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Sonoma County Board of Supervisors adopts ordinance assisting cyclists, pedestrians


The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday formally approved a local ordinance aimed to make it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to sue those who harass or intimidate them.

CyclistThe ordinance is modeled on similar laws adopted by several cities, including Sebastopol, which passed its ordinance in December. Sonoma County becomes the first county nationwide to adopt such a measure.

Advocates have advanced the ordinance as way to offer a clearer path to civil court remedies for cyclists and pedestrians and limit hostility toward those road users.

Opponents have said that it unfairly targets motorists, that protections already are in place to punish those convicted of serious car-versus-bike crimes, and that any ordinance targeting lesser incidents risks meddling in a murky area of law.

The board’s 5-0 vote on the consent agenda item affirmed the measure’s endorsement a week ago. Supervisor Shirlee Zane, an outspoken supporter, said the ordinance would help “raise our consciousness” about safely sharing roads in the county.

33 Responses to “Sonoma County Board of Supervisors adopts ordinance assisting cyclists, pedestrians”

  1. Bill says:

    I just move here, and am shocked at the number of bicyclist that ride the road as though they own it, without regard to the deadly vehicles that they should be sharing it with. I think the bicyclist should be paying the same vehicle taxes the motorist pay, as well as maintain insurance for accidents they cause. They don’t obey the laws of the road, run stop signs, and unexpectedly weave all over the place.

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  2. GAJ says:

    @amused, if you equate bicycles with shopping carts you really have no clue.

    As to implying that I’m homeless, try again.

    I have nearly as many homes as I do bicycles.

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  3. Amused says:

    I call upon the Board of Supervisors to require license plates on shopping carts.

    I witnessed GAJ pushing his cart of belongings along Santa Rosa Ave but ON the sidewalk. His cart was obviously stolen from some market. A license plate would have helped police ID it and the scofflaw who uses it for his personal moving truck.

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  4. bear says:

    The County will get sued when morons driving cars and trucks kill bicyclists riding in a legal manner.

    There is a detailed County “Bike Plan” that is not being built because you folks don’t want to pay for it.

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  5. Grapevines says:

    “jeff” wonders how much the bicycle community paid the BOS. Since when did the BOS have to be paid to do anything stupid? It seems they come by this ability naturally.

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  6. Mr. Obvious says:

    Almost killed by a bicyclist yesterday:

    It was a pretty day yesterday so my wife and I took a Sunday drive down Hwy 1 from Bodega through Stinson.

    Let’s face it, anyone who rides a bicycle on Hwy 1 is Darwin Award candidate. But some, at least make an attempt to share the road by riding to the right as far as possible; in single file. I always give them a friendly wave when I’m past.

    But then, there are the “others”. The elites, the entitled, the jackasses.

    On a particularly twisty section of the road “Levi” came around a blind corner in the oncoming lane ahead of us — more or less in the middle of the road. In OUR lane came the pickup trunk trying to pass him! Only desperate swerving narrowly avoided the obvious. We would have been killed.

    Following the pickup truck was a line of another 9-10 cars nose-to-tail also stacked up behind “Levi”.

    We have all been there, many times — some jackass(s, no doubt from a local bike “coalition” impedes normal traffic to the point beyond tolerance and someone makes a kamikaze move to get past.

    So what if “Levi” gets bonked on the head with a wadded-up Burger King bag, or royally cussed out? He nearly converted my wife and I to bug splatter on the front of that pick-up!

    Of course the “coalition” will claim it wasn’t the Levi wanna-be that was at fault, it was the pick up truck driver. Really??

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  7. Godzilla says:

    An elderly man with a walker not only bumped into me but he stepped on my toes as he made his escape.

    IF ONLY his walker had a license plate, I could have called 911 and reported him as a sidewalk hazard!!!

    I call upon the BoS to impose mandatory license plates for elderly walkers. They are dangerous to the public !!!

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  8. jeff says:

    The bicycle community comes up with the stupidest arguments that make no sense. Like the very first one here by Godzilla. People with baby strollers are pedestrians and aren’t out competing in traffic. It’s pretty simple, 100,000 bicycles on the same roads with cars: no problem. A couple million bikes ARE a problem. A problem being created by the bicycle community, and they blame everyone but themselves. I wonder how much the bicycle community paid the board of supervisors.

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  9. Godzilla says:

    We need license plates on baby strollers, also.

    They always take up the sidewalk and block doorways, those criminals.

    And a database to keep track of all those scofflaw parents. In fact, DNA those parents. Ya never know !!!

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  10. GAJ says:

    Matt H, ask yourself, “how does having a license plate on cars and motorcycles help pedestrians?”

    Then ask yourself “how does having a license plate on a bicycle help pedestrians?”

    If the law is about “leveling the playing field” then license plates on bicycles makes perfects sense.

    Makes you wonder why bicyclists are dead set against a proposal that might make them easier to identify.

    But I think we know the answer.

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  11. homegirl says:

    Lazy BOS gave the Bicycle Coalition everything and drivers and pedestrians nothing. A fair ordinance would have included training, testing, licensing and insurance for cyclists. As it stands if a cyclists runs into your car or runs over you in a pedestrian crosswalk the cyclist is judgement proof. Or civil court case for damages.

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  12. Tom says:

    Unfortunate the SCBC is not concerned about they safety of riders, they just care about the activism and “the fight”.

    This law does nothing more than further divide to two sides and puts more cyclists in danger.


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  13. Snarky says:

    Its time.

    We also need license plates on skateboards.

    Those kids (and immature adults) are criminal !

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  14. Matt H says:

    Umm..GAJ,you are basically confirming my point. The insinuation of bike plates is absurd. I dont know if you noticed that. I also think Portand’s police budget could be slightly larger than Santa Rosa’s.

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  15. GAJ says:

    @ Matt H; the law is absurd.

    Can you write down the license plate of one of my motorcycle if I pull a stunt on you, (which I wouldn’t), even though it’s less than 1/2 the size of a car plate?

    If Bicyclists, (of which I am one), want to be considered full on vehicles then why shouldn’t they have a plate?

    Can they do no wrong?

    Would certainly help cops who pull over bicycles, (saw it happen in Portland), ID the person responsible without a convenient I have no ID excuse.

    Putting Bicyclists in a special category with special rights makes no sense if you’re going to pass a law that supposedly makes all vehicles easier to ID by pedestrians and authorities.

    Repeal the stupid and redundant law or make it easier for pedestrians to ID vehicles.

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  16. Matt H says:

    GAJ- Are you going to be able to safely write down a cyclists license plate that ran a stop sign while you are driving? Perhaps, you can follow them all the way to their destination and have a confrontation with them and call 911. The police will love stopping what they are doing to pursue a perp on a bike.

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  17. David Wells says:

    Have they changed the laws of physics yet?

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  18. Over Easy says:

    It is hard to believe that Rabbitt and McGuire would have supported this nonsense.

    I can see no goodwill or positive benefit that this ordinance brings other than superficial feel good. I have a feeling the county will be getting sued over this. More wasted money.

    I do like the license plate idea for bikes.

    Thumb up 26 Thumb down 4

  19. R.B. Fish says:

    This is just political pay back from the environmental nazis. Unfortunately, it’s a very foolish and dangerous endorsement by the BOS. Be prepared for more accidents, deaths and lawsuits just to make life a little more miserable. Ah…another ugly head of liberalism.

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  20. paul harris says:

    Hey PD, what does the ordinance say? How can the public be informed if the media doesn’t do its job? Where’s the beef? Its the content of the ordinance that is news not what the proponents and opponents say. Its a sorry state of affairs today, but this is what is considered news.

    Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  21. Morgan H. says:

    I absolutely love the photograph they used for this article…

    Just another bicyclist riding where its unsafe… forcing an elderly man and his wife to cross the double yellow line. (Which, last time I checked, isn’t legal at ANY time.)

    Thumb up 21 Thumb down 5

  22. Morgan H. says:

    So when I call the police to report a cyclist who just ran 3 red lights and blew past an old woman on the opposite corner without so much as a “Hey, coming up on your left!” How do you report it?

    Guy wearing spandex on a blue bike isn’t very descriptive.

    It’s imperative that if we are to have laws like this that bicycles be registered through some process and that they bare license plates JUST like ANY other vehicle on the road.

    That’s GOT to be the cost of driving/riding these streets if we’re going to make up asinine laws such as this.

    Otherwise it’s nothing more than a gum brained double standard only applicable/attainable by one small group of people. Almost comparable to rich folk parking in handicapped spots only because “they can afford the ticket” We all saw how quickly THAT fine went up.

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  23. Dan Drummond Sr says:

    Why not license plates for pedestrians, too?
    GAJ – An ID snowflake is the square in front of your name, which has a unique pattern and color combination. It’s associated with your email address and never changes no matter what name you use.

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  24. j galt says:

    Someone yelled at me,I don’t need positive ID so it may have been Shirley Zane!

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 2

  25. GAJ says:

    Matt H, you do realize motorcycle plates are smaller than car plates, right?

    A bicycle plate could be equally legible even if the overall size might be smaller than a motorcycle plate.

    Not really rocket science.

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  26. Robert says:

    California already had small license plates for motorcycles
    Time to make then required on bicycles that travel on dangerous two-lane roads with no shoulders on blind corners/hills.
    Riders should be required to wear the same safety gear,road restrictions and insurance requirements as mopeds on these dangerous roads

    Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  27. Betty R says:

    so if a bicyclists runs a red light and gets hit by a car can they be sued by the driver of the car? I almost took a bicyclists out because he ran the red light

    Thumb up 23 Thumb down 1

  28. Jorge Soto says:

    I am an avid cyclist..I DO NOT SUPPORT SRCC and SCBC and I ride more than 95% of them.

    Think about it objectively. Since when has society embraced sudden change? Since when have the values of a minority been unquestioningly accepted by the majority? Since when have people welcomed ideas that they believe threaten their own lifestyles?

    Since never.

    The backlash has happened in other cities, more CONTROL, BICYCLE REGISTRATION, fees, blah blah blah.

    These cycling enthusiasts and pawns are destroying my freedom

    That’s not how things work. And cycling – a fringe activity that over the past couple of years has attempted to torpedo itself into the North American mainstream – is no exception. The “cycling culture” is not so special as to be immune to the laws of social psychology. Ingroup-outgroup bias, prejudice, stereotyping, and all that good stuff, apply to the interactions between non-cyclists and cyclists just as they do to interactions between other social groups with conflicting goals and value systems. It was naive on our part to believe that sweeping changes could be imposed on our neighbourhoods – both in the form of bicycle infrastructure and even just in the form of increasing numbers of cyclists on the roads – without non-cyclists feeling threatened.The incident that took place in Boston several months back illustrated this point perfectly. Just weeks after bicycle lanes were installed in Charlestown, the local residents had a Council meeting, voted to have them removed, and swiftly did so. Many cyclists were outraged by the events, and in a way so was I – The waste of government funds this battle of wills involved was unacceptable. But the reaction of the Charlestown community in of itself was understandable to me. Adequate research was not done to determine whether neighbourhoods through which bike lanes were planned wanted them or not in order to gauge possible resistance or hostility. No effort was made to establish good will with the neighbourhoods, and so there was no good will. The community felt that something strange, foreign and dangerous was being shoved down its throat by the big city planners, and they wanted none of it.This is all about a national agenda. This isn’t local at all.

    Remember Humboldt Street..the residents finally tore it out.

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  29. Steveguy says:

    GAJ– What is next- license plates for pedestrians ? Mark of the Beast ?

    Think about it. It goes BOTH ways.

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  30. Steveguy says:

    Maybe we are ” First in the Nation’ because it it is a stupid idea/law ?

    Maybe other localities think this is an unneeded intrusion on the Civil Courts ?

    Being ‘first’ doesn’t mean that it is a wise decision. More fluff from our new robber barons. The lawyers are happy though, payback for campaign contributions ! Follow the money !

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  31. Matt H says:

    License plates for bikes? Will they be the size of the ones on cars? If not, will motorists be able to read these plates of the offending cyclists? I can appreciate holding cyclists accountable when they break the law, but let’s find a practical way to do it.

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  32. GAJ says:

    If this is meant to help pedestrians then one other step needs to be taken for a pedestrian to identify a bicyclist that harassed them; license plates need to be mandatory to ride a bicycle.

    If this in not really meant to help pedestrians then no license plates needed.

    Just yesterday on Santa Rosa avenue traffic was stopped by 3 bicyclists suddenly choosing to cross busy traffic with no warning.

    They were using a pedestrian crossing.

    Note to bicyclists, (I own 5 of them), if you’re riding your bike rather than pushing it you are NOT a pedestrian and not allowed to use the pedestrian crossings with impunity just because you’re too lazy or stupid to dismount.

    I assume these suicidal riders would sue a driver that ran into them.

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  33. The Answer says:

    Whinning spandex crazed bicyclists move us further into the nanny state.

    Now they just try to at least slow down a stop signs and stay out of the center of the road. They are not paying any taxes for their use of our highways, roads and sidewalks while they ride merryly down the roads giving drivers the bird.

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