Two cyclists roll through a stop sign at Fourth Street and Highland Avenue. Starting on Friday, UAPD will be ticketing cyclists for rolling stops.

Cyclists hoping for a respite from increased enforcement against bicycle violations will have to wait another month to relax.

Following in Tucson Police Department’s footsteps, the University of Arizona Police Department will begin its own increased enforcement of cyclists starting Friday and lasting at least until the end of October.

UAPD spokesperson Sergeant Juan Alvarez said this is the second year the police department has targeted cyclists.

According to Alvarez, UAPD received numerous complaints when school started last year which prompted them to create a two-phase plan to get cyclists to obey traffic laws.

According to a UAPD press release, the department had five education sessions where officers and bike ambassadors stopped cyclists violating the laws to educate them about traffic laws, which Alvarez said was the first phase. Four of the five education sessions took place around stop signs. Only one didn’t focus on stop sign violations.

The second phase is enforcement and will begin Friday.

“Traffic laws are there to help keep us all safe, but in order for them to work we have to voluntarily obey them,” Alvarez said.

He said the department wouldn’t limit the enforcement to bicycles, but would also look for pedestrians and motorists ignoring the laws.

Melanie Meyers proceeds through the intersection after stopping and checking to make sure it was clear.

Melanie Meyers, a UA graduate student and publisher of said she wants to the the UA equally enforce the laws.

“I think if they are going to target stop signs, they should make sure to target cars and bikes,” Meyers said after she stopped at the stop sign at Highland Avenue and Fourth Street, a sign that is is regularly ignored. “I know that is vocabulary and the rhetoric, but I just want to see truly equal enforcement.”

According to Alvarez, the fine for running a stop sign on campus is $204, an amount UA student Alex Partida said is excessive.

“I think that is pretty steep and kind of ridiculous,” Partida said shortly after rolling through the same stop sign at Highland Avenue and Fourth Street.

Alex Partida rolls through a stop sign after checking to see if the intersection is clear.

“We should follow the rules of the road,” Partida said. “I was just in a rush so that is why I disregarded the stop sign when I saw there weren’t any people around. If there are cars, I will stop though.”

It is that behavior that Alvarez said is dangerous.

“It is really important because bicyclists are more at risk of suffering more injury than someone in a car,” Alvarez said.

Meyers said that is one of the main reasons she always stops at stop signs.

“I stopped because it is a stop sign,” Meyers said. “I think I learned in driver’s ed when I sixteen years old that that is what you do when you see a big red octagon.¬† All joking aside, I always stop. First of all it is the law, I know a lot of people feel like it is a loose law in some ways, but I just want to make sure people at the stop sign see me.”

According to Alvarez, information about the new diversion program for cyclists ticketed on campus will be included with the citations.

17 thoughts on “UAPD to follow up with enforcement of their own”
  1. I think all cyclists should follow traffic laws, all of them. I am glad to see UAPD enforce this. I do hope they do it equally to cars and bikes. The student who rolled through the stop sign who said she did it in a hurry, that is unacceptable. That is the same excuse drivers use.

    The more we follow the laws the better relationship we will have with them. I go out of my way to interact with people at work, out and about who complain about bikes. Their number one complaint is the braking of traffic laws and cyclists putting themselves in danger. If we want to be treated like “Traffic” then we must act like it. I would also like to see some sort of annual registration fee for bikes. Small mind you, but then that money used for bike lanes and other improvements. Cars have use fees for roads, why shouldn’t we?

  2. If they are pushing enforcement on cyclists they need to go after pedestrians too. The University area is extremely hazardous in that pedestrians constantly jump into the bikeway/roadway without looking/listening or paying attention to anything but their phones.

  3. No, no registration fees for bikes. Once that passes it will never be repealed again. We will never go back to the days of happy and free biking. If you want a new tax then tax cars and use the money for bike lanes and such, similar to taxing cigarettes to pay for health care. Tax cars to pay for bike facilities. Also, give people tax breaks and rebates for buying bikes.

  4. Bicycles go slow enough and have the braking power to stop quickly. They also have a very low power motor (the rider) that gets trashed by lots of starting and stopping. The law should be re-written so cyclists are allowed to treat a stop sign like a yield sign. There’s no getting around it, it’s critical that you slow down enough so you CAN stop if you have to. Some cyclists don’t even do that and they are the real problem.
    I see comments posted here that are simply not true. In all the decades I’ve been riding, I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen riders who came to a complete stop at 3rd and Treat and put their foot down then looked both ways. That’s what the law requires. The only place that cyclists routinely make a complete stop is at major streets and then it’s just when there are cars whizzing by.
    This is really a fruitless discussion. Cyclists will not change their behavior overall. One or two who get a ticket may change for a short time, but even they will relapse. Since there are relatively few accidents with cyclists running stop signs now, it’s not justified to force cyclists to stop.

  5. Cyclists are not required to put a foot down when stopping, only to stop forward motion and to not proceed until safe. That being said, we’ve worked with TPD and UAPD to provide some flexibility when they are doing stop enforcement. We’ve suggested that since the de facto policy for citing drivers for speeding is at 11 mph over the speed limit (except in school zones; the’re very strict there on both motorists and bicyclists for good reason), then could they provide some allowance for cyclists who do a pretty good job of stopping/yielding, especially at local street intersections that have little traffic.

    We know through traffic crash review that speeding by drivers is by far a greater contributor to severe injury and deaths than is a cyclist rolling slowly through a stop sign at a local street intersection. So based on this comparison of how they enforce speeding vs. enforcing cyclists at stops, we’ve made some progress with police providing some flexibility. There will of course be some officers who enforce to the letter of the law but hopefully most will provide a bit of allowance on this issue.

    Matt Zoll

  6. A bicycle rider has a MUCH greater view of the stop situation, so very much more than a car. In an automobile or truck, one is inside of a metal/plastic box with limited visibility in the best of situations. The ability to hear anything is severely impaired by radios, CD’s, having the windows up, air conditioning running, etc… so given that a auto weighs 4000+ lbs, you can’t see out of it, and you can’t hear, a strict requirement for a complete stop makes a lot of sense…. but on a bicycle, we can see all around without windshield posts and blind spots, we can hear ( unless we have our headphones on, which probably should be illegal ), so the notion of requiring a complete stop is an apples solution for an oranges problem.

  7. If it has been awhile since I’ve been driving, I am always shocked by how difficult it is to see anything at an intersection when in my car. The blind spots seem to be everywhere. I wouldn’t dare run a stop sign at any speed in my car, but on a bike it often seems so pointless and silly to come to a complete stop.

  8. Yeah, one would certainly think so – unfortunately, this campus specifically and all of Tucson to a lesser extent, is chock-full of oblivious cyclists who blow off the stops without noticing or even caring about any potential cross-traffic; the automatic selfish assumption is that every one else will stop for them. A $200 ticket is the cheapest lesson they’ll get from that behavior until they’ve been trained out of it. And as already mentioned, it’s an extremely poor PR choice for a group of folks who claim to want to be accepted as a legitimate part of traffic, to refuse to accept the responsibilities of being a legitimate part of traffic.

    The whole “treat stops as yields” thing would also work just dandy for car drivers if they too would just give a damn and pay attention, but they don’t either; and in the absence of common sense, legislation must cover the lowest common denominator. That applies to us too.

  9. Matt,
    If the law does not require a cyclist to put a foot down, it has been changed since I was a kid many moons ago.

  10. Cars and tobacco products are completely different. So you want to use roads and bike lanes without paying for it?

  11. Mr. Tellez,

    I completely agree with your analysis. The car culture is a net burden on our citizenry and we should tax it to pay for and encourage healthier lifestyle choices, like bicycling. The analogy to what happened with the tobacco industry is entirely appropriate and accurate.

  12. “…we’ve worked with TPD and UAPD to provide some flexibility when they are doing stop enforcement.”

    And what are the results of this work?

    “So based on this comparison of how they enforce speeding vs. enforcing cyclists at stops, we’ve made some progress with police providing some flexibility”

    Do you have any evidence to support this claim? It sounds that your definition of “progress” is limited to police officers simply having a greater recognition of their own enforcement discrepancies. Is this correct? Am I reading this accurately?

  13. Sorry, I just saw this reply and I would have answered yesterday.

    With the Governors Office of Highway Safety grant that TPD got for this special enforcement, through about September 10th they had issued 742 citations for a variety of motorist, pedestrian, and cyclist traffic infractions. This is approximate because it’s from a working database from TPD. They’ll have a more full report probably by mid October.

    Of the 742 citations, approximately 75 or 10.1% were for stop sign violations by bicyclists. I say approximately because there were 81 total stop sign violations but this includes motorists. So I’m probably mistaken about the 75 number and it may actually be lower in terms of stop violations by cyclists. Of the bicycle citations, stop sign violations accounted for 15% of the total. Another 294 were for riding on the sidewalk, 75 for riding without lights, 36 for riding wrong way, and a few others for miscellaneous items.

    Most stop citations were at 4th Ave and University, with some at 6th Ave and University, 9th Street and 4th Ave, University and Park, and Treat and 3rd. They also issued a number of warnings.

    In witnessing the enforcement work at 4th and University, the officers were not pulling over cyclists who slowed and yielded. They were pulling over cyclists who pedalled through the intersection at speeds of about 10 mph and above.

    As we know, enforcing stop intersections such as 3rd and Treat is like shooting fish in a barrel. For local/local intersections, wherever possible, it would be great to construct neighborhood traffic circles with yield signs. Crash data have shown a 94% to 100% reduction in crashes at such intersections. I worked with the city traffic engineer to have two circles on 7th Ave built with yield signs about 9 years ago and so gradually a few traffic circles are now being built with yields or being converted to yields. As much as it’s possible to make such intersections “self enforcing” the better–then TPD can focus on more serious crash concerns and it also reduces the negative public perception on cyclists rolling stop signs.

    At the next BAC meeting the second Wednesday of the month, TPD should be able to provide a summary of their education and enforcement work. The BAC and members of the public can make recommendations as to future projects such as this.

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