Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Makes History

County becomes first in the nation to Protect Us All!

On Tuesday, March 19th, 2013, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to make Sonoma County the first county in the United States to adopt a civil ordinance to protect people from harassment when they're bicycling and walking!

Cities, including Los Angeles, Berkeley, and Sunnyvale (all in California), as well as Washington DC have passed ordinances to protect bicyclists from harassment. In January, Sebastopol became the first city in Sonoma County to adopt a Vulnerable User Protection ordinance, which protects people bicycling and walking. But no other County has done so.

We applaud the Board of Supervisors for working to make sure that people know: Sonoma County is a great place to ride a bike or walk, and harassing people doing so won't be tolerated.

Please take a moment now to thank the Supervisors and thank them for taking this bold step. Tell them what it means to you!

Chairman David Rabbitt
Supervisor Shirlee Zane
Supervisor Mike McGuire
Supervisor Efren Carrillo
Supervisor Susan Gorin

The Backgound:

On March 12th, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in support of an ordinance to prohibit the civil harassment of bicyclists and pedestrians. The ordinance will appear on the Board's consent calendar on March 19th for final approval. Read the Press Democrat coverage here. The ordinance is based on Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition's proposed Vulnerable User Protection Ordinance.

The County's effort has been spearheaded by Supervisor Shirlee Zane, who, in November, invited SCBC to make a presentation to the Board about the ordinance. At that meeting, the Board voted unanimously to direct County staff to prepare a version of the ordinance for the Supervisors' consideration.

Since then, County staff has worked to draft an ordinance that works for the County.

There are some differences between the County's proposed ordinance and SCBC's proposed Vulnerable User Protection Ordinance, which was passed by the City of Sebastopol early this year. That's because the laws governing California counties are very specific about what counties can and can't do. 

"The County," says Gary Helfrich, SCBC's Executive Director, "has done a remarkable job of crafting a draft ordinance that will truly make a difference for people who ride bikes and walk in Sonoma County. We appreciate the County's commitment to providing real protections for vulnerable users of roads and trails."

Meanwhile, cities throughout Sonoma County are in various stages of considering the Vulnerable User Protection Ordinance. It's scheduled for Healdsburg City Council on May 6th, and we are awaiting word on other city calendars.

Protect Us All is moving ahead! Keep informed and stay involved. Together we're making it happen!

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