Bicyclists: Don’t pedal and talk on your cell phone.

That was part of the message Thursday from the state Senate, which voted 21-16 to add for the first time a $20 initial fine for bicyclists for gripping hand-held cell phones while riding. You’ll have to go hands free. Subsequent offenses would cost $50.

The legislation, which now goes to the Assembly, also would increase the base fine for motorists from $20 for the first offense to $50 for talking without using a handsfree device.

As Road Warrior readers know, that $20 fine for drivers really turns out to be $142 with all kinds of additional county and state fees. So for $50, that ticket is going to really cost $256. Under the bill subsequent offenses will cost you $100, which with fees will really cost $446. Click here to read earlier story on all of the fees.

But under the bill, sponsored by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, bicyclists would NOT pay the extra fees. The total fine for cyclists would be $20 and $50. Period.

The California Bicycle Coalition supports Simitian’s bill, according to the Sacramento Bee. Spokesman Jim Brown told the Bee that drivers carelessly using cells endanger cyclists, and cyclists endanger
themselves when they clutch a cell while biking.

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  1. Brandon

    Wow! Can I still walk and talk? Seems like everything nowadays is controlled by others. So, when is our safety our own concern? Helmets on motorcycles, seat belts, phones while riding a bicycle? Is our tax money really paying for all of the taken to make these ridiculous rules? We might as well waste more money renaming Santa Rosa…..again.

    June 4th, 2010 1:10 pm

  2. maxxratt

    Why should this be any different than talking ob the cell phone in a motor vehicle? Fines should be the same as it is exactly the same. Drive a car drunk nets you a DUI, drinking and pedaling will get the same. Why aren’t the rules of cell phones the same?

    I look forward to a day when bicyclists and cars can co-exist safely on the road. Unfortunately for all of the whining the bicyclist do to get equal rights to the road, most don’t obey the rules of the road.

    June 4th, 2010 1:54 pm

  3. Zargos

    what next from the nanny state??

    June 4th, 2010 2:02 pm

  4. jg

    Excuse me, but when did bicyclists NOT have to abide by the same road laws as vehicles? Most blow right through stop signs & lights, drive on the wrong side of the road, and do not yield when they do not have the right of way. Start making them go to bicycle training classes and license them before they can ride on the road. And stay off the sidewalks!

    June 4th, 2010 2:25 pm

  5. D. Hilderbrand

    I agree with this artical. What is right is right. It does not matter the type of vehicle is being driven, useing a Cell phone while that vehicle is being driven is still elegal and dangerous.

    June 4th, 2010 2:32 pm

  6. tensigh

    No, the law is ridiculous. Bicycles don’t cause nearly the damage to a person that a car does. A car going 20-30 miles an hour that plows into a person is likely to seriously injure or kill someone. A bike typically goes about 7 miles an hour and weighs significantly less than a car. They cause a lot less damage when they hit someone (I know, I’ve been pegged by many).

    What’s next, insurance for bicyclists? After all, they do scratch cars and injure people when they hit them…

    June 4th, 2010 2:55 pm

  7. AvidDriver

    It’s about time the same laws applied to drivers are applied to the idiot bicyclists that ride around taking up street space. If they want to use the road, then they should have to abide by rules. If only they would pay registration fees and have law enforcement ENFORCE the law.

    June 4th, 2010 3:08 pm

  8. -V-

    What a joke. The level of intrusion into even the simplest areas of our lives has become nearly unbearable. Really, is this the kind of representation you expect when you elect these idiots? Our education system is in the toilet and this is what your state senators are spending their time on? This is where my tax money is going?? Can I still reach in my back pocket for a candy bar, or is that illegal too? How about using my cell phone while I’m walking my dog, still legal? I guess that will be okay until some useless senator’s kid gets bit by some inattentive dog walker.

    June 4th, 2010 3:09 pm

  9. mc

    i recently saw some ——– on a bike texting as he obliviously blew through two red lights on brookwood avenue. the sob was lucky he wasn’t killed. he continued to text by time i caught him from behind and blasted him with my horn. then he took a short break, flipped me off and went back to texting.

    June 4th, 2010 3:12 pm

  10. Mike

    Are you friggen kidding me. Our state is broke. High unemployment! And this is what these elected officials are concerning themselves with? Unbelievable! Why do these morons have a job, when good hard working men and women are struggling. A day of reckoning is coming because natural law will not abide such incompetence. And by the way, if you are stupid enough to ride a bike and use a cell phone – you have earned your consequence. Please, oh please Lord bring us someone to the State Legislature who has more than two brain cells to rub together.

    June 4th, 2010 3:18 pm

  11. Richard

    How about confiscating cell phones that are used illegally both by motorists and cyclists. They could be re-claimed after 30 days and payment of storage and handling fees. More revenue for City coffers.

    June 4th, 2010 3:36 pm

  12. RH

    While riding the bicycle and talking at the same time with your cellular phone is still dangerous. You are not paying attention, your balance is off. Yes it is ridiculous to fine somebody if you are talking in the phone. But use your common sense too. It seems this country is lacking common sense. Just a concerned citizen.

    June 4th, 2010 4:09 pm

  13. Kevin West

    I have nearly been hit by people on bikes on the phone. They are totally clueless. Did not even see me. I was in the cross walk and cars stopped for me.

    But these idiots do not stop for stop signs or lights or pedestrians any way do they?

    June 4th, 2010 4:32 pm

  14. Stephanie

    this Law is for the SAFETY OF THE BICYCLIST, just like drivers… when on the phone your not paying attention to the Semi-Truck or Bus or Dodge 3500 that’s coming around the corner! Good one for once, and I’m sure you don’t want to be the one who was riding a bike talking on the phone… while some one driving a car while talking on the phone runs your @$$ over.

    Thank you.

    June 4th, 2010 4:47 pm

  15. Bicycle rider

    Car accidents are the number one cause of accidental deaths in this country with more than 150 deaths each day. The amount of injuries caused by cars and car accidents are probably in the millions each year and many go undocumented. Cars pollute the environment, cause wars, lead to oil spills, fill the world with noise pollution and contribute to a long list of health problems such as asthma and cancer. In addition, the government uses our tax dollars to subsidize road construction, designed for cars, so that private auto companies can make a product reap the profit. Car companies are of the largest contributors, next to fast food companies, in campaign funding. Car manufacturer’s make millions of cars each year requiring millions of tons of natural resources including steel, aluminum, lead, plastic and other potentially dangerous materials. Car manufacturer’s generate millions of tons of carbon emissions without any recourse. Roads are constructed of billions of tons of aggregates, oil based asphalts, and Portland cement concrete all requiring enormous amounts of energy mostly from coal power plants. Cars are the cause of urban sprawl, most of which, are planned completely for the use of cars with almost no public transportation. Urban sprawl has lead to enormous profits for real-estate developers, banks and financial corporation’s now receiving bailout money from the government. When you look at the big picture you have to wonder what is going through the mind of a person wishing to pass a law designed to regulate bicyclists using a cell phone. Is this just a way to distract us from the real issues?

    June 4th, 2010 4:52 pm

  16. MB

    I think the legislators are finding out more crazy ways to get money because they are short on cash. What this does it make the citizens even poorer. Imagine getting stuck with a cell phone ticket when you’re worring about paying mortgage and credit card bills. THERE IS NO BAILOUT FOR THE AVERAGE CITIZEN, just some salt to pour over the wounds.

    Why does a $50 ticket end up costing $256? If I were convinced the law was to make people safer, I’d support it. Pretty soon there’s going to be an “intimacy fee” every time you get together with your spouse or significant other.

    June 4th, 2010 4:53 pm

  17. BrianA

    All this talk about cylicsts is humorous. All these idiots that talk about a small minority of cyclists that don’t obey traffic laws kill me. Cyclists pay taxes and for the most part obey traffic laws. To not do so is dangerous as crazy automobile drivers can kill and sometimes without legal repercussions. I am a native form Santa Rosa and will not ride on many roads because of maniacal drivers. I guess many motorists are just jealous of the overall fitness of cyclists. Maybe if they got thir fat —– out of their cars, they would get a sense of the beauty and smells of the most beautiful county in the world. No wonder most of the top cycling teams don’t train here in Sonoma County anymore. Too many idiots trying to run them off the road. So much for all the Tour of California hype!!

    June 4th, 2010 5:13 pm

  18. Ron


    June 4th, 2010 5:38 pm

  19. Calfornia Dream'n

    So much easier for a state legislature to fine bicyclists than to balance a California state budget, take on California state employee unions or enforce STATE immigration laws…

    June 4th, 2010 6:02 pm

  20. John

    Ride on BrianA. I put up with those fat moron in their cars that like to blow their horn at cyclist. The way I look at it is they will probably have health problem a lot sooner than us cyclist. So I basically ignore them. “Keep strong” as Lance would say. It’s all about the endorphins!

    June 4th, 2010 6:22 pm

  21. shawna

    Okay, totally off the subject here, but I have a question regarding another article that was posted here a few days ago, regarding public notification of when law enforcement puts up DUI check points.

    Why is it a law that the police have to give the public a warning that there are going to be DUI check points in the area?

    They don’t put out a public notice when they are doing prostitution stings……so why do they for DUI ones?

    June 4th, 2010 8:37 pm

  22. Jeff Elliott

    So is riding a bike on a public street a right or a privilege?
    If it’s a right, then the law should put no restrictions on phone usage – or even a requirement for helmets.
    If it’s a privilege (like driving a car), the bicycles should be registered, and the operators licensed.
    Can’t have it both ways.

    June 4th, 2010 10:02 pm

  23. Ryan C.


    This is almost as bas a $340 ticket for running a stop-sign. Greedy-greedy. Someone is always jealous at someone else having a better (healthier) time.

    June 5th, 2010 3:43 pm

  24. Dennis

    To Brian A – not all people can ride bikes due to disabilities – and being FAT isn’t one of them. I have a relative who is paralyzed from the waist down and he can’t ride a bike but can drive a car – and for your information, he’s in excellent physical condition otherwise. I don’t agree with fines being imposed but I do agree that cyclists should pay better attention to the road and pull over if they really need to talk on the phone.

    June 5th, 2010 5:36 pm

  25. BW Radley

    California Vehicle Code Section 21200 states:

    “21200. (a) Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, and by Division 10 (commencing with Section 20000), Section 27400, Division 16.7 (commencing with Section 39000), Division 17 (commencing with Section 40000.1), and Division 18 (commencing with Section 42000), except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application. ”

    Using a cell phone and riding a bike is already against the laws of this state. There is no need for a special law on the subject. The police need to enforce the existing statutes.

    June 5th, 2010 6:37 pm

  26. Charlie

    That’s ironic because my mother almost got run over in the parking lot of a Rite Aid today by a guy talking on his cell phone while riding a bike.

    June 6th, 2010 1:59 am

  27. Noah Vale

    California, the premier Nanny State. Y’all give England a run for her money.

    PS. Please stop moving to Oregon. Your love of legislation tends to follow you and is not welcome here.

    June 6th, 2010 3:37 am

  28. WMT

    I ride a bike everywhere I go and when my phone rings I pull over before answering it.

    June 6th, 2010 5:07 am

  29. Jeremy_Brett

    “They cause a lot less damage when they hit someone (I know, I’ve been pegged by many).”
    So you have been ran over by a bunch of cyclists not paying attention and yet you still see no reason for this? BTW it doesn’t matter if it hurts or not, people shouldn’t have to look for vehicles on the sidewalk, nor be mowed down by them. I have been hit by three cyclists IN CROSSWALKS. I have never been hit by a car. Beyond that, I see far fewer cars just blast through stopsigns, drive on sidewalks, and ride to the front of the line at an intersection like it was just built. Aside from that I would really like there to be a “No joyriding” law at 5 pm rush hour on major thoroughfares. It is such a dangerous, egocentric thing to do. There are so many more hours in the day to go for a fun or workout ride, and so many roads not on major traffic paths. I realize this is far from realistic and is more of an annoyance that, with a little meta thinking, could be something that would be easy to fix. But people are jerks, and this is why we can’t have nice things. I guess scattering roofing tacks in the bike lanes would work, but really wouldn’t fix the human problem.

    June 6th, 2010 6:17 am

  30. Jeff Webb

    what about bike messengers who make their living via hand held radio?. I’m a bike messenger in San Francisco, although I usually stop to talk, which is pretty much common sense anyway

    June 6th, 2010 8:13 am

  31. Jessica

    How stupid are you guys? Honestly… how hard is it to use a headset with your cell phone while biking? Really?

    You can use a headset while driving, you can use a headset while bicycling… the law is against hand held phones. Get your self a belt clip, get a wired or bluetooth headset, and shut up about it. When I’m riding a bike I find headsets much easier to hear anyways.

    June 6th, 2010 10:00 am

  32. Lenny

    Hahahaha! SUCK IT, BICYCLISTS!

    June 6th, 2010 11:23 am

  33. Sean

    When we were younger we did not have cell phones, we were lucky, if we had a walk-man or equivalent, we couldn’t hear other traffic with those things on, and while distracted by the tunes often found ourselves lying on our backs looking at clouds… fast forward 25-30 years OK now every thing is smaller or has been made portable, so that we can have our phones, and mp3s and even a laptop computer right there in the car, or on your bike, and you have not learned about how to deal with the distractions. If nothing else we have tippled the dangers by the sheer number of things you can do… Other than operate your vehicles. you could not do it then with a tape deck on your hip, and soft foam on your headphones, and now you think you can do it while hanging on to something or god forbid typing, and texting while driving/riding, we are not as concerned for your safety as we are for the multitude on innocents in their vehicles or walking across the street while you are distracted.

    June 6th, 2010 3:06 pm

  34. danielpauldavis

    Okay, fine. I’ll just leave the grafitti on the wall and won’t phone the junk in to be painted over. Find it yourself.

    June 6th, 2010 5:47 pm

  35. Eric Apple

    I’m a bicyclist that obeys the rules of the road but that’s not relevant here because this is a nannystate law with it’s roots in social control and civic monetary deficits.

    I wonder if there’ll come a point where the electorate tires of their representatives circumscribing their every act with laws and fines?

    June 7th, 2010 6:29 am

  36. Dave

    > but when did bicyclists NOT have to abide by the same road laws as vehicles?

    Bicycles don’t kill people in crashes.

    However, point taken. All of us cyclists will not put away our bikes and start driving on the roads. So much for encouraging alternative transportation.

    June 7th, 2010 3:57 pm

  37. Close Call

    It’s like everything else, the actions of the few affect the many. Last week, I almost hit a bike rider at an intersection who blew through a stop sign, at night without a light and wearing dark clothing, AND talking on a cellphone. That’s obviously not the norm for bike riders, but I have seen some other close calls due to cellphone use. One example? A rider texting while riding with no hands ran into the back of a pickup stopped at a red light. Nothing but bruises, but scary!

    June 7th, 2010 6:29 pm

  38. Jamal

    Close Call, I’d like to follow you around some time just to see what kind of aura surrounds you that you see so many cyclists using cell phones. I bike to work every day on bike paths + roads and see a cyclist using a cell phone about once every 2 months. It’s easy enough to cook these incidents up in your head, but the statistics just don’t bear it out. Let’s see the actual stats instead of “what if” scenarios and hear say.

    June 8th, 2010 9:00 am

  39. Jeremy_Brett

    Jamal: try biking around a university campus town. You would see plenty if bike riders on cell phones then. They also like to intermingle the bike/pedestrian laws to a great degree up here and decide when they are riding a “bike” and when they are a “pedestrian”, which is usually at 4-way stops. I’m not discounting your claims of having not seen them, but Close Call isn’t making things up.

    June 11th, 2010 4:40 am

  40. HONSA

    Bike riders should pay a little more , since they don’t contribute anything for bike paths , signage etc.

    August 19th, 2010 5:39 pm

  41. Daniel Brockman

    When the driver of a motor vehicle talks on a cellphone, he or she endangers the lives of everyone near by threatening them with a lethal weapon.

    When the bicyclist talks on a cellphone, he or she might fall down. It’s possible, though quite unlikely, that he or she would seriously hurt someone else.

    The motor vehicle is 1000 times more dangerous than the bicycle. That is why, maxxrat, the law should be different for operators of motor vehicles. That is why this law fining bicyclists for using a cellphone is a stupid law.

    How are those legislators doing with the State budget? Do they have a lot of time on their hands these days?

    September 1st, 2010 8:19 pm

  42. Mark

    What about Deaf and Hard of Hearing People use text messaging on their cell phone. They always stop and pull of the road when they chekc a meesage from someone send. They send or reply back a message to them. Then they go back ride a bike. If they have a law and have to pay a fee. It seems not fair to them.

    September 23rd, 2010 2:17 pm

  43. SillyDriver

    YAY!!! It’s about time. Bicyclists share want to share the road so they need to obey the same laws as others on the road. They cause more damn traffic accidents and near misses already. Riding while using the cell phone is ridiculous! If only they would stop riding with their iPod blasting and pay attention to the road. Then it would be great.

    October 13th, 2010 10:04 am

  44. John

    This whole debate is ridiculous. I mean, really—what has the world come to?

    Unfortunately, the govt. is FORCED to regulate human behavior, because humans are stupid.

    I abhor the way 95% of Americans use their phones period. I’m all for regulating it. Use your phone in the library? 500 dollar fine. Caught talking or texting in a movie theater? Lethal injection. Talking or texting while driving? Lose your license for one year. On a phone while riding a bike? Govt. gets to sell your bike to help pay state taxes.

    Extreme? Yes. But something along these lines sounds about right to me.

    I met a lady whose husband was killed by a teenager who was texting while driving. The kid went through a stop sign and hit the poor old guy who was bicycling through the intersection. This kind of stuff is no joke.

    Maybe if the idiots of the world realized that there is a proper time and place to make phone calls, we wouldn’t have to have this discussion at all. I hold out hope for humanity, but it’s not looking good so far.

    January 10th, 2011 1:42 am

  45. lilbluegirl

    Yup! I learned this the hard way, it cost me a visit to ER too. Forget the darn thing ….don’t answer it. Not worth an injury and or a Ticket.

    March 9th, 2011 1:36 pm

  46. collinsfriend

    I use a bluetooth in my car YEARS before mandated and I use one on my bike. It is WAY more comfortable than holding a warming up phone to my ear, and trying to keep moving. I use the BT even when walking or jogging-much nicer.

    However—laws, laws, laws. Some make sense and some are just the result of people with too much time on their hands and too busybody crotchety old f@rts in the making.

    March 12th, 2011 8:30 pm

  47. collinsfriend

    oh John unless it makes noise who should CARE if people text in a theater? They want to waste their money-let them. Talking? That’s different. That is aggressively distruptive. Watching someone silently text? That’s the voyeur’s problem.

    Ringing phone in library? Well everyone makes mistakes-but the ignore button that silences it-that should be next, not talking. I don’t talk in restaurants on the phone unless there is an emergency-(not often, if ever) BUT I don’t care if others do unless they are yelling or talking louder than they would with company.

    March 12th, 2011 8:34 pm

  48. jenna

    you go john i hate paying twelve dollars to see a movie and getting blinded by the screenlight of the texter in front of me if m ore theaters would adopt a zero tolerance policy like this place in texas i wouldn’t care what i paid for the entrance. As for texting while driving it should be a felony on par with dui.I don’t carre one whit about your safty what concerns me is the other people you place in harms way by doing it.Government wouldn’t need to do this if people were capable of common sense

    June 11th, 2011 5:53 pm

  49. jenna

    close call i hear you i had my side window busted out by a doofus who was riding while texting forunately i was parked at the time and my daughter wasn’t in that seat. I have on many an occasion almost hit these people have had my previous car reareded by a moterist doing the same thing and i recently lost a nephew who was hit while bicycling and texting the driver was never caught. until people start being responsible for their own safty and acknowledge that they are responsible for the safty of others when they share the road then the stae won’t have to play nanny to the other 95% of spoiled brats who think they don’t have to care about anyone else

    June 11th, 2011 6:01 pm

  50. Jonny Wonkins

    I agree with this law completely. A woman hit my car with her bike because she was on the phone. she broke her hip and smashed her head up. She is lucky she didnt die because of Her negligence. I dont think you should be traveling faster than walking speed while on the phone. Distractions kill…

    February 13th, 2012 5:43 am

  51. Jeremy

    If cars were banned from using the roads we would all be better off. We would have more space, we could live closer, it wouldn’t be so damn noisy, we could plant more food in our neighborhoods, and we wouldn’t have to worry about getting run over by some distracted driver drunk texting. More importantly, domestic animals could actually have something to do like plow fields. Dogs could herd sheep; and the obesity rates would drop. Texting would become an obsolete need because the important people would be right there with you. However, this scenario only improves people’s lives and not corporations so I guess we should just stick to arguing about whether bicyclists should be allowed to text while riding because that’s the real issue facing humanity. In fact we need to elect another politician to operate, oversee, and appoint new members of the new Department of Bicycle Safety, a division of Homeland Security. That way we can all sleep better knowing our government is there to help save us.

    July 16th, 2012 11:23 pm

  52. Jeremy

    It’s time to face reality, there is no room left for cars anymore so it’s time to ban them. All the medicated, distracted drivers texting and killing innocent people has reached the tipping point. Let’s make the responsible choice and park our death traps for good. It will be a much better planet for sure. All the pedestrians, bicycle riders, dogs and cats running in the streets will applaud you.

    July 16th, 2012 11:34 pm

  53. Jeff

    It’s time for the bicycle community to wake up and smell the tailpipe emissions. Bicycle are part of the traffic problem, not any kind of a solution to it, for reasons already stated above by others.

    May 30th, 2013 7:35 am

  54. G

    Finally, a law that will not exempt the arrogance of others using the roads. But let’s also fine pedestrians who walk blindly and with a feeling of entitlement out in front of vehicles at crosswalks on cell phones and without looking before they cross.

    You self entitled pedestrians will one day walk out into the front of the wrong driver, and only then will you realize pain along with your arrogance.

    November 3rd, 2013 12:31 pm

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