Brown vetoes bicycle buffer zone

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Oversized vehicles and narrow lanes can be a deadly combination for cyclists unless drivers recognize that danger.
halifaxnews.net

Anyone who has ever ridden a bicycle knows how scary and dangerous it is when cars pass too closely at high speed. So the California Bicycle Coalition made its top legislative priority for the year a bill, SB 910, to require drivers to give bicyclists a three-foot buffer or slow down to 15 mph. And even though the Legislature overwhelmingly approved this reasonable traffic safety measure, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it on Friday.

“His veto made no sense. We honestly can't figure out why he vetoed the bill,” said CBC executive director Dave Snyder, a San Francisco resident who used to run the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and who founded Transportation for a Livable City (now known as Livable City). “It's not based on logic or public policy, but just based on politics.”

The California Highway Patrol and California Department of Transportation opposed the measure on the grounds that it could impede the flow of automobile traffic, and Brown cited their stand in his veto message. Indeed, keeping cars moving at high speed has long been the central goal of these agencies, even when it has high economic, environmental, or public safety costs.

But Snyder is right that Brown's veto message is confusing and contradictory. He expresses support for the three-foot buffer, but expresses concern about slowing traffic to 15 mph, seemingly confused about the meaning of the word “or,” meaning drivers can provide the buffer or slow down to a safe passing speed if they're unable to give bicyclists that much room.

People who don't ride bikes tend to forget that automobiles are deadly weapons, and that a bicyclist's brief swerve to avoid a pothole, broken glass, or other hazard can have disastrous consequences if a car is passing too closely. This veto follows another illogical one – Brown's rejection of Sen. Mark Leno's local vehicle license fee bill, which would have pumped $75 million into SF's coffers and was almost universally supported by this year's mayoral field – that gave undue deference to automobile owners.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Police Department recently launched a crackdown on bicyclists in the city, issuing dozens of tickets on Market Street for running stop lights and on Townsend for briefly riding on the sidewalk en route to the Caltrain station – and ignoring the nearby cars parked in bike lanes and running those same red lights.

Now, before we get to the commenters' tirade about scofflaws on bicycles – which come every time we write about bikes – let me note that people break the law on every form of transportation, everyday. Motorists speed, run stop signs and lights, and illegally edge past pedestrians (who themselves jaywalk with great regularity). And every Muni bus has several riders who haven't paid. None of us are angels, so try not to get too worked up into a sanctimonious rage.

But if you want to truly understand why bicyclists can often be so flagrant in our disregard for the law, consider that we're using a transportation system and abiding traffic laws that weren't designed for us. Seriously, just ride a bike and you'll quickly understand. We don't need to stop at every stop sign or signal light to have a safe, smooth-flowing transportation system that doesn't steal the right-of-way from drivers, who we can usually see and hear coming with plenty of time to stop. Idaho and other jurisdictions actually treat bikes differently than cars in this realm, with laws that don't require cyclists to lose momentum by repeatedly coming to complete stops, and it works well.

The fact is, the bike buffer bill is the very minimum that we need to encourage cycling as a safe and appealing transportation option to more people, which would only help our environment, public health, and dependence on fossil fuels. And the fact that it was vetoed for petty, illogical reasons is incredibly frustrating.

Yet there may be a silver lining to this. Snyder said the CBC, which is just beginning to increase its reach and influence and to prepare a more ambitious agenda on behalf of California cyclists, will use this defeat as a launching pad for future efforts.

“The main benefit of the three-foot bill was the community organizing that we did to get is passed. So now we can leverage that for our next steps,” Snyder said. “California needs a lot more than a three-foot buffer to give people more safe transportation choices.”

Comments

The idea that the law doesn't apply to cyclists is a dangerous and a deadly attitude.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 10:47 am

I didn't hear about that. Was it here? Can you provide more details or cite a link to this very unusual occurence?

Posted by steven on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 11:20 am

This past August:

Dionette Cherney has been identified as the 68-year-old woman who died early this morning from injuries caused when she was hit by a cyclist last month as she crossed the street near the Embarcadero. Police say Cherney died at 5:20 a.m.

The Washington, D.C., resident was in the crosswalk at Mission Street at about 8:30 a.m. on her way to the Embarcadero when a speeding cyclist blew a red light and hit her.

Cherney suffered a major head injury.

Police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza told SF Weekly that the SFPD has forwarded the case to the District Attorney's Office, which will decide whether to file criminal charges.

Meanwhile, police are reminding cyclists that the rules of the road also apply to them

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 11:29 am

The idea that the law doesn't apply to cyclists is a VIOLENT one. Anyone who doesn't think that bicycles should obey the traffic laws is saying that those of us on foot should not be able to protect ourselves with the laws already in place. And if I am driving a car I don't want a splattered bicyclist who ran a stop light to be on my conscience even if it is not my fault. The only critical mass we've reached is that it's high time bicycles become part of the main stream transportation and obey the law. Sorry, the bicycle free-for-all is over. if you truly believe in alternative forms of transportation you'll contribute to a system that promotes safety on the road.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

i'm sure you break lots of laws, true believer. Just not these.

It's interesting.
You tell others to Respect the laws you want them to, but not others because only you are the truly enlightened.

Posted by Meatlock on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

Definition of VIOLENCE
intense, turbulent, or furious and often destructive action or force

... or a bicycle soaring down Haight street hill @ Scott street impaling itself onto the hood of a car or nailing a pedestrian. This is an unnecessary violent end to a situation created by the idea of no laws for bicycles.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

You said:
"The idea that the law doesn't apply to cyclists is a VIOLENT one."
You were asked:
"Please tell us more about how an idea is violence."
The point is an IDEA is not VIOLENCE.

We get it.
You're not too smart, you're easily confused.
You like to bray your opinions constantly, but have little interest in basing them on facts. You fancy yourself a shaper of public opinion, an important figure in the political scene.
But if you are overwhelmed by a notion this simple, you really should quit.

Posted by Meatlock on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

That's precisely what we're trying to do, "contribute to a system that promotes safety on the road," but you and others are too hung up on criticizing bicyclists for disobeying laws that weren't created with our interests or dynamics in mind. Honestly, go back and read the post and my comments since then. I'm not defending the breaking of traffic laws, simply explaining why it happens, suggesting ways in which it might be addressed, and noting the hypocrisy of those who want to dismiss our perspective simply because many bicyclists break traffic laws, just like many motorists and pedestrians. I agree that we should promote more respect for the law, but that has to start with creating laws that are reasonable and that we've had some say in creating. 

Posted by steven on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

July 15th was 13 weeks ago.
13 is not "a few".
Once again you prove that you're a liar and will say anything in an effort to make your idiotic points.

"just a few weeks ago"
Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 10:47 am

Friday, July 15:
This morning traffic was backed up on the Embarcadero after a cyclist ran a red light, hitting a pedestrian.
http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2011/07/cyclist_runs_red_light_injur...

Posted by Meatlock on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

The pedestrian fatality he cited is true.

Is 13 a few? Yes if it's dollars; no, if it's fingers. Weeks? Who cares?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 1:40 pm

you say: "Who cares?"

Look at you, you're actually trying to argue that a "few" means "thirteen".
You're pathetic.

You talked out of your ass, you lost your credibility, the end.

Posted by Meatlock on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 1:56 pm

because you think 13 isn't a few?

Is that it?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

Shove your strawman up your ass, and get back to us when you've formed a coherent thought based on facts.

Posted by Meatlock on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

Presumably all the newspapers and the police were lying, right?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 2:38 pm
Posted by Meatlock on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 2:54 pm

He refuted the idea that cyclists cannot cause fatalities.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

When did someone write that " cyclists cannot cause fatalities"?
Nice job talking about yourself in third person, to give the impression that there's an army of idiotic right wing trolls here.

Oooh boy!
Look at me! I really refuted that guy!
Plus, it's putative!
You are an absolute fountain of laughs.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 3:22 pm

and his argument for cyclists ducking the law was predicated on the "fact" that cyclists can't do serious harm.

That was refuted. And all your pedantic posturing about whether 13 is a "few" or a "few more" just shows how desperate that coup de grace rendered you, putatively or otherwise.

He took you to the cleaners and hung you out to dry. Other metaphors to follow.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

Good to know there's no shortage of idiots in the Troll Barrel.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 4:06 pm

Exactly when isn't material. If he was out by a month, why would that matter?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

You lie, you get caught,
you say: "Why would that matter?"

Who needs facts?
You have conservative fundamentalist faith.

Posted by meatlock on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 4:22 pm

Violins swell, as conservative Troll flings feces...

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 4:11 pm

I never said cyclists can't do serious harm, what I said was that the vast majority of traffic fatalities and injuries are caused by motorists, and citing one incident of a cyclist causing a fatality does nothing to dispute the truth of my statement. The story you cited, particularly given how newsworthy and rare it is, is the exception that proves the rule. And anyone who wants to argue that cyclists pose anywhere near the danger to others that motorists do is delusional.

Posted by steven on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

¡MIRA MIRA!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

You are really shitty at aping my screen name.

Try harder.

Posted by meatlock on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

it's my screen name now.

just be quiet while the adults sort out all the lies coming from your side, thanks to yours being the only side thts able to see the truth and enlightenment and give it to the ignorant masses, who will thank their conservative superiors one day.

chuckles.

Posted by meatlock on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

¡MIRA MIRA!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 5:09 pm

Powerful black sisters are doin it for themselves and we don't need your honky hierarchy to tell us what to do!
Face it, powerful women scare conservative windbags like you, you damn imp!

Posted by Right On Sister Snapples on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 5:09 pm

¡MIRA MIRA!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 5:33 pm

Again I would never use the word troll though.

Posted by meatlock on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

¡MIRA MIRA!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

Still waiting for the quote, Troll.

"He refuted the idea that cyclists cannot cause fatalities."
Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

Where did anyone say "cyclists cannot cause fatalities"?
Show us the quote, because you are making yourself look like an idiot.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

Steven wrote: "We don't need to stop at every stop sign or signal light"

It was a cyclist blowing through a red light that killed that woman.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 4:07 pm

Next time just tell the truth from the start.
It's a fun new concept called "Not Lying"!

Posted by meatlock on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

Not only does that quote not mean "bicyclists cannot cause injuries," as you claim, but it's only a snippet from my actual quote that leaves out important context and misrepresents the point I was making. Here's the full quote: "We don't need to stop at every stop sign or signal light to have a safe, smooth-flowing transportation system that doesn't steal the right-of-way from drivers, who we can usually see and hear coming with plenty of time to stop."

I wasn't claiming a right to run stop signs, I was simply explaining how Idaho-style traffic laws function without impeding motorists.

Posted by steven on Oct. 13, 2011 @ 10:16 am

braking on freeways should also be outlawed, as it DOES cause rear end collisions.

mr. browns veto message sounds like, "CA drivers are already too dumb to follow current law, i dont want to give them another one to over complicate a process that is obviously too complicated as it stands(driving a motor vehicle), but dont blame me. i just listened to these other ignorant self-serving departments that have also failed to use any logic."

no, but really, the only "logical reasoning" i see in his veto message was that it MAY cause rear end collisions. therefore, braking on freeways should also be made illegal as it DOES cause rear end collisions.

i was trying to text my friend on my way to work yesterday, and had to slam on my brakes to not rear end the person in front of me. this a-hole stopped on the freeway because someone had stopped infront of them! the audacity!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 14, 2011 @ 9:27 am

Ummm, riding a bicycle isn't allowed on freeways.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2011 @ 9:12 am

This isn't only about downtown SF. I realize that some of you don't consider the rest of the state to be relevant, but it exists, with most of the inhabitants. And children are riding their bike on those streets. They ride their bikes to school, and to the store, and just down the street, maybe with their parents.

While it's easy to point a finger at the troubled youth on a fixie, and claim that they don't deserve protection due to their attitude, guess what, someone's child will be endangered because this law was vetoed. That is the real shame in this matter.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2011 @ 9:10 am

There are just as many morons on bikes as there are in cars. Everyone has examples on either side of the argument. Some people don't know the law and others don't care, but that is no excuse. The simple fact of the matter is the car is bigger and more lethal than a bicycle. Get the hell out of the way if you don't want to get hurt. The moral high ground won't save you from being maimed or killed, both in car or on a bike. You can call it defensive cycling.

Modern society has eroded the average person's sense of fear and self preservation. I see cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians all completely oblivious to their surroundings all the time. A little situational awareness would go a long way on all sides. I have no idea where this sense of entitlement comes from for anyone. I don't want to hit that cyclist, so I avoid him as best I can in the given situation, so why don't they do the same? The consequences for them are far worse.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 2:02 pm

This is the solution to the problem. Less traffic, less pollution, a healthier population, a better place to live:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuBdf9jYj7o&feature=player_embedded#!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 21, 2011 @ 9:03 am

I like how so many drivers write these inflammatory posts against cyclists and would never do the same against motorists. Like the fellow person in the car you just cut off didn't also flip you off or call you an ahole. You just couldn't see and hear it. And no arrogance in the car world . It's just earlier to hate minorities; usually stemming from ignorance or jealously.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 06, 2012 @ 12:01 pm

I like how so many drivers write these inflammatory posts against cyclists and would never do the same against motorists. Like the fellow person in the car you just cut off didn't also flip you off or call you an ahole. You just couldn't see and hear it. And no arrogance in the car world . It's just easlier to hate minorities; usually stemming from ignorance or jealously.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 06, 2012 @ 12:02 pm