The State Senate Decides Whether to “Give Me 3” on Thursday

Senate Bill 1464, the three-foot bike passing bill proposed by California Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), heads back to the Senate on Thursday, May 24 after sailing through committee last week. Buoyed by a strong campaign by the California Bike Coalition (CBC) and TransForm, thousands of supporters have already written letters to their senators urging them to pass the bill.

The first Give Me 3 poster on 1st and Main in Los Angeles, 2010. Photo: ## Bike Blog##

“The community of people who care about the safety of bicyclists continues to be the backbone of support for this bill,” said Jim Brown, spokesperson for the CBC. “Nearly 1,800 people have contacted their state senators to urge a yes vote this Thursday. This is a very large response by any measure, especially for bike-related legislation. It shows how strongly people care about making our roads safer.”

If passed, SB 1464 would require drivers to give cyclists a three foot passing berth when passing them. A nearly identical proposal, SB 910, was vetoed by Governor Brown in October due to pushback from AAA and the CA Highway Patrol (CHP), despite making its way through both houses of the legislature. As reported in Streetsblog  last month, the CBC worked with AAA and the CHP to revise the language they objected to and propose a new bill.

SB 1464 differs from last year’s bill by allowing drivers to cross a solid double yellow centerline (when safe) if necessary to give a bicyclist at least three feet of space. If three feet aren’t available, the bill requires drivers to pass by slowing down to a “reasonable and prudent” speed and give bicyclists as much space as “feasible.”

The CBC launched the “Give Me 3” campaign to support the bill last year using imagery from Los Angeles’ bike safety campaign in 2010. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told Streetsblog that the passage of a safe passing law in Sacramento is “a top legislative priority” for him.

If the Senate passes SB 1464 on Thursday, it would then head to the State Assembly for approval by the appropriate committees and the full assembly. After that, it’s back to the Governor Brown’s desk, where he could sign it into law or veto it again.

TransForm and the CBC partnered to provide an easy form which supporters can use to write their legislators. By clicking on this link and entering your zip code on TransForm’s website, you can generate an email addressed to your senator. You can also modify the email with a more personal message, which is especially powerful if you know someone who was injured in a crash. If you would prefer to use email or regular mail, click here for instructions from the CBC.

Sample letter. ## here## to generate your own.
  • Roadblock

    I fear it’s not going to do much until the 85th percentile law is repealed but this is good news none the less.

  • Joe B

    What does it mean that a driver is “unable” to comply with the subsection prohibiting passing at less than 3 feet? In all my years of driving, in every single situation I’ve been in, I have always been ABLE to avoid passing somebody.

    It’s poorly worded, and 21750.1(d) is either meaningless or makes the law totally useless, depending on how it’s interpreted. (And, zomg, $35!!!) But I guess it’s better than nothing.

  • There’s actually no 15 mph provision in the linked version of the bill — it just says “the driver shall slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the size and speed of the motor vehicle and bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, and surface and width of the highway”. This is actually pretty sensible when you consider what it’s intended for (i.e., congested streets, pulling up to a stoplight, or other conditions in which traffic is naturally moving slowly and passing within 3 feet isn’t really an issue).

    But Joe B. makes a good point: the way it’s worded (“shall” vs. “may”) makes it seem like drivers don’t have the option to simply slow down and follow a bicyclist on a narrow road until they can safely pass with a 3-foot buffer, which is what they really ought to be doing. In fact, it’s non-specific enough that a driver could conceivably buzz a cyclist at some undefined “reasonable and prudent” speed (How fast? 15 mph? 25 mph? 35 mph?) and not be breaking the law. This poor wording could be reflected in the way SB 1464 gets reported in the media. Which is pretty important, considering the fact that the benefits of this law lie mainly in its ability to educate drivers about how much room to leave when passing a cyclist. It’s troubling to think that poor wording could muddle the “Give Me 3” message.

  • Roadblock

    the word “shall” is important. BUT it’s all the other ambiguity that makes this bill kind of worthless… just the way AAA and CABO wants it.

  • Yeah, I’m actually most troubled by the intentionally vague “reasonable and prudent” part. Sorry if that didn’t come across in my comment.

  • bb

    Why not define overtake and passing

    Pass with 3 feet

    Overtake with prudent and safe. (going 5 mph faster than the cyclist)

    Because that is what this bill is about. 

  • Anonymous

     How about, “Must change lanes fully to pass.”

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, letting non-engineers effectively determine speed limits is ludicrous.  Also, since when do only 15% of drivers break the speed limit?


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