Tag Archive for Governor Jerry Brown

For once, California cyclists don’t get Jerry Browned. And finally get a three-foot passing law.

Yes, we won.

But just what did we win?

Monday afternoon, Governor Jerry Brown announced that he’d signed AB 1371, the Three Feet for Safety Act, after vetoing similar three-foot passing laws in each of the last two years.

So we should be happy, right?

Yes.

Sort of.

For the first time, California drivers will have a clearly defined passing distance, rather than the current requirement that they pass at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the bicycle being overtaken. Which in the real world, too often passes for anything that doesn’t actually result in contact with the rider.

No, really.

More than once I’ve caught up with a driver who buzzed me at a dangerously close distance. And the response has been a sarcastic “Well, I didn’t hit you, did I?”

Well, no.

Just scared the crap out of me, taking all my self-control not to overreact and swerve into the passing car or some other object. Not to mention risking getting sucked into the side of a larger vehicle by its slipstream.

Sort of like the school bus that passed me at speed at less than an arm’s length distance on San Vicente Monday afternoon. Or maybe this pass by a Big Blue Bus that barely did.

Pass, that is.

And I’m still waiting for someone, anyone, at the Santa Monica bus company to give enough of a damn to call me back.

Now drivers will know anything less than three feet is too damn close.

Though some would question that.

Some lawmakers who opposed the bill, such as Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, said it would be difficult to estimate a 3-foot distance while driving, especially when cyclists also might be swerving to avoid road hazards.

That’s kind of the point, though. We need that three feet of space so we can swerve to avoid road hazards without plowing into the vehicle next to us.

Anyone convicted of violating the law will face a $35 base fine, plus fees that will take it up to $233, or a $220 base fine if a collision resulting in injuries to the rider occurs.

The problem is, unless a driver actually does make contact with a cyclist, the law is virtually unenforceable.

The bill includes a provision allowing drivers to pass at less than three-feet if they slow down and pass only when it won’t endanger a cyclist’s safety.

In other words, the same sort of vague, virtually unenforceable standard we have now.

Still, it’s worth celebrating simply because we’ve joined the other 22 states and the District of Columbia with a clearly defined standard. And unlike last year’s bill, this one applies whether you’re in the same lane as the vehicle passing you or in a separate bike lane or parking lane.

Which should help stop those drivers who buzz you with two wheels on, or in, the bike lane while you’re riding in it.

Key word being should.

So let’s give credit to former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for pushing for a third attempt to pass this bill. And Gardena Assemblymember Steven Bradford for shepherding this law through the legislature, even if it was severely watered down from the brilliantly written bill he originally proposed.

Including removal of the much-needed provision allowing drivers to briefly cross the center line in order to safely pass cyclists with a minimum three-foot distance. In other words, legalizing exactly what many drivers already do, despite the fears our governor expressed in vetoing last year’s bill.

Like Glendale’s Mike Gatto, who took on the successful fight to extend the statute of limitations in hit-and-run cases, Bradford has shown himself as a skilled legislator willing to go to the mat for bicyclists. Both deserve our support, and will be worth watching — and working with — as we go forward.

We should also thank the strange mix of supporters who backed the bill, from Calbike and CABO, to traditionally bike-unfriendly AAA, which helped kill the last two bills.

And we owe a begrudging round of thanks to Jerry Brown for not going down in history as the only governor to strike out when it comes to bike safety legislation; it’s enough that he’ll be remembered by bike riders for being the only governor, besides Rick Perry of Texas, to veto a three-foot passing law once, let alone twice.

As the bill’s author put it,

“I sincerely thank the Governor for signing this commonsense measure to protect cyclists on our roads,” Bradford said. “When cars and bikes collide, it often turns to tragedy. This bill is a great reminder that we all have to work together to keep our roads safe for all users.”

Which begs the question, do we now stop referring to dangerously close passes as being Jerry Browned? Or is a single signature not enough to overcome the harm he’s already done?

The law takes effect a year from now, on September 16, 2014.

Which means things should start to get a little better then. If we can all survive that long.

And once Brown leaves office, we can work on strengthening the law and giving it some real teeth.

Reading between the lines — did California Governor Jerry Brown kill a bike rider with his pen?

Sometimes the irony is as tragic as it is overwhelming.

It was just a few years ago that the New Jersey Star-Ledger published an editorial ridiculing efforts to pass a three-foot passing law in the state — one day after printing a story proving the need for it.

The paper said that while they supported “protecting bicycle enthusiasts,” they feared a society in which drivers could get a ticket for passing a cyclist at just 2’11”, and called the proposed law unenforceable.

Pity they don’t read their own newspaper.

Just 24 hours earlier, they’d run a story about a 78-year old man who died after being passed so closely by a school bus that witnesses thought the driver had hit him. Police initially investigated the death as a hit-and-run before concluding that the bus never came in contact with the rider.

It just passed so closely that the rider, an experienced cyclist who averaged 5,000 miles a year on his bike, lost control and fell, fatally, off his bike.

Something a three-foot law might have prevented. Or at the very least, could have provided a basis to charge the bus driver for his death.

Now we have a very similar situation right here in California.

Except instead of an editorial providing an ironic context, we have the veto pen of a misguided governor to blame.

And instead of a 78-year old victim, it was a visiting professor at UC Berkeley who died when he was passed by a dump truck last July.

Israeli professor Shlomo Bentin, a renowned expert in cognitive neuropsychology, was riding his bike next to a line of cars when he was buzzed by the dump truck — once again, so close that witnesses at the scene believed the truck had hit him.

Yet investigators, relying on video, interviews and forensic analysis, concluded that the truck never made contact with the rider.

And even though state law requires drivers to pass at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the bicycle, authorities felt they didn’t have enough evidence to make their case.

Something that probably wouldn’t have been a problem if we had a three-foot passing law in place.

Anyone who has ever been in Bentin’s position knows the sheer terror that comes with having a massive, multi-ton vehicle mere inches from your elbow.

It takes near-superhuman self control not to overreact in that situation, where the slightest mistake could result in a serious, if not fatal, collision with the passing vehicle – or a crash into the parked cars on the right that could throw you under the truck’s wheels or into the path of following cars.*

Or cause you to simply fall on your own, as Bentin and the rider in the New Jersey case appear to have done with tragic results.

And make no mistake. While most falls from a bike are harmless, any fall can be dangerous.

Yet thanks to the veto pen of our misguided governor, California drivers still have no standard in place to tell them what is and isn’t a safe passing distance.

And as this case clearly shows, any pass that doesn’t actually come in contact with the rider is effectively legal under current law.

Even if the rider dies as a result.

Had the governor not vetoed two straight safe passing laws — including one he indicated he would sign after vetoing the first — Shlomo Bentin might be alive today, training the next generation of neuropsychologists.

Or at the very least, the driver could have been held accountable for fatally violating the three-foot rule, rather than walking thanks to the current nebulous and virtually unenforceable standard.

Instead, the governor traded our lives, not for the implausible reasons he gave for his vetoes, but as a political favor to groups he evidently felt were more important than mere bike riders. Or so I’m told by people in a position to know.

Bentin’s body should be laid at Governor Brown’s feet — figuratively, if not literally. Because he’s traded the safety of every bike rider on California streets for political expediency.

And he should be held accountable, morally and politically, for Bentin’s death, and any other cyclists who have been Jerry Browned following his vetoes, or will be.

Our governor has blood on his hands.

And nothing he can do will wash it away.

*If you find yourself in a similar situation, the best course of action is to bail to your right if there’s room — even if that means going over a curb or off the roadway; road rash or a broken arm is a lot better than getting run over. If there’s no room to your right, hold steady and try not to react in any way; it’s not easy, but this is one situation where doing absolutely nothing could save your life.

………

A Canyon Country bicycle advocate was seriously injured in a collision on Saturday.

Kevin Korenthal was riding south on Little Tujunga Road when a 16-year old driver lost control rounding a curve, crossed the center line and hit him head-on. He was airlifted to the hospital, where he underwent 7 hours of surgery for injuries including three broken vertebrae in his neck and back, as well as a broken wrist, tibia, fibula, scapula and femur.

The founder of the Santa Clarita Valley Trail Users, Korenthal lost his lower left leg as a result of another cycling collision 21 years ago; the latest crash left a steel rod in the amputated leg bent at a 45-degree angle.

Thanks to Michele for the heads-up.

………

Finally, the Times offers a great look at L.A.’s jet-beating Wolfpack Hustle.

Surprisingly — or maybe not so much, given the number of cyclists who work for the Times — it offers a fair, balanced and objective look at a leading segment of the city’s formerly underground bike culture.

Although as usual, some of the comments leave something to be desired.

Cyclist refuses to back Governor’s Prop 30 in response to Brown’s repeated 3-foot vetoes

I got an interesting email tonight from a regular reader and bicycling advocate who asked that his name be kept private.

He forwarded an email he sent to Governor Jerry Brown, connecting the dots between Brown’s ill-advised vetoes of two three-foot passing laws, and support for the tax increase Brown is currently pushing. As well as his own safety.

After much soul searching I have decided not to support Prop 30.

As someone who commutes over 5,000 miles per year by bicycle, the Governor’s callous unwillingness to protect my safety by twice vetoing the 3 ft passing law is so important to me, that I cannot bring myself to cooperate with him on an issue of far less importance to me.  Just today I was again struck by a motorist (thankfully uninjured) while riding home in Hollywood.  My life, my safety, is personally more important than the solvency of this state.

If he can’t be bothered to protect me, I can’t be bothered to help him.

Regretfully, 

First of all, let me say I’m glad he’s okay; collisions with cars don’t always turn out so well.

Second, I have to admit, the same thought has occurred to me.

I can’t say I’d recommend basing your vote on a funding measure on Brown’s lack of support for California cyclists. On the other hand, I couldn’t blame you if you did; the governor shouldn’t expect our support when he won’t give us his. Which is something he can ill afford right now.

Meanwhile, Bike San Diego offers an in-depth two-part look at Brown’s veto.

………

On a related subject, I’ve been wracking my brain trying to remember who first came up with the term Jerry Browned to describe getting dangerously buzzed at less than three feet while riding your bike.

I remember seeing it on Twitter. And that took the ball and ran with it, as did Gary the always insightful of Gary Rides Bikes.

It turns out that credit for originally coming up with it goes to our friends at L.A.-based bikewear manufacturer Swrve.

………

The LACBC endorses Proposition J to speed up transit projects. Fighting a valet blocked bike lane. Motor Avenue gets a much needed road diet. Multicultural Communities for Mobility — the former City of Lights program — hosted their annual awards dinner on Wednesday. The history of PCH reveals a troubled and dangerous highway. In an absolutely absurd opinion piece, the L.A. Times compares the green credibility of a $20 cardboard bike with an $845,000 plug-in hybrid Porsche. Malibu officials confirm their commitment to bike safety following the death of Mari Echeverria on PCH this month; Cycling in the South Bay responds with the real problem on PCH. What happens to abandoned bikes in Hermosa Beach. CLR Effect takes a look at fire bikes.

Don’t forget this weekend’s Newport Beach Memorial Ride and Fundraiser; if you ride in Orange County you need to be there. An Orange County assailant escapes by BMX bike after stabbing a woman multiple times; fortunately, her injuries weren’t serious. Signs appear announcing the forthcoming sharrows in Corona del Mar. A Los Olivas DUI driver gets four years and four months in prison for plowing into a group of riders, leaving one in a semi-comatose state with serious brain injuries. A dangerous Santa Barbara street gets the blame for putting a cyclist on life support — though police say it’s because she didn’t use a crosswalk. San Francisco police allegedly beat the crap out of a popular cyclist and bike cap maker for exercising his 1st Amendment rights — then charge him with assaulting three officers and resisting arrest. Bay Area bicyclists say thanks to drivers.

The Bike League has recognized this year’s Bike Friendly Businesses — including Santa Monica’s Helen’s Cycles and Irvine’s Jax Bicycle Center — along with their new Bike Friendly Universities; sorry, USC. Thirteen reasons you should start biking to work. Winter bike commuting in Anchorage AK. An Arizona writer gets it right in responding to complaints from motorists. A Salt Lake City man is under arrest after taking a $5,900 for a test ride and not coming back. A Native American driver shows no remorse when he pleads guilty to running down a cross-county cyclist on a New Mexico reservation; the tribal court has jurisdiction, which is seldom a good thing. A drunk Texas cyclist pulls a machete on a cop; usually not a good idea. A Pittsburgh mom thanks the strangers who helped her bike-riding daughter. An arrest has been made in the case of the Pittsburgh cyclist whose throat was slashed last month. In a horrifying case, two New Jersey brothers are accused of killing a 12-year old girl to steal her BMX bike. Bike Portland says New York streets really do live up to the hype. NYPD forgets to investigate the fatal dooring of a cyclist last April. New York plazas and bike lanes are good for business. Russell Crowe leads the paparazzi on a 7.7 mile bike chase. AAA insists DC-area drivers are the victims of a war on cars; if they don’t figure out soon that a lot of their members also ride bikes, they may lose that war.

America’s only surviving Tour de France winner calls on the head of competitive cycling’s governing body to resign. Lancegate claims another victim, as Team Sky’s Bobby Julich resigns as cycling coach. Motorists say cyclists are endangering their lives by riding on divided highways; yeah, they couldn’t just slow down and drive safely. So much for that cycling paradise, as a Danish princess collides with a cyclist on the streets of Copenhagen. Bangalore gets its first bike lane. Real justice for a fallen cyclist as a Kenyan driver gets life in prison for the hit-and-run death of a bike rider.

Finally, let me get this straight — if 25% of drivers want those “inconsiderate cyclists” to be  taxed and licensed, doesn’t that mean an overwhelming 75% don’t? And a UK cyclist punches a car passenger in an unprovoked assault. So who said it was unprovoked?

Oh, right, the guy who got punched.

An open letter to L.A. Mayor — and three-foot law supporter — Antonio Villaraigosa

Last week, I asked you to write L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to urge him to try one more time to get a three-foot passing law through the state legislature and onto the desk of our seemingly bike-hating governor.

Today I’m sharing my own letter to the mayor.

………

Dear Mayor Villaraigosa,

No one blames you for the failure of SB 1464, the three-foot passing law recently vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown.

In fact, I’m told that, not only were you the driving force behind the introduction of the bill, you were also fighting for it right up to the moment of the governor’s ill-advised veto, urging him to sign the bill and protect the safety of the state’s bike riders.

Yet inexplicably, the governor failed to listen to you, and rejected both the bill and your advice, for reasons that don’t even begin to pass the smell test.

Worse, it’s the second time he’s rejected a three-foot passing law, making Brown one of just two governors in the country to veto a safe passing bill — and the only one to do it twice. This despite promising outgoing State Senator Alan Lowenthal that he would sign it this time.

Which is why Jerry Browned has become the new term for a cyclist getting passed in a dangerous manner.

But everything I’ve heard says that you did everything to could.

I, on the other hand, didn’t.

I actually believed Brown when he claimed he cared about the safety of cyclists and would sign the bill this time around. I also accepted the assurances of those involved in the process that we could count on him this time.

No, really.

There were also things I didn’t like about this bill. Like the fact that the three-foot limit wouldn’t apply to bicyclists riding in a bike lane. And exemptions that allowed drivers too much discretion in passing at less than three feet, making the bill difficult, if not impossible, to enforce.

As a result, I didn’t fight for it. Even though codifying the three-foot limit, and legalizing the already common practice of briefly crossing the center line — the reason our auto-centric governor gave for the veto — should have been more than enough to overcome any reservations I might have had.

I won’t make that mistake again.

So I’m going to ask you to go to the mat one more time. Let’s find another sponsor for the bill, and use your considerable influence to get a three-foot passing law through the legislature once again.

And not one that’s been watered down to satisfy a governor who’s already shown he cares more about political expediency than he does the lives and safety of the people he’s been elected to protect. But rather, the strongest possible bill we can pass to protect cyclists as they ride the streets and highways of the Golden State.

I promise not to take it for granted this time. I’ll fight for it every bit as hard as you do, and use whatever influence I have with the cycling community to get it through the legislature.

Maybe redistricting and the new top-two electoral process will mean we can pass a bill with a veto-proof margin this time. If not, we’ll ensure that our governor truly understands how important this law is to California cyclists — and that it’s in his best interest, as well as ours, to sign it this time.

You’ve already done more than your share.

Now I’m asking you to take the lead one more time, and lay yet another bill to protect bicyclists on the governor’s desk. Except this time, I’ll be right there with you, along with countless other riders, to insist that he sign it.

Because our lives could depend on it.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers
bikinginla.com

………

If you haven’t contacted the mayor yet, please take a moment to email Mayor Villaraigosa at mayor@lacity.org, or call his office at 213/978-0600 or 213/978-0721 to urge him to try one more time to pass a three-foot passing law — and get the governor to sign it this time.

And join me in pledging to support his efforts this time around.

Whatever it takes.

Hell freezes over, as LA is now officially bike-friendly; let’s go for three on the 3-foot passing law

By now, you’ve probably heard what the press conference I cryptically hinted at yesterday was all about.

Not that I didn’t want to tell you.

But when someone swears me to secrecy, I tend to take that seriously.

Especially when the League of American Bicyclists releases their latest list of Bike Friendly Communities. And Los Angeles, shockingly, is on it.

No, seriously.

Councilmember Ed Reyes makes the announcement flanked by members of the L.A. cycling community.

In an announcement that few of us thought we’d ever hear, the bike league named the formerly bike-unfriendly City of Los Angeles one of the nation’s best places to ride a bike.

And the oddest thing is, for once, we actually deserve it.

This award would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. When I started this blog a little over four years ago, which was my introduction to bike advocacy, Los Angeles was a very bike unfriendly city.

There were no sharrows, few bikeways connected to one another, and the only major bike lane built in recent years unceremoniously dumped riders off with no warning in the middle of high-speed Century City traffic, just a few blocks from even more bike-unfriendly Beverly Hills. And we had no voice whatsoever in City Hall or LADOT.

If we can point to any moment when that changed, it’s when a careless cab driver cut off the mayor of this city, leading to a broken arm and his Road to Damascus moment when Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa saw the light and became a convert to the cause of safe bicycling in the City of Angels.

Although, to be fair, there were hints of a change in attitude when he publicly mentioned the word “bicycle” for the first time following a trip to Copenhagen a few months earlier, to the shock of just about everyone.

However, that ignores the work of long-time bike advocates like Joe Linton and Stephen Box, just to name a few, as well as the roll of the recently dormant Bikeside and the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee in demanding a better bike plan and a safer riding environment.

Then there’s the work of a revitalized LACBC fighting for justice and better support for L.A. cyclists in City Hall on an almost daily basis.

Not to mention the friendly ear provided by City Council members such as Bill Rosendahl, Eric Garcetti, and Ed Reyes, just to name a few, and the support of LAPD Chief Beck in turning one of the most bike-unfriendly police departments into one of the nation’s most responsive to the needs of bike riders.

Admit it. You never thought you’d see this.

The two Bike Summits helped galvanize bicyclists — as did the Mayor’s own Bike Summit — while CicLAvia showed us for the first time what the city could be. And L.A. Streetsblog deserves a lot of credit for shining a light on bicycling and other transportation issues, both good and bad.

Let’s also not forget Wolfpack Hustle’s brilliant victory over a Jet Blue airliner. And all the Ridazz and riders who risk the streets to carve out a place for bikes on the city’s too often unforgiving streets.

This award is yours. And you’ve earned it.

One other note.

For years, LADOT and Senior Project Coordinator Michelle Mowery have been the ones local cyclists loved to hate — Mowery especially suffered heaps of blame as the highest ranking bicycling official in the city.

But I long wondered what she could do with the actual support of city leaders, and without the roadblocks posed by senior auto-centric engineers more concerned with maintaining automotive throughput than making the streets safe for everyone.

I think the rapid changes of last few years — and this award — have given us an answer.

And reason to give her our thanks.

That’s not to say our city has suddenly turned into a bicycle paradise. Amsterdam, we’re not.

The bronze award is the lowest level the LAB bestows. It signifies the city has made significant progress, but we still have a very long way to go.

And as the L.A. Weekly pointed out, it’s hard to say the city is truly bike friendly when a full one-third of all bicycling collisions are hit-and-runs.

Then again, as the bike league’s Andy Clarke reminded me at Thursday’s press conference, I was one of the angry cyclists who demanded the LAB rescind their recognition of Santa Monica as a bike-friendly city when it was first awarded back in 2009.

And look how that turned out.

Santa Monica took that modest award, and used it as a springboard to challenge Long Beach as the most bike-friendly community in Southern California.

Maybe we’ll look back on this as the day L.A. took it’s first big step towards becoming the great city it should be. One that works for everyone who uses its streets, rather than bequeathing de facto dominance to the ones with motors.

And truly earns, not just this award, but the silver, gold and platinum levels that could come if we continue to demand and work for them.

………

In an even more surprising award, the LAB named Orange County — yes, the entire county — a Bike Friendly Community as well. And like L.A., at the bronze level.

Something I’m sure a lot of OC cyclists may take as much issue with as I did Santa Monica’s a few years back, given the county’s unacceptably high level of cycling fatalities.

But maybe like SaMo — and hopefully, L.A. — this will spur them to actually do something about it.

And congratulations to already bike friendly Claremont on its promotion to the silver level.

………

The L.A. Times has picked up a story from a Sacramento paper about how Jerry Browned has become the new term for cyclists getting passed dangerously close, in honor of our governor’s two-time veto of the state’s proposed three-foot passing law.

And they have the infinite good taste to not only quote me on the subject, but to embed my video of getting Jerry Browned by a Hollywood tour bus.

Not that they seem to realize the same devilishly handsome and wickedly charming cyclist was responsible for both.

But there’s still that problem of a two-time veto by our two-time governor. And what the hell we’re going to do about it.

That was something that came up in conversation with other riders at Thursday’s press conference. And led to a commitment to try one more time.

If for no other reason than we should refuse to give up on something so important to our safety, regardless of what any pen-wielding curmudgeon may have to say on the subject.

Maybe this time we can demonstrate our real clout, and make it clear it’s in Governor Brown’s best interest to sign it this time, if he wants to be in a position to sign anything next term. Or maybe with the new redistricting and electoral reforms, we can get a veto-proof margin in the legislature to ensure his signature is nothing more than a formality.

The problem is, we’ve lost one of the bill’s two champions.

Senator Alan Lowenthal, who shepherded both bills through the legislature, is termed out of office, and now running for Congress in the 47th District. We could do a lot worse than electing a proven bike-friendly leader to the federal government.

That leaves the bill’s other big supporter — our own Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Chances are, he’s licking his wounds after achieving apparent victory on two separate occasions, only to have it snatched away by our non-friend in Sacramento. Or at least, I would be if I was in his wingtips.

We need to encourage him to give it one more try.

That’s why I’m asking you to contact the mayor’s office by phone or email. Or Twitter, for that matter.

And urge him not to give up on us.

Ask him to use his clout as mayor of the state’s largest city, and his connections in the legislature, to pass a three-foot passing law one more time.

Then it will be on all of us to make sure we don’t get Jerry Browned again.

Breaking news: Evidently, Governor Jerry Brown doesn’t care if you live or die

Once again, Jerry Brown is demonstrating just how out of touch he is with the realities of California streets.

And just how little he cares about the safety of the state’s cyclists.

The California Bicycle Coalition reports that Brown has decided to veto SB 1464, the bill mandating a minimum three-foot distance to pass cyclists. This comes after he vetoed a much stronger bill last year, making him the only governor to veto a safe passing bill twice.

And continuing to align him with Texas Governor Rick Perry as the only jackasses governors to veto a three-foot passing law.

Last year, he offered an excuse that didn’t pass the smell test, claiming a provision allowing drivers to pass cyclists at less than three feet by slowing down to 15 mph — included to prevent traffic jams by allowing drivers to pass cyclists in congested traffic and near intersections — would cause motorists to slam on the brakes to pass riders on highways, rather than simply go around them or wait for a chance to pass safely.

Yeah, that’ll happen.

This time, the reason given for the veto is an irrational fear that the state could face liability for the provision allowing motorists to briefly cross the center line to pass cyclists, but only when safe to do so.

In other words, legalizing what is already a common practice — and putting the onus on drivers to ensure it’s safe first.

Which makes the feared liability risk as much a fiction as last years brake-slamming drivers.

And this after writing in his veto message that he wanted lawmakers to send him a bill that overcame the problems he cited with last year’s bill. Which the much-weakened SB 1464 did, in spades.

Combine this with Brown’s veto of SB 1310, a bill that would have increased fines for distracted driving by a minimal $10 while adding one point to a driver’s record — after vetoing a similar bill last year — and it suggests that Brown either has no clue what is really happening on our roadways, or just doesn’t give a damn whether we live or die on California streets.

More frightening, Calbike reports that Brown has refused to engage them directly to discuss this bill, or any other aspect of bike safety:

Despite our efforts to engage him directly, Brown has offered no indication of how he views bicycling or expressed any ideas for ensuring the safety of Californians who rely on bicycling as everyday transportation. By vetoing SB 1464, Brown makes clear that he prioritizes legalistic speculation over the safety of Californians.

We’re deeply concerned about what his lack of vision and leadership means for the safety of our streets and roads.

I couldn’t agree more.

And I deeply regret the vote I wasted on him him in 2010.

Jerry Brown was elected to lead all Californians. But he has clearly shown by his actions that he just doesn’t give a damn about anyone who travels on two wheels instead of four.

Once more, we’ve all been Jerry Browned by Jerry Brown. So what’s that saying about fool me twice?

Guest Post: Urge Gov. Brown to protect your life by signing a law promoting use of safety cameras

Los Angeles turned off its red light cameras last year, opening the door for scofflaw drivers to blow through red lights when there’s not a cop around.

There were a lot of reasons for that decision, including a lack of enforcement that made payment of fines just this side of voluntary. As well as accusations that they were used to fill city coffers, rather than actually improving safety. 

A new law sitting on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk that could change that. 

All he has to do is sign it to make it law. Then again, he doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to signing traffic safety bills.

The Traffic Safety Coalition is asking you to sign a letter today urging Gov. Brown to approve the bill before it dies on his desk in a pocket veto at the end of the month.

After all, a cyclist who runs a red light might get himself killed.  But a red light-running driver could kill you. Or someone you love.

I’ll let them explain.

……..

The Traffic Safety Coalition, a national not-for-profit grassroots organization with a chapter in California, is encouraging biking advocates to sign a letter to Governor Brown in support of Senate Bill 1303 (“SB 1303”), legislation that has passed both chambers of the California legislature and is currently awaiting his signature before the end of the month.  If the Governor does not sign the bill within the next 5 days, the legislation is vetoed and will not become law.

SB 1303 reforms the use of traffic safety cameras (more commonly known as “red light cameras”) to encourage a focus on safety as a reason to use cameras rather than other motives.  The letter can be viewed and signed on the Coalition’s website at www.trafficsafetycoalition.com/caletter.

As you will read in the letter, for a number of reasons SB 1303 is a step in the right direction for the dozens of communities across the state that use traffic safety cameras to effectively and efficiently enforce our most basic traffic safety law – red means stop.   The bill does a few things:

  • It requires communities to make decisions about the placement of cameras for the right reasons – i.e., for safety reasons only and not for purposes of generating revenue.
  • It makes it easier for people to get cleared of wrongful tickets
  • It promotes transparency and public awareness by implementing strict signage requirements requiring the posting of signs alerting drivers of photo enforcement technology within 200 feet of an intersection

As municipalities across California continue to struggle with budget cuts, enforcement of basic traffic safety laws often must take a back seat to serious crimes and other community safety matters.  Through photo enforcement, local law enforcement has a tool that can help ensure traffic safety while law officers spend their time on more pressing matters – and the numbers prove photo enforcement is effective.

More than 50 communities in California currently use traffic safety cameras to make their roads safer.  For example, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, fatal red light running crashes are down 62% in San Diego, 55% in Bakersfield, 53% in Sacramento, 44% in Santa Ana, and 34% in Long Beach.  All of these are well above the 24% average reduction in fatal red light running crashes in 14 of the largest cities in the U.S. using cameras.  In fact, studies show that between 2004 and 2008 over 150 lives were saved in those cities thanks to cameras, and a startling 800 more lives could have been saved had every large city in the U.S. been using them.

The Traffic Safety Coalition is proud to work to support this technology with more than two dozen bike and pedestrian advocacy organizations across the country.  Our partners include the Alliance for Biking and Walking, Ride of Silence, California Bicycle Coalition and California Walks.  In addition to supporting the use of safety cameras, the Coalition has worked with its partners to support 3-foot passing legislation and Complete Streets bills.

The effective use of safety cameras isn’t just a matter of catching drivers who break the law.  It’s also about deterring the illegal and dangerous behavior that puts cyclists at risk every day.  On your bike, you aren’t protected by a steel shell when someone runs a red light.  Consider signing the letter to urge Governor Brown to do the right thing and help keep California roads safe for everyone.

Open letter to Gov. Jerry Brown — and a challenge to meet with L.A. cyclists

Dear Governor Brown,

By now, you’ve undoubtedly noticed a little anger  — okay, a lot of anger — directed your way from the cycling community.

Maybe you expected it when you vetoed SB 910, the three-foot passing law sponsored by Sen. Lowenthal. Or maybe you didn’t realize just how much we cared about this bill.

You see, one of the greatest dangers bicyclists face on the streets of this state comes from drivers who interpret the current requirement to pass cyclists at an undefined “safe distance” to mean anything that doesn’t actually come in contact with the rider.

No, seriously, more than one driver has actually told me exactly that when I confronted them about a pass that put my life and safety at risk.

There are many problems with that attitude.

The most obvious is that motorists frequently misjudge that distance and can collide with riders, either sideswiping them or hitting them from behind; in fact, at least two cyclists have been killed in hit-from-behind collisions since you vetoed SB 910. Maybe the drivers never saw the riders they hit. Or maybe they tried to squeeze by without giving the riders sufficient passing distance.

Chances are, we’ll never know. But many cyclists — myself included — believe their blood, and the blood of future victims, is on your hands as a result of your veto.

Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Cyclists also face danger from cars that pass too closely when we have to swerve to avoid obstacles in the road, ranging from broken glass and potholes to other vehicles; a simple slight swerve to the left can mean a collision with a car traveling only a foot or two away.

Larger vehicles, such as trucks and buses, can pose other dangers. The slipstream of a large vehicle can be enough to blow a cyclist off his or her bike or off the road. And when larger vehicles pass too close, they can block cyclists from moving around obstacles in their way, such as parked vehicles.

Both of these have happened to me, right here in California. I’ve been blown off the road by a semi-truck that passed less — far less — than three feet away. And I’ve been blocked by a bus that passed too close, forcing me to swerve to the right and into the back of a parked car.

Fortunately, I survived both of those incidents with only minor injuries. Other bicyclists haven’t been so lucky.

Your veto message noted that you relied on the advice of Caltrans and the CHP in deciding to veto the bill. Unfortunately, you selected the two agencies most cyclists trust least to defend our rights and protect our safety.

Caltrans has a long-standing bias in favor of moving the greatest number of vehicles at the highest possible speed, resulting in poor road design and excessive speeds that continue to put all Californians in jeopardy. While they talk about making the roads safe for everyone, here in the Los Angeles area, at least, they often don’t even show up at meetings they’ve promised to attend to discuss safety improvements on our most dangerous roadways, such as Pacific Coast Highway.

Meanwhile, CHP officers receive little or no training in bicycle law, or in the physics of bicycling collisions, resulting in flawed collision investigations that too often result in blaming the victim — who may not be alive or otherwise capable of defending themselves.

These agencies gave you bad advice. Many of us believe they lied to you; at best, they failed to understand the application of SB 910 in real life situations.

Your veto message cited the specific fear that the 15 mph passing clause in this bill would cause drivers to slow dramatically in order to pass cyclists.

This hasn’t occurred in any of the other states that have a 3-foot passing law. So what is it about California drivers that makes you think they are incapable of driving safely?

The law clearly allowed drivers to pass cyclists in virtually any circumstance without slowing down, simply by moving three feet to the left or crossing the center divider when necessary. In the exceptionally rare event when that would not be possible, even under existing law, drivers would still be forced to slow down in order to avoid colliding with the riders in front of them, then wait for an opportunity to pass safely when traffic allows.

The only reason this clause was included in the bill was to allow drivers to pass cyclists around intersections or other congested conditions.

In choosing to veto this bill, you have chosen to protect drivers — who are already protected by crumple zones, airbags and seat belts — from rear-end collisions that are unlikely to ever occur.

And instead, you’ve put at risk every cyclist on our roads from dangerous passes that are almost inevitable. Cyclists who are protected by, at most, a helmet designed to offer protection from impacts only up to 14 mph.

To put that in perspective, an impact at the 35 mph to 45 mph speeds you cited has a roughly 80% risk of fatality, with or without a helmet.

In fact, your veto may have increased the risk to cyclists. Many riders have reported an increase in unsafe passing since you vetoed SB 910, as your veto sent a clear message to some drivers that it is perfectly legal to pass a cyclist at less that three feet.

Much less, in some cases.

Just today, I was passed by two separate drivers at distances of less than one foot — close enough that a simple sneeze on my part, or that of the driver, could have resulted in a fatal collision.

And it wouldn’t have been the driver who died.

Oddly, though, despite the anger and outcry you must surely be aware of — unless your staff has failed to inform you of the many Tweets, emails, blogs, letters to the editor and phone calls that have resulted from your veto — you have failed to respond in any way.

We complain, with great merit, I might add; yet your silence remains deafening. Which frankly, is the last thing I, and many other bike riders, expected when we gave you our votes.

Frankly, I am extremely disappointed in you. And have lost a great deal of respect for a man, and leader, I formerly held in high esteem.

It’s not like I’m a single-issue voter. There were, and are, a number of reasons why I supported your campaign and cast my vote for you to become our state’s governor.

But when that single issue could determine whether I, and other cyclists like me, live or die on our streets, it becomes a matter of overwhelming importance.

So I am issuing you a challenge.

Come down to Los Angeles, and meet with cyclists such as myself. Explain more clearly why you chose to veto this bill, because the explanation you gave just doesn’t bear close examination. Then listen to us as we relate the dangers we face on a daily basis, and discuss solutions that could improve safety for all riders and encourage more people to choose to ride bikes, instead of further clogging our roadways.

Our mayor — the one who proposed what eventually became SB 910 — held a similar bike summit. And yes, he had to face a lot of angry bicyclists. But ended up building a much better relationship with the cycling community than would otherwise have been possible.

It’s your choice.

You can talk to us now, or you can continue to hide in Sacramento.

But we’re mad as hell. With good reason.

And we’re not going to go away.

……..

The racers and organizers of Wolfpack Hustle’s inspiring victory over a Jet Blue flight to Long Beach will be honored by the City Council on Friday.

And frequent contributor Todd Munson writes to invite you to attend — or compete in — the UCI Spooky Cross Weekend in Irvine’s Hidden Valley Park this weekend, beginning with registration and course previews on Friday.

……..

LACBC thanks L.A cyclists for a successful Tour de Fat and CicLAvia. Russ Roca offers his usual great eye to capture both. KCRW interviews CicLAvia’s Heidi Zeller. Last weekend’s CicLAvia ran from South L.A. to OccupyLA. Joel Epstein looks at how CicLAvia can RENEW L.A. How to make CicLAvia even better; I’d suggest starting with a name that doesn’t require awkward capitalization in the middle of the word.

No, really.

……..

Bikerowave is having a party on Friday, October 21st and you’re invited. The Santa Monica Museum of Art invites you to ride with them in celebration of the Pacific Standard Time art festival. And Pasadena’s Art Night Ride rolls tonight.

……..

The newly released L.A. County Model Design Manual for Living Streets is now available online. Notes from last week’s barely announced BPIT meeting that took several cyclists by surprise, myself included. It only takes Damien six months to get new bike racks in his neighborhood. Gary looks at the forthcoming Main Street bike lanes and says it’s time to demand more than just the minimum. When it comes to shootings, cyclists aren’t always the victims. Maybe it’s a positive thing when drivers are embarrassed about texting or threatening cyclists. Bicycling magazine likes the distinctive new Helen’s kit. Long Beach lands next year’s international Pro Walk/Pro Bike convention. Friday is the last day to register for an advance discount for next month’s California Bike Summit. Rick Risemberg will lead another edition of his popular Bicycle Fixation’s “Stitching the River” ride on Sunday, Oct. 23rd. The Red Kite Prayer’s Patrick Brady goes on a mini-REI book tour to support his new book The No-Drop Zone; sorry Tustin, you missed it already. Here’s your chance to voice your opinion on how to take back Colorado Blvd in Eagle Rock. Metro rolls out ten new bike cars.

CalBike notes that two bike-friendly bills survived the governor’s chopping block. Why drivers should support biking infrastructure for other people. Oakland has a 16-year old biking prodigy. San Diego’s had a long love affair with the bike. October 25th is Bike Day in San Diego; as far as I’m concerned, every day is Bike Day. The San Francisco Bay Guardian looks at Gov. Jerry “Buzz ‘Em” Brown’s veto of the three foot passing law, as does former framebuilder Dave Moulton. A Goleta company offers a reward for information about a cyclist missing in Oregon for nearly a month. Alaska resident Dr. Janice Sheufelt wins her division in California’s Furnace Creek 508 ultra-endurance race last weekend.

A cyclist endures a hit, F.U. and run. Former Talking Head and current bike activist David Byrne offers a Poem to Cyclists. Every state gets back more highway funds than they pay in; which means roads are paid for with your tax money. Springfield Cyclist offers an inventive solution to a lack of bike lock. Yet another attempt to ban bikes, as the incredibly small-minded people of Hull WI demonstrate their auto-centric bias against cyclists, joggers and pedestrians in the name of safety; my suggestion is that all of the above should try spending their money outside the city limits for awhile. Chicago is sued for letting a Hyatt Hotel heir off the hook for assaulting a cyclist, who got arrested for defending himself. GM declares war on cyclists, much to the chagrin of almost everyone, then rapidly backs off and says so sorry. Rebuilding New Orleans results in a more bike-friendly city. Bike-friendly DOT Secretary Ray LaHood calls it quits at the end of this term, win or lose; he also calls attention to a 9-year old bike riding victim of distracted driving. Supporting bikeable cities isn’t liberal or conservative, so it’s time to stop the politicization of cycling. A South Carolina father is killed by an apparently driver-less SUV as he walked next to his bike riding son. The afore mentioned Dave Moulton urges cyclists to consider the risks and avoid irrational fear; if you don’t read his blog, you’re missing the insights of one of the last century’s best framebuilders. Several cyclists are injured in a Miami peloton mishap.

The fatal dooring of an Ottawa cyclist raises safety concerns and advice on how to ride safely, as a Canadian driver goes on trial for running down five cyclists in 2009. The case for and against licensing cyclists in Calgary. British cyclists stand up for a safer Blackfriar’s Bridge. Once again, an overly aggressive UK driver demands a cyclist get out of his way because we don’t pay the Road Tax that was no one has paid since 1937. So who is it that really needs to wear hi-viz? A “leaked” preview of the 2012 Tour de France draws a positive review. Pro cyclist Riccardo Ricco faces a 12-year doping ban. Moscow gets its first bike lane; oddly, it looks like some of ours. A surprisingly even-handed look at Australia’s mandatory helmet laws, and a good read no matter which side of the great helmet debate you take. An Aussie cyclist selfishly rides to work every day.

Finally, unless you’ve been out on the Serengeti, you’ve already seen the video of the cyclist rammed by a buck in South Africa. Meanwhile, Kiwi cyclists are under attack by marauding magpies. Closest I’ve come is being grazed by a golden eagle swooping down to snatch its prey on the side of the road; I don’t think it misjudged it’s approach so much as just didn’t care if I was in the way.

Then again, this heat wave has brought termites swarming into our bedroom, which makes me very glad I don’t own this bike right now.

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