It’s Take Two for “Give Me 3” in Sacramento

On October 7th, Governor Jerry Brown shocked the California cycling community and snubbed Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and bill sponsor Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) when he vetoed Senate Bill 910, a proposed law that would have required motorists to give cyclists a three foot buffer when passing. However, proponents of the “Give Me 3″ bill are back with a new proposal — SB 1464.

A Sacramento bicyclist expresses her support for the "Give Me 3" campaign on Bike to Work Day. Photo: California Bicycle Coalition

The proposed bill, also introduced by Lowenthal, is nearly identical to SB 910, but legislators removed a provision that would have required drivers to slow down to 15 mph to pass bicyclists if there was insufficient room to pass with three feet.  This provision so rankled the California Highway Patrol, Caltrans and the AAA that they convinced the governor to veto the proposal fearing cars backing up if they are unable to pass a cyclist at 15 miles per hour.

While similar laws in other states have included the provision, Lowenthal and the California Bike Coalition (CBC) feel that removing it increases the chance that the legislation will pass. Back when the Governor vetoed the legislation, Senator Lowenthal noted that removing that provision would actually make the road safer for cyclists, although it would do nothing to address the Governor’s stated concerns.

“This is the bill Gov. Brown seemed to say he was open to supporting when he vetoed SB 910 last October,” writes Jim Brown, the communications director for the California Bicycle Coalition. “We’re confident this bill meets his concerns and we look forward to his support.”

Both Lowenthal and the CBC say they are open to amendments that would add an exception to the law that would allow for safe passing in situations where there is not the road space or speed limits that would allow cars to pass cyclists under a strict three-foot passing requirement.

The proposal, sponsored by the CBC and the City of Los Angeles, is expected to be heard by the State Senate this spring.

  • Charles_Siegel

    I think that provision could be restored, in an altered form that would be acceptable to Brown:  instead of slowing to 15 mph, it could require drivers to slow to 10 mph less than the speed limit if they could not allow 3 feet of leeway when passing.

    Brown did make a reasonable point about the original provision.  He said that, on a highway, it would be dangerour cars if a car suddenly had to slow to 15 mph; car behind it might crash into it. 

    But that is not a problem if the car only has to slow to 10 mph less than the speed limit.  On local streets, they would have to slow to 15, but on highways, they would not have to slow as drastically.

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