On January 6, a bicycling task force was formed during a meeting in State Senator Kehoe’s Sacramento office. That meeting was successful and we now have a working task force in place, thanks to the team of bicycling advocates: representing the League of American Bicyclists, the California Association of Bicycling Organizations and the California Bicycle Coalition: CABO President and CBC Board member Jim Baross, CABO lobbyist James Lombardo, CABO Legislative Liaison Alan Wachtel, and CABO Transportation Engineering Liaison Bob Shanteau.
Below is a report on that meeting, but first a little background on how the meeting came about:
In January 2008, Bob Shanteau was appointed as the bicyclist representative of the AB 1581 Subcommittee to the California Traffic Control Devices Committee, which was tasked with developing language to be included in the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.
AB 1581, authored by Assemblymember Jean Fuller and sponsored by ABATE, the statewide motorcyclist group, and the California Bicycle Coalition, required motorcycle and bicycle detection at new and modified traffic actuated signals, but to take effect only after Caltrans had adopted standards and guidelines for motorcycle/bicycle detection and related signal timing. At the Subcommittee’s first meeting early that year Bob Shanteau met James Lombardo, who, as lobbyist for the statewide motorcyclist group ABATE, was largely responsible for the passage of AB 1581. He and Bob worked closely together as the Subcommittee tried to develop appropriate language for the CA MUTCD, but by late 2008 they had run into problems with Caltrans, the CHP and local agencies on enforcement, engineering, education, legislation, etc.
Bob thought back to the meetings of the Statewide Bicycle Committee that he attended in 1974 when he was president of the Santa Clara Valley Bicycle Association (now the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition), which led to the 1975-76 legislation that revised the Vehicle Code and the Streets and Highways Code. He recalled that the Statewide Bicycle Committee had been created by Senate Concurrent Resolution 47 in 1973, authored by Senator Pro Tem James Mills. Bob and James figured that a new committee would be a good way to work out the problems they were seeing.
During the February 2009 CABO Board meeting, Bob was appointed as Transportation Engineering Liaison for CABO. At the same meeting, he recommended that CABO find a legislator to carry a resolution to create the new committee. He also recommended hiring a lobbyist to represent CABO while the resolution wound its way through the legislature. The CABO Board approved both recommendations and hired James Lombardo as its lobbyist. Alan Wachtel, CABO’s Legislative Liaison, was to work with James in getting a resolution for a new statewide bicycle committee through the legislature. One of the first tasks was to find a legislator to carry the resolution.
CABO President Jim Baross then contacted longtime friend Christine Kehoe, his State Senator and Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to ask her to carry the resolution. She recommended that a stakeholders task force be formed instead. James and Jim then worked with Senator Kehoe’s staff through the rest of 2009 to schedule an initial meeting, but with the state budget occupying the Legislature, it took most of the year. Everything finally came together in December for a meeting to take place in Senator Kehoe’s office on January 6, 2010.
Attending the meeting on 1/6/2010 in Senator Kehoe’s office were:
Senator Christine Kehoe
Senator Kehoe’s aide Gil Topete
CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow
CHP legislative aide Capt. Avery Browne
Caltrans Director Randy Iwasaki
Caltrans Legislative Liaison Ted Link-Oberstar
CABO President Jim Baross
CABO Legislative Liaison Alan Wachtel
CABO Transportation Engineering Liaison Bob Shanteau
CABO lobbyist James Lombardo
California Peace Officers’ Association Government Relations Manager John Lovell
California State Sheriffs’ Association legislative representative Danielle Higgs
Senate Transportation Committee consultant Jennifer Gress
Senator Kehoe opened the meeting and asked for self introductions. She then called on Jim Baross.
Jim told about Senate Concurrent Resolution 47 in 1973 that resulted in the Statewide Bicycle Committee, which met during 1974 and the legislation that was considered and passed during the 1975-76 legislative session. He said that some recommendations of the SCR 47 Committee had not been implemented and that some things had changed since then. He went over the reasons why more people are choosing to bicycle now. He said that we support increasing safe, courteous and lawful bicycling.
Senator Kehoe agreed with the reasons to encourage bicycling, including reduction of greenhouse gases and health.
Jim Baross then described how the California Vehicle Code was being interpreted by police and judges as requiring bicyclists to get out of the way of cars, which is in conflict to the way that the League of American Bicyclists teaches bicyclists how to ride on the roads, which is, when necessary for personal safety, to ride in the way of cars. He used a story from an episode of Seinfeld to illustrate his point, where George is driving a car and hits and kills a pigeon. His passenger is alarmed, but George explains, “We have a deal with pigeons. We let them use the streets as long as they stay out of our way. That pigeon broke the deal.”
Jim went on to describe how the Vehicle Code is being interpreted differently around the State and how levels of enforcement differ. He described a lack of uniformity of both traffic control devices and designs. Public agencies are introducing innovative approaches to accommodate bicyclists without going through any approval process at the state level. He requested help on this point. Also, bicyclists are requesting representation on the California Traffic Control Devices.
Randy Iwasaki said that he agreed with the need for uniformity with standards and that revisions were needed, but that each agency can have its own highway design standards.
Bob Shanteau pointed out that part of the 1975-76 legislative package included a provision in the Streets and Highways Code saying that the Caltrans Highway Design Manual was mandatory for local agencies on bikeways and on roads on which bicycle travel was permitted.
Senator Kehoe said she supported adding bicyclist representation to the CTCDC would be a good thing and that avoiding a bill to do so would be a good thing.
Randy Iwasaki wanted to make sure that those present were aware of DD-64-R1 that he had signed when he was still Deputy Director. He said that the goal was to make sure that bicyclists and motor vehicles can coexist peacefully, which was a shock to many of the engineers at Caltrans.
Senator Kehoe expressed concern about differing interpretations of the Vehicle Code and different levels of enforcement around the State.
Joe Farrow said that safety was of primary importance to the CHP. He said that for consistency of enforcement that CHP would work with the police chiefs and sheriffs. He said that the CHP recognizes that any law applicable to motor vehicles is also applicable to bicyclists. He said that the CHP only issued 6 citations last year for bicyclists riding in the middle of a lane. When a bicyclist is an impediment, their officers more commonly ask the bicyclist to move to the right. Currently, CHP interprets the law as requiring bicyclists to ride to the right, so he said there is a need to talk. He described CHP’s involvement in the Strategic Highway Safety Program, which also involves the California Office of Traffic Safety, Caltrans, and bicyclists. He said that the CHP sends advisory notices to the police chiefs and the sheriffs, and most follow CHP advice.
John Lovell said that he and the CHP provide annual training in criminal and traffic laws to law enforcement training officers in several locations around the state. He said the police don’t have the expertise that CHP does, so they follow CHP advice on traffic enforcement. He welcomed our offer to provide bicyclist input into this training.
Danielle Higgs said that the sheriffs work closely with the police chiefs on the training.
Senator Kehoe said that the SCR 47 Committee was dormant and the SHSP could address some issues, but there were still issues that needed to be addressed.
Jim Baross said we were anxious to be involved in modifying the training provided by the Police Officers Standards and Training (POST). He said that he had been working with CHP Assistant Chief Howland on SHSP matters, but that the last he had heard from Howland was in August and that he has since moved on.
John Lovell confirmed that the training to which he referred was POST-certified.
Jim Baross then said that some of the confusion was because of the incomplete wording in the CHP Redi-Ref concerning CVC 21202.
Senator Kehoe said that rather than legislation, she preferred that the stakeholders have several meetings to address POST training and the law.
John Lovell suggested that no legislation was necessary for the time being and that the stakeholders have 2 or 3 meetings, with legislation in the future.
Randy Iwasaki described how the SHSP was a major effort with 80 challenge areas. He said that coordination problems with other agencies, particularly the DMV and CHP, are worked out in quarterly directors meetings. He said that he agreed with the need for uniformity and that bicyclists need to be represented on the CTCDC. He said that Caltrans was represented at CTCDC meetings by Robert Copp.
Bob Shanteau pointed out that Wayne Henley represented Caltrans at the CTCDC. He said that he had written a Decision Document and that the California Bicycle Advisory Committee had approved it and sent it on to the CTCDC for consideration at its next meeting on January 21.
John Lovell said that it would be helpful to add a break out section to the annual notice of legislative changes.
Joe Farrow said that he sees two sets of bicyclists – those who follow the law and those who don’t. He said that when he was on patrol and saw a group of bicyclists in 2 or 3 rows who looked like they knew what they were doing, he did not bother them. Mixed use of roads, however, presents an inherent danger, what with the difference in speeds and the vulnerability of bicyclists.
At this point, Senator Kehoe was called to the Senate floor for a vote. She directed the group to work out the details and to get back to her in June. CHP and Caltrans will take the lead in coordination with her office. The police chiefs, sheriffs and POST would also be involved in the dialog. She instructed the group to work out the details, including membership.
Jim Baross said that education was crucial, starting in the elementary schools. He said that the goal of the group should be to resolve apparent differing approaches to portions of the CVC related to bicycling so that LAB Bike Ed instruction and traffic enforcement actions are in agreement.
Senator Kehoe said that she wanted the first stakeholders meeting within a month and for us to add the appropriate members. CHP would take the lead in organizing the meetings and James Lombardo would take the lead for the bicyclists.