Yesterday, the California State Assembly joined the Senate in passing S.B. 910 by an overwhelming 41-20 vote. S.B. 910 would require motorists to give bicyclists a three foot cushion when passing at miles in excess of fifteen miles an hour faster than the cyclist. The legislation needs re-approval by the Senate, something that occurs 99% of the time, because of some technical changes that occurred in the Assembly at the request of the bill’s author, Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach). From there it will await signature from Governor Jerry Brown.
“We’ve heard too many stories of people having close calls or worse caused by drivers not giving enough space as they pass someone on a bicycle. This new law will make it easier to educate drivers to give a little more space,” said California Bike Coalition Executive Director Dave Snyder. “Protecting people who want to bicycle – and making that choice an easier one for people to make – is an important step in making California a healthier and safer place to live.”
Assuming the Senate and then Governor Brown approve and sign S.B. 910, it will mark the end of a long road that began well before the Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, had his elbow broken when forced off his bicycle by an inattentive cab driver. Following the crash, Villaraigosa made bike safety a legislative priority in Los Angeles. Safe passing laws have come and gone from the legislative docket in the past, but none have ever achieved passage by both houses.
While Bike Coalitions around the state made passage of S.B. 910 a priority, Los Angeles riders played a special role. It was a joint campaign of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, Midnight Ridazz and LAPD that adopted the “Give Me 3” postering campaign that became the slogan for S.B. 910 supporters. The posters appeared at hundreds of locations around Los Angeles during the summer and fall of 2010 and caught the attention of campaign organizers with the California Bicycle Coalition.
When S.B. 910 becomes law, California will be the 21st state to pass a safe passing law that specifies a distance. Despite the rhetoric from AAA and their water carriers in Sacramento, none of these laws have been seriously challenged in the courts or have been shown to confuse drivers.
Streetsblog will let you know the moment S.B. 910 is vetoed or signed into law.