Senator Carol Liu
c/o Robert Oakes
State Capitol, Room 5097
Sacramento, CA 95814
SUBJECT: Senate Bill 192 unless modified
Dear Senator Liu:
I regret that I must write on behalf of the California Association of Bicycling Organizations (CABObike.org) in opposition to your bill, SB 192, that “Anyone riding without a helmet could be cited for an infraction and fined up to $25, the same as current law for youth cyclists.”
Bicycle helmets certainly may contribute to safety in a crash or fall, but represent only the final area of protection when all other safety measures fail. We refer to the four levels of safety, focusing on the area’s most likely to prevent injury:
a. Prevention through following the rules of the road, as defined in the California Vehicle Code and other safety literature. This establishes predictability of actions by motorists and bicyclists.
b. Deterrence through bicycling best practices for attention, communication, anticipation, road positioning, visibility (e.g., lights and reflectors), and maintenance (primarily effective braking).
c. Escape through development of skills in bicycling defensively – emergency stops, counter-steering (taught in motorcycle training and required for license).
d. Survival – Use of safety equipment such as helmets, gloves, etc.
We do applaud and appreciate your concern and do support effective efforts to reduce bicycling collision injuries and fatalities that also promote Active Transportation – healthier, enjoyable, cleaner, and more sustainable travel choices for Californians.
You, as Chair of the Senate Education Committee, may find some of the ideas below worthy of consideration. We offer our support toward implementing ways that would productively provide for better bicycling and traffic safety in general.
1. Provide Active Transportation instruction and experience curriculum choices – bicycling and walking – as part of K-12 physical education programs.
People bicycling can avoid crashing and collisions with motor vehicles and resulting injuries by learning about and applying appropriate bicycling behaviors. Too many bicycling crashes are the direct result of poor choices by the person bicycling; wrong-way riding against traffic, failure to yield when entering traffic, non-compliance with traffic control signals and signs, etc. A program to provide information about traffic laws and bicycling safe and best practices would be very likely to significantly reduce bicycling collisions, injuries, and fatalities. And, smarter bicycling not only avoids crashes, it provides for personal and community health through reducing trips by motor vehicle.
2. Provide for the development of a California Highway Patrol approved Bicycling Handbook distributed by and through the same outlets as the DMV Driver, Motorcycle, Senior and other DMV handbook traffic guides.
We have assisted the Department of Motor Vehicles to improve and increase the amount of information about bicycling provided in their publications, including their Driver Handbook. We have recommended that the DMV develop and provide a Bicycling Handbook similar in format to the Motorcycle handbook. They have not yet followed through.
3. Remove impediments to bicycling related traffic citation diversion programs.
This would allow for cities and counties to implement bicycle citation diversion programs that emphasize an educational curriculum complementing the goals established in #1, above.
4. Support the California Strategic Highway Safety Plan programs to reduce roadway fatalities; education, enforcement, engineering Complete Streets, emergency response, equity in travel mode choice, and encouraging appropriate behavior in traffic.
Traffic related bicycling collisions involving motor vehicles also result from mistakes and unlawful behavior by motorists. Recently passed legislation encouraging 3’ minimum passing has brought new attention to the responsibilities people have for sharing roadway space. The relatively new roadway markings – Shared Lane Markings, Bikes May Use Full Lane signs, Green-highlighted and “buffered” Bike Lanes; and traffic control devices – bicycle-specific traffic signals, bicycle actuated traffic signals, etc. – are helping us all adapt to the value of increasing the travel mode share for Active Transportation, bicycling and walking.
5. Modify the Calif. Vehicle Code to define and explain the meaning of the new white pavement markings – Shared Lane Markings, commonly called Sharrows, the new white painted buffers spaces next to Bike Lanes, and the bright green paint meant to highlight Bike Lanes, and the intent of the new and approved regulatory signs that show a bike and the words “May Use Full Lane.”
Sharrows mean that that lane is a substandard width lane and cyclists can legally ride anywhere in it.
Buffers are to provide space between motorists and bicyclists, and between bicyclists and parked vehicles. Buffers may (and should) be carefully driven into and cross to turn right, to park, or to enter or leave the roadway or Bike Lane.
Bikes may use full lane signs are to inform motorists that people bicycling may be in the travel lane, and to inform people bicycling that they may ride far enough out into a lane to avoid roadside hazards and discourage close passing by others.
We of the California Association of Bicycling Organizations look forward to hearing about how we might help you to improve safety and ability for everyone. We want everyone to be able to choose to use bicycles for travel and recreation in California.