Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition introduces anti-harassment proposal

Bicycle advocates unveiled a proposed local ordinance Friday meant to arm cyclists and pedestrians with new legal ammunition against drivers who intentionally threaten and harass them.

The proposal from the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition would make it easier for "vulnerable users" to sue drivers in civil court. It defines various forms of harassment and triples monetary penalties, making cases more attractive to attorneys.

It's intended to fill perceived gaps in criminal prosecution, which has a higher standard of proof and requires such things as as the positive identification of the driver.

The proposal was announced outside the county courthouse before hearings for two drivers charged with hitting cyclists.

"We shouldn't be afraid to be out on the public roadways," said Gary Helfrich, bicycle coalition executive director.

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