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Now, if LaHood's vision does become a reality, police might have to start cracking down on cyclists who violate traffic laws. Take sending text messages while driving. It's illegal in 23 states, including California. Now, one lawmaker there wants to extend that ban to cyclists.

From San Francisco, Molly Samuel has our story.

MOLLY SAMUEL: Not everyone here texts while biking. DeAndre Sims(ph) doesn't do it, and he's annoyed by people who do.

Mr. DeANDRE SIMS: These fools be swerving, and they'd be doing their little texting thing.

SAMUEL: Cyclists in San Francisco have to negotiate streetcars and streetcar tracks, stopping and starting cabs and buses, lost tourists, harried shoppers.

Bike messenger Christophe LeGall-Scoville says it's enough without having to also dodge distracted cyclists.

Mr. CHRISTOPHE LeGALL-SCOVILLE (Bike Messenger): Every day, I see more and more people on bikes, and they're developing really bad habits. They're riding down Market Street. They're on a cell phone. They have a lock hanging off of one side of their handlebar and their helmet hanging off the other. And they're going over the tracks, and they're having a phone conversation. It's ridiculous.

SAMUEL: State Senator Joe Simitian drafted the new law, which is now making its way through the Senate. He says cyclists should have been included in the ban against texting and using hand-held cell phones all along.

State Senator JOE SIMITIAN (Democrat, California): As it happens, in this case, there was an oversight when we passed our hands-free law some years ago, and cyclists were inadvertently omitted.

SAMUEL: But Simitian's gotten mixed reviews.

State Sen. SIMITIAN: There are some folks who say, I'm not sure I want to be liable for a fine if I'm violating the hands-free law. Others say, you know what? We want to be taken seriously as part of the transportation system. If we've got a right to share the road, then we also have a responsibility to follow the laws and the rules of the road that apply to everybody else.

Ms. SAL ELPER(ph): Hi, I'm Sal Elper, and I do bike and text. It's like an AA meeting or something.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAMUEL: She thinks there are other things to worry about besides texting.

Ms. ELPER: I'm always surprised people aren't wearing their helmets when they're doing risky things. That's more like - I feel like that should be more of an enforced rule than texting while biking. At least wear a helmet when you're texting and biking.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAMUEL: Many cyclists say they are not the real problem, it's those texters in SUVs and the pedestrians who text away while wandering into traffic. Cyclist Jesse Daniel(ph) sums it up.

Mr. JESSE DANIEL: If you're going to ban it while biking, you might as well ban it while walking.

SAMUEL: State Senator Simitian says the question of banning texting while walking actually did come up when drafting the new legislation, but it didn't make it into this bill.

For NPR News, I'm Molly Samuel in San Francisco.

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