Tag Archive for AB 766

AB 766 — An open letter to the California State Assembly

As you may recall, I recently wrote about the need to pass the Safe Streets Bill AB 766.

As part of that, I encouraged everyone — and yes, that includes you — write a letter in support of the bill, and email it to SafeStreets@BikeWritersCollective.com for presentation at a committee hearing next week.

Here is my letter, which I have just emailed to the Bike Writers Collective — the group behind the recently passed Cyclists’ Bill of Rights. Feel free to copy any portion of this to use as the basis for your letter, or write your own in your own words.

But please, write something.

Dear Assembly Member,

The highest responsibility of state government is the protection of its citizens, as well as the countless neighborhoods that make up our state.

Sadly, California is failing in that duty.

Currently, state law allows local governments to use radar to control speed limits; however, in exchange for that privilege, they are required conduct a study of average traffic speeds every seven years. If most drivers exceed the speed limit, which most drivers in California do, they have no choice but to raise the speed limit — whether or not that’s a good idea, and regardless of the harm it may cause to the local community.

The result is that the lives of local residents are needlessly placed at risk, as pedestrians and bicyclists must contend with traffic moving at ever higher speeds, while collisions between vehicles are likely to be far more dangerous and destructive. At the same time, higher speeds encourage through-traffic, as opposed to local destination traffic, contributing to the declines suffered by business districts and residential neighborhoods along the way.

AB 766, the Safe Streets Bill, would rectify that situation by giving the local community a voice in deciding whether or not to raise the limits, without requiring that they give up a valuable enforcement tool in exchange.

I urge you to support this vital measure, and cast your vote to return control of our streets to the people who know them best, and will be most impacted by any increase in speed limits — and allow the people of this state to protect their own lives and communities.


Ted Rogers, BikingInLA.com

Enci Box discusses her upcoming trip in support of AB 766 in her own compelling way, while Damien Newton notes a wave of support for the legislation. And on a related subject, L.A. Council President Eric Garcetti wants to know how you want to spend the city’s stimulus funds. Can you say, bicycling infrastructure? Sure you can.


A great video showing British MPs learning about cycling from the Dutch, courtesy of my favorite Welsh slow-biking blogger — now if we could only get the Metro board to take the same tour. Also from across the pond, proof that bad cycling signage isn’t just an American problem. Meanwhile, LAist discusses what L.A. could learn from Tokyo Bike Culture, as does the Time’s Steve Lopez. Yes, that Tokyo. Bicycle Fixation observes the increase in fixie-riding bike commuters. Central Illinois cyclists prepare to participate in an international cycling memorial ride later this month. And finally, The Denver Post says cyclists need to know the rules of the road, too; don’t miss the comments, which capture the full range of the cyclists vs. drivers conflict — and evidently, someone out there takes safety tips from yours truly.  Glad I could help.

AB 766 — Slowing our streets for everyone’s safety

How many people have to die because of a bad law?

As cyclists, we often have no choice but to share the road with drivers. It’s risky enough on streets where there’s just a small disparity in speed — where drivers pass by at 30 mph, for instance, while you ride along at your own speed, whether that’s 12 mph or 20 mph.

But that risk increases dramatically as speeds rise, and the disparity between your speed and that of the cars rushing up from behind grows. Drivers have less time to see you, and less time to react.

And you have a lot less time to get the hell out of their way if anything goes wrong.

The potential for serious injury goes up, as well, with every mile per hour in speed differential. Because the faster a vehicle is traveling, the more damage it can do if it hits anything. Or anyone.

Which brings us to California AB 766.

You see, current California law allows the police to use radar to enforce speed limits on the streets. While that might seem like a problem if you’re behind the wheel, trying to push the speed limit by 5 or 10 mph to get to your destination a few seconds faster, it’s actually a good thing — enforcing the speed limits makes the roads safer for everyone.

The problem is the Faustian bargain that cities have had to accept in order to use that radar.

One of the conditions the state requires in order to use radar guns is that cities have to conduct a study every seven years to evaluate speeds and traffic conditions.

If that study shows that most drivers go over the speed limit on a given roadway — which most drivers do — they can be forced to raise the speed limit, whether or not that’s a good idea. And regardless of what effect that might have on local neighborhoods, as previously placid surface streets are slowly turned into speedways.

Or how many lives may be shattered along the way.

Sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Paul Krekorian, AB 766, also known as the Safe Streets Bill, would give cities more power to control their own speed limits, while still being able to enforce them.

It’s not a big change. But it’s one that could do wonders to preserve our neighborhoods, and the lives of people just like you.

And me.

Bike Safety Advocates Stephen and Enci Box, along with other members of the Bike Writers Collective — the group behind the recently passed Cyclists’ Bill of Rights — are working to help pass this important bill.

As part of that, they’re asking everyone to write letters in support of it, which they will deliver to the Assembly in person at an upcoming hearing in Sacramento. Fellow blogger Ron Kaye, former editor of the Los Angeles Daily News, has already written his — as well as providing a link to a fact sheet about the bill — and I’ll be writing one in the next few days myself.

And I hope you will, too.

You can email your letter to SafeStreets@BikeWritersCollective.com. And I’m sure Ron wouldn’t mind if you wanted to use his as an example. Or if you asked all your friends to write one, as well.

Because your safety, and mine, could depend on it.

You can read more about this bill, and the Box’s upcoming lobbying trip in support of it, at Stephen Box’s blog, as well as at the blog Brayj Against the Machine — both of which you really should be reading, if you don’t already. And learn more about the problem at City Watch.