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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cyclists like safety push in bill

This topic -- the effort by California cyclists to get state lawmakers to pass a bill that would require motorists to give cyclists at least 3 feet of clearance while passing cyclists -- normally belongs to the expertise of Fritz's Cycle-licious blog.

But the reason I noticed this front page today was that a copy of it was hanging in the Belleville News-Democrat's newsroom. We're looking at front pages from throughout the country to get ideas for refining the look of our paper.

(For you newspaper junkies out there, there are slight similarities between the look of the San Jose Mercury-News and the News-Democrat already. That's because the same person, master newspaper designer Deborah Withey, led the redesigns of both newspapers several years ago. The newspapers share a common tie, the GriffithGothic family of fonts.)

As you can see, the Monday edition of the Mercury-News has a graphic illustrating what the law means. Just click on the image to see the front page in more detail (PDF file), and then you can read the full story.

Several states have approved similar laws to what is being proposed in California, but the bill faces stiff opposition.

Opponents, including the Teamsters Union, worry that drivers forced to swerve around cyclists would place themselves on a collision course with oncoming traffic, especially on narrow roads.

"The bill puts drivers, particularly commercial drivers, in a very difficult place since you're expected to keep a certain distance from bicyclists, and bicyclists are not required to keep a certain distance from you,'' Barry Broad, a lobbyist for the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, told the Mercury-News.

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Roger 3 comments links to this post 12:53 AM

Hi Roger,

Local cyclists complained about that graphic on the Murky News because it inaccurately highlights the supposed 'dangers' of a safe passinng distance -- it's as if drivers don't know what a brake is.

By law (and common sense), drivers aren't supposed to pass until it's safe. The graphic is ridiculous.

Gwadlyn complained that the main point of what he was trying to say was completely ignored by the writer. I plan to write a post on how to talk to the media to get your point across. Maybe you have your own tips to offer :-)

Many California cyclists are ambivalent about this law. Read Paul Dorn's blog for details.
I had read the story but had not seen that idiotic graphic, which says to me that cyclists like the "push for safety" because it will send cars slamming into head-on collisions.

As is so often the case, this is merely the fulfillment of someone's quota to have X number of front page graphics per week. It does, however, faithfully reproduce the hare-brained fears of opponents to the bill, as characterized in the article.
Hello Roger,

The fear of a collision between opposing motor vehicles when one of them is passing a cyclist on a narrow two-lane road is exaggerated, in my opinion. To see the reality, please go to conservion.com and scroll down to SUV HORNBLOWER and view the video. You will notice how the normal considerate motorist is willing to cross the centerline, and does so safely, to give me a generous clearance when passing. Only occasionally do I meet the inconsiderate motorist that is the subject of this post. The lanes on this road are only 11 feet and the shoulder is almost non-existent. I typically ride 2 ft to 3 ft out from the edge line to make myself very visible to following motorists.

Martin Pion
League Cycling Instructor
Conservion - "Think Bicycling!'
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