An increase in bicycle accidents in Isla Vista has encouraged the California Highway Patrol to enforce laws usually ignored by locals.
The CHP plans to heighten enforcement of traffic laws for bicyclists – including riding with the flow of traffic and stopping at stop signs – by increasing verbal warnings and citations.
Last week, there were two bicycle accidents in Isla Vista, one of which resulted in major injuries. CHP Public Information Officer Mike De Silva said both accidents could have been avoided if the bicyclists were riding on the right side of the road.
De Silva said traffic laws in Isla Vista should be adhered to the same as anywhere else in the county.
“All we are trying to do is enforce the laws the rest of the county abides by. I mean, if we saw some of the things we see in Isla Vista in the county, [the traffic violators] would probably be cited,” he said. “The general consensus has been that you don’t have to follow laws here, stop at stop signs, look both ways — we’re trying to keep those people from getting hurt.”
Violations will be assessed on “a case-by-case basis” to determine whether or not a written citation is needed, and the cost of the ticket is determined in court, De Silva said.
“The punishment depends on the nature of the violations. For biking under the influence, you can be arrested; for running a stop sign, you might get a citation or just a verbal warning,” he said.
De Silva said the enforcement is the result of a general concern for the safety of bicyclists and pedestrian safety in Isla Vista.
“This will be a continuous thing,” he said. “We are hoping this will be a preventive measure. If [the bicyclists] are looking both ways and stopping at stop signs, we’re doing our job.”