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San Joaquin Hills Drive and Spyglass Hill – The “California Roll”

Once or twice a week after my son gets out of school (2:20pm) the two of us ride from Newport Coast down San Joaquin Hills Drive to the Back Bay.  I ride down San Joaquin Hills Drive regularly, but usually very early in the morning or much later in the afternoon.  As I pass westbound through the intersection of Spyglass Hill, I am on the lookout for motorists entering from the right (Spyglass Hill) who fail to stop for the red light and often turn in front of me as if I am not there.

When I am with my son we actually stop there, even on a green light, and wait for an entire signal sequence in order to cross Spyglass Hill at the start of the green.  All the same, even when we are walking bikes through the crosswalk, motorists coming down Spyglass Hill roll right through the red light and into the crosswalk.  On several occasions we have been trapped from leaving the crosswalk by a motorist who has done such a “California Roll” into it and is scanning behind us for a chance to turn right on to San Joaquin Hills Drive.  Here is an example of this activity, taken at about 2:30pm on a Monday:

San Joaquin Hills Drive and Spyglass Hill – The “California Roll”

The relevant California Law:

Circular Red or Red Arrow

21453.  (a) A driver facing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection, and shall remain stopped until an indication to proceed is shown, except as provided in subdivision (b).

(b) Except when a sign is in place prohibiting a turn, a driver, after stopping as required by subdivision (a), facing a steady circular red signal, may turn right, or turn left from a one-way street onto a one-way street. A driver making that turn shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to any vehicle that has approached or is approaching so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard to the driver, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to that vehicle until the driver can proceed with reasonable safety.

(c) A driver facing a steady red arrow signal shall not enter the intersection to make the movement indicated by the arrow and, unless entering the intersection to make a movement permitted by another signal, shall stop at a clearly marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if none, then before entering the intersection, and shall remain stopped until an indication permitting movement is shown.

(d) Unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian control signal as provided in Section 21456, a pedestrian facing a steady circular red or red arrow signal shall not enter the roadway.

 

Comments

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David Huntsman

Husband, father, cyclist, lawyer

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. Obviously, they have somewhere important to go to…

    It’s tough being a pedestrian in Newport Beach, let alone a cyclist. Should be an easy fix for the motorcycle cops to fix.

  2. Your video certainly puts the problem into perspective. Yikes. You are actually being very kind calling these examples “California Rolls.” A few of the vehicles look as if they are not slowing down anymore than if the light had been green. Quite a problem for the oncoming bicyclist or pedestrian.

  3. Yes – and you’ll notice starting at 25″ two cars run the red light when there is another car stationary in the left turn lane. There is no way those drivers are looking to the left in time to see a cyclist coming down the hill (until it is too late and a cyclist has to take evasive action).

  4. I’ve ridden all over the US on roads that would scare a lot of cyclists, and this descent on San Joaquin is one of the standouts that freaks me out.

    Enforcement to stop the red light running and some traffic calming to slow everyone down would make things a lot safer, but parked cars are still a problem.

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