State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) has introduced State Senate Bill 1475, which would outlaw “broadband communication” on wireless telephone from a vehicle, even if equipped with hands-free device.
Would the texting restriction also apply to cyclists? The language in the bill is unclear, but numerous news reports on the bill state that the texting restriction would apply to cyclists.
How ironic Sen. Simitian represents Silicon Valley, and is not aware of the huge revolution in GPS mobile devices for bicycling? For example:
- The innovative CycleTracks is being used by San Francisco MTA for sophisticated bike census counts.
- Online schedules and real-time transit data from BART and other transit operators, beamed directly to mobile phone, allows for more seamless bike-transit intermodal connectivity.
- Ever expanding number of online bike maps, available on iiPhone and Android, showing location of bike lanes and bike paths.
These are but a few examples. Like most emerging technology, it can be difficult to predict how far it will go. But under Simitian’s vaguely-written bill, the ultimate result could be expensive fines and harassment of cyclists.
If there were a credible safety argument, then perhaps it is warranted. But is there any study that finds cyclists are not using this technology responsibly? There does not appear to be any.
And what about pedestrians? Should they be subject to fine? Crossing the street can be deadly too, if distracted by iPhone.