Monday, July 21, 2008

HA! How About 49 or More Cars Get a Permit!

CASTRO VALLEY — The county is circulating a new "bicycle event" law proposal that would make excursions on country roads more difficult and expensive for organized cycling clubs.
County Supervisor Nate Miley said the law would balance the concerns of bicyclists and residents.
"We want people to ride bicycles, and not to impose unfair burdens on people who live along (rural) roadways," Miley explained.
The proposal would primarily affect roads in unincorporated Livermore, Pleasanton and Sunol. However, it also would cover portions of Crow Canyon, Cull Canyon, Eden Canyon, Lake Chabot, Palomares and Redwood roads, and East Castro Valley Boulevard.
For years, bands of bicycle riders have irritated residents living along rural roads.
The cyclists often clog narrow roads at unexpected times, dump litter and take restroom breaks at inappropriate places,
the residents have claimed during a decade of meetings with elected and appointed Alameda County representatives.
Under the proposed new law, organizations with advertised rides and 50 or more riders would have to apply for permits, which the Alameda County Sheriff's Office could approve or deny. The permit would cost $189. Another $150 fee would be required for informational signs, which the county would post along the requested route.
Groups with 49 or fewer riders would not be subject to permit requirements. The sheriff's office estimates that rides with a few hundred
to a few thousand cyclists occur about 20 times a year.
The proposal was introduced last week to Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Council members, who had mixed reactions.
Council member Dave Sadoff called the proposal "not an unreasonable approach," while member Cheryl Miraglia claimed it went "overboard." The law wouldn't take effect until it is approved by county supervisors. As of Friday, no date had been set for a hearing.
The East Bay Bicycle Coalition, which advocates for cyclists in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, is batting 0-for-3. Nearly a year ago, as the ordinance was being drafted, the coalition told the sheriff's office that signs were unnecessary. The Oakland-based organization asked that the 50-cyclists threshold be removed and the term "bicycle event" — which could trigger the need for event liability insurance — be eliminated.

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