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Proposed Ordinance Looks at Making Roads Safer for Cyclists

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will discuss a plan to triple fines for drivers who threaten cyclists and make it easier for cyclists to recoup medical and other expenses

This Tuesday, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will discuss a proposed ordinance that would triple penalties for drivers who intentionally threaten or harass cyclists, the Press Democrat is reporting.

The proposal is being spearheaded by the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition in an effort to prevent harassment from drivers after a lethal summer for cyclists.

"This is about sending a message that we take care of our bicyclists and pedestrians and protect them," Supervisor Shirlee Zane, told the paper.

Five Sonoma County cyclists were killed this year after being struck by cars, a trend that advocates say requires action. The hope is that the new ordinance would make drivers give cyclists more room on roads and not view them as a nuisance.

It would also define harassment against cyclists and make it easier for cyclists to recoup expenses for damaged equipment and medical bills.

The discussion is limited to whether the proposal warrants further study. If so, the board would vote on an ordinance sometime over the next few months.

What do you think of the proposed ordinance? Will it prevent car vs. bicycle accidents? Share your thoughts below.

Active Thinker November 13, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Why are people so hostile towards people on bikes in Sonoma? What is their problem? I agree with making the fines very harsh.... It's like being a bully with a car...people just riding their bikes and getting exercise and saving the planet from cars.
tyler thomas mcdowell November 13, 2012 at 06:12 PM
I believe it is a great idea, my father is an avid bike rider riding to and from work and whenever he has the chance. It should help makes people more aware of cyclists on the road. HOWEVER, that being said, I believe there should be fees/fines as well for bikers/cyclists who are not stopping at stop signs/lights when they should be or when they are not in bike lane(if designated). If there is no bike lane... then ride single file like you're supposed to. Not side by side, or 3x3 just so you can talk to each other. Riding bikes is great exercise and great for the environment, I have nothing against it. Just those few bikers, ruining it for the others, by not 'sharing their part of the road'.
Middle Class November 13, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Bikers pay no registration, no licensing fees, no fuel tax, and are not required to have insurance. Yet, they are allowed free use of public roadways that were designed originally for automobiles just so they can pretend to be Lance Armstrong. Thousands of people are killed every year in automobile accidents on the roadways and these silly people think its a good idea to exercise on the same roadway wearing spandex and styrofoam helmets. Now these silly people want special laws and extra enforcement so they can feel even more entitled to the roadway. The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition is being greedy and ridiculous. Buy a mountain bike or stationary bike, congratulations YOU just solved YOUR problem.
Middle Class November 13, 2012 at 07:24 PM
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors needs to also discuss California Vehicle Code section 39002(a), which states; "A city or county, which adopts a bicycle licensing ordinance or resolution, may provide in the ordinance or resolution that no resident shall operate any bicycle, as specified in the ordinance, on any street, road, highway, or other public property within the jurisdiction of the city or county, as the case may be, unless the bicycle is licensed in accordance with this division." Bicyclists should pay their fair share.
Russ Kerby November 13, 2012 at 07:50 PM
I have a problem with bicyclists on the backroads that don't pull over to let cars by. I came upon a cyclist a couple of weeks ago that was riding by himself right in the middle of the lane. I figured when he heard me pull up behind him he'd move over. Nope. He just continued to ride in the middle of the lane and the road was curvy, so I couldn't safely pass. When we came to a pullout where there was enough room for a car to pull over he continued to stay in the middle of the lane. That was it for me. As soon as I could pass I laid into the horn. It's riders like him who give the rest of them a bad name. Most cyclists seem very aware and are clearly trying to be courteous. I would never hurt anyone, but I can understand why drivers get so frustrated. Maybe the fines for cyclists holding up traffic, etc. should also be tripled. The article kind of implies the five cylclists were runover intentionally. Maybe more deaths occured because more cyclists are putting themselves in dangerous positions.
Wayne November 13, 2012 at 09:10 PM
I think the main reason for being so hostile is because you see a lot of bikers not obeying the rules of the road... i live near an intersection and have watched the traffic... about 90% of the bicycles that come thru never even stop for the stop signs even with cars in the intersection...
John Pecoraro November 14, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Wow! Seems this is an emotional trigger for some [i.e Middle Class] or maybe just a little too much caffeine. I cycle a lot every week and I can attest that the majority of motorist out there are doing their part to 'share the road'. That being said, I agree that cyclist should be required to pass some sort of requisite to be allowed to ride on the roads. Something as simple as signing an acknowledgement regarding safe cycling, this could be done when a bike is purchased. There are a lot of 'bad' cyclist out there who are making the joy of cycling seem like a plague of locust to the motorist. For my cycling friends... please stay in the bike lane - this is where the motorist expect to see you. Ride with the traffic - again this is where the motorist expects to see you. Wear bright colors and use lights - make yourself visible. Obey the traffic laws - stop at stop signs and put one foot on the ground, motorist who see you doing this will be more respectful and courteous and more willing to share the road if they know you are following the same rules as them. Always yield to the motorist, never challenge them, and wear all your safety equipment. I cycle about 70+ miles each week and I have found most motorist and cyclist to be good citizens. Please don't judge everyone badly for the actions of a few.
Ernest Giono November 14, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Maybe if cyclists followed the rules, they would not be so dislked by motorists. Most bike riders do not even stop at arterial stop signs and some go right through traffic lights if the cross traffic is not heavy. Rules of the Road are for everyone. Act like a nice person and you will be treated likewise.
Patricia Jeffares November 15, 2012 at 12:25 AM
If there were more dedicated bike paths, there would be less problems all around. Every city can't be like Portland, OR, but it would be nice to move in that direction for the sake of the planet and our health.
Wire November 15, 2012 at 05:00 AM
Why so hostile? I could had killed a law breaker peddler as he ran a stop sign and cut the corner making a left turn to cross a bind intersection to boot. There's no traffic there I don't need to stop as he tried to apologize by hand signals, all dress up in his spandex head protection. Why protect the head if they don't use it? Wouldn't been so bad on a right turn but a left turn OUCH!
The Fool November 15, 2012 at 05:38 AM
It's not a question of bikers not just following the rules. C'mon, talking about blaming the victim... Of course some bicyclists don't follow the rules. The attitude of many of you seems to be, well, so a few die, that's what you get for running a stop sign...Seriously? Why don't car drivers---like myself--look in the mirror, so to speak? In other words, don't car drivers violate the rules of the road, and far more often? To use the "logic" presented above, the roads should be closed to cars. More to the point, we do far more to accelerate climate change and the hidden health costs of air pollution than bikes. When will the angry auto drivers above start accepting their responsibility for the harms us drivers all cause than to blame a few aggressive idiots or stop sign runners. Talk about missing the point, y'all...
John Pecoraro November 15, 2012 at 02:37 PM
I agree with Ned that the problem is on both sides of the issue. When I cycle I stop at all stop signs and lights, and I am extra cautious when a motorist is approaching because I never know if they intend to stop as well or just blow right on through. Unfortunately, we now live in a society of self-absorbed and self- entitled people who refuse to take responsibility for their actions. EVERYONE needs to slow the pace and be a little nicer out there on the roads. Oh, and by the way, maybe some of you haven't heard... most of us don't wear 'spandex' or 'Styrofoam' helmets any more --- cyclist & cycling have evolved. Cycling used to be something to do on a Sunday afternoon with the family. Today it has become a responsible way to commute and fun way to exercise. It is here to stay just like texting and the internet. Once this is acknowledged we can move past pointing fingers and stop the poo flinging over who is entitled to ride the roads.
mikeg55 November 15, 2012 at 03:23 PM
When you have a car vs. a bike, I'm sorry but it is the cyclist who has to be the better person. The car might get a big fine, but the cyclist can lose their life. While driving, cyclist following the rules and not causing a problem are easy to ignore and everybody's happy. But when the jerky bicyclists are riding in the middle of the road and refuse to pull over, or flip you off when you give a little horn tap when they are riding 2 or 3 across and blocking your lane, more aggressive drivers might devolve into road rage. Being a cocky biker can make you a dead biker.
The Fool November 16, 2012 at 05:42 AM
Mikeg55, you're right. And your logic also holds true for motorcyclists. The two-wheeled must always assume the four wheeled is death to be. That is the sad reality behind "defensive-biking." What concerns me, however, is there seems to be confusion between being cautious because of inattentive drivers and the inherent, "might makes right" approach that says that somehow, bicyclists deserve what they get. All bicyclists need to be careful. But any deviation from the utmost care on the part of car drivers is negligent and possibly criminally so.
Jayme Peta February 06, 2013 at 06:58 PM
An effort in the county to create more paved bike paths, more bike commuter lanes and more clearly marked safe shoulders for bikes to travel on could increase bike commuting and safety and reduce the ways in which bikes and cars have to interact. A "bike culture" can really help increase safety by making everyone aware of cyclists and giving cyclists a way to get distance from cars. When cycling replaces car use in running errands or commuting, you increase the health of your community while reducing emissions and traffic. Every town should be investing in bike safety and bike lanes if they want a healthier, more sustainable and more FUN community!

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