It finally became effective this month, so I'm republishing my February post in its entirety for your edification and reading pleasure. Any complaints should be directed at the Governor's office and not this poor, defenseless, blog. Enjoy --
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Gimme Three Feet, Gimme Three Feet
Mister . . .
Have you heard the big news California bikeists? Governor Brown signed a controversial bill into law that requires driveists to maintain a three foot buffer when passing those on bikes (effective this September). Hurray! Now we are 100% safe on the roads and will never get hit by a reckless, inattentive, texting, drunk, nearsighted, angry, psychotic, sleepy, or just plain lousy driver ever again! Right?
And, I'm sure this law will pack plenty of deterrent punch to make drivers think twice about breaking that magic three foot bubble, right? Well, um, not exactly. The fine for coming within three feet is actually a "whopping" $35. Really? The fine for "jaywalking" in San Diego is $100 (and I'm still fuming over the $77 ticket I got on Broadway back in 2002). Let me get this straight -- the person who poses no threat to anyone but themselves gets nailed for $100, but the one who comes within inches of taking out an innocent fellow human being who happens to be on a bike gets a fine that is about 1/3 that? I'm starting to feel like the law considers us bikeists to be somewhat less than human.
And, wow -- has this new law ever brought the hating hateists (more fully described in my "Hateists" post) out of the woodwork. The LA Times devoted an entire column to the vitriol on display when they reported on the new law: "Is 3 Feet Asking Too Much?".
They were also on great display in reaction to this piece broadcast on KPBS just yesterday: "Will It Make Roads Safe Enough?"
My favorite is "Commus" who seems to think that people who ride bikes don't pay taxes, so have no right to use roadways, and offered this gem:
"The moderator is even prejudiced dragging out his sob story of being hit but no mention of his position in traffic"
This seems to imply that he deserved to get hit. Does it get any more hateful than that folks? No empathy for someone who actually got schwacked by a car, and an attitude that seems to say that bikes which mix with traffic are fair game. I, generally, see more compassion displayed toward stray dogs and cats that run out randomly into traffic . . .
Anyway, while the law is not going to create a magic bubble that will make bike riders immune to the drivers around them, and lacks any real financial deterrent value -- I still, of course, support it. Get it into the learner's permit manuals and onto driver's license tests, and, maybe, we can change a few attitudes and train drivers to be mindful of bikeists. Not everyone has had the benefit of someone like my dad teaching them to drive - who emphasized giving bikes as much leeway as possible since you never know when they might have to swerve to avoid a danger invisible from a car. You'd think that trying as hard as possible to not kill others who share the road would be a matter of pure common sense, but for those lacking such sense, I guess the only hope is education.
Be careful out there bikeists - keep your eyes and ears open, watch your six, and give hell to every driver who doesn't respect your statutory, God-given, thirty-six inches!