I lost a lot of respect for Jerry Brown today.
California’s once and current governor had a chance to sign SB 910, a common sense bill mandating a simple three-foot passing distance when passing a cyclist. Legislation that has passed in 19 other states already, and been signed by a long list of governors including Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Jeb Bush, Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman.
In other words, some of the leading conservative lights in the GOP.
In fact, the only other governor to veto a three-foot passing law up to now was Tea Party conservative Rick “The Executioner” Perry.
Not exactly good company our governor is keeping these days.
He reasoning doesn’t exactly pass the logic test. Or the smell test, either.
While he claims to support bicycle safety, he vetoes the bill that would do much to improve it, taking the advice of Caltrans and the CHP — two groups that probably understand California bike law and bike safety less than anyone else he could find.
His primary concern, based on advice provided by those decidedly bike-unfriendly state agencies, is that drivers would suddenly jam on the brakes to slow down to 15 mph to pass cyclists when they couldn’t pass by three feet.
Yet they have to do that right now, because current law doesn’t allow drivers to cross the center divider to go around cyclists, as the bill the governor vetoed would have. Which means that motorists either have to slow down and follow riders in front of them, or attempt to squeeze past dangerously.
Or just run them over.
And the dangers the Governor so desperately fears have so far failed to materialize in any of the 19 states that have a similar law now — and have had for as long as 38 years.
So I’d like to issue Gov. Brown a challenge.
Let him get on a bike, and I’ll pass him by less than three feet at 35 to 40 mph. And we’ll see if he thinks it’s safe.
From this moment forward, Gov. Brown has the blood of every cyclist who’s injured or killed by a too-close pass on his hands.
I hope he’s planning to observe Yom Kippur.
Because he has a lot to atone for.
Moving on to happier things, this weekend marks two of the biking highlights of the year, with Tour de Fat on Saturday and an expanded CicLAvia on Sunday.
Be nice – CicLAvia is for everyone – 8-year olds and 80-year olds. Folks will be walking and skating. CicLAvia welcomes families, beginners, on foot, on skateboard, on wheelchair, on training wheels. This isn’t a race. It’s not the Tour de France or the Wolfpack Hustle (and we love those, too), this is CicLAvia. Keep an eye out for slow moving traffic, pass with care (the way you want drivers to pass you every day.) Wherever CicLAvia gets really crowded, walk your bike. If you see pedestrians trying to get across CicLAvia, help them out. (If you’re looking for a fast-paced workout ride, maybe take a long ride to and from CicLAvia – check our feeder ride listing.)
Though overall the route is very flat, we had a couple of serious injuries last year on two hills. These hills are minor, and many of us bike them every day. In the interest of safety, we’ve instituted two MANDATORY DISMOUNT ZONES going downhill on hills. These are at:
- 4th Street just west of Boyle Avenue (in Boyle Heights)
- New Hampshire just north of Beverly Blvd (in East Hollywood)
I’m not sure about those dismount zones.
While they won’t be a problem for riders with old school pedals, walking downhill for those of us who wear cleats could pose a whole different set of problems.
KCRW’s Shortcuts blog offers good logistical advice. Santa Monica Spoke is hosting a feeder ride from the Westside. Other rides will funnel in from almost every direction. Bikeside will be hosting political candidates and the LAPD.
As for me, I plan to take a quick loop around the route, then hang out at the LACBC bike valets at the plazas in Olvera Street and Little Tokyo during the afternoon.
So look for me there.
Sponsored by New Belgium Brewing — makers of my favorite American ale — and benefiting the LACBC, C.I.C.L.E. and Bicycle Kitchen, Tour de Fat is about as much fun as you can with your clothes on, a brew in your hand and your bike parked nearby. A weird, wild and wacky celebration of all things bikes and beer.
Best of all, admission is free. And beer is just $5 a pint.
It all kicks off with a bike parade from 11 to noon, with beer, bands, contests and other assorted entertainment from noon to 5 pm.
Costumes are strongly recommended. As is fun, as you’ll see from last year’s photos.
Besides, it’s Yom Kippur. Might as well have something else to atone for.
Not you, Jerry.
You’ve done enough.