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COMMENTARY: Cycle Citation
Ira Sharp | Crest Road

(This is the writer’s personal opinion. It is not an expression of the opinion of the Traffic and Parking Advisory Committee of which he is a member.)

The City Council heard Del Mar citizens’ concerns: bicyclists not stopping at stop signs are a hazard for everyone. Some bicyclists are injured when they are hit by autos. Drivers collide with other cars, moving and parked, trying to avoid carelessly driven bikes. Pedestrians are occasionally injured and frequently required to dodge bikes that ignore pedestrian crossings. Council directed staff to raise these concerns and our need for increased enforcement with the Sheriff.
My concern is about how we communicate to the public when we make changes in our road enforcement policies. Clearly the problem regarding bicyclists was grave. The Sheriff has issued over 400 tickets to bicyclists, many with a penalty of $200 per ticket. There are several ways I think we can do better to effectively increase compliance with the laws and communicate that we are a city that is fair and hospitable.

I think we should consider putting a small, very clear notice on major stop sign poles, or at least at the major points of bicycle entry to Del Mar, warning that Del Mar is serious about enforcing traffic laws for bicyclists. The signs will be seen by more people than will be the intermittent enforcement actions of a policeman writing a ticket. I think signs similar to those on 15th Street up the hill by the Rock Haus warning that stop signs are enforced should be around the community for bicyclists.

The last thing we want, I hope, is for Del Mar to become known as the West Coast version of the Mississippi speed trap.

If we are serious about long lasting enforcement, could we get the college student with the $200 fine to let us put her picture and the fact of the fine on a hand out flyer and in social media as a warning in exchange for (quietly) reducing her fine? Most communities issue traffic warnings before they go to strict enforcement. While we have increased compliance for the moment, this type of flyer will be a long lasting reminder.

When we changed the speed limits on CDM by Dog Park south bound, I thought it was unfair not to post warnings that new speed limits were in effect and I hope we will correct that when the lane and speed changes on Jimmy Durante are completed. Isn’t this the true “Del Mar Way?” We want the reputation of being a hospitable village. A bicycle rider who is angry about a ticket issued in Del Mar will be an automobile driver who goes to restaurants and shops when he puts away his bicycle for the day. She is not likely to return to Del Mar to enjoy our fine food and beverages. Let’s back up and do it the right way. Education first and then work hand in hand with enforcement.


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