Shut Up and Pedal

Proposed law extends hand-free rule to bicyclists

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Peninsula Assemblyman Joe Simitian introduced a law to make texting while biking illegal.

    Wait long enough along the Embarcadero in San Francisco or along the Los Gatos Creek Trail in the South Bay and you'll see someone talking on the phone or texting while riding their bike.

    State Senator Joe Simitian, who represents the Peninsula, introduced a bill to make that illegal.

    "That's absolutely absurd," bicyclist Wilbur Harvey told NBC Bay Area News. "If a bicyclist wants to text while riding, the only person that's going to get hurt is the bicyclist."

    A different opinion from Doug Vealey of Redwood City who rides his bike to work. Vealey told NBC Bay Area, "I don't think it's a good idea for you to be riding your bike, not paying attention to where you're going."

    However, both bike riders agree that the 2006 law requiring drivers use a hands-free device behind the wheel and the 2009 ban on texting while driving is a good idea.

    Harvey said, "I've almost been run off the road many times by someone looking down at their phone."

    Simitian said a 20 percent drop in traffic fatalities in the first six months of the hands-free law shows the law is working.

    Now, Simitian would like for it to work even better, by costing law-breakers a little more. Simitian on Monday proposed raising the fine for breaking the hands-free law from $20 to $50, and raising the fine for texting and driving from $20 to $100. The same fines would apply to violators on bikes, if the law passes.