Law gives new power to Sunnyvale bicyclists


Kelsey Dutton gets around Sunnyvale by bike. Just last week she was cut off by a driver.

"I got little bumps and bruises and like some dents on the bike and stuff, it was all fine and stuff it was just shocking to me that...I got his license and stuff and he was like, 'Oh I didn't know I hit anybody,'" Dutton said.

The new ordinance in Sunnyvale allows bicyclists to sue motorists in certain situations.

"If a driver is found in violation of the ordinance, they could be liable for t triple damages or $1,000, whichever is greater," city of Sunnyvale spokesperson Jennifer Garnett said.

It's fashioned after an ordinance that went into effect in Los Angeles last year and one in Berkeley that went into effect this February.

The aim is to make motorists more aware of their actions when they're sharing city streets with bicyclists.

But some riders had mixed reviews on the new law and drivers have concerns about riders.

"Up by my house, they'll ride two abreast, that's not OK with me," Los Gatos resident Dawn Wells asid. "They need to be riding in line, you need to be one behind the other and following the rules of the road."

But even with the new law that might allow Dutton to seek triple damages, she's not sure she would have gone to court.

"Definitely harassment is not cool, but I think though people should realize that accidents can happen," she said. "Cause I've been on the other side where you're just not paying attention and like maybe you swerve and like things can happen."

Sunnyvale has more than 80 miles of bike lanes.

Copyright © 2023 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.