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View Full Version : Auto Club (AAA) and Anti-Bike Lobbying ?


Don49
08-19-2011, 04:35 PM
I've recently gotten several emails from LAW and California Bicycle Coalition regarding the Auto Club actively lobbying against bicycle and pedestrian friendly legislation. Specifically they are against CA SB910 the 3 foot passing law, and are supporting federal cuts in funding for bicycle and pedestrian related projects.

Yeah, they are the auto club, so maybe they are just doing what's expected of them. And I'm a 25+ year member of AAA, but I really don't like belonging to an organization that seems to place little value on my safety as a bicyclist.

Reviewing my options, I don't need the auto club except for their excellent maps. Towing service is available from Better World Club or the insurance company. Don't know where else to get those maps at any price.

Any thoughts on AAA and alternatives as a bicyclist?

bart998
08-19-2011, 05:15 PM
lobby AAA as a member to get them to change their stance to one of making the roads better/safer for us all. It doesn't have to be cars OR bikes, there is a lot of common interest. I am also member... I bet a lot of us are.

flydhest
08-19-2011, 05:23 PM
A groundswell from members could help.

If you chose to leave, at least tell them that this issue was why.

Mark McM
08-19-2011, 05:41 PM
This is why I left AAA many years ago. The Automobile Association of America is just what it sounds like - an organization to promote the cause of automobile use in the USA. This means that they spend their money to lobby for automobile-friendly policies and legislation. Unfortunately, many of the policies and causes they promote are to the detriment of non-automobile transportation - this includes not just cycling, but all other transportation systems, especially rail and mass-transit.

I did not agree with their stand on many transportation issues and did not want my money spent to discourage economic and environmentally friendly transportation alternatives.

1centaur
08-19-2011, 06:08 PM
I would not be surprised if this anti-cycling effort were the result of the one or a few people with a lousy attitude, not some kind of consensus in the organization. One or a few can be overcome - it's not city hall. Start a letter writing campaign to top brass and send copies to media asking them to investigate who at AAA wants to put cyclists in danger rather than share the road. Send media examples of cars that have hit cyclists because they were too close. Appeal to the Green movement in the media that does not like cars. Play up the kids on bicycles angle. Talk about civility in society. Contact other cycling forums with a lot more members with info for them to write their own letters/e-mails. Make it unpleasant for the old grump(s) who are pushing this to keep pushing. The theme: drivers are better than this.

dd74
08-19-2011, 06:16 PM
If the AAA were smart, it would start an alternative organization for cyclists. Not everyone out on the road knows how to change a tube, or worse yet, can ride their bike home after an accident.

Better yet, we on this board should start a cycling version of the AAA. I'd be game to that. I've already approached a couple of LBSs in town who think it's a good idea.

noflysonme
08-19-2011, 08:13 PM
In BC canada, we have BCAA which includes bike assist.
A broken bike service call is treated the same as a broken car service call and includes towing.
BCAA bike assist (http://www.bcaa.com/wps/portal/BCAA/membership/benefits?rdePathInfo=xchg/bcaa-com/hs.xsl/8309.htm)

Bud_E
08-19-2011, 08:23 PM
Years ago - way before public internet - AAA had a service where they would map a bicycle route for you. I used it when I rode L.A. to Santa Barbara in the late 70's and it was right on the money. I don't know if they have any such bicycle services anymore.

rugbysecondrow
08-19-2011, 08:44 PM
Have you read into the issue and the dialogue? In my brief googling of the law it seems this local cycling organization opposes the law as well ( http://www.cabobike.org/2011/05/04/cabo-opposes-3-foot-passing-bill-sb910/ ) and it seems there is not a unanimous agreement in this being a good law.

In addition, following is a letter from AAA on the issue. I have no direct dog in this fight, but I would questions your framing the discussion as anti-cycling.

Thank you for your inquiry relative to AAA's position on SB 910. Our official position is not a straight oppose, it is an 'oppose unless amended'. We don't take issue with the 3 foot distance rule when it can be safely accomplished. The problem is how to address situations when a 3 foot distance cannot be maintained or met.

Current language in the bill would require the vehicle to slow to 15 mph of the speed of the bicycle to pass. But this is problematic for several reasons, as pointed out in the bill analysis, the link for which you provided. Law enforcement has issues with this approach as well because it can cause a drastic decrease in speed differentials between the vehicle passing the bicycle and other vehicles on the road depending on the posted speed limit. Not only can this cause rear-end collisions, and create a more dangerous situation for the cyclists. It is the differences in speed that is the number one cause of car crashes. Another suggested approach is to require the car to enter into the opposite lane of traffic (cross a double line) in order to give the cyclists the 3 foot distance. This is something being explored as well as a number of other ideas.

While we can all agree on the concept and goal SB 910, crafting workable legislation usually requires addressing a number of details and issues that arise throughout the process as the concept is flushed out and enforceability is addressed. The author of the bill, Senator Lowenthal, is committed to working with all interested parties, including law enforcement, AAA and the bicycle coalition sponsors of the bill to find the most appropriate and safest way to address situations when the general rule to allow a 3 foot distance cannot be met due to road design. We have to determine what the law should be in those circumstances and there is some disagreement on that level. Thank you again for allowing us to explain our position on the bill.

Paula LaBrie
Legislative Counsel
AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah
Office (916) 443-2577

http://djconnel.blogspot.com/2011/05/aaa-position-on-sb910.html

rugbysecondrow
08-19-2011, 08:51 PM
CABO points regarding their bill opposition.

Regrettably, CABO opposes SB910 for the following reasons (most of which are mentioned in the bill analysis):

1. The law already provides that motorists must pass bicyclists at a safe distance without interfering with their safe operation.

2. We don’t believe that three feet is measurable or enforceable in practice.

3. Emphasizing three feet as the passing distance may encourage some drivers to pass too closely when greater clearance is needed.

4. A 15-mph speed differential also can’t be measured or enforced, and is not always appropriate.

5. By amending CVC 21750 to remove references to bicycles and replacing it with CVC 21750.1, which always requires passing on the left, the bill apparently makes it unlawful to pass a bicyclist on the right, even if the bicyclist is turning left.

6. The language of proposed CVC 21750.1 is ambiguous:

“The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left at a safe distance, at a minimum clearance of three feet or at a speed not exceeding 15 miles per hour faster than the speed of the bicycle, without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken bicycle.”

“At a safe distance,” “at a minimum clearance of three feet,” or “at a speed not exceeding 15 miles per hour faster than the speed of the bicycle” can be read as a series of three items any one of which is sufficient. It’s also unclear whether “without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken bicycle” modifies all of these, or only the last.

7. We support the concept of permitting motorists to cross double yellow lines to pass bicyclists. However, “substandard width lane” is undefined, and the condition given, when “it is safe to do so,” is too vague and allows too much latitude for driver misjudgment.

Kontact
08-19-2011, 08:52 PM
We need pro-automobile lobbyists like we need fried chicken lobbyists. Car driving seems pretty well protected in the US.

The 3 foot law is good for motorists - it establishes what is safe passing and decreases the chances of good motorists being held accountable for stupid cyclists, so AAA lobbying against it is kind of reactionary (in a bad way).

I could understand AAA lobbying FOR increased enforcement for bicyclists, but that isn't what they're doing.

Don49
08-19-2011, 11:56 PM
CABO points regarding their bill opposition.

Regrettably, CABO opposes SB910 for the following reasons (most of which are mentioned in the bill analysis):


My information is that CABO now supports SB910.
http://www.cabobike.org/2011/06/24/cabo-now-supports-3-foot-passing-bill-sb910/

Here's the background on the bill from CBC the sponsoring organization.
http://givemethree.squarespace.com/say-no-to-aaa/

I didn't intend to turn this into an argument over just one bill. I was more interested in hearing comments from other bikers about the Auto Club. Like I said, I'm a longtime member, but always wonder about their policies when I renew that membership.

don compton
08-20-2011, 12:43 AM
After 40+ years, I am not renewing. It reminds of AARP. You really are out of the loop when it comes to politics. Lots of money can support political views seemingly unrelated or counter to the customer paying the premium. There is a lot of con and B.S. in today's world of the internet and politics.I should have dumped them years ago. Audi and my previous car manufacturer offer free towing anywhere in the continental U.S. Makes me feel like a real "pidgeon". :crap:

6mt
08-20-2011, 05:30 AM
This is why I left AAA many years ago. The Automobile Association of America is just what it sounds like - an organization to promote the cause of automobile use in the USA. This means that they spend their money to lobby for automobile-friendly policies and legislation. Unfortunately, many of the policies and causes they promote are to the detriment of non-automobile transportation - this includes not just cycling, but all other transportation systems, especially rail and mass-transit.

I did not agree with their stand on many transportation issues and did not want my money spent to discourage economic and environmentally friendly transportation alternatives.

very well put, i couldn't agree more.

weiwentg
08-20-2011, 07:27 AM
In the eyes of the blog Greater Greater Washington, the AAA in the Washington DC area has generally not worked well to promote good urban planning.

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/tag/AAA/

I got a letter in the mail asking me to join, and I had been thinking of sending it back with a response saying why I would not.

rugbysecondrow
08-20-2011, 08:25 AM
My point was not a discussion about whether it is or is not good legislation, but that just because some entity opposes it doesn't make it anticycling.

AAA is what it is, they are lobbyists for motorists, which may or may not be compatible with cyclists desires for policy change.