”), a photo of myself getting the ticket! The wonders of the internets never cease to impress. After applying some CSI magic, it is pretty clear that the bike I was riding 1) had fenders 2) had a transverse bag and red Ortlieb on the right. I’m not sure of how many brakeless riders ride with fenders or like to put English bike luggage on their bikes in Long Beach, my guess would be none.

To read the rest, go here.

Lemons into Lemonade

I received an email from Chief Batts (Chief of Police in Long Beach) to call the office and describe the incident. After doing so, I wrote this email to the Chief:

Dear Chief Batts,
I called and spoke with a Sergeant regarding the citation and he is looking into it. With regards to your incident, I don’t think that is the same “gentleman” we’re talking about. This incident occurred on Anaheim as he was commuting to work. He is also a trained cycling safety instructor.

What I hope to come from all this is the start of a dialogue between the bicycle community and the police. I know that there are many lawless cyclists out there and they SHOULD be ticketed. Cyclists riding the wrong way. Cyclists blowing through red lights. Cyclists on the sidewalk. Cyclists under 18 riding with no brakes and a helmet. They should be ticketed. I think we have so many with an utter disregard of the law because there is NOT ENOUGH enforcement.

That said, the police should also be sensitized to identify what is lawful and safe riding. Riding as far to the right as you can is NOT safe. Riding closer to the middle of the lane IS safe, it increases visibility, lets the rider avoid the door zone, etc., The phrasing in 21202 allows for this, cyclists only have to ride to the right as long as it is “practicable” (a big difference from “possible”). “Practicable” allows us to claim the lane when we deem it unsafe to ride to the right. Many cities make this point clear with signs that say “BIcyclists allowed full use of the lane.”

I believe that the police is one of the most important keys to making Long Beach bicycle friendly. Without proper enforcement we will just see a rise in unlawful cyclists and more hostile interactions between motorists and cyclists that will escalate into violence (there are many incidents of this happening in Los Angeles right now). That is why it is paramount that officers on your force that work in areas with a high concentration of cyclists (downtown, Belmont Shore, CSULB) should receive training to differentiate when a cyclist is lawfully riding in the street (claiming the middle of the lane when need be) and when they are putting themselves and others in danger. Further, I would also like to see the bicycle mounted police follow the CVC. It is very difficult for me to defend my rights to a motorist who is yelling at me to “get on the sidewalk” or “you don’t belong here”, when the bicycle mounted police can often be seen riding on the sidewalk, against traffic or in the door zone.

If you are willing, the bicycle advocacy group I work with, The Long Beach Cyclists, has trained bicycle safety educators from the League of American Bicyclists. We would very much like to set up a program with the police department to slowly train the force with issues regards to bicycles in traffic. The League offers a curriculum specially tailored to law enforcement. I think this would more quickly and efficiently make Long Beach more bicycle friendly than any thing else we can do.

Thank you once again for responding to me personally. I hope you will seriously consider bicycle training for some of your force.

Russ Roca

Getting Hasseled by The Man

It’s the middle of the day. Hardly any traffic and I just got pulled over for not riding on the “right side” of the roadway. I’m no racer but 15mph on 2nd Street in Long Beach isn’t going that much slower than car traffic through there.

I tried to explain to the officer that any closer and I would be in the “door zone.” He seemed nonplussed.

I cited the vehicle code and told him that it said I was to ride to the right as “practicable” which is a big difference than “possible”, because it was up to me to determine if there were any hazards. He didn’t seem to care.

I told him that I was riding exactly where the new sharrows would be on 2nd street in a few months. The new wha? I don’t see them now.

I was holding him up. Although I was on the right travel lane and he was on the left and he wanted me to know about it.

I’m about as law-abiding a cyclist as you can get in Long Beach. I ride in the correct direction of traffic. I don’t ride on the sidewalk. One of the first things I keep trying to advocate for is that we have to educate the enforcement on the laws regarding bicycling. Maybe NOW might be a good time to start.

For those that are curious, the CVC as pertaining to bicycles is the following. I was exercising my right (3) because I was avoiding the rather unpleasant “fixed object”…aka door, but also because when I ride as far as the right as practical, I always get buzzed too close. Hence, riding more “practicable.”

21202. (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:
(1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
(2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
(3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

Preparing for the Long Commute

Dear readers, Laura and I have decided to go on our Grand Adventure and we hope you will follow along at We’re not hitting the road for a while yet, but if you’ve enjoyed my posts about touring in the past, it will give you an interesting glimpse in how we’re preparing (hopefully it will inspire others).

Heck, if you’re already bike commuting, you’re halfway there. Good on ya!

The first few months of the site will be about living simply (something timely in these strange economic times). I’ll still be posting on for a while yet (it might be fun to do interviews with bike commuters around the world and see how they roll!), but I just wanted to let you all know about our next far flung endeavor.

The Path Less Pedaled – Simplify from Russ Roca on Vimeo.

The Path Less Pedaled – Stuff from Russ Roca on Vimeo.