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California Senate Bill Could Change Driving Distance

Cyclists may gain a new protection from drivers on the road under SB 1464.

By Deziree Miller | Staff Writer
On September 11, 2012

Roads may soon become a safer place to ride for cyclists if California Senate Bill 1464 passes by Sept. 30, mandating that drivers give cyclists 3 feet of space.

The California Bicycle Coalition and the City of Los Angeles sponsored the campaign for SB 1464-also known as "Give Me 3"-because current
California law has been unclear, only requiring drivers to "keep a safe distance" from cyclists.

A law similar to SB 1464, SB 910, was proposed just last year but was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown last October. The governor has until the end of September to sign the new legislation into law.

"I think it would be good to have the 3-foot cushion, but I don't know that it will make a
difference," said Ismael Pascacio, a fire technology major who has been in a few bicycle accidents. "Drivers now still don't pay attention."

The campaign's website explained that under current legislation it is not illegal to hit or injure a bicyclist with a car, but under the proposed law, drivers will have to pay attention or could receive up to $154 in fines if they pass too closely-even if the cyclist is not injured. In cases where a cyclist is injured after a car passes them too closely, a violator could face up to $959 in fines.

Tedd Rogers, a freelance writer and cyclist who runs the "Biking in LA" blog-which lists local bike rides and events, offers bike safety tips and covers bike accidents throughout Southern California-reported that 14 bicyclists in Los Angeles County have died this year.

Rogers is skeptical of the "Give Me 3" bill.

"I'm very concerned that this law only covers passing within the same lane, which means that if a cyclist is riding in a bike lane, drivers can pass without having to give 3 feet [of] distance," Rogers said. "I do think Gov. Brown should sign it. But [SB 910, which] he vetoed last year, was better."

Gov. Brown vetoed SB 910 because it required drivers to slow down to 15 miles per hour if the road is too narrow to give a cyclist 3 feet of space. Brown was concerned with the bill for traffic in urban areas, according to the California Bicycle Coalition. SB 1464 only requires drivers to slow down to a speed that is reasonable for the flow of traffic and road conditions.

If signed by Gov. Brown by the end of the month, California would be the 22nd state to enact a specific minimum passing distance for motorists, according to the California Bicycle Coalition.

To read the bill in its entirety, visit www.leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/ and search SB 1464. To see the California Bicycle Coalition's stance on SB 1464, visit www.calbike.org/advocacy/safe-passing/.


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