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We’re Not Done With You Yet Perry: Act II-FOIA, Oh Boy-ah!

July 13, 2009

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal from neighboring Louisiana signed a “vulnerable road users” bill last week – as did Democrat Gov.  Phil Bredesen of Tennessee after his state Legislature sent him similar legislation.

Texas lawmakers recently voted overwhelming for our “safe passing” bill – 142-0 in the House and 26-5 in the Senate.

And then it went to Gov. Rick Perry, whose office was flooded in recent months with a whopping show of support for SB 488.  More than 2,300 Texans (perhaps some of you) made phone calls or sent emails and letters to the governor’s office. Of those, 2,244 expressed support for our “vulnerable road users” bill. Only 87 raised objections – and many of those were based on ignorance of the bill. Folks, that’s 96 percent in favor!

I used the Texas Public Information Act to find out how many Texans contacted the Governor’s office regarding our bill and found the public was in support of SB488.   Some of the correspondence was interesting…more on that in a moment.

Back to the governor:

As some of you know, the cycling community had requested a public bill signing ceremony with the governor. We wanted to raise public awareness for this issue and the pending new law intended to give the current statutes some enforceable teeth, especially in the event of an accident.

Instead of generating good will,  and enhancing public safety, our guy stunned us, smacked us across the head and kicked our shins when he vetoed SB 488.  A guy who rides a bike and who recently broke his collarbone after flying over the handlebars should have more sense about the perils facing vulnerable road users.

But then again, he has a big SUV with security behind him when he rides on the road.  Cars can’t get near him.  I guess we can’t call Perry a “vulnerable road user”.  But a veto shouldn’t be personal now should it?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as if Perry gets it. So now, it’s our time to send him a message.

Guess what Governor!  The cycling community is united, organized and we vote.

The emails (count 38) that were sent to Perry in opposition of SB488 reeked of Road Ragers, and Special Donors i.e. Oil and Gas Companies.  Stay tuned for “ACT III in my blog for a breakdown on each writer, and their connection to his campaign.  There is a fabulous Texas Ethics site that is a gem of a resource.

And now, I’d like to share excerpts from some of my favorite emails to Perry:

From Robert Ellis -Plano: “I love passing close to cyclists who shouldn’t be on roads….With your veto I can continue to pass them in the same lane……Fortunately, I can continue to squeak by such fitness fanatics”.

  Hey Mr. Ellis.  Guess what.  Bicycle commuters aren’t “fitness fanatics”.  They commute because of the benefit to the environment, gas savings, or simply because they don’t have a car.  Fitness is the bonus!

From Michael Mushegan-Austin: “The roadways are for motorists to travel….the bicyclist already seem to feel that they have the right of motor vehicles….”.  

 Uhm, Michael guess what!  A bicycle is “A VALID FORM OF TRANSPORTATION” and has an equal right to the road, per state law!

 He summarized it with, “I am shocked that this type of bill was able to get through a Republican legislature”.  Guess what Michael.  It was authored by Republicans, passed through the House unanimously by Republicans, and signed off with a small margin of opposition in the Senate.  Even Senator Dan Patrick (Mr. Right Wing Radio Host)-Republican from Houston approved the bill!

From William R. Breedlove, and his lovely wife Jackie-Wimberley: “We are undecided who we will support in the next Republican primary for governor, and a veto on this bill will go a long way toward swaying us in your favor”. 

Guess what!  His Veto is going a LONG way in swaying “us” to vote in the Republican primary.

Perry’s reasons for the veto just show you how out of touch he truly is.  He stated, “This bill contradicts much of the current statute and places the liability and responsibility on the operator of a motor vehicle when encountering one of these vulnerable road users. In addition, an operator of a motor vehicle is already subject to penalties when he or she is at fault for causing a collision or operating recklessly, whether it is against a ‘vulnerable user’ or not.”   Actually, Perry, prosecutors helped with the language of the bill because the current statutes lack the teeth they need to prosecute in the event of an accident involving a cyclist.   Regardless of the fault of the driver, these cases are not being prosecuted.  This bill would save lives, and give a cyclist recourse in accidents where the vehicle driver is at fault!  BikeTexas also strongly disagrees with the reasoning stated in the veto message from the Governor.   They state, “Law enforcement, prosecutors, AAA, AARP, Texas Motorcycle Rights Association and Texas Towing and Storage Association joined BikeTexas in supporting SB 488 because they also believed this bill could have saved lives”.

Folks, now is the time to send a message to our Governor , and remind him that the lives of our cycling community are not to be ignored.  In addition to signing the petition call, write, email the Governor’s office daily and let him know how wrong he is.  Maybe, just maybe our Gov. will be enlightened before the primary.  Hey Perry, open your eyes, your ears, your mind.  Makes me wonder what’s in that Tea Party tea!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2009 1:28 am

    “The cycling community is united, organized and we vote.”

    Speak for your self. This experienced, competent lifelong vehicular cyclist was against SB488 …and I let my voice be heard in that respect.

    Bicycles are vehicles. A statement already exists in statute mandating that an overtaking vehicle do so “at a safe distance.”

    Do some motorists overtake cyclists too closely? Yes.

    Is it done intentionally? For the most part, probably not; certainly, there are some.

    Is another law, specifically identifying cyclists and, this time around, “vulnerable road users” required? No. What is needed is enforcement. Contrary to popular belief, that would not have been achieved with this legislation, either.

    Lobbying the legislature to define the “safe distance” manifest in §545.053(a)(1). More specifically, ask them to add language which mandates more space for cyclists and other SMVs. DO NOT however, specify special exception for cyclists and, more importantly, DO NOT group cyclists with pedestrian classes as “vulnerable road users”. There are no legitimate pedestrian vehicle classes (ref. §541.201). Demanding equality with pedestrians will diminish our legitimacy as a vehicle.

    Cyclists who wish to ride in the roadway, as vehicles, need to empower themselves and assert their right to take the lane anytime it measures less than 14 feet. When taking the lane, the frequency and severity of harassment from motorists is diminished significantly.

    After all “cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.”

  2. Leslie Luciano permalink
    July 21, 2009 3:10 pm


    I’m not only speaking for myself, but the thousands of cyclists who don’t deem themselves “vehicular cyclists”. This bill was intendend to put some teeth in the current statute and provide presecutors with some tools they do not currently have to prosecute negligient motorists involved in an accident with a cyclist. Many would disagree with you and your assertation that “for the most part, probably not” in regard to drivers purposefully buzzing cyclists. That is a big assumption, and clearly not based on any concrete data.

    My hope is to one day have our roads safe enough for a Class C cyclist (like my 10 year old twins) to utilize the roadways without being in grave danger. This isn’t going to happen overnight, as roads were built with cars in mind, but rather in baby steps. As the infrastructure changes are made and roadways are improved, and education regarding cyclists rights is stepped up, then indeed in a perfect traffic world, these laws would be unnecessary. One bill that was signed into law will now put cycling laws, and rules of the road in drivers’ ed manuels, and curriculum.

    Until that perfect world where cyclists co-exist with motorists, legislation like SB488 (endorsed by the AAA Automobile Association) is not only necessary, but will facilitate that world you imagine today.


  3. Stew permalink
    August 28, 2009 2:42 pm

    Can’t y’all override a governer’s veto over there? With those kind of vote margins the legislators can vicious dope slap ‘im up the side of his li’l head.

    Or was this another one of his “veto it after th’all go home” moves? There’s an easy fix to that, just re-pass any vetoed bills when they reconvene and then proffer up that hand.

  4. August 28, 2009 3:15 pm

    It absolutely was one of his “veto it…” moves. He did it when they were not in session so they couldn’t override the veto.

    We will definitely be back strong with more cycling legislation in 2011. Unfortunately, our great state still functions on an 1800s agrarian schedule originally intended to allow farmers to harvest their crops. 140 days is all they have to balance a projected 2 year budget. Could explain why we’re in the “state” we are.

    The good news is our City Council just passed a resolution yesterday for the 3 ft. Safe Passing law, and a law banning texting while driving, and cycling. There’s hope.

  5. October 21, 2009 3:05 pm

    Interesting post as for me. I’d like to read something more about that theme.

  6. January 11, 2010 12:31 am

    There’s good info here. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog. Keep up the good work mate!

    I’m Out! 🙂


  1. Bicycle Sport Shop Leslie Luciano petition against Gov Perry grows to over 3000 | Austin On Two Wheels

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