An open letter to the candidates for California Senate District 26

As you may recall, prior to the March 24 special primary election for the sate’s 26th Senate District, I asked all the candidates for their comments on bicycling and transportation issues, just as I did in the election for Los Angeles’ 5th Council District.

Three of the eight candidates responded; two of those — current Assembly Member Curren Price and Rabbi Nachum Shifren — qualified for the May 19th General election, along with Cindy Varela Henderson. You can see their responses by clicking on the link titled CD5/SD26 Candidate Statements at the top of this page.

This morning, I sent each of them the following email (slightly different for Henderson, since she didn’t respond before). Assuming they respond, I’ll post their answers as they come in.

Dear (Candidate)…,

Thank you for contributing your comments on bicycling and transportation for my website, BikingInLA.com; several bicyclists have said that these statements helped influence their votes the March 24 primary election.

I’d like to follow-up with two more questions, and will post your answers online in the weeks leading up to the May 19 runoff election.

First, would you support legislation revising California Government Code Section 831.4 to return some liability to government agencies for known hazards on off-road (Class 1) trails? As you may be aware, recent court rulings have absolved all public and private agencies of any responsibility to maintain Class1 trails in a safe manner, jeopardizing the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians; you can learn more by clicking here.

Second, would you support — or be willing to introduce — legislation to update the California Vehicle Code to improve to clarify the laws regarding bicycling and improve bicycle safety?

Several states, including Indiana, Massachusetts and Colorado, have already passed a Bike Safety Bill or are in the process of doing so; revising California’s laws could encourage greater participation in cycling, and as a result, help reduce traffic, while improving air quality and the health of the state’s citizens.

Possible revisions to the law include:

• Mandate a minimum distance of three feet when passing a cyclist, and clarify that drivers are allowed to briefly leave their lane in order to pass a bicycle safely;

• Ban harassment of cyclists, and require that such incidents be investigated as criminal acts;

• Extend to cyclists riding legally in a Class 2 bike lane the same level of protection afforded pedestrians in a crosswalk;

• Prohibit turning into or across the path of a moving cyclist;

• Prevent drivers from using “I just didn’t see him” as an excuse, as they are required to be alert and aware of all traffic and road conditions.

You can learn more about these issues, and other possible changes, by clicking here.

Your response can be as long or short as you like. As before, I will publish whatever you send — unedited and without comment — in the order that it’s received. All I ask is that you send your statement in the body of your email or as a Word attachment.

Thank you in advance for your response, and good luck in the upcoming election.

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