“Give Me 3” Legislation Makes it on State Legislature Agenda

Legislation meant to improve bicyclist safety statewide has cleared another hurdle towards passage.  S.B. 910, sponsored by Senator Lowenthal (D – Long Beach), made it onto the state’s legislative agenda early this month at literally the 11th hour.  It will now go before various committees, the State Senate Transportation and Housing Committee being the first on May 3rd, before coming to the floor for a vote.

Unvieling "Give Me 3" last summer (via LACBC)

S.B. 910 is the legislative result of the “Give me 3” campaign launched last summer by Mayor Villaraigosa, LADOT, LAPD, LACBC, and Midnight Ridazz.  Because the only way to get a 3-foot passing law in Los Angeles is to first change the California Vehicle Code (CVC), the Mayor’s Office began seeking out a legislative sponsor to bring a 3-foot passing law to the California State Assembly.  That sponsor came in the form of Long Beach’s State Senator Alan Lowenthal, a long-time supporter of bicyclists and bicyclists’ rights.  A special thanks also goes out to the California Bicycle Coalition, who teamed up with the Mayor early in the process to champion this legislation for bicyclists’ rights at the state level.

The original language of SB 910 was submitted back in February of 2011, though it only read as a placeholder for his office to work out specific wording later.  The bill was amended to its current state at the end of March, and was agendized on Friday, April 8th – literally the last day legislation could be scheduled for committee review.

The next step for SB 910 is to go through a set of committee hearings, the first of which comes on May 3rd when it goes to the Committee on Transportation and Housing.  LADOT Bike Blog will keep you up to date on SB 910’s progress as they happen.

3-foot Minimum, 15 mph Maximum, $250 Minimum

The particulars of the bill are:

  • Drivers will not only be required to pass bicyclists at a safe distance, as is already required in CVC 21750, but will also require drivers to pass bicyclists at a distance of at least 3 feet.
  • In addition to strictly defining the minimum distance required to pass a bicyclist safely, the new legislation would also require drivers to pass a bicyclist at no more than 15 mph faster than the speed of the bicyclist.  Requiring drivers to slow down when passing a bicyclist will make roads safer for everyone.
  • An infraction of passing a bicyclist in an unsafe manner used to carry a fine of no more than $100 for the first offense and no more than $250 for a 3rd offense that occurred within 1 year of 2 prior infractions.  The new legislation sets a $250 minimum for the first infraction.  Furthermore, the bill would make a felony or misdemeanor out of violating the law if an infraction on the part of the driver leads to the injury of the bicyclist involved.

Education & Prevention

Common criticism of a 3-foot passing law stems from its difficulty to enforce on the roadway, but such arguments miss part of the discussion.  By passing 3-foot legislation, California will further re-affirm bicyclists’ right to the road and provide further opportunities to educate drivers on how to properly share the road with other users.  A robust public education campaign, spearheaded by a group like CABO or the CBC, could reach many California drivers.  After all, seat belt laws are equally difficult to enforce, yet use of seat belts by drivers has become nearly universal.

0 replies
  1. Joe
    Joe says:

    I support a 3-foot passing bill.

    But, as I read this bill, if I’m driving at 50 on PCH in the #1 lane, and there’s a cyclist on the shoulder grinding up a big hill at 5mph, then I would need to slow down to 20mph in order to stay within the law. That seems excessively strict.

    Furthermore, it seems dangerous, as it will encourage the driver behind me to change to the #2 lane and unwisely try to squeeze in between me and the cyclist.

    Perhaps the best way to handle this is to require the 15mph speed differential only when passing with less than 10 feet clearance, or only when passing in the same lane, or something like that.

  2. Chris Loos
    Chris Loos says:

    Sounds great, but like every other traffic law, its all about enforcement. I live in Downtown LA and I see cars break the speed limit and blow through red lights all the time (while meanwhile, pedestrians seem to get jaywalking tickets all the time, but that’s another story.)

    So would this law actually be enforced? Or would it just be another law that’s on the books but meaningless because no one enforces it?

  3. Joe Mizereck
    Joe Mizereck says:

    This is terrific news…make it happen California. Every cyclist…every wife of a cyclist. Every mom and dad of a cyclist. Every husband of a cyclist. Every friend of a cyclist needs to call their respective representatives and let them know that you expect them to help make this law a reality for California cyclists…lives are at stake.

    And if anyone says what good is a law that can’t be enforced, tell them, it’s not about enforcement. It’s about gaining a tool to educate motorists on the need to give cyclists at least 3 feet clearance when passing from the rear. And tell them that energetic law enforement agencies who are committed to serving their communities will find ways to enforce the law…and if they are smart, they will do this without issuing a single ticket.

    Don’t get detoured by the enforcement issue…focus on the law being a valuable tool to further the education of motorists…that is its greatest value. And motorists appreciate knowing how to safely negotiate around a cyclist.

    Good luck…and please, don’t think others are going to take care of business…pick up the phone and call your legislators now….this is what it takes to get this law adopted.

    Joe Mizereck
    Founder, The “3 Feet Please” Campaign

  4. bikerdude
    bikerdude says:

    The State of California needs to do more to protect bicyclists on the streets by changing the laws on the books. The first one should be all cars, buses and trucks must give bicyclists 3 feet or 15miles per hour when passing. It a simple rule that even the cops, judges, and lawyer can understand. They get out the ruler and if it less then 3 feet they are guilty. Second law, if you hit someone with negligence on a bicycle you will be arrested and do jail time. Right now the law is not specific to bicyclists and the sentences for hitting a bicyclist are up to the judge’s discretion.

    By lobbying to change the laws in California this will give the bicyclist more protection and specific rights. I have written my state rep concerning this new bill. I hope you will as well.

    The last time the 3 feet bill want to the State for consideration the trucks, cops and bus lobby’s killed it.

    The bicycle lobby is getting more respect, keep the pressure on the elected officials

    We have seen a lot of positive changes that bicyclist are being recognized as legitimate users of the road, we just have to keep moving the agenda forward.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] The 3-foot passing bill SB 910, sponsored by State Senator Lowenthal (D – Long Beach),  has recently passed through all the state legislature committees necessary to come before the full California State Assembly. Though this is wonderful news, there […]

  2. […] proposed three-foot passing law makes it onto the legislative agenda; provisions also include a requirement that drivers pass riders at no more than 15 mph above the […]

  3. […] 3 Foot Passing Law Gets a Hearing Date with State Senate (LADOT Bike Blog.) […]

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