Times’ Readers Freak Out at So. Pasadena School Bus Sting

Last week, the South Pasadena Police Department held a traffic sting.  A group of squad cars laid in wait while cars whizzed past a school bus, with lights flashing and stop sign extended.  Once cars passed the bus, the police swooped in and handed out tickets like candy on Halloween to the over 160 cars that didn’t stop for the well-marked school bus.

The reaction?  Outrage.  Drivers and commenters at the Times’ LA Now Blog couldn’t believe that someone would dare ticket people for violating the law, which is an especially troubling of car-culture entitlement because really?  Going past a school bus with its lights flashing is one of the deadliest ways to break a traffic law.

The favorite complaint of those ticketed was that the bus was parked on a high-traffic, six-lane Huntington Drive near Milan Avenue where it’s insane to park a school bus.  South Pasadena police were able to promptly respond that actually, the location was chosen because it was near where a handicapped child boards the bus every school day.

Whoops.

While I wasn’t present at the sting, this sounds like a good-faith effort to protect school children who use the bus by targeting motorists who don’t come to a stop when they see the flashing lights on the bus and surrounding the flashing stop sign.  Apparently this kind of education is necessary based on the number of LA Now commenters that don’t think breaking this law is a big deal.

For a quick sampling of some of the comments at LA Now, read on after the jump.  If you’re interested in getting a full sampling, their story, with its exciting comment section, can be found here.

First, a little blame the victim:

The
ticket operation pulled in 80K…how much did it cost for this
nonsense? Instead of issuing bogus tickets, how about the parents of
that disabled child take him to a safe place to board the bus instead
of fining drivers who don’t stop in the middle of traffic.

Some bizarre paranoia:

This is horrible!
First the government takes our tax dollars to bail out the privately owned banks.
The government needs more of our money so they sick the police on the
general public to basically rob off by setting up a fake school bus.
This sounds too horrible to be true!
I have a feeling this isn’t the first stunt that will be taking place to get the rest of our savings from us.
This is really scary and needs to be looked into!

And my personal favorite, that speeding past a bus with flashing lights isn’t a "real crime":

Just
another reminder that the police are more interested in ticketing
citizens and "setting them up" than focusing on the real
issues…crime.

  • The sense of entitlement and what counts as “inconvenience” to the car culture is astounding. What a perfect example this story is. Just the thought of slowing down or obeying rules for any reason is just short of absurd. But what do you expect when hundreds of times a day cars run red lights, unlawfully speed, drivers text and otherwise distract themselves, with virtually no consequence. And when the consequence does come it is an unjust betrayal of freedom, the imagined American natural right to the freedom of (with respect to Famima) super-convenience. Anything that slows down your mobile couch is an all out assault on that freedom.

    Me and a buddy were discussing the other day about a sidewalk in Downtown that is blocked off to pedestrians due to construction. This creates a bit of an inconvenience for pedestrians. So of course, most pedestrians end up walking on the street instead of crossing the street, walking down the block, and crossing back as the authorities want them to do. So pedestrians are not immune to this desire of convenience, and will break the rules to achieve it. But what’s funny is that there is no way in hell the authorities would ever even consider blocking off a lane of traffic so the pedestrians can safely and legally walk along the closed sidewalk, because that would create too much of an inconvenience for the car drivers! And in a competition of inconvenience, changing lanes in a car is much much much more inconvenient than having a pedestrian cross to the opposite side of the street, walk down the opposite block, and then cross back to the side they want to be on.

    The authorities, or the parents of the handicap kid, obviously were not thinking of how inconvenient it is to stop a car. To apply pressure on the brake pedal is something that requires great physical exertion and mental dexterity. For convenience sake the authorities should simply force the kid to wheel himself over to the nearest street without automobile traffic. Problem solved.

  • “The authorities, or the parents of the handicap kid, obviously were not thinking of how inconvenient it is to stop a car. To apply pressure on the brake pedal is something that requires great physical exertion and mental dexterity. For convenience sake the authorities should simply force the kid to wheel himself over to the nearest street without automobile traffic. Problem solved.”

    ——————–

    Fred, I miss your posts. Thank you.

  • A good follow-up to this story would be an interview with anyone in LA County that can tell us how many kids are killed in LA County annually in car vs. child crashes.

  • Nice post Damien! You are so right. People just don’t get it.

  • The mentality around here is clearly that no one has the right to block a driver, for any reason. I’m always amazed at the drivers who honk impatiently when the car ahead of them slows down to make a legally allowed turn, or a car stops for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

    I nearly saw a woman killed today when a car stopped at a crosswalk and the car behind whipped around to pass it, only to make a panic stop just inches from the pedestrian the other driver had stopped for.

    What the hell are these people thinking?

  • M
  • This story made http://detentionslip.org ! Check it out for all the crazy headlines from our schools.

  • Spokker

    I stop for these buses and I get honked it. The sting was awesome.

  • Casey

    I am no fan of the long time corrupt South Pasadena PD but the dismissal of over $80,000.00 worth of traffic tickets on a bogus technicality because some of the people ticketed complained is absolutely ridiculous. I am referring to the recent ‘School Bus Sting’. I wouldn’t feel qualified to comment on the subject but I was at the location of the ‘sting’ operation when it was being conducted and actually drove through the area not once but twice. When the bus flashed the red lights, I stopped.
    The law is clear and anyone who knows the law or has ever read the California Drivers Handbook knows that there is no wiggle room when it comes to school bus safety, as it clearly should be. It comes down to the safety of the children and if drivers can’t follow the rules when basic safety is concerned then perhaps they should consider an alternate form of transportation.
    I read several of the comments / excuses posted by readers saying everything from “School was out for summer” to “There were no school age children present”. To which I respond, “School was not out for summer break, it was the last week of school for South Pas kids and there was no way to determine if there were school kids present from a moving vehicle until after we either stopped for the bus or passed it”.
    Another complaint I read was the location of the operation, (Huntington Drive) because it’s a busy street and there is no marked bus stop or crosswalk where the sting was conducted. Again I have to point out the obvious, School busses have no designated stopping zones, they stop wherever they need to to safely load and unload passengers hence the built in safety feature of flashing red lights and the giant warning on the rear of every school bus which reads “STOP WHEN RED LIGHTS FLASH” in addition to an octagonal red STOP sign that flips out of the side of the bus.
    I have little doubt that the motivation for the sting operation was to generate revenue for the city, South Pasadena has done far shadier things for a buck but in this case they had every reason to issue the citations and the violators should have to pay the fines and face the fact that they broke the law.
    Casey
    Los Angeles, CA.

  • Erik G.

    I hope that next week they do the sting again, this time with Police Explorer scouts who are students in a S. Pasadena (or nearby city) school.

  • Two Legs Good

    Once again, I’m reading the commentary of anti-car zealots.

    I generally support ped stings, if they’re done fairly – Glendale or Burbank is at their best, when they dress the decoys up as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, so you won’t “miss” them.

    But setting up a sting to nail people for failing to observe the “Stop” sign on a school bus, which has been ignored by all for generations, is just more anti-car hate.

    I did note the announcement of intent to enforce this old law, about two years ago, but there was NO public education campaign that followed.

    We spend, as taxpayers, copious amounts of money contorting to accommodate the disabled. Using them as a weapon against drivers goes too far. If the school district is actually required to provide such transportation (doubtful), perhaps they should re-examine their route, choice of coach, and why they must stop on a busy highway and put the both the child and the public at risk before going on a crusade against the automobile.

  • That “stop” sign clearly has a white border, and everyone knows that the ones with white borders are optional. Geez.

  • DJB

    Wow, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard a diatribe against the rights of handicapped children (comment #10). I’m impressed.

    I do have to admit though, this site would benefit from more comments from people who aren’t into promoting alternatives to driving. That way it would have a wider readership and more interesting discussions, less of the preaching-to-the-choir feel . . .

    Even radicals (and you are a radical, in a good way, if you’re trying to promote any transportation other than the private car in LA) sometimes have their own annoying forms of orthodoxy.

  • Spokker

    “this old law”

    And old law that is in the California Drivers Handbook and is required to know to pass your written test.

    “If the school district is actually required to provide such transportation (doubtful), perhaps they should re-examine their route, choice of coach, and why they must stop on a busy highway and put the both the child and the public at risk before going on a crusade against the automobile.”

    Or perhaps you should just stop your fucking car.

    We spend, as taxpayers, copious amounts of money contorting to accommodate drivers. Using them as a weapon against pedestrians, cyclists and the disabled goes too far.

  • Spokker

    Many drivers ignore stop signs that aren’t affixed to school buses. Generations have performed rolling stops and generally ignore that law.

    They also ignore those signs with numbers placed next to freeways, highways and streets. We should do away with these laws, then.

  • Hec

    The question that nobody has asked (at least not without hyperventilating) is whether this is a safe place to allow schoolbus pickups/dropoffs. It is a well-recognized principle that traffic networks have to be designed around human feeble-mindedness. It may make logistical and economic sense to put a traffic light on the interstate, or to change a highway exit ramp to a right turn instead of a curve, but these things often endanger everyone’s lives. In these special cases, it’s pointless to say, “But if only everyone followed the law!” For example, I sometimes shop near an 4-lane by 4-lane, 4-way stop intersection that I think is an accident waiting to happen every time I go through it; it should be signal-controlled, since there are far too many traffic movements and error-prone judgments about which of the four directions has the right of way going on at once. So I wonder if the same thing is going on here on this apparent 6-lane arterial. As you add more lanes, you add less visibility–for example, cars in the shoulder lane of oncoming traffic may be diagonally behind a car one lane over so that it is physically impossible to see a school bus’s signs or lights until it is too late to stop safely. One solution would be to force the bus to pick-up/drop-off on the ‘correct’ side of the road, under these very restrictive circumstances. Generally, though, I think that people that pass through schoolbus stops are scum.

  • Our nonprofit has a free public service announcement that media or school districts can use to educate the public about the dangers of illegally passing a stopped school bus. Our organization, dedicated to improving school bus safety, is one of the most respected such organizations in the country. For more information, please contact me or our Executive Director, Kathleen Furneaux. You can download the free PSA at http://www.ptsi.org.

    Michele Cooper
    315-475-1386

  • MDWhite

    Thoughtless, self-absorbed jerks. The same sort of brain-dead, Kardashian-like imbeciles that tie up traffic for miles to gawk at a fender bender on the other side of the freeway.The rules and a sense of common responsibility just don’t apply.

  • “I do have to admit though, this site would benefit from more comments from people who aren’t into promoting alternatives to driving. That way it would have a wider readership and more interesting discussions, less of the preaching-to-the-choir feel . . .”

    ————–

    I miss the active days of the L.A. Times’ Bottleneck Blog. It was fun to debate the automobile entitled who couldn’t defend their arguments.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Law-Breaking Drivers Disrespecting New Wilshire Boulevard Bus-Only Lanes

|
On April 8, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and other Metro, federal, county, and city leaders cut the ceremonial ribbon opening the second phase of the $31.5 million Wilshire BRT (Bus Rapid Transit). Metro forecasted that the Wilshire Boulevard peak-hour bus-only lanes will significantly improve commute times for the more than 25,000 people who board Wilshire Boulevard buses at peak […]

Today’s Headlines

|
Gov. Vetoes $4 Billion in Budget Cuts (LAT) Cyclist Jen Peterson Looks at Pasadena Bike Plan (Star News) Triathalon Volunteer Who Crashed Motorcycle in 2007 Receives $7 Million Settlement from City (LAT) Poor Road Design Partially to Blame for Teen Pedestrian’s Death in Brentwood (Soap Box) LAPD South Bureau to Get Cameras in Squad Cars […]

LAPD Ticketing Pedestrians Near Metro Center

|
Back in February, Curbed reported that police in Koreatown were ticketing pedestrians crossing the intersection of Wilshire and Vermont if they crossed after the signal starting flashing orange. Tickets, which were given to pedestrians even if they made it safely across the street before the flashing signal became a solid one, ranged between $200 and […]

Times Dismisses Red Light Cameras as Revenue Generation Ploy

|
Image from Red Light Camera in Tempe, AZ Yesterday the Times’ continued its crusade against traffic tickets when it took aim at red light cameras.  According to the Times, red light cameras are primarily about raising revenue for the city, not making roads safer.  The proof?  80% of tickets given out by machines are for […]