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A Press Democrat Blog

Road Warrior

Trying to make sense out of getting around

A modest proposal: Bicyclists rights bring responsibilities

After reading about the new “share the road” ordinance passed by Santa Rosa’s City Council, reader Tara Martinelli sent this modest proposal. Why not also teach bicyclists the rules of the road? Here’s what she had to say. Dear Road Warrior, In commercials and radio PSAs, motorists are frequently reminded to share the road and are told that bicyclists have the same rights as motorists (although driving is a privilege, not a right). But I don’t hear reminders that bicyclists… Read More »

Santa Rosa laws you should know about

Should people be allowed to sleep in their cars? Should bicyclists and pedestrians be able to sue people who harass or assault them? City and county bureaucrats are considering ordinances that would allow both. A Santa Rosa woman has filed suit over local laws that prevent people from sleeping in their cars. Hollie Clausen visited India in 2012 and was so struck by the level of homelessness on the Asian subcontinent that when she returned, she sued the county and the… Read More »

Sound Off: Bikes vs. cars, red-light runners, more examples of courtesy gone awry

Some recent comments from readers: Unsafe bicycling on skinny roads I am new to the Sonoma County backroads. I believe in sharing the road with bicycles, but was surprised by their behavior. Last Saturday I drove out to the coast on Petaluma Point Reyes road, narrow, double yellow line. The cyclists were riding 2, sometimes 3 across. Even when they looked back and saw me, they didn’t always shift into single file. There is NO WAY on those narrow roads… Read More »

Mailbag: What’s a STAR smog test? Bicyclists must follow rules of the road

We’ve had several readers write in asking what the new STAR smog test program is. Here’s an answer: The state Bureau of Automotive Repair on Jan. 1 changed its smog test program by eliminating Gold Shield smog-check stations, which generally handled potentially high polluting vehicles, and creating STAR test stations, which must meet a higher performance standard for technicians and the stations themselves as set by the bureau. Some of the STAR stations are test only while others can do… Read More »

Senate OKs bill with strict rules for passing bicyclists

The state Senate on Friday approved legislation that would require drivers to be at least three feet away when passing bicyclists in most cases and would allow drivers to cross solid yellow lines to pass if safe to do so. If safety conditions didn’t allow for the three-foot clearance, then drivers would have to slow to a reasonable and prudent speed, taking into consideration the size and speed of their vehicle, traffic, weather and road conditions. The base fine for… Read More »

State Senate votes to hike cellphone fines, penalize bicyclists, too

A Palo Alto state senator again is trying to raise the fine on motorists who illegally use cellphones and, for the first time, to fine bicyclists who text or talk on a hand-held phone. The state Senate on Monday approved 24-9 legislation by Democratic Sen. Joe Simitian calling for the new fines and sent it to the Assembly. The Legislature last year passed a similar bill by Simitian, but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it. Last year’s bill would have raised… Read More »

Sound off: Readers’ gripes, comments

ARE THESE BICYCLISTS RIDING LEGALLY? I am sending you this letter and attachment in the hope that you will help educate the biking community to their responsibilities under the law. I  understand and support the individual bicycler’s right to share the road with me. But I do expect that each bicyclist follow the laws that govern their use of the roads. A prime example of what gives bicyclists a bad reputation happened to me Saturday while driving from Occidental to… Read More »

Passing cyclists? 3 feet or 15 mph

A bill winding its way through the Legislature would require drivers to make sure they stay at least three feet away when passing a bicyclist or slow to no more than 15 mph when passing a cyclist if less than three feet away. The measure, Senate Bill 910, passed the Assembly Transportation Committee on an 8-5 vote Monday after an apparent raucous hearing and now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. It passed the state Senate in May. The bill… Read More »

SRPD crackdown on bicyclists

In one of several crackdowns on bicyclists who ride unsafe, Santa Rosa police ticketed 14 riders in the downtown area. Police Sgt. Lance Badger said five uniformed officers roamed the Courthouse and Railroad square areas early Monday evening and cited the bicyclists mostly for riding on the wrong side of the road and ignoring stop signs. Thirty-one warnings were issued to cyclists and pedestrians. Based on the Sonoma County traffic court’s website, it appears the total fines are $194 for… Read More »

Mailbag: Crossing the double yellow line

Here’s a question from a reader: Out on some rural roads in the county, it’s double yellow lines all the way. Sometimes I have to cross it to pass bicyclists. Is what I’m doing legal? Peter CHP Officer Jon Sloat responded: By the letter of the law, yes, it is illegal. If it can be done safely to avoid a confrontation with the cyclists, the average officer can recognize that. However, never try this in a location without sufficient visibility,… Read More »