Hot off the heels of last year’s campaign to implement a three-foot passing law in California, California Bicycle Coalition (CBC) and the City of Los Angeles are at it again after Senate Bill 910 was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown in October. SB 910, requiring motorists to give bicyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing from behind, passed the California Senate and Assembly but was struck down by the governor. With some lessons learned and refreshed political savvy, the bill is back on the table in 2012 as Senate Bill 1464.
Introduced in February by Senator Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach, the new three-foot passing bill is identical to last year’s three foot bill but without the clause to which the governor objected last year– an exception to the three-foot requirement intended for drivers in dense urban traffic. Without this exception, CBC is confident that the bill will become law and that California will join the twenty other states and the District of Columbia that have already enacted a specified minimum passing distance for motorists.
The Senate Transportation & Housing Committee reviewed and voted on SB 1464 at a State Capitol hearing on Tuesday, April 17. Witnesses, including SABA staff , testified at the hearing in support of the bill where it was passed unanimously. Leading up to the hearing the Committee received over 500 letters from bicyclists, individuals, coalitions, and businesses– including one from SABA– in support of the safe passing bill.
What does this bill mean for SABA and its members? It is legislation aimed directly at more and safer trips by bike. From-behind collisions are the leading cause of deadly vehicle-bicycle collisions in California and the U.S. This bill helps solve this safety issue, which directly supports SABA’s goal of safer trips by bike. And by requiring drivers to give bicyclists more space when passing, it will help more people feel comfortable about choosing to ride their bike. For the many Californians and Sacramentans who want the health, environmental and economic benefits of riding a bicycle for transportation or recreation but feel too uncomfortable to share the road with motor vehicles, this bill will help to make bicycling a real option.