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Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition introduces anti-harassment proposal

By PAUL PAYNE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Bicycle advocates unveiled a proposed local ordinance Friday meant to arm cyclists and pedestrians with new legal ammunition against drivers who intentionally threaten and harass them.

The proposal from the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition would make it easier for “vulnerable users” to sue drivers in civil court. It defines various forms of harassment and triples monetary penalties, making cases more attractive to attorneys.

The Sonoma Bike Coalition rallied at the courthouse in Santa Rosa on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. (Jeff Kan Lee / PD)

It’s intended to fill perceived gaps in criminal prosecution, which has a higher standard of proof and requires such things as as the positive identification of the driver.

The proposal was announced outside the county courthouse before hearings for two drivers charged with hitting cyclists.

“We shouldn’t be afraid to be out on the public roadways,” said Gary Helfrich, bicycle coalition executive director.

Helfrich said the proposal, called the Vulnerable Road User Protection Ordinance, is modeled on one adopted in Los Angeles last year.

The coalition plans to submit its proposal to the county Board of Supervisors and the city councils in the county’s nine cities.

It has received early support from Supervisor Shirlee Zane, who asked that the proposal include a provision covering pedestrians.

Zane on Friday cited a spate of accidents over the past two years, including the Rohnert Park crosswalk death of 2-year-old Calli Murray, who was hit December 2010 by a driver who was texting.

She also mentioned the June 8 hit-and-run crash involving Sonoma State University professor Steve Norwick, who died of injuries he suffered while riding on Petaluma Hill Road. The suspect, Robert Cowart, was in court Friday for a mental competency hearing, where another doctor was ordered to review the case.

In the second case Friday, Oakmont resident Harry E. Smith was charged with attempted murder. He is accused of trying to run down a cyclist, chasing him onto a golf course in the alleged Aug. 15 road-rage incident.

As a cyclist who has experienced trucks driving too closely and horn blasts that sent her to the shoulder, Zane said she recognizes the need for the ordinance.

“I like the idea in principle,” she said of the draft ordinance. “What I like most is the message it sends, which is Sonoma County is not going to tolerate aggression toward pedestrians or cyclists.”

The proposal will be vetted by county lawyers, the district attorney and the sheriff before going up for a board vote before the end of the year, Zane said.

“I’d like to be the one to put it forward before my chairmanship is up,” she said.

Law enforcement leaders said they understand the concerns of cyclists and would be reviewing the proposed language before making any recommendations.

“I support anything that encourages heightened awareness on the part of anyone using the roadway,” District Attorney Jill Ravitch said.

Santa Rosa Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm said pursuing a criminal case against aggressive drivers requires a level of evidence that cyclists don’t always have. The proposal appeared to enhance the ability to go after someone in civil court, he said.

“If this changes behavior, I’d be all for it,” he said.

The proposal lists prohibited activities, some of which are covered under criminal law. It says a person can’t assault or attempt to assault a rider or walker nor can they threaten physical harm.

It also says drivers can’t intentionally distract or attempt to distract “vulnerable users,” pass at an unsafe distance, force someone off the road or fail to yield.

Anyone who violates the ordinance would be subject to triple any actual damages or $1,000, whichever is greater, and must pay attorney fees. In addition, a jury or judge could award punitive damages.

Some of the dozen people who gathered outside the courthouse Friday morning said harassment and aggression from drivers was a regular occurrence. They reported having things thrown at them from cars and people swerving toward them. One person said someone shot at him.

Civil attorney David “Max” Beach, who addressed the crowd, said harassment does not require physical contact. Horn honking that leads to injury could be a violation, he said.

“This ordinance will really help level the playing field,” Beach said.





42 Responses to “Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition introduces anti-harassment proposal”

  1. Bob Shanteau says:

    @Big Jim:

    You could mount a rear-facing camcorder on your bike to get video evidence of people harassing you like the driver of the white S10 did when he tailgated you and honked continuously, but the real question is whether the police or the DA would treat the video as evidence of assault.

    While it is true that the penal code requires police to witness an infraction (such as speeding or running a red light or stop sign) in order to write a ticket, the same is not true of misdemeanor assault. Prosecution for assault should only require proof that someone threatened physical harm to you, but is tailgating and continuous honking considered a threat of physical harm or just ignorable bad behavior?

    I do my best to ignore such behavior, but it’s hard not to feel like some motorists are trying to push bicyclists out of their way. And that discourages a lot of people from bicycling, which is something we want to encourage. Thus the need for the law to treat motorists behaving badly toward bicyclists seriously.

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  2. I Ride a Bike Too says:

    I am sick and tired of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition popping up and trying to spend more tax money on one of their pet projects or perceived complaints of driver wrong doing.

    The 101 bicycle overpass near Coddingtown, the bike lanes next to the SMART train, the traffic circles near the JC and now their overkill proposed ordinance all come to mind.

    This little special interest political lobbying group has too much influence in our local politics. They show up council meetings wearing their little bike helmets and the hand done cardboard signs and the local politicians roll over so fast you would think they were about to get a large political contribution.

    And maybe they are but their influence has to be tempered with the public good and consideration of what their proposals cost considered.

    This little group has become very expensive for the residents of Sonoma County.

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  3. Roxy says:

    Years ago when men and women didn’t dress in spandex (leotard material) and funny shoes with labels to ride their bikes, you didn’t hear of so many people getting run down. Now since herds of cyclists take over roads with their associates, they canvas the roadway and do obstruct traffic. Do they consider pulling over for a woman that might be in labor, or someone’s spouse just had a heart attack and want to say goodbye before their last breath of life? Usually not. There is a serious lack of consideration unless one lays on their horn. To me, I find that narcissistic, unkind and just plain rude.

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  4. Roxy says:

    Oddly, I have been harassed by a man who is an avid cyclist. So where do I go for protection when I have no witnesses and he is clever and manipulative and always 100 steps ahead of the law enforcement or buying them drinks to never get caught?

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  5. Shelby says:

    I have noticed that I am getting honked and yelled at more when I am on my bike.
    So much so that I hesitate to ride and will toss my bike in the car and drive to
    a bike path. I cant help but wonder what is the root of all this animosity.
    Is it the recent power grab by the bike coalitions who demand expensive bike amenity’s? Is it all the bike lanes where there used to be traffic lanes?
    Is it there support of ICLEI projects?
    If so this ordnance will just fan the flames. I think charging an intentional
    collision with a cyclist as attempted murder should get the point across with out more special treatment.
    Does anyone else feel this way?
    I would also like to remind cyclists to SLOW DOWN when passing pedestrians and give them the same space that you would like from a car. Who Knows maybe the guy in Oakmont was buzzed by a Bike one to many times. I am just saying.

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  6. Big Jim says:

    Friday 9/7 – I rode my bike for exercise at lunchtime. Travelling east on River road, I encountered the construction at US101 offramp and a section where it is too narrow for a car to safely pass a bike, so I signaled and occupied the lane as the law requires. A white Chevy S10 pickup truck drove to within a foot of my back wheel and honked their horn at me, despite me following the law to the letter. How do I prevent or address this kind of harassment?

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  7. g7enn says:

    ICLEI equals Agenda 21, meaning the surrendering of private property rights to government. Sustainable? Smart Growth?
    Green Management? You’ve heard the buzz words.

    Sustainable development is the United Nations’ Agenda 21 program, which calls for the government to curtail your freedom to travel as you please, own a gas-powered car, live in suburban or rural areas, determine the number of children you may have, determine the “rates of harvest” of farms and fisheries, eliminate your private property rights through eminent domain, and increase the price on goods and services through artificial shortages and new consumer taxes.

    Agenda 21 is really not an “environmental management policy” which is local in nature, but rather it is a plan to impose a centrally planned global government – one which will be overseen by the United Nations. Under Agenda 21 all of the central government and local authority signatories will be mandated to strictly adhere to and conform to a common prescribed standard for living. They will decide what resources you can and cannot use. It is Socialist and Tyrannical global rule.

    http://yedies.blogspot.com/2011/08/agenda-21-for-dummies.html

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  8. Big Jim says:

    What is with all this animosity towards cyclists? No motorist is at physical risk from a cyclist, no matter what their behavior! These same cyclist haters probably think themselves “God fearing” yet delay them for 10 seconds on the road and we see how fast they turn into potential homicidal maniacs.
    I’ve lost count of the number of drivers who while I’m cycling have overtaken me blind narrow corners, putting both our lives at risk – to gain what? 5 seconds? I’ve also had drivers buzz by me well into the bike lane – I don’t know if it was intentional or distracted driving. Calm down drivers, life is worth more than 5 seconds faster to your destination.

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  9. steve says:

    I love the fact that sonoma county is trying to get people out of their cars and making it safer for bikes. Have you seen some of the people walking around santa rosa, it should be a law that you cant drive a car unless you pass a health screen.
    I have an car and ride too, always pick my bike over the car, so I pay registration, taxes, high gas prices just like all of you lazy car drivers. I also have to pay high insurance premiums because when all you people get admitted to the hospital for diabetes and knee surgery because you blew your knee out crossing the street.
    ICLEI is how we should be building our cities and towns just so YOU can get out of your cars and get some freaking exercise, quit trying to kill all of us that want to be health

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  10. Bob Shanteau says:

    @doraine
    Bicyclists ARE subject to the 5 vehicle rule – but the 5 vehicle rule only applies on 2 lane roads. And it does not require the driver of the slow moving vehicle to pull over immediately, but at the next safe opportunity to turn out.
    http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21656.htm
    21656. On a two-lane highway where passing is unsafe because of traffic in the opposite direction or other conditions, a slow-moving vehicle, including a passenger vehicle, behind which five or more vehicles are formed in line, shall turn off the roadway at the nearest place designated as a turnout by signs erected by the authority having jurisdiction over the highway, or wherever sufficient area for a safe turnout exists, in order to permit the vehicles following it to proceed. As used in this section a slow-moving vehicle is one which is proceeding at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place.

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  11. Michael says:

    I love cyclists, I also love riding my cruiser down any street in Sonoma county with a cross walk and watch as cyclist ride basically where ever they want. This morning however I was riding my own bicycle when another cyclist was riding against traffic and texting while doing so. I swerved to keep from hitting that cyclist, thus almost being hit myself by a car I was riding next to. He then just flipped me off for taking his attention away from his text.
    Well short story, I caught up with the rider, who exclaimed that he was going to beat my ass for following him. If anyone is interested , his bicycle can be found in the Treesv along side Verano Ave in the Sonoma Creek Tree Line, according to him, his father is a Cop and is going to shoot me.
    BTW I’m a Disabled Veretran, I’m 62 years of age and watch both Cyclists and Driver behaving badly. But never will a 130lb boy on a 30lb bicycle ever be a match for a 2500lb vehicle.
    Watch out for each other and don’t run your damn mouths if you can’t back it up.

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  12. doraine says:

    If bicyclists must follow the rules of the road, why arent they required to pull over if 5 or more cars are slowed up behind them just like any other vehicle?

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 4

  13. jody hampton says:

    In Sonoma County, I only ride on the sidewalk and only when court is in session.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  14. Snarky says:

    Homegirl:

    When you speak of “their refusal to stop for stop signs….”

    I assume you are speaking of not only bike riders, but the off duty Sonoma County Sheriff Deputies we see every morning at the intersection of Paulin & Ventura ave, Santa rosa, who role through that intersection rather than fully stopping their private vehicles….
    as they come to and from their jobs.

    Right?

    I know you care enough about stop sign violators to park yourself there at that intersection any weekday morning so you can flag those off duty deputies and scold them for what they intentionally do without fear of their co-workers citing them for dangerous driving.

    How about those California Highway Patrol officers patrolling the freeways at 75 mph when that is illegal? They know, as we all do, that the vehicle code applies to them unless they are on a lights/siren dispatch. Speeding for police is just as illegal as for the rest of us and we all know that. For some reason, though, those CHP officers don’t fear being cited for speeding! ?

    I am with you “Homegirl.” The deputies and law enforcement of Sonoma County do need to be more mindful of the California Vehicle Code. It applies to them.

    I know you weren’t just thinking of bike riders.

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  15. Chris says:

    Cyclist are the biggest hypocrites!! Take a hike in Annadel state park some time. Hikers are supposed to have the right away. Usually the roadies cross training are the worst offenders!!

    Thumb up 17 Thumb down 6

  16. KCarrie says:

    I agree with TCIrene. I ride but not often because it is very scary (all within city limits to work and back). When I use a sidewalk or crosswalk, which I do because a car or traffic has forced me to, I will walk my bike for any pedestrian.
    Yet I drove behind my son the other day on a 4 lane road with a bike lane and the cyclist in the bike lane made a punching motion towards every car passing. It was unnerving for the motorists, causing them to react with the steering wheel.
    Respect on both sides needs to be more common place, the jerks on both sides of the issue are going to ruin it for all.

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  17. Janet Morgan says:

    Bike riders are not “vulnerable users.” They do not deserve special victims status. They need need to comply with existing traffic laws and common sense.

    People do stupid and unlawful things all the time driving automobiles, like speeding, following to close, DUI, and not paying attention to their driving.

    There are laws that respond to this behavior and steep fines for violating these traffic laws. The cops are out their enforcing these laws. But people still break the law all of the time.

    That doesn’t mean we need more traffic laws, the laws on the books are just fine.
    A minority in our society believe they are perpetual victims and need to be saved.

    This proposed ordinance falls into this category. Bike riders are not vulnerable users of the roads, they are just users of the roads.

    They need to obey the traffic laws and use common sense when riding. Too often they don’t just as drivers don’t drive safely all of the time. That is when tempers can flare and trouble begins.

    This vulnerable user ordinance needs to be rejected by the county and cities in Sonoma County. It is unenforceable and probably unconstitutional. You cannot convict a person for thinking.

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  18. Bob Shanteau says:

    Just because bicycles are narrow and usually slower than motor vehicles does not mean that bicyclists have less right to travel on roads. Bicyclists have just as much, if not more, right to use roads as motorists.

    Operating a bicycle is part of the right to travel that belongs to everyone, while operating a motor vehicle is a privilege that is granted by the State.

    If you don’t agree, then take it up with the Legislature and the courts. Don’t try to impose your view of how things “should” be by pushing bicyclists out of your way.

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  19. Kevin says:

    I am a bicyclist and a motorist. And I am fairly new to the area.

    I do my best to exercise good judgement and courtesy in both roles.

    In my short time here I have observed some pretty bogus things from both motorists and bicyclists. People in cars yelling at me on my bike, texting and driving, honking, swerving etc… people on bikes riding the wrong side of the road, sidewalk, disregarding stoplights, riding with headphones in, etc… They are however the minority.

    It is my experience that the majority of cyclists and motorists are good, reasonable people. I am disappointed to see that this conversation has turned into heated he said/she said.

    I agree that bicyclists and motorists need to follow the laws that govern the common use of the road.

    Will a law such as this prevent hit and runs or harassment? It may do some good. Or it may exacerbate the problem, further dividing users of the road into us against them.

    I think the answer lies in our education and socialization. Do we see each other as important individuals worthy of consideration and kindness? Or as obstacles on the road? Are riders and drivers using good judgement? Do the systems that govern the use of the road set up the user to share this resource successfully? We have a mandatory licensing process for drivers, perhaps a mandatory bicycle education process wouldn’t be such a bad Idea.

    There is an important conversation to be had here. We need to make sure that it moves forward with respect, judgement and focus on real solutions.

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  20. Dan J Drummond says:

    This dispute has been going on since the era of the horse, when the 1865 Locomotive Act required steam-powered self-propelled vehicles on public roads in the United Kingdom to be preceded by a man on foot waving a red flag and blowing a horn.
    I like the idea of separate paths for cyclists and pedestrians. Instead of adding more and more lanes to our highways, more transportation funds should go towards building a separate system of paths. It wouldn’t solve all the issues, but it would be a lot safer for the cyclists and pedestrians.

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  21. Orville Wright says:

    @ Eustace McGargle

    “If you change the laws to give cyclists a special “deal”, then it can have unintended consequences.”

    And intended consequences, like a reduction in the cyclist body count. When was the last time a bicyclist injured a motorist?

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  22. Steveguy says:

    Defense lawyer– ” My client was changing radio stations and maybe had swerved a bit, but not in a malicious manner, ladies and gentlemen of the jury”

    Wow, I ride a bike and haven’t had an irate motorists try to run me down intentionally. I have had distracted drivers almost hit me.

    Oh, and I am no saint on my bike, as it’s a sweet mountain/urban bike that can hop curbs, go fast and stop fast too.

    These are the same whiners that brought us the foolish ” Bicycle Boulevard” on Humboldt Street. It ruined Humboldt Street, and nobody rode their bike on it anyway. Really, my kids were allowed to ride their bikes most anywhere, but NOT on Humboldt, and they wouldn’t anyway unless on the sidewalk for a block.

    If someone in a car threatens you, note the make, model,year, color and license plate number and report. Same with motorists, name the brand, color and description of the cyclist that is threatening you in your big metal cage with airbags ?

    Report the cyclists ! Flood 911 !!!

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  23. Bob Shanteau says:

    The California Vehicle Code says that bicyclists have the same rights and duties as drivers of vehicles. http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21200.htm

    Unless a lane is wide enough for a vehicle of maximum legal width and a bicycle to travel safely side by side, a bicyclist is entitled to use a full lane, just like any other driver http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21202.htm.

    Motorists who wish to pass slower bicyclists need to change lanes to pass, just like they would the driver of any slower vehicle. http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21750.htm

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  24. Bob Shanteau says:

    Bicyclists are often the victims of intentional acts of harassment by motorists. Police officers who say they must witness a crime on the road before taking action are only partly correct. While it is true that a police officer must witness an infraction (such as speeding or running a red light or stop sign) in order to issue a ticket, intentional threats of harm or harassment are not infractions but assault, which is a misdemeanor and for which only the testimony of the victim should be necessary to trigger an investigation.

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  25. good one says:

    Is anyone sick of the special interest groups getting all the attention?

    Thumb up 39 Thumb down 11

  26. Brad says:

    The last time I was respectfully following a couple of road hog bicyclists at a fraction of the posted speed, I wondered if these same people would be willing to “share the road” with pedestrians and stay behind them if the walkers were traveling at a fraction of normal bicycle speed? I doubt it.

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  27. TCIrene says:

    I’ve been cycling around Sonoma County for over 7 years. I also live on a rural road – traveled by cyclists daily. I see both sides of this growing problem..
    As a cyclist I do believe that there is an increasing aggression from motorists. During these years I have been honked at, yelled at, slapped, and had cars veer at me on purpose. I have been squeezed off the road and fallen twice. I believe myself to be an average cyclist who sticks as close to possible to the edge of the road always aware of motorists and pull off if I am causing any kind of hold up.
    As a local motorist I travel 6 miles on a well cycled road to get into town. It’s very stressful and irritating to constantly maneuver around cyclists. I see casual cyclists, hoards of travel groups, cycling clubs and all kinds of athletes training for races. I have to wind my way through mazes of cyclists during sporting events. It is amazing how many ride double and triple, hug the double yellow, swerve, and have absolutely no regard for the string of cars piling up behind them.
    As a mom I have been late to school, sporting events, social invitations, etc. as I slowly make my way down our 45 mph road, being as possibly patient as I can until I can pass the bicyclists. As Sonoma County transforms into a cycling mecca – the driving dilemma I face is becoming a daily thing.
    If we must Share the Road, we must Share the Laws. It is time to define laws so we can fairly coexist. I’m all for having protection as a cyclist, and as a motorist i want to be protected by requiring cyclists to have road rules they MUST adhere to!

    Thumb up 41 Thumb down 5

  28. John Morton says:

    This ordinance is over reaching and unenforceable. There is too much, “I think the driver might have” in it.

    Thinking is not against the law. In addition, the ordinance is unbalanced. What about the cyclists who break traffic laws, obstruct traffic, run stop signs, ride on sidewalks, make obscene comments and yell at drivers who they believe have offended them? This ordinance does not address these issues.

    A big problem with special interest groups is they want a special exception or law for themselves. Most often the exception or law has bad consequences for society as a whole. This principle runs from the taxation codes to special victims crimes.

    It all sounds good on paper, but the practical application of the law is something else.

    Thumb up 32 Thumb down 6

  29. Reality Check says:

    Too many drivers are unwilling to accept an unpleasant fact, bike riders have equal rights to the streets. That is just a legal fact.

    Cyclists, however, too often think that right trumps common sense. If a cyclist, going about 20 mph, blocks a line of drivers who want to go 40 mph, we shouldn’t be surprised at the anger generated.

    It’s tough to see one more law making it easier to sue–does the US need more lawsuits?”–will solve the problem. Can we instill the virtue of common sense by threatening a lawsuit?

    Thumb up 31 Thumb down 5

  30. Pack of Strays says:

    I’m all for protecting the rights of citizens. But how about the bike riders that break laws too? If you live on Country Roads where the roads are in third world condition and run into a “pack” of cyclist. They aren’t riding single file. They are actually causing quite a danger on rural country roads. How about the ones riding and talking on their phones? Those are quite a danger too. Then the tour groups that are paying more attention to the scenery then road conditions around them. Great job Tour Companies of advising these Tourist on staying safe. Now why is it always the car driver that is the problem? Drop by Bennett Valley and tell us why we are the problem. I have never seen a ticket given to a bad cyclist and probably never will. But I sure see them breaking the same laws I have to follow and can get tickets for. Those stop signs are for them too! How about the cell phone rules apply to them too!

    Yes I get cars kill, along with other things that can kill. I am horrified when an incident happens for a family that causes them to lose a family member (any kind of tragic incident). But when I go around a blind corner and a cyclist is off his bike chitchatting on his cell phone in the middle of the street. I have slammed on my brakes so I do not hit him. I’m the one that will get blamed if I kill him. I’m the one that will live with that horror for the rest of my life if I had hit him. While this idiot just waves me on and continues chatting on his phone in the middle of the road. And I drive on just shaking because I am so scared because I just about killed someone. Because he couldn’t be bothered with pulling into a safer place to talk on his phone. His life about ended, yet he didn’t care, his conversation was so important. And I would have been shredded in the media. Never mind what I personally would have gone through if this accident had happened.

    This is not always about the cars and their drivers being the bad guys. The cyclists need to realize these are country roads and be aware of their surroundings and follow the same laws as the cars. Where are the police to ticket the bad cyclists along with the bad drivers? Where is law enforcement? Why aren’t you out there making the cyclist obey the same laws as the drivers? You want harsher laws on bad car drivers. We want the cyclist to just follow the laws. When you get on that bike you are expected to obey the same laws as me when I am in my car. If not, please Officer, start writing the same tickets you give car drivers for breaking these laws.

    Thumb up 34 Thumb down 4

  31. Alex says:

    How about the damn bicyclists paying tax for these roads like drivers have to for every gallon of gas and exorbitant registration and sales tax. I am tired of bicyclist with their militant habits such as cutting off a car or going through stop signs/lights, like they don’t have to obey the law. The government basically is there to keep commerce running smoothly, not slow it down with “inzane” laws. You want to ride the bike, go on a trail or stay within the designated bike lanes. Otherwise, don’t cry when your dumb ass gets run over because you decide to cut in front of two tons of steel. Start charging registration and license fees for bicycles and issues tickets to them just like everyone else. Also, a car cannot drive on a sidewalk and neither should you…how about $2000 fine for doing that?! That is harassing pedestrians.

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  32. Matt says:

    …and as usual with anything posted on Watch Sonoma out come the reactionary, conservative rednecks. News flash for all of you guys, you live in Sonoma County. Bikes are here to stay, as are taxes, liberals, etc. Maybe you all ought to pack up and move to some place like Texas, but not Austin because you wouldn’t like that place either.

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  33. The Hammer says:

    Cyclists will only get the respect of the automobile driver when they learn the rules of the road. Constantly cyclists violate the laws. Constantly. I mean constantly. They are a hazard to the automobile and themselves and need to be removed from the road for their own safety. Anyone who thinks cyclist obey the rules of the road is either blind or an idiot. It’s surprising that government hasn’t already removed them from the roads for their own protection. Government seems to do lots of other stupid things to protect people from themselves, why not remove the cyclist for their protection?

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  34. Eustice McGargle says:

    As both a motor vehicle driver and a cyclist for transportation, I understand a lot of the various viewpoints expressed here. In my opinion, the fewer laws that differentiate cyclists from other motor traffic the better. If you change the laws to give cyclists a special “deal”, then it can have unintended consequences.

    One cyclist with a helmet-cam and an eager attorney could make a steady six figure income in Sonoma county because so many drivers do not like them and are continually expressing their distaste with SUV’s cars, and trucks. then we will have a real circus on our hands.

    Enforce the existing laws. Give cyclists that blow stop signs a nice pricey ticket. Ticket them for riding at night without lights. Get them out of the crosswalks. Simple stuff.

    Put enough law enforcement on the road to handle reckless/dangerous drivers that target/harass cyclists. If law enforcement gets a complaint about a driver with license plate info, then follow-up on those complaints and interview/warn the errant motorists. simple stuff.

    Put some funds into educating cyclists as to how to behave on the streets. Its really important. If a cyclist is riding correctly, I have no problem at all seeing them, understanding what they are doing, and NOT hitting them with my car. Its simple to pass them cleanly and quickly with plenty of room if you time it right and know how to drive. Lets stick to the basics.

    Thumb up 24 Thumb down 3

  35. ho frog says:

    so true.live in san diego. i see both bicyclists and drivers being stupid.

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  36. Garry Baker says:

    i believe that the current laws are adequate. drivers need to be responsible and need to respect cyclists rights and safety. the other side of the coin is that riders need to ride legally and safely. No running red lights and stop signs, not riding against traffic, no riding without lights, no riding through pedestrian crosswalks, etc., etc. The number of cyclists I riding unsafely far outnumbers the riders riding correctly and safely!

    Thumb up 36 Thumb down 5

  37. J.R. Wirth says:

    So now the court system will have to judge “driver’s intentions.” This is like a hate crime law for cyclists.

    How many bike trails does this county have? Stick to them and maybe you won’t find yourself wrapped around a car. I want a law that if a cyclist rides in the middle of the lane he is “intentionally” trying to cause a head on collision when the motorist veers into the oncoming lane to get around him.

    Cycling is stupid anyway. Bicycles are for kids and poor third world people who can’t afford cars.

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  38. homegirl says:

    Every time I drive in Santa Rosa, without fail, I observe a cyclist who fails to comply with the rules of the road. Most common complaint is their refisal to stop for traffic signals and stop signs, riding two and more abreast, and the latest flagrant display of attitude; riding ON the white line that separates the bicycle lane for auto traffic. Since a driver is required to maintain a three foot distance from the cyclist I must either crawl along next to the cyclist who is more intested in displaying attitude than sharing the road or partially cross into the adjacent or oncoming lane of traffic.

    They should be licensed, tested and cut the attitude.

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  39. Jason Valez says:

    Let’s identify the bicyclists who more often than not are the cause of the accidents occurring between motorists and bicyclists. Why are there still no license plates or safety equipment on most bicycles? If bikes are vehicles and riders are using our streets then we need to require all of the same things as we do more motorists. As it is, unidentifiable people are riding as they please without any consequences for bad behavior. This needs to change or get the bicycles off the roads for everyone’s safety.

    We need licenses, insurance and all safety equipment for bikes. Otherwise bikes are not really vehicles but are toys or sports equipment that should not be on the streets. Our elected officials as well as the Press Democrat should be held responsible for increased fatalities because they are constantly extolling the virtues of riding bikes on roads.

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  40. Jim Bennett says:

    More anti-automobile ideology.

    Obviously any motorist who can’t respect the safety of a pedestrian or cyclist should realize legal ramifications.

    Look the other way in terms of licensing, traffic violations, deliberately blocking country/rural roads.

    More ICLEI ideology permeating our community.

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  41. Kirstin says:

    This article says that the current law “requires such things as as the positive identification of the driver.” And this proposed ordinance does not? How in the world would that work? Who would be sued if one couldn’t identify the perp?

    I’m all for maximum safety for all — drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians; but I am skeptical of imposing new, civil penalty ordinances to do it. We have laws sufficient for handling attacks, assaults, battery, etc. both in criminal and civil actions. And a high standard of proof is important to safeguard everyone allegedly involved.

    Also, as someone who often walks myself, I must say that more often than not, it is bicycle riders, not motorists whom I consider a threat to my safety. Motorists are much better at observing the rules of the road. But those on bicycles often don’t. They illegally use the sidewalks. As a driver, I also notice bicyclists who do all sorts of strange things on the road — darting across a busy boulevard without notice, for example. It is time for the police to enforce road rules on bicycle riders.

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  42. Snarky says:

    Ever notice how POORLY the local governments, both county and city, maintain the bike routes?

    The painted street lines are faded or nearly worn off the pavement.

    Paint is cheap.

    Part of the solution is for drivers to see a well marked bike lane. WELL marked. Not faded or nearly non-existent line.

    For those who disagree, then we might just as well forget painting the double yellows, right?

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