On wednesday, 1 July, at 9:50 AM, the "Dave Stahl ride" was on Portola Rd. heading for OLH, about 17 people. Near the entrance to Windy Hill, we were low-keying it, most people riding on the shoulder, Dave, at least one other rider, and I were just to the left of the fog line. Two San Mateo sheriff's deputy motorcycles passed us going the other way, one with his red and blue lights on. They turned around and singled out those of us riding to the left of the fog line to stop. The others were told they could continue. My ticket is for riding "tandem," a word that appears in the Vehicle Code only in the context of truck axles or truck trailers. The violation on the ticket says "21202a VC tandem." The deputy said that they had been instructed to cite everyone riding "tandem" (and failing to stop at STOP signs) by their supervisor, because the good residents of Woodside and Portola Valley are upset with inability to get past cyclist groups, and cyclists failing to stop at STOP signs.
The trouble with these tickets is that the particular section of Portola Rd in Portola Valley doesn't have a bike lane, it has a fog line and a shoulder. Cyclists are required to ride as near to the right edge of the roadway as practicable, but they are not required to ride on the shoulder. Riding on the shoulder is tolerated, while driving a motor vehicle there is not (see Alan Wachtel article linked by Andy Evans, http://www.vcbike.org/bikelaw.htm#_C._Riding_Single . So, formally, if one is near the fog line but in the lane, he is legal, regardless of what is going on to his right on the shoulder of the road.
There was no traffic present at the time other than our cyclist group and the police motorcycles. The lanes on Portola Rd are sufficiently wide that passing was not impeded, if vehicle traffic were present. (I will measure the road.)
Whether my particular Traffic Court Commissioner will understand this is another matter that will be pursued. But I agree with the respondents who say this ticket is bogus.
The deputy who wrote me told one of our group members who is an off-duty Sunnyvale officer that the SM County deputies will be after us in force on Wednesdays and Saturdays on Alpine and Portola Rds for the next three weeks. I don't recall if he said alternate days or all of those days, but be advised.
My court date is 19 August. These "tandem" tickets are invalid in my opinion. The deputies may write tens or hundreds of these tickets by 19 August. I think that communication from SVBC to the San Mateo County Sheriff regarding what is legal and what is not legal could help to avoid a great deal of difficulty for many people.
The bottom line is rider behavior, particularly the Noon Ride, the Valley Ride, and the Spectrum Ride, have gotten the attention of the locals and their police, and they will be after us in force. Unfortunately, they aren't applying any judgment as to who is causing a problem and who is not-- we are all the enemy-- including the father pulling his kids in a Burley who they caught at the Alpine-Portola STOP sign, and we three vicious criminals who were riding on the edge of the lane of Portola Rd with no other traffic present.
I sent this note to Colin on 2 July, I discussed this issue with Greg on 17 July, and with two other SVBC staff members on 20 July. I think that this is an important matter, and one that SVBC should be involved in, and that communication is necessary with the Sheriff soon.