Help pass the Vulnerable User Protection Ordinance
Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition announces a new campaign aimed at protecting you from being harassed because you're riding your bicycle or walking. Our goal is to see our proposed "Vulnerable User Protection Ordinance” passed throughout Sonoma County. (Read the draft ordinance by downloading the PDF at the end of this article.)
SCBC’s proposed ordinance is modeled on laws passed recently in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Berkeley, and Sunnyvale, CA. We believe, in light of the recent assault by Harry Smith of bicyclist Toraj Soltani, that it has never been more urgent for our community to do more to protect people on our roads.
While Smith’s behavior with regard to Soltani is clearly a criminal offense, Smith has a record of prior incidents of harassing people riding bikes. The Vulnerable User Protection Ordinance would help catch people who harass and threaten bicycle riders and pedestrians, and demonstrate that they are accountable for their behavior. The law will help discourage harassment and hopefully prevent harassers from becoming assailants.
If passed, the ordinance would send a strong message that Sonoma County and its cities do not tolerate the harassment of people riding bicycles or walking here. In addition, the Vulnerable User Protection Ordinance creates civil remedies in cases of legitimate harassment. The remedies allow for the victim to recover damages, attorneys’ fees, and punitive damages. Violators of the law will be liable for triple the actual damages with regard to each and every such violation, or $1,000, whichever is greater, and will be liable for reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs of litigation. In addition, a jury or court may award punitive damages where warranted.
We all have stories of getting threatened, buzzed, slapped, and hit with soda cans when we're out riding. Some have worse stories to report. We must ensure the safety of the people who enjoy bicycling and walking in Sonoma County, protect our County’s well-deserved reputation as an amazing place to spend time outdoors. We must pass this ordinance to protect us all!
SCBC's needs your support to get the Vulnerable User Protection Ordinance passed. Please help us raise $30,000 by November 30th in support of this important legislation.
Thank you for your support. Stay tuned for updates about the progress of the campaign, and how you can get involved.
Want to endorse the Vulnerable User Protection Ordinance? Please download the form posted as a PDF below. Thanks!
- The Sebastopol Complete Streets Advisory Committe has recommended that the Sebastopol City Council pass the Vulnerable User Protection Ordinance. The Council will take up the Ordinance at its November 20th meeting at 6:00 p.m. If you live in Sebastopol, please plan to attend!
- At the County, Supervisor Shirlee Zane stated publicly that it is her goal for the Board of Supervisors to pass the ordinance during her time as Board Chair. The County Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee recommended unanimously that the Board of Supervisors pass the Ordinance.
- The Rohnert Park Bicycle Advisory Committee directed City staff to move forward with the ordinance to get it ready to go before the City Council.
- Cloverdale City Staff is looking over the ordinance to get it ready to go before the City Council.
- In Santa Rosa City Staff is looking over the ordinance.
- Elected officials in Windsor, Cotati, and Sonoma are looking over the ordinance.
- We are working to make contact with officials in Healdsburg and Petaluma, and will do so after the election.