Not sure what you mean by "not legal". They are certainly not illegal. So do not worry about that.
Some people question the effectiveness of online petitions, if:
1. the petition doesn’t target a decision-maker -- ours does: the Senate
2. that target can't influence matters -- our target can
3. no one is in a position to deliver the message -- we are
4. the petition focuses on a broad ask on a complex issue -- our issue is straight-forward and our ask is simple
Further, cynics argue:
5. Signatures aren’t votes, so politicians don’t listen -- True. They’re not votes, but the message behind our “I Bike. I Vote.” message is that the mandatory sidepath issue and bicycling funding are major a priorities for the millions of people who bike. They will become votes. I have heard time and time again from staffers and elected officials that bicyclists are among the most civically engaged of all of the constituencies they deal with.
6. Online petitions can be easily faked – I supposed this is true, however our comment field has generated thousands of unique and personal comments that mitigate this concern somewhat. Normal petitions do not have that feature.
Even skeptics recognize that online petitions can raise awareness of an issue. This one has clearly done that – just look at facebook and twitter. We have engaged hundreds of new cyclists, who have asked to be kept in the loop on this and other issues.
Bottom line: It takes longer to explain why the petition won’t work than it takes to sign it. I would strongly encourage anyone who doesn’t want to sign the petition to write a personal letter to their Senator. There’s no question that helps.
Also please know that we are working the issue on Capitol Hill, looking for a Senator-champion to fight to remove the clause. All hope does not rest on this petition, but if we achieve the 10,000 signatures we are shooting for, it may make our job at least somewhat easier.
I hope that helps. Please keep spreading the word. We’ve had a great response, but we’re not where we need to be yet. (Signatures from Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana may be particularly helpful, if you have any connections to bicycling networks in those states, but all are needed and welcome.)
League of American Bicyclists
1612 K St. NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006