Last week, I asked you to write L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to urge him to try one more time to get a three-foot passing law through the state legislature and onto the desk of our seemingly bike-hating governor.
Today I’m sharing my own letter to the mayor.
Dear Mayor Villaraigosa,
No one blames you for the failure of SB 1464, the three-foot passing law recently vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown.
In fact, I’m told that, not only were you the driving force behind the introduction of the bill, you were also fighting for it right up to the moment of the governor’s ill-advised veto, urging him to sign the bill and protect the safety of the state’s bike riders.
Yet inexplicably, the governor failed to listen to you, and rejected both the bill and your advice, for reasons that don’t even begin to pass the smell test.
Worse, it’s the second time he’s rejected a three-foot passing law, making Brown one of just two governors in the country to veto a safe passing bill — and the only one to do it twice. This despite promising outgoing State Senator Alan Lowenthal that he would sign it this time.
Which is why Jerry Browned has become the new term for a cyclist getting passed in a dangerous manner.
But everything I’ve heard says that you did everything to could.
I, on the other hand, didn’t.
I actually believed Brown when he claimed he cared about the safety of cyclists and would sign the bill this time around. I also accepted the assurances of those involved in the process that we could count on him this time.
There were also things I didn’t like about this bill. Like the fact that the three-foot limit wouldn’t apply to bicyclists riding in a bike lane. And exemptions that allowed drivers too much discretion in passing at less than three feet, making the bill difficult, if not impossible, to enforce.
As a result, I didn’t fight for it. Even though codifying the three-foot limit, and legalizing the already common practice of briefly crossing the center line — the reason our auto-centric governor gave for the veto — should have been more than enough to overcome any reservations I might have had.
I won’t make that mistake again.
So I’m going to ask you to go to the mat one more time. Let’s find another sponsor for the bill, and use your considerable influence to get a three-foot passing law through the legislature once again.
And not one that’s been watered down to satisfy a governor who’s already shown he cares more about political expediency than he does the lives and safety of the people he’s been elected to protect. But rather, the strongest possible bill we can pass to protect cyclists as they ride the streets and highways of the Golden State.
I promise not to take it for granted this time. I’ll fight for it every bit as hard as you do, and use whatever influence I have with the cycling community to get it through the legislature.
Maybe redistricting and the new top-two electoral process will mean we can pass a bill with a veto-proof margin this time. If not, we’ll ensure that our governor truly understands how important this law is to California cyclists — and that it’s in his best interest, as well as ours, to sign it this time.
You’ve already done more than your share.
Now I’m asking you to take the lead one more time, and lay yet another bill to protect bicyclists on the governor’s desk. Except this time, I’ll be right there with you, along with countless other riders, to insist that he sign it.
Because our lives could depend on it.
Sincerely,Ted Rogers bikinginla.com
If you haven’t contacted the mayor yet, please take a moment to email Mayor Villaraigosa at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call his office at 213/978-0600 or 213/978-0721 to urge him to try one more time to pass a three-foot passing law — and get the governor to sign it this time.
And join me in pledging to support his efforts this time around.
Whatever it takes.