Advocates Concerned That Cyclists Are Included in Distracted Driving Bill

A bill introduced last month by State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), who has been a steady advocate for reducing the dangers of distracted driving, would increase first-time and repeat fines for drivers who text while driving or who don’t use hands-free devices, and would extend the prohibition of cell phone use to cyclists. This last move has cycling advocates baffled and on the defensive.

State Senate Bill 1475 would amend the California Vehicle Code so that, “a person shall not ride a bicycle or drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while riding or driving.” The bill would increase the base fine for illegal use of a cell phone while driving or riding a bicycle from $20 to $50 for the first offense, and increase the fine from $50 to $100 for each subsequent offense.

"This was something that was an oversight from the initial enactment from 2006, which took effect in 2008," Simitian explained in an interview with Streetsblog. He said he waited a year after the law took effect to make changes, which include the increased fines, adding a point to a driver’s record for the infraction, and using a portion of the fine to create an education fund for the dangers of distracted driving. Simitian also said the motivation for adding cyclists to the bill did not come from a dramatic incident nor a trend of increased cycling collisions due to cell phone use.

"Common sense tells us it’s not a safe habit, given all the risks that cyclists have to contend with," said Simitian.

The California Bicycle Coalition (CBC), which was an early supporter of the original distracted driving legislation, was not thrilled about the inclusion of cyclists in the bill. CBC Communications Director Jim Brown said that he was confused about the motivation for extending the same level of fines to cyclists, particularly absent data showing distracted cycling as a public safety hazard.

"The consequences of a distracted driver are considerably more serious than the consequences of distracted cycling," said Brown, adding that safe riding should be encouraged at all times and that talking on a cell phone or any other practice that distracted a cyclist from riding would not be advisable.

As for the actual danger to the public of distracted cycling, Brown said the data didn’t support the presumption of risk the law seeks to redress. "There are theoretical risks and there are actual risks," he said. "As far as I’m aware, there is no accident evidence that points to a problem. In the absence of any evidence against bicyclists, this law seems premature."

Neither spokesperson for the California Highway Patrol nor the San Francisco Police Department could point to a trend that showed an increase in distracted cycling. SFPD Lt. Lyn Tomioka said she had never heard of an officer ticketing a cyclist for riding and talking on a cell phone, nor did she say it was a concern in the department.

Tom Rice, Research Epidemiologist at UC Berkeley’s Safe Transportation Research and Education Center, said the issue could be one of data and the definition of a collision. "Unless there is also a motorized vehicle involved, it won’t make it into traffic collision reports," he said. The traditional databases, such as the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), don’t capture bicycle-pedestrian injury collisions or fatalities. "The data are hard to come by. It’s not a nice, easy reliable data set," said Rice.

bike_and_phone.jpgPhoto: Bryan Goebel

According to Wendy Alfsen of California Walks, a pedestrian advocacy organization, all road users should be "aware of our circumstances, particularly when there’s a potential conflict of interest between myself — whether I’m a driver, a cyclist, or a pedestrian — and another roadway user."

Alfsen said she wasn’t aware of statewide statistics showing an increasing trend of cyclists injuring or killing pedestrians, but she said in Berkeley over the past 15 years, with an average of three to four pedestrian fatalities annually, only one was caused by a cyclist.

"I don’t really think pedestrians or bicyclists or drivers can hold another roadway user to a higher standard," she said, though she argued, "the consequences to drivers should be higher because they can cause a much greater degree of harm to others and to themselves."

Given the difference in the potential danger posed by drivers and cyclists, regional bicycle advocates were concerned that the bill would equate the danger of each.

"It’s obvious to even the most casual observer that the potential damaging effects of driving a car while distracted far outweigh those of bicycling while distracted," said Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Corinne Winter. "It’s my own feeling that enforcement needs to focus on unlawful behavior that is potentially lethal or damaging."

Andy Thornley, Program Director for The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, agreed with Winter that lumping cyclists with motorists in this law was not good policy. While the SFBC "teaches and preaches safe, respectful, and mindful bicycling," said Thornley, "we’re very leery of any equivalence of penalty when punishing a guilty cyclist or driver for the same offense."

"Even worse, we wonder whether bicyclists would be cited more often than motorists because it’s so much easier to spot someone texting while pedaling," he added. "It’s already a problem of perception that individual bicycle riders seem to be noticed being naughty more than motorists, comfortably anonymous within their glass and steel boxes."

Because the bill was introduced on February 19th, it won’t go before committee until April at the earliest, at which time there will likely be significant interest and debate among advocates for safe roadway conditions.

As for supporting the bill, Walk California’s Alfsen said, "As a safety organization, we should be in favor of cell phone prohibitions applying to all roadway users, although the penalty should probably differ because of the degree of harm that drivers can inflict."

The CBC’s Brown said that his organization wasn’t taking a position on the bill at present but that they would work with Simitian as the legislation moved forward so that the penalties would be commensurate with the public safety risks associated with driving and cycling.

The SFBC’s Thornley worried the law could have unintended consequences, such as a reduction in cycling.

"We’re concerned that this law might find an inordinate proportion of bicycle riders to target, missing the real danger on the streets and further alienating the bicycle as a legitimate mode of transportation in California," he said.

Simitian defended his record of support for cyclists, citing his work as mayor of Palo Alto to build that city’s bicycle boulevard and numerous initiatives that improved cycling conditions.

He also said he would be open to reviewing the fine structure in committee if that was a significant issue.

"I’ve been an advocate for cyclists for 25 years for full rights to the road, but with those rights come a certain degree of responsibility," he said.

UPDATE: The SFBC’s Andy Thornley wanted to be sure readers know they don’t oppose Senator Simitian’s bill: "We’re definitely in favor of cell
phone and distracted driver/rider prohibitions that create safe
streets for all users, no special forgiveness for folks on bikes. The concerns I expressed to Streetsblog
about the proposal are not whether bicycle riders should follow the same
rules as everyone else (they should), it’s whether a distracted SUV
driver and a distracted bike rider should be fined the same amount,
given the enormous disparity in their destructive potential."

Bryan Goebel contributed reporting to this story.

  • JohnB

    I can’t see why the law should not apply equally to all road users. A distracted cyclist could cause a vehicle to skid or swerve to avoid him, and cause a multi-vehicle crash.

    I think it should also apply to pedestrians crossing the street.

  • Andy Chow

    It is stupid to write a law to prohibit some action that hasn’t/can’t demonstrate harm to someone else. We shouldn’t legislate a model behavior, but rather legislate so that it would reduce harm to someone else.

    For the same reason, I am against laws on DUI to bicyclists.

  • kit

    While I see where cycling advocacy groups are going with their logic, I don’t think that the broader audience will. Advocacy groups should NOT go on public record making statements about how cyclists should not have to follow laws that, by their own admission, ban practices that “would not be advisable [for saftey reasons].”

    Taking this kind of position fuels public perception that cyclists see themselves as above the law, and undermines cyclists place as road users. If we expect to reap the benefits of the roadway we should be willing to accept the responsibilities as well.

    Are we really all so desperate to attract more people to bicycling we want to encourage unsafe behavior? Do we not think that our energy would be better spent focusing on making the roads perceptively safer for cyclists as has been done with great success in cities like Portland? This is poor judgment on the part of SFBC and CBC.

  • kit

    excuse me… perceptibly. Not perceptively.

  • I’m a cyclist myself, and I support this. People who bike while talking on their phones are an obvious hazard and should be discouraged from doing so. It’s much easier for a cyclist to pull over and have a conversation than it is for a motorist, and a bike controlled with one hand is in much greater danger of going out of control than a car controlled with one hand.

  • JohnB – you have fallen into the same trap that the majority of our population seems to fall into, the ability to respond to statistical data with an anecdote. At least when the Global Warming deniers say “See, there is no global warming, 3 feet of snow in DC!” it’s an actual anecdote, not a hypothetical one. If the standard is “That might cause a crash and here’s my hypothetical example” then we should just close down the roads completely (to bikes as well as cars) based on actual examples.

    What’s amusing is that I suspect most reasoned “bike people” looked at Simitian’s bill and said “whatever”. There’s even less “justification” to talk on a cell phone while cycling (especially in a place like SF) because you can just pull over to the side of the road no matter where you are, whereas in a car, you’d have to find somewhere to legally pull over and most of the time that’s not so simple. Yet you felt the need to cook up some hypothetical to attack the “crazies” who probably don’t disagree with the final premise. That makes it even harder to take you seriously.

    Thornley does have a point in that cyclists could be disproportionately targeted by this law due to the visibility factor. I wouldn’t pick this fight, personally, agreeing with @Kit’s excellent analysis.

  • Mano

    The bill itself is pretty poorly drafted. Since the ban applies anywhere but on private land, a cyclist in the back country of a county park would be subject to the ban. Or a trail in a state beach. Or in a city park.

    There’s a potential that it would also ban the use of 2-way radios while on a bike — the limited exemptions for radio use in a vehicle don’t appear to extend to bikes. That might be tough for a bike messenger to swallow. Or a kid playing cops and robbers on his neighborhood street 😉

  • I have to say that I think the cell-phone ban should apply to cyclists as well. At some level it is actually harder to safely ride a bike with one hand taking care of holding a cellphone to my ear than it is to drive while holding the phone (just at a physical level, not even getting into the distraction caused by the mental activity).

    Let’s maybe focus on fighting the right battles re: cyclists vs. drivers’s rights and responsibilities to the road. I think we should have a law allowing cyclists to carefully and with full attention make a legal rolling stop through a clear intersection and to stop at red lights. Why cast our lot with the distracted on the road? Most cyclists just don’t ever ride and talk on the phone at the same time. It is a pain and there are plenty of other things to worry about as a vulnerable road user. What’s the harm in letting this law codify a practice largely already practiced (albeit the fines should probably be lower, but maybe that’s not even really necessary) and save our ammunition for other battles like the rolling-stop law?

    – J

  • ZA

    When it comes to enforcement and fines for distracted road use, I think there should be a formula of:

    Risk (to self and others) X Mass X Velocity.

    That way a distracted pedestrian crossing 4 lanes of traffic against all indicators and common sense could conceivably get the same fine as a cyclist risking two, or a car risking 5, or a truck risking just themselves at an intersection in violation of traffic signals.

  • Seth

    As a long time cyclist, I fully support this, and I’m disappointed that bicycle advocacy groups would speak out against it. Bicycles may be much less dangerous than cars, but a distracted rider could still easily hurt pedestrians – especially children, the elderly and pets! A bicyclist can also cause car accidents if they behave unpredictably while riding in traffic.

    Furthermore, it is SO much easier for a bicyclist to pull over to the side of the road to make a call or make a text. At least I can understand why a driver would be tempted to use a phone in traffic – since they would otherwise have to find a parking space. But when I need to use my phone I can just hop onto the sidewalk for a minute or two and then be on my way.

  • sanfrandan

    Let’s just start ticketing all of the cyclists for not obeying the laws currently on the books: not stopping at stop signs and stop lights, riding the wrong way down one-way streets, riding on sidewalks all the while blaming motorists for their danger. Last night on my way home from work a guy on a bike blowing through stop signs riding very quickly with a toddler on the back. If he does not care enough about himself to stop that is one thing but to not even care about his kids safety is unbelievable.

  • Skeptic System

    ‘The California Bicycle Coalition (CBC), which was an early supporter of the original distracted driving legislation,…wait for it…was not thrilled about the inclusion of cyclists in the bill.”

    Says all you need to know about CBC.

  • JohnB

    JohnM,

    I fail to see your point. Clearly cyclists do cause some accidents, and cause harm to themselves and others. You seem to want immunity from a particular law because you happen to ride a bike. I don’t find that argument any more compelling than you find mine.

    But OK, if you can convince me, somehow, that a cyclist can NEVER cause an accident then I’ll agree that there should be an exemption for cyclists.

    Of course, given that most of the existing traffic laws that DO apply to cyclists are not enforced, maybe it doesn’t matter much either way.

    Andy, how can you possibly argue that it’s impossible to show that cyclists can cause harm? They may cause less harm, on average, but an individual incident can still cause death or serious injury or damage.

    And your argument that DUI shouldn’t apply is even more obtuse. Luckily most observors disagree with you, and can see how the bike crowd are making themselves look bad by trying to duck the law.

  • pedalfast

    I am an avid cyclist and completely on board with this plan with one amendment. Please make the first offense a $500 fine, with the second offense a $1500 fine and six month suspension of driving privileges.

  • Suz

    The no phone use should apply to anyone in traffic, be it a car, bike, or a pedestrian in a crosswalk. It’s distracting and reckless.

  • kit

    I think something that is overlooked in this article is the fact that the data doesn’t exist to quantify a decision on this law. While data on bicycling safety and collisions *not* involving automobiles is a double-edge sword to cycling advocates, I think it could go a long way towards further recognition of our chosen means of transportation as a legitimate participant in city and state transportation systems and architecture. Until then @murphs is absolutely right–we’re limited to legislating hypotheses.

  • L. Lane

    When I’m following another car in my vehicle and they’re driving slowly, or stepping on the brake or not driving with the speed limit, when I pass THEY ARE ALWAYS ON THE PHONE. I bought a headset so I can talk on the phone while driving. I thought it was law. But I see more people with phones stuck to their ear then headsets. Who is busting these people? Certainly not the police.

  • Paul

    Good Grief! Is this politician mad? Laws don’t apply to bicyclist! Since bicyclists don’t think they use carbon based fuels, they are righteously entitled to ignore all laws, common sense, and safety standards. If a pedestrians dares to not get out of their way as they illegally race down the sidewalk, the pedestrian just deserved to die! Bicyclists should be expected to pay any attention to the road (or the sidewalk for that matter). It is everyone else’s problem to avoid them. Bicyclists have zero respect for anybody or anything as evidenced by their monthly terror ride through the streets of San Francisco!

  • Jbacon

    Kit,

    Again, same comment to you as to Andy, how can you possibly and credibly argue that a distracted cyclist never has or never could cause an accident?

    You shut the stable door BEFORE the horse gets to bolt, you know?

  • UrbanReason

    Seriously, if we as cyclists share the same rights and responsibilities as motorists and expect to be treated equally we shouldn’t be excluded from this legislation. We’re out there fighting for equal treatment when involved in collisions and hit and runs, but we want special treatment for driving while distracted?

    Biking with one hand on a cell phone is incredibly unsafe for both drivers and cyclists. Much to my chagrin, I say this from experience – having flipped myself the first time I tried it (many years ago). Go ahead and laugh, but it was the first and last time I made that mistake. Fortunately I was on an off-road bike path and not in the street. I couldn’t imagine if I was driving (or cycling) and someone did this in-front of me.

    Is it really that hard for us to put our foot down and stand on the sidewalk when we need to talk/text/twitter?

  • While bicycling the other day, I was almost hit by another bicyclist who was talking on a cell phone and not looking around. This law is a reasonable and necessary measure to protect others from negligent bicyclists.

    Even if it weren’t needed to protect others, it would be a reasonable law to protect the bicyclists themselves.

    Some people have said that we should only ban behavior that endangers others. However, our traffic law require drivers to use seat-belts to protect themselves. It is also reasonable to prevent bicyclists from talking on cell phones to protect themselves.

  • Alan from Berkeley

    “As far as I’m aware, there is no accident evidence that points to a problem. In the absence of any evidence against bicyclists, this law seems premature.”

    WAY too defensive on the part of the quoted cyclo-advocate. That’s the same argument one used by the tobacco industry — not enough evidence yet to “prove” there’s any danger, so no need for restrictions. Even though we know we have to go there.

    Maybe after the next phoning-while-cycling “victim” dies we can name the bill after him or her.

  • Fergie

    I’m baffled that cycling advocates would fight against this. If driving while yakking on the phone is dangerous, cycling while yakking is borderline suicidal. I ride my bike everywhere and I’m astounded by the idiocy of cycling in traffic while chatting on the phone or TEXTING (yes, I’ve seen it) while riding in traffic.

    I’m all for promoting cycling as transportation. If you’re not paying full attention while riding your bike, you’re a dead person riding. Not a question of if, but when you’ll get mashed into the pavement.

  • Christine

    Well, how about the threat that cyclists pose to other cyclists, as well as to pedestrians? Most cyclists do not carry any sort of insurance that would protect another cyclist or a pedestrian if one bike rider runs in to another.

    AS someone who does not drive a car, and has only a bicycle as transport, I do not enjoy the cyclists who ride without lights, without brakes, and/or plugged into their iPods or on cell phones. Often, cyclists do not even do the ‘common courtesy’ thing of saying “Passing” or calling out to warn pedestrains. Cyclists have to recognize they have responsibilities as well as rights.

    THAT said…here in Oakland, cops NEVER ticket drivers who are on cell phones. Daily I see drivers chatting on hand held phones…it’s pretty easy to see. Just open your eyes! So, forget ever ticketing cyclists until such time as they enforce the law as it now stands.

  • Fergie

    “The SFBC’s Thornley worried the law could have unintended consequences, such as a reduction in cycling.”

    I say any cyclist that will stop riding because they aren’t allowed to yak on their cellphone while they do it should have their bike(s) taken away. They’re a hazard to themselves and others. If multitasking while driving is stupid, multitasking while riding your bike in traffic is 5x stupider. Hang up and ride, you douches!

  • ab

    sanfrandan “Let’s just start ticketing all of the cyclists for not obeying the laws currently on the books: not stopping at stop signs and stop lights”

    When? After they decide to start ticketing motorists for the same behavior. Traffic enforcement in the SF is a joke!

  • Mark

    So what about Unicycles, and then there the times I ride with no hands anyway. Should I get ticketed. This is a silly waste of time with no reasons of experiences to back it up. Yes, we can all act stupid sometimes, but even the current ban on Driving without hand-free device is silly as it fails to speak to the basic issue. It’s about common sense. Something I’m afraid we as a society have lost.

    No Don’t drive your car and search your CDs or IPOD, for that just right tune, or eat that greasy burger and wipe your face, or ride you bike with you Dog on a leash. Pay Attention or Pay a Fine. Period.

  • the greasybear

    I’m a regular SF bike commuter, rain and shine, and I don’t oppose this law. I do agree, however, that we should have statistics on bike accidents to work with before fashioning legislation targeted ostensibly at preventing cycling accidents. That part of the critique makes total sense.

  • JMW

    Why don’t we ban walking and talking on cell phones. It is dangerous, they could get killed while crossing the street. People walking and talking don’t pay much attention to anything but their very important conversation.

  • Jon

    The law is very clear, bicyclists have equal rights AND responsibilities on the road as any other vehicle. The increased danger from instilling righteous indignation in motorists far outweighs the misperceived benefit of giving bicyclists discounted penalties for illegal activity.

    Be the change you wish to see.

    I ride every day. The SFBC does not represent me.

  • JohnB – “But OK, if you can convince me, somehow, that a cyclist can NEVER cause an accident then I’ll agree that there should be an exemption for cyclists.”

    By this standard, you are arguing that we need to ban bicycles. And autos. And walking.

    If you can convince me that a driver can NEVER be more likely to cause an accident at 65 MPH than at 30 MPH, then I’ll agree we should keep the freeway speed limit at 65 MPH, otherwise we need to drop it to 30 MPH.

    Pretty much every thing that is legal has a crazy anecdotal hypothetical that could be used to justify making said thing illegal. As such, crazy anecdotal hypotheticals are not valid support for a position.

    Your initial comment has you marked as nothing but a troll – especially given that if you want to make a case against the crazy cyclists on every front, you could have easily scored this point by simply saying “It’s pretty clear that riding a bike with 2 hands is safer than with one hand, let alone with a cellphone. This law, if followed, would reduce crashes, at very little cost to cyclists who can simply pull over to take their phone call, even easier than a motorist can. This is a good law.”.

    But you didn’t, you dug deep to find invective, to amp up debate on a position that – if you read the comments here – doesn’t really need to be debated. This marks the “crazy bike people” here as the reasoned ones, and you as just a kneejerk reactionary with an axe to grind.

  • @Jon – “The SFBC does not represent me”

    I guess you hate bike lanes. And even if you are Jon “Forester”, do you hate bike racks? Do you hate Sunday Streets? Do you hate extra bike capacity on Caltrain? Do you hate the new signal on Masonic? Do you hate the soft hit posts and medians at Market/Octavia? The forced right turn for cars at 10th/Market? Do you hate free valet parking at the Giants games, HSB, et all?
    Do you hate people riding their bikes around town making note of potholes and telling the city to fix them?

    The SFBC has their fingerprints on all of this. Even if you disagree with this position, I don’t think you should dump the baby with the bathwater.

  • Andy Chow

    It is obvious which behavior is safe or not safe, but I think it is dumb to legislate behaviors based on someone’s “perception” about safety. I think it is also dumb to expect that we can legislate ourselves to be absolutely safe.

    I am not just talking about bicycling and transportation here. There are lots of things that someone thinks unsafe. It is OK to assert that view onto others.

  • pedalfast

    Perhaps it would be better to state that The SFBC does not represent the opinion of all cyclists on this matter. I do understand the overall strategy to inhibit any legislation that may be construed as a reduction of rights for cyclists. But the opinion seems shallow while we demand our place in the traffic lane. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy in this ongoing debate.

  • JohnB

    Way too many J’s, Jon’s and John’s here today.

    JMW,

    I’ve had pedestrians walk into me on the sidewalk, while distracted on the phone. not likely to cause major harm, but the principle remains the same.

    I’d support extending this law to anyone crossing the street or in the roadway for whatever reason e.g. getting into or out of their vehicle – something that causes problems to passing cyclists.

  • I definitely agree that the danger posed by a distracted driver is much worse than a distracted bicyclist. However, I’m not convinced that graduating the penalty for this (or even every) violation is the best way to reflect that.

    I’d rather see a well-written vulnerable users law that assigns higher penalties to the less-vulnerable user in cases of distracted vehicle operation (or any other traffic violation).

  • patrick

    I’m a fairly regular cyclist, and I support the ban on driving or cycling while on the phone. Both activities are dangerous and irresponsible, the only change I would request is that drivers pay a significantly higher fine, as the potential harm they can cause is much higher.

    I disagree with the arguments that because there are not statistics, it’s too soon to create a law. The basic principles of distracted driving apply just as much to cyclists as to drivers: If you are not paying attention you are more likely to cause an accident.

    I disagree with the idea of banning it for pedestrians, they are moving much slower and it would be nearly impossible for a pedestrian to kill somebody via distracted walking.

  • pedalfast

    “I disagree with the idea of banning it for pedestrians, they are moving much slower and it would be nearly impossible for a pedestrian to kill somebody via distracted walking.

    Besides themselves.

  • patrick

    I also don’t find it an issue even if cops focus more on cyclists than drivers, as it is incredibly easy to not get ticketed for this violation: simply don’t use a phone while riding.

  • patrick

    @pedalfast, there is a difference between killing somebody & getting yourself killed. We allow all kinds of activities that endanger oneself far more than walking & talking.

  • JohnB

    Patrick

    Yes, that seems to be evolving as the common-sense viewpoint on this, aside perhaps from a few hardened activists.

    And absolutely we should not wait until someone is killed before passing this law, as some apparently would prefer.

    Graduated fines are fine although, according to perceived risk.

    I still think a pedestrian could cause a deadly accident, in certain situations, in the same way that a drunk person or child running out into a road could cause a multi-vehicle crash. But again, the risk is lower still than with cyclists.

    JohnM, not sure why you’re ranting at me and others on this. It’s just a discussion. I can’t really tell whether you support this or not, but your argument that one-handed cycling is clearly dangerous appears to support it too.

  • pedalfast

    Patrick — As someone that intends to race his bike in the rain with 100+ of my peers on the farm roads of Merced this weekend, I couldn’t agree more. I was not making fun of your post or position. Just adding my two cents.

  • Zvi

    Of course driving any vehicle while distracted can pose a safety risk, both to oneself and to others. But a distracted pedestrian/cyclist will likely be causing their own injury (or even death), whereas a distracted driver will be inflicting injury (or death) on someone else. In the one case we have the nanny-state trying to regulate all forms of public safety, whereas in the other we have a reasonable requirement that operators of ‘dangerous equipment’ (a car) should be expected to pay attention.

    In any case, the difficulty with these ‘driving while distracted’ laws is in their application. How exactly will people be ticketed? Will the police be going after drivers who roll through stop-signs while talking on the phone, or after cyclists who are riding and talking in plain view? Given the difficulty in identifying negligent drivers (to say nothing of the added effort required to pull them over and prove the offense), and the visibility of distracted cyclists, I suspect that many cyclists are worried that they will be particularly targeted by this legislation.

  • “I suspect that many cyclists are worried that they will be particularly targeted by this legislation.”

    Improper application of this law doesn’t make it a bad law. If the law is applied unfairly, that can be attacked later, and statistics should be easy to apply to showcase the discrepancy. You can sift through…

    Mode share of bicycles.
    Known data on cellphone usage of motorists.
    Numbers of tickets written for drivers vs cyclists.

    It should be pretty clear if the ratio skews towards cyclists – one less studied piece of data is cellphone usage of cyclists, but that could be acquired in a pinch by setting up a reasonably scientific study on Market St.

    After we finish debating the applicaton of any new sit-lie ordinance, of course 🙂

  • patrick

    @pedalfast, no worries, I took no offense, I was just trying to clarify my point, after rereading my message I see that my tone could have been interpreted as agressive, and I apologize for that.

  • EL

    “The California Bicycle Coalition (CBC), which was an early supporter of the original distracted driving legislation, was not thrilled about the inclusion of cyclists in the bill”

    because it forces the CBC and SFBC to advocate for yet another double-standard between bicyclists and drivers.

  • art

    Count me in as another cyclist who strongly supports this. On more than one occasion, I’ve seen cyclists with phone in hand almost get nailed by oncoming traffic or almost hit pedestrians, and even occasionally almost hit other cyclists with the ROW while cruising through an intersection mid-conversation. (And on the rare occasions when I try to grab the phone while riding, it absolutely distracts my attention, however momentarily. Whenever possible, I pull over to answer, just as I do when I’m driving.) If I bought that there was really no danger to or from cyclists on the phone versus drivers on the phone, I might support exploring modified rules for cyclists. But here? No way. The distraction danger is as much a concern for cyclists as for drivers, no matter how adept you think you are at chatting while riding. (Believe me, plenty of drivers feel they are just as good at multi-tasking.) If we’re fighting for equal road rights, we should also be embracing equal road rules.

  • Peter Smith

    i think cyclists should be required to wear a seatbelt, too.

  • Richard Rothman

    Bikers should be included When walking Bikers do not stop at stop signs.

  • tea

    This may make sense, but I disagree with some of the arguments expressed. For example, I don’t agree that cyclists (or peds or transit riders) should demand “equal treatment”.

    Cyclists (and peds and transit riders) should demand *better* treatment than cars, since these forms of transport are more economical than personal cars.

    And several people said things like “besides, it’s much easier for a cyclist to pull over and have a conversation than it is for a motorist”. You know what’s even easier? Not picking up.

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