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Sonoma County Board of Supervisors adopts ordinance assisting cyclists, pedestrians

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday formally approved a local ordinance aimed to make it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to sue those who harass or intimidate them.

The ordinance is modeled on similar laws adopted by several cities, including Sebastopol, which passed its ordinance in December. Sonoma County becomes the first county nationwide to adopt such a measure.

Advocates have advanced the ordinance as way to offer a clearer path to civil court remedies for cyclists and pedestrians and limit hostility toward those road users.

Opponents have said that it unfairly targets motorists, that protections already are in place to punish those convicted of serious car-versus-bike crimes, and that any ordinance targeting lesser incidents risks meddling in a murky area of law.

The board's 5-0 vote on the consent agenda item affirmed the measure's endorsement a week ago. Supervisor Shirlee Zane, an outspoken supporter, said the ordinance would help "raise our consciousness" about safely sharing roads in the county.

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