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It's frightening how wrong he is about the vehicle code.

"Cyclists must stop and yield at these intersections, whether or not they have dismounted. A rider should allow themselves enough time and space to cross the roadway safely, as they would if they were driving a vehicle. In cases where the trail crosses the roadway and a stop sign is only present for the cyclist, the motorist has the right-of-way. "

Wrong, wrong, and wrong.
Stop signs in Virginia only apply to vehicles operating on roadways.
A cyclist in a crosswalk in Virginia has the rights and duties of a pedestrian, and pedestrians have right of way at crosswalks. The one thing he is right about is that it doesn't matter whether the cyclist dismounts (which makes him a pedestrian) -- pedestrians and cyclists have the same rights and duties. There is no duty for pedestrians to "allow enough time to cross the roadway."

"Motor vehicles are required to pass two feet to the left of a cyclist only when roadway markings allow."

No, they're always required to allow two feet.

"In [the situation where there wasn't room to pass] the motorists would have crossed the double-yellow line and been in violation of traffic laws."

And when there's not room to pass legally, you have to wait, that doesn't give you the right to pass illegally.

Funny, I had a different reaction than the WaPo chatter and WashCycle to the exchange about the verbal warnings issued to cyclists approaching a stop sign...

"As we approached the stop sign, the sheriff blurted out to us, 'You all need to understand the rules of the road apply to you also.' Mind you, this was prior to us even arriving to the stop sign (at which we had perfectly intended to come to a full stop). I was a little upset at this comment, considering we had not even broken any law..."

While this may not have been the most polite warning (although who knows if the quote is really accurate), it seems to me we want it both ways: We complain about the cops ticketing without warning. And, we complain when about them giving a warning.

As for the officer's clinical language, I suspect the county's attorneys would have it no other way. If he had said, "You're right, we made a mistake, we should have handled this differently," it could invite a host of legal action.

What I don't understand is why the county didn't arrange for the bicyclists to pass through without having to heed the traffic signs. I've certainly been in a number of 10Ks and organized rides where local officials block intersections to allow participants to pass without having to stop. Why couldn't that have been done here, saving everyone involved a lot of grief?

I think you're misinterpreting on this one:

"Motor vehicles are required to pass two feet to the left of a cyclist only when roadway markings allow." No, they're always required to allow two feet."

I think he's saying they can ONLY pass when the roadway markings allow...and then it's got to be two feet to the left. Not that you aren't obligated to be two feet to the left if the road markings aren't with you.

As for this, "Stop signs in Virginia only apply to vehicles operating on roadways. A cyclist in a crosswalk in Virginia has the rights and duties of a pedestrian, and pedestrians have right of way at crosswalks," are you sure they were in a crosswalk? I was under the impression they were on the main road and came upon a stop sign. If that's the case, technically aren't they reqired to stop as vehicles do (fully recognizing that neither bikes or cars come to full stops at most intersections)?

@Contrarian, I read that differently, but remember thinking he left out an "and". This is what I think he meant "Motor vehicles are required to pass two feet to the left of a cyclist AND only when roadway markings allow." Thus he'd agree that when there's not room to pass legally, you have to wait, that doesn't give you the right to pass illegally.

@MVMike, I guess it all depends on how it was said. Was it said in an angry or stern way, or a pleasant and friendly way. It makes a difference.

Two observations:

1. I highly doubt that deputies make traffic stops on "all violations they observe", if that were the case they'd never do anything but traffic stops.

2. As stated by Contrarian, if motorists don't have room to leave two feet as required without crossing the center line illegally they have to wait to pass.

@Steve, I think everyone agrees - even the Captain - that if you can't pass with the two foot buffer and without crossing the center line, your only legal option is to wait.

This is the same overbearing police behavior that occurs in Old Town Alexandria two or three times every summer. The LC Sheriff's office intent was to intimidate. They could have achieved the same result by directing traffic.
BTW I routinely see police bicycle patrols training on the Mount Vernon Trail. Do you think they stop at all the stop signs?

Having ridden in charity rides in Loudoun County and witnessed ticketing by the Sheriff Department, I think I can clarify the situation.

The Tour de Cure (and I'm pretty sure the MS Ride) take place primarily on the W&OD Trail. The intersections in question are where the trail crosses a roadway and the stop signs are only present for trail users.

It is very common for cyclists (myself included) to blow through the trail stop signs at empty roadways. There is one intersection in particular near Purcelville where road traffic is very light. This is where the Sheriff's office likes to setup at during charity rides. I can't really argue with what they are doing... the law does say trail users need to stop and since most don't (again, myself included), it is a good way to scare trail users into stopping and getting the word out about the law. I just think the law should change... but then some 8-year old is going to incorrectly roll through when it is not safe and get obliterated.

I think part of the problem is that motorists do not understand that they too have to stop for people in the cross walks and be more polite in letting users cross, especially when the other lane of traffic has stopped to allow trail users to cross. This is definitely part of the problem at Bluemont Rd. If you get the go ahead from one lane, you can expect to get accelerated towards, buzzed, and then honked at by the other lane, even if you are fully occupying the crosswalk in a safe and legal manner.

I think these intersections need those yellow signs that are installed in the lane dividers that tell motorists that they are required to stop (by law) for peds in the crosswalk so that they too have some indication as to what is expected of them.

That, and some speed traps because there is no way some motorists and driving by these intersections at 25-35mph.

Until then, I think it will be an arms race of motorists doing more and more to stop cyclists from crossing and cyclists doing more and more to get across the street. If everyone played nice and cyclists stopped to wait for motorists to take 5 seconds out of their obviously important, busy lives to let someone across the road, then we would have no problem (or at least less of one.)

BTW, from my experience, those zig-zag lane markers are having no effect. If anything, it has emboldened drivers.

I'm glad they tried the zig-zags, but if they aren't working, they should make it a light-controlled intersection with a push button to operate the light.

FABB weighed in on this: "This interpretation completely ignores the presence of the crosswalk and explains why police often accuse cyclists of not yield to motorists, which is contrary to state law, which states that "46.2-92, A. The driver of any vehicle on a highway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing such highway: 1. At any clearly marked crosswalk, whether at mid-block or at the end of any block;"

Derek wrote:
"the law does say trail users need to stop "

I have scoured Virginia law and have found no evidence of such a law.

Contrarian, the stop signs on the trail are official VDOT stop signs and they all have a smaller sign underneath them that state "By Law", so take that for what it is worth. However, they do not stipulate which section of the Code of Virginia applies to them.

I assume that since the W&OD trail is a multi-county park and the signs are installed by some official organization, trail users are required to follow the law that stipulates that road signage be obeyed. I do not know the section of the Code of Virginia that stipulates that, but I have a traffic ticket from many years ago for "failure to obey a highway sign" that I can dig up if you really want to know.

It would be very interesting to see if anyone could research whether the stop signs on the W&OD are legal. Since it isn't a roadway/highway, then the stop sign isn't a highway sign and I guess doesn't need to be obeyed...?

Do they ticket pedestrians who "blow" through stop signs?

The biggest joke is the ignorance of drivers regarding their responsibilities at a crosswalk. Closely followed buy the obvious obliviousness of the police/ sheriff department in helping clarify the situation.

Don't even necessarily give a ticket (although that would really get their quota fulfilled quickly). Stop them after the crosswalk and make sure they know.

Certainly, there are enough police officers who do not know what to do with their time (based on the amount of idling police cars everywhere) so this would be a worthwhile approach.

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