As you may be aware, the California Senate recently passed the state’s proposed three-foot passing law. Now it’s under consideration in the state Assembly’s Transportation Committee, with a deadline of 5 pm Tuesday to offer your comments.
I have strongly supported three-foot passing laws throughout my riding career. As I’ve pointed out before, I consider it a much-needed improvement over the current vague standard in place in California and most other states.
As a result, I’ve written the following letter to Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal, Chair of the Transportation Committee, to express my support and urge the removal of a clause that would allow passing at less three when travelling at a speed differential of less than 15 mph. This clause undermines the purpose of the bill, and would increase driver confusion and the risk to riders, rather than decreasing it as the law intends.
If you haven’t already, I urge you to write Lowenthal to express your support; it also can’t hurt to send a copy your own Assemblymember and the bill’s author, Sen. Alan Lowenthal, while you’re at it.
You can find a sample letter and more instructions here.
……..Hon. Bonnie Lowenthal Chair, Assembly Transportation Committee State Capital, Room 112 Sacramento, CA 95814 Assemblymember.Lowenthal@assembly.ca.gov
Dear Assemblymember Lowenthal,
I’m writing to express my support for Senate Bill 910 and to urge the committee to approve the bill on June 27, with one vital amendment.
As a serious bicyclist and California resident, I have ridden a bike on the streets and highways of this state for over 20 years. During that time, I have experienced a number of close calls that have threatened my life and safety due to drivers passing too closely.
I have had drivers pass so close that their mirrors have brushed against my arm, and had passengers reach out to touch me or dump liquids on me. I have been crowded off various roadways, both accidently and intentionally, and nearly collided with parked vehicles as a result, as well as being blown out of my lane by the slipstream from passing trucks and buses. In fact, I can count on being passed at a dangerously close distance at least once or twice virtually every time I ride. I can only credit luck and my own skill as a cyclist for having avoided serious injuries as a result.
On more than one occasion, I have managed to confront drivers who have passed me at such a dangerously close distance; almost invariably, the drivers were convinced that they observed a safe passing distance, demonstrated by the fact that they didn’t actually make contact with me.
The current standard for safe passing is both unclear and confusing, providing no objective measurement to tell drivers what is a safe passing distance. This law clarifies that, providing a clear standard that anyone can understand. Its passage is vital to protect the safety of cyclists, reduce needless confrontations between cyclists and motorists, and encourage more people to choose bikes as a safe form of alternative transportation.
However, I must request that the current bill be amended to remove the provision allowing passage at less than three feet with a speed differential of 15 mph or less. This provision creates a confusing, unmeasurable standard that benefits no one while undermining the key provision of this bill. As a result, it serves to increase the risk to cyclists rather than decreasing it, and is almost universally opposed by every cyclist I have discussed it with. As an alternative, briefly allowing drivers to cross the center or lane line to pass a bicyclist maintains the spirit of the law, while permitting safe passing under most circumstances.
I urge you to pass this important bill, with the above amendment, to help make our streets safer for everyone.
Sincerely,Ted Rogers www.bikinginla.com @bikinginla (Twitter)
CC: Senator Alan Lowenthal, Assemblymember Mike Feuer