San Mateo County stresses traffic education

In the ongoing roadway wars between drivers and bicyclists, police in San Mateo County are not taking sides — they’re planning to educate and crack down on anyone who fails to obey.

A new program involving LiveStrong-type wristbands, new roadway signs and  extra enforcement is the result of a Daly City man lobbying law enforcement for increased traffic-law awareness.

Professional triathlete coach Marc Evans was the trainer for Matt Peterson, 29, of San Francisco, and Kristina Gough, 31, of Oakland. The two cyclists were fatally struck March 9 by a Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputy while they were riding on Stevens Canyon Road in Cupertino.

As a result of that crash, Evans decided to start Honor the Stop, which looks to educate drivers and bicyclists about road safety.

The program will also feature education — followed by a crackdown on scofflaws.

Bridget Lott, commander of the local California Highway Patrol office that ranges from roughly Millbrae to south of the county line, said she will have officers and volunteers handing out fliers during a kickoff event Sept. 21.

After a two-week education campaign handing out the fliers at dangerous intersections, a ramped-up enforcement period will target both drivers and bicyclists run stop signs, red lights and break other rules of the road.

Authorities will then break for the winter before restarting the campaign in the spring, Lott said.

Bicyclists face challenges drivers do not, such as starting from a stop sign, but should still be pulled over if they do something that could cause an accident, said avid bicyclist and Burlingame resident Pat Giorni.

“I’m over 55 and still alive only because I obey the rules of the road, for the most part,” Giorni said.

The program also helps shed light on the ongoing battle for roadway space between drivers and cyclists that came to a head when the Metropolitan Transportation Commission considered proposing legislation allowing bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs and stop lights as stop signs, Lott said.

mrosenberg@sfexaminer.com

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