Sacramento bicyclists: Don’t get ‘Jerry Browned’

Cyclists praise and gently critique city’s freshly painted lanes

The language of bicycling is not universal.

Consider the latest two-wheeled jargon: “Jerry Browned.”

Earlier this month, the governor vetoed a bill to require a 3-foot distance between vehicles and bicyclists on all California roadways. Many bikers argue this as necessary to avoid being hit by suddenly swerving trucks or abruptly opening car doors.

The veto was the second time in as many years that cyclists’ “Give Me 3” law was wiped out by Brown’s red ink.

“Now, if someone grazes us or gets hit by a car door, we … call it getting ‘Jerry Browned,’” explained Sacramento bicyclist and advocate Bryan Goebel.

The phrase results in nearly 2,000 Google-search entries—and a few YouTube videos, including one showing a Los Angeles cyclist getting Jerry Browned by a Hollywood tour bus.

Goebel shared this new lingo with SN&R last week just as the city of Sacramento completed its own central-city bike-lane makeover.

And before the paint was even dry, cyclists were critiquing the new stripes.

For instance—more bike vernacular—the “sharrows.” Or share-lane markings, which give a cyclist the right to share an entire vehicle lane. This sounds like a progressive idea—bikes taking over where cars once roamed—but Sacramento cycling advocates are bummed out about new sharrows downtown.

Goebel and others argued that these sharrows aren’t enough, that the potential bike commuters—those who might be interested in riding to work but have safety worries—won’t be assuaged by the prospect of sharing a lane with a fast-moving car or bus.

On 10th Street, for instance, there’s a bike lane up and down the entire grid—except near the Capitol, when the lane disappears and a sharrow pops up.

“If we’re going to have a bike lane,” Goebel said, “can we please just have a bike lane all the way down 10th Street?”

The biker did add that he’s ultimately pleased to finally see bike transit in the city trending in the right direction.

“I was giddy the first day that I saw these bike lanes. … I’m definitely excited when I see new paint going in on the streets,” he said. “But I still don’t think it’s resulting in the kind of dignified space that bike riders need.”

The city began work in September on the $73,000 bike-lane resurfacing project, which was completed this past week. Lanes were added to multiple downtown streets, including G, H, I, J, Fifth, Ninth and 10th streets, as well as Capitol Avenue.

City employee and Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates member Chris Dougherty said the goal of this conversion was to forge a stronger bond between the central-city bike lanes.

“What this does is it fills the gap in an overall connection strategy through the city,” he explained.

Dougherty pointed out improvements that most cyclists are praising, such as—more bike jive—“road diets,” or streets where three lanes have been reduced to two, which both slows down cars and also encourages more bike traffic.

SABA hopes that the city will eventually move toward “separated bike lanes,” or lanes that are sandwiched by parked cars and the sidewalk (as opposed to being sandwiched by parked cars and vehicle traffic).

Bike commuters say that more two-wheel-friendly paint creates a unique urban experience.

“It makes for an interesting, diverse, place-making environment,” Dougherty said.

In the meantime, just don’t get Jerry Browned.