Tag Archive for Asm. Steven Bradford

For once, California cyclists don’t get Jerry Browned. And finally get a three-foot passing law.

Yes, we won.

But just what did we win?

Monday afternoon, Governor Jerry Brown announced that he’d signed AB 1371, the Three Feet for Safety Act, after vetoing similar three-foot passing laws in each of the last two years.

So we should be happy, right?

Yes.

Sort of.

For the first time, California drivers will have a clearly defined passing distance, rather than the current requirement that they pass at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the bicycle being overtaken. Which in the real world, too often passes for anything that doesn’t actually result in contact with the rider.

No, really.

More than once I’ve caught up with a driver who buzzed me at a dangerously close distance. And the response has been a sarcastic “Well, I didn’t hit you, did I?”

Well, no.

Just scared the crap out of me, taking all my self-control not to overreact and swerve into the passing car or some other object. Not to mention risking getting sucked into the side of a larger vehicle by its slipstream.

Sort of like the school bus that passed me at speed at less than an arm’s length distance on San Vicente Monday afternoon. Or maybe this pass by a Big Blue Bus that barely did.

Pass, that is.

And I’m still waiting for someone, anyone, at the Santa Monica bus company to give enough of a damn to call me back.

Now drivers will know anything less than three feet is too damn close.

Though some would question that.

Some lawmakers who opposed the bill, such as Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, said it would be difficult to estimate a 3-foot distance while driving, especially when cyclists also might be swerving to avoid road hazards.

That’s kind of the point, though. We need that three feet of space so we can swerve to avoid road hazards without plowing into the vehicle next to us.

Anyone convicted of violating the law will face a $35 base fine, plus fees that will take it up to $233, or a $220 base fine if a collision resulting in injuries to the rider occurs.

The problem is, unless a driver actually does make contact with a cyclist, the law is virtually unenforceable.

The bill includes a provision allowing drivers to pass at less than three-feet if they slow down and pass only when it won’t endanger a cyclist’s safety.

In other words, the same sort of vague, virtually unenforceable standard we have now.

Still, it’s worth celebrating simply because we’ve joined the other 22 states and the District of Columbia with a clearly defined standard. And unlike last year’s bill, this one applies whether you’re in the same lane as the vehicle passing you or in a separate bike lane or parking lane.

Which should help stop those drivers who buzz you with two wheels on, or in, the bike lane while you’re riding in it.

Key word being should.

So let’s give credit to former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for pushing for a third attempt to pass this bill. And Gardena Assemblymember Steven Bradford for shepherding this law through the legislature, even if it was severely watered down from the brilliantly written bill he originally proposed.

Including removal of the much-needed provision allowing drivers to briefly cross the center line in order to safely pass cyclists with a minimum three-foot distance. In other words, legalizing exactly what many drivers already do, despite the fears our governor expressed in vetoing last year’s bill.

Like Glendale’s Mike Gatto, who took on the successful fight to extend the statute of limitations in hit-and-run cases, Bradford has shown himself as a skilled legislator willing to go to the mat for bicyclists. Both deserve our support, and will be worth watching — and working with — as we go forward.

We should also thank the strange mix of supporters who backed the bill, from Calbike and CABO, to traditionally bike-unfriendly AAA, which helped kill the last two bills.

And we owe a begrudging round of thanks to Jerry Brown for not going down in history as the only governor to strike out when it comes to bike safety legislation; it’s enough that he’ll be remembered by bike riders for being the only governor, besides Rick Perry of Texas, to veto a three-foot passing law once, let alone twice.

As the bill’s author put it,

“I sincerely thank the Governor for signing this commonsense measure to protect cyclists on our roads,” Bradford said. “When cars and bikes collide, it often turns to tragedy. This bill is a great reminder that we all have to work together to keep our roads safe for all users.”

Which begs the question, do we now stop referring to dangerously close passes as being Jerry Browned? Or is a single signature not enough to overcome the harm he’s already done?

The law takes effect a year from now, on September 16, 2014.

Which means things should start to get a little better then. If we can all survive that long.

And once Brown leaves office, we can work on strengthening the law and giving it some real teeth.

Will three times be the charm for the state’s latest attempt to create a three-foot passing law?

I originally wrote this story earlier today for LA Streetsblog. Thanks to Streetsblog editor Damien Newton for allowing me to repost it here.

………

Maybe the third time is the charm.

Or it could be three strikes and you’re out.

Only the veto pen on Governor Brown’s desk knows which way he’s leaning. And like the Corgi at his feet — and the governor himself — it isn’t talking.

Yesterday, the state Senate approved AB 1371, the Three Feet for Safety Act. This is the latest attempt at creating a minimum three-foot distance to pass a cyclist on California streets, after Brown vetoed two previous attempts in the last two years — joining Texas governor Rick Perry as the nation’s only state leaders to veto three-foot bike safety legislation.

Or rather, surpassing Perry, who only wielded his veto pen once in opposition to safe cycling legislation.

Twenty-one other governors have already signed similar legislation; Pennsylvania mandates a minimum of four feet.

The bill, sponsored by Assembly Member Steven Bradford of Gardena, would replace the current requirement that drivers pass bicyclists at a safe distance without specifying what that distance is. Instead, it would require a minimum three-foot cushion between any part of the vehicle and the bike or its rider.

The act passed the Senate yesterday by a vote of 31-7. It will now go back to the Assembly for a vote to concur with the amendments made following its approval by that chamber earlier this year.

And then it’s back to the governor’s desk, where he’ll have 12 days to sign it.

Or not.

There should be no reason for him to say no this time, however. The bill addresses his expressed, if questionable, reasons for vetoing the previous bills.

This time around, there is no provision requiring drivers to slow down to 15 mph to pass a bike rider if they are unable to give a three foot passing distance as mandated in the 2011 version, or to slow down to 15 mph more than the speed of the rider, as contained in the 2012 version.

And unlike the 2012 version, it does not give drivers permission to briefly cross the center line in order to pass riders safely, even though that is exactly what many drivers already do, legally or not.

In fact, that’s one of the problems with the current bill.

The primary reason Brown gave for vetoing last year’s bill was a fear of lawsuits stemming from drivers unsafely crossing the center line, even though the state is already largely exempt from such suits, and the bill required drivers to do so only when safe.

The current bill, which was very smartly written by Bradford’s staff in a attempt to address the governor’s concerns, originally included language that would specifically exempt the state from being sued if someone was injured by driver who ignored the provision to cross the line safely.

Unfortunately, that language was removed from the bill, along with the section permitting drivers to cross the line. So many motorists will continue to attempt to unsafely squeeze past riders in the same lane, or follow angrily behind until they have a chance to pass.

Or they’ll just do what many already do, and break the law by going onto the other side of the roadway to pass at a safe distance.

The other problem with the bill is that it contains a provision that takes much of the teeth out of it, allowing drivers to pass at less than three feet if they decide, for whatever reason, that the three-foot margin isn’t safe or practical. Even though nothing says they have to pass in the first place.

(d) If the driver of a motor vehicle is unable to comply with subdivision (c), due to traffic or roadway conditions, the driver shall slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent, and may pass only when doing so would not endanger the safety of the operator of the bicycle, taking into account the size and speed of the motor vehicle and bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and surface and width of the highway.

The requirement to take into account the size and speed of the motor vehicle could help prevent the too frequent buzzing of bicyclists by trucks and city buses, though.

However, this bill is a big improvement over last year’s, which would have applied only to vehicles traveling in the same lane. Which means that if you were riding in a bike lane, the vehicle next to you could legally pass at significantly less than three feet — something that happens with far too much frequency already.

Instead, AB 1371 simply mandates a three-foot passing distance for any motor vehicle traveling in the same direction as the bike it’s passing. So the law applies whether you’re in a through lane, bike lane or turn lane, or any other situation when you’re headed the same way.

Of course, not everyone is in favor of the bill.

The San Jose Mercury News quotes Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar, presumably one of the seven who voted against it.

“It’s just impossible to gauge what three feet is and so I don’t think it really accomplishes what you want,” Huff said. He said the state should instead focus on educating people about sharing the road with non-motorized vehicles when they renew their driver’s licenses.

“To create outlaws of everybody because you can’t judge the distance is nuts,” he said.

Then again, anyone who ever played football knows exactly how far a distance three feet — aka one yard — is.

And to argue that no one can judge that distance is absurd.

No one is going to pull out a tape measure to determine if a driver passes a vehicle at 34.5 or 37 inches. But anyone without serious depth perception issues can tell if they’re significantly less than three feet away from a rider.

Also, that three foot margin is a minimum passing distance, not a maximum target drivers are expected to adhere to. There is no reason why a motorist can’t pass with a four or five foot margin when it’s safe to do so, as many drivers already do.

“I have been riding for 25 years, and I have seen my share of run-ins and close calls,” Bradford said. “Too many people just don’t realize that cyclists are legally allowed in the street. This bill gives everyone clarity as to what is safe behavior.”

The bill should have no problem passing the Assembly once again, especially in the watered-down version passed by the Senate.

What happens once it reaches Governor Brown’s desk is anyone’s guess.

Three SoCal cities in top 10 for Complete Streets policies; proposed three-foot law moves forward

A national organization honors the Best Complete Streets Policies of 2012.

According to a press release from Smart Growth America, three of the top 10 policies are from cities in the greater L.A. area — though they define that as a far greater area than anyone here would. They list Hermosa Beach and Huntington Park tying for second behind Indianapolis, with Rancho Cucamonga in 10th place.

I think San Bernardino County would dispute that it’s anywhere near L.A. And I’m not sure L.A. would admit to more than a passing acquaintance it.

According to the SGA website, 488 cities and towns nationwide have adopted Complete Streets policies.

There may be hope for this country yet.

Update: I initially wrote that Orange County’s Huntington Beach received the honor, rather than L.A. County’s Huntington Park. Thanks to TQ for the correction.

………

California’s latest proposed three-foot law is amended to address the improbable concerns of our veto-wielding governor. Can’t say I’m familiar with the bill’s sponsor, Assemblymember Steven Bradford, but I’m liking the guy more and more each time I read about this bill. Here’s who you need to bug before April 22nd to get the bill out of committee.

But will Ohio get theirs before we get ours? Depends a lot on Governor Brown and his veto pen.

……..

The Antelope Valley Times offers a detailed update on the two idiots — and I use the term advisedly — who intentionally Jerry Browned a group of cyclists on Sunday morning, as we discussed here yesterday.

Idiot one is being held on $100,000 bail, while idiot two was released on $30,000.

Thanks to Michele Chavez for the link.

………

The authors of Where to Bike Los Angeles will team with the LACBC for L.A. Roubaix, our own not-so-hellish cobblestone-equivalent ride this Sunday; I’m told participants may have an opportunity or two to join in on Sunday’s Rowena Ave Cash Mob, as well.

………

Will pedestrian improvements make Downtown’s freeway overpasses more walkable? A petition calls for completion of the planned Confluence Park and its connecting bikeways. Santa Monica students go car free. Time for a little beer-induced bike-centric socializing in Upland. Calabasas bike-centric eatery Pedalers Fork is looking damn good, even if we have to wait until the 22nd for it to open. Long Beach police are on the lookout for a bike-borne groper, who evidently owns, steals or borrows multiple bicycles. Signal Hill wants to hook up with Long Beach, bike lane-wise.

A visit to frame building school, in two parts. Velodrome season opens in San Diego on Wednesday. San Diego needs to work with SANDAG to develop a regional bicycling plan. San Francisco Streetsblog discusses raised bike lanes to separate bikes from taxis; they’re coming to Chicago, too. A 12-year old Oakland thief is arrested after attempting to make his getaway by bike. Santa Rosa is the latest city to consider a cyclist anti-harassment ordinance. A Novato bike shop gets the okay to sell beer to its customers; now that’s what I call full-service. A Vacaville cyclist is recovering after being seriously injured riding salmon.

The late Annette Funicello was 1958’s Bicycle Queen, while Stephen Colbert wipes out on a pink cruiser in the House office building. A Great White North news site challenges Lance to earn back a little respect by competing in the Iditarod Trail Invitational bike race through the Alaskan wilderness — in winter; or he could just sponsor my brother so he doesn’t have to sell his entire dog team and equipment, damn it. An OKC cyclist is looking for the hit-and-run motorist who gave him fifty bucks, then drove off. New York’s long-delayed bike share program will kick off next month; Gothamist offers a first look at a new station in Brooklyn. New York cyclists push for bike lanes on the famed Verranzano Bridge. A Brooklyn cyclist is billed $1,200 for damage to the NYPD patrol car that hit him. A Daytona Beach mother is killed riding on her way to a job interview. A Pensacola man gets 24 years for killing a cyclist in a hit-and-run six months after getting out of prison on a DUI. Miami Heat stars LaBron James and Dwayne Wade support the city’s Critical Mass.

A Vancouver cyclist is killed in a collision with a pedestrian; when bicyclists collide with pedestrians or other bike riders, it can be deadly for both victims. After the latest London bike death, cyclists call for a ban on large trucks at rush hour. London Cyclist explains why drivers get mad at us, and offers slang you need to know. A UK writer points out the first death from performance enhancing drugs occurred in 1886; not surprisingly, the victim was a cyclist. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili breaks his shoulder riding his bike in Turkey.

Finally, all the hot vampires and werewolves from Twilight recommend using bike lights so you won’t end up undead like them; or am I reading a tad too much into it? Perez Hilton loves this bike. And it turns out Niceville isn’t for at least one pedestrian and bike rider.

%d bloggers like this: