Typically I read at least one news story a day that irritates me, usually I either don't care enough to gripe about them further, or I forget. After griping at ET about driving in the car with a phone in her hand, I remembered an article I read the SF Streets Blog titled: "Advocates Concerned That Cyclists Are Included in Distracted Driving Bill" (link)
One of the choice quotes from the article being:
The California Bicycle Coalition (CBC), which was an early supporter of the original distracted driving legislation, was not thrilled about the inclusion of cyclists in the bill. CBC Communications Director Jim Brown said that he was confused about the motivation for extending the same level of fines to cyclists, particularly absent data showing distracted cycling as a public safety hazard.
"The consequences of a distracted driver are considerably more serious than the consequences of distracted cycling," said Brown, adding that safe riding should be encouraged at all times and that talking on a cell phone or any other practice that distracted a cyclist from riding would not be advisable.
As a member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, I'm partially annoyed by Mr. Brown's comments, but I don't particularly care. Reading further through the article, I found this:
Andy Thornley, Program Director for The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, agreed with Winter that lumping cyclists with motorists in this law was not good policy. While the SFBC "teaches and preaches safe, respectful, and mindful bicycling," said Thornley, "we're very leery of any equivalence of penalty when punishing a guilty cyclist or driver for the same offense."
"Even worse, we wonder whether bicyclists would be cited more often than motorists because it's so much easier to spot someone texting while pedaling," he added. "It's already a problem of perception that individual bicycle riders seem to be noticed being naughty more than motorists, comfortably anonymous within their glass and steel boxes."
What a hypocrite! Riding your bike while on the phone or worse, texting is just as stupid as some of the no-helmet, no-light nonsense I was incensed over a few weeks ago, but the fact that these two gentlemen from Bike Coalitions want preferential treatment for cyclists in the most idiotic way possible blows my mind. To be honest, I'm entirely in favor of bicyclists being cited more often than motorists for breaking the law (running red lights or not using signals comes to mind).
This kind of no-distractions law makes a lot of sense to me, and should be applied to just about anybody operating a moving vehicle, bikes, trikes, motorcycles, mopeds, cars, tractors, law mowers, you name it. If you are operating a vehicle distracted you raise your chances of hurting yourself or others on public roads (ever been hit while walking by a cyclist?).
Inside of the San Francisco cycling community, I think we can do our part by shunning or otherwise pushing cyclists into light posts who are on their cell phones while riding. They are clearly morons and in my opinion the CBC or the SFBC has no place defending their idiocy.