We have an opportunity to pass Stop-As-Yield in California. Here is a letter I received from Walt Seifert at Sacramento TrailNet, and a sample letter to send to the chairman of the California Committee on Transportation in support of this measure.

The California Bicycle Coalition (CalBike) supports AB 1103, bipartisan legislation that would allow bicyclists to treat stop signs as yields. Sacramento Trailnet is assisting them in their efforts. We urge your organization to support this bill. We need additional supporters to make this common sense law a reality. We’re seeking support from 25 more organizations. Please be one of them.

Similar legislation has been in place in Idaho since 1982 and passed the Delaware legislature in June 2017. Bicycle collisions decreased in Idaho by 14.5 percent after the law took effect and today Boise has fewer bike crashes than comparable California cities.

There are many reasons to support the bill. We believe it will increase bicyclists’’ safety, improve bicyclists’’ renegade image, allow bicyclists to follow the laws of physics related to momentum and balance, ease traffic flow, encourage bicycling, limit arbitrary enforcement, increase respect for the law, allow law enforcement to focus on dangerous behavior, and gather California data to confirm the 35 years of positive experience in Idaho. We want to set a precedent for the rest of the nation in the nation’s most populous state.

The bill faces opposition from the League of California Cities, Automobile Club of Southern California, AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah, the California Police Chiefs Association, the California Teamsters, and some disability community members. Each of these groups has pledged to work with the bill’’s authors in an attempt to reach an agreement, but achieving an agreement is by no means assured.

We ask you to support AB 1103 by doing as much as you can of the following:

  • Send the attached letter on your organization’s letterhead. Personalize as you see fit. The letter is also copied below. If you did just one thing, this is our priority.
  • Urge your members to sign the petition at the CalBike Website. (We want at least 5,000 signers. We believe many more signers are possible and the more, the better.)
  • Create a link on your Website and Facebook page to the CalBike Website petition. Encourage your members to send individual letters of support as well.
  • Solicit additional support from one or more like minded organization, such as a local bicycle advisory committee, environmental group, transportation management association, city, county or Metropolitan Planning Agency. (We intend to contact recreational bike clubs.)
  • Ask your local state Senator and Assemblymember to support the bill (you can simply copy them on the attached support letter).
  • Advise us if you know anyone in the law enforcement community who would be willing to formally support the bill.
  • Let us know if you would like to do more or have additional ideas.
  • That’s potentially a lot to ask, but we believe this bill is very important. It can fundamentally change some highly negative cultural attitudes towards cycling, as well as make bicycling safer, more convenient and more common.

This bill is controversial and we recognize that reasonable people can have differing views about its potential impacts. However, we are convinced that the actual 35 years of positive experience in Idaho outweighs the speculative negative effects suggested by opponents.

We can provide more information, including a PowerPoint presentation, about the advantages of reforming the law. There is also an article about some of the advantages of changing the law and arguments against it on the Bicycle Retailer and Industry News Website. We’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.

In a way, the arguments for and against this bill boil down to whether more people will bicycle because of its passage and make all road users safer, or whether more bicyclists will be prompted to “blow through” stop signs and put themselves and pedestrians at risk. Based on the long Idaho experience and the actual behavior on the streets now, we know where we stand. As the LA Times editorialized about the answer to these and other questions, “Let’’s find out.”

Please let me know if you send a support letter. We’d like to keep track.

The bill was made a two-year bill and won’‘t be heard again in committee until January 2018. However, if it moves out of committee, it would need to be approved by the full Assembly by the end of January— — a compressed schedule. We are trying to generate as much support as possible before then.

Thanks very much.

Walt Seifert Executive Director Sacramento Trailnet (916) 455-7561

[Sample letter.]

The Honorable Jim Frazier Chair, Assembly Committee on Transportation 1020 N St, Room 110 Sacramento CA 95814

Re: Support—AB 1103 (Obernolte), Bike Safety at Stop Signs

Dear Chair Frazier,

(Your organization name here) supports Assembly Bill 1103. The bill would allow bike riders to treat a stop sign as a yield sign. This extremely common, safe practice should not be illegal. Thirty-five years of experience in Idaho demonstrates changing the law is safe and practical. Idaho intersections with stop signs operate exactly like similar intersections in California.

Encouraging more trips by bike is state policy. CalTrans has an ambitious goal to triple trips by bike by 2020. Bicycling is good for public health and the environment. Bike trips reduce traffic congestion and government costs. More trips by bike make streets safer for everyone, including motorists, pedestrians, and other bike riders.

Current law, if followed, makes trips by bike more arduous and less convenient, and less likely to be made. Coming to a complete stop instead of coasting through stop signs requires expending 25 percent more energy. Existing law is less safe for bike riders. It increases bike riders’’ exposure time to cross traffic and impedes traffic flow for everyone by increasing wait times.

Current stop sign law makes bike riders scofflaws even though safely yielding creates no harm to others and occurs millions of time a day without incident across the country. Thankfully current law is rarely enforced, but it is subject to arbitrary and inconsistent enforcement and allows racial profiling. Fines for those cited are the same as for motorists even though the dangers created are far less.

It is logical to have different laws for different road users based on physical and operational characteristics. Different laws exist now, such as different speed limits for trucks and the allowance of lane splitting by motorcyclists. Some differences in current traffic law are based entirely on environmental concerns, such as HOV lane use by vehicles with passengers or by alternatively fueled vehicles. Bicycling as a mode should be encouraged. Bike riders pose less risk to other road users because of their low weight and low speed. Riders are uniquely able to judge conditions at intersections and to react because of their low approach speeds, position at the front of their “vehicle,” unobstructed vision, unimpeded ability to hear, and quick stopping capability.

Please help increase respect for all laws by reforming a bad law. We urge your support of AB 1103.

Opponents of the bill have suggested that passage of AB 1103 will make interactions at intersections unpredictable because bike riders will subjectively decide when to yield. We disagree. Drivers and other road users make many subjective decisions, including decisions on when it is necessary to yield. Doing so does not create random or unpredictable behavior. Yield signs are a well-accepted traffic control device. Besides situations in which yielding is required, drivers and other road users make other subjective judgments daily. They decide when it is safe to pass on a two-lane highway, when it is safe to turn left in the face of approaching traffic, what speed is appropriate for road conditions and they determine what is safe and appropriate in countless other situations.

Please help increase respect for all laws by reforming a bad law. We urge your support of AB 1103.


cc: Assembly Member Jay Obernolte State Capitol Suite 4116 Sacramento, CA 94249