A person traveling by bicycle on a street is vulnerable. Similarly, road construction crews are vulnerable. As are pedestrians – nearly 4,300 people died when hit by cars in 2010, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. Fast moving auto traffic creates risks for people and states and local communities are addressing this challenge in a number of ways.
Passing-from-behind collisions kill more adult bicyclists than any other cause in California and in the US.
When drivers give bicyclists more space as they pass, a leading cause of deadly collisions is minimized and more people feel comfortable about choosing to ride their bikes, which in turn promotes a more livable and economically viable community for us all.
3 Feet to Save Lives
In California a bill sponsored by The California Bicycle Coalition and the City of Los Angeles, authored by Sen. Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach, requires drivers to give bicyclists at least 3 feet of space when passing from behind.
The bill modifies existing state law that indicates a driver is to maintain an unspecified “safe distance” when passing another vehicle or a bicycle. With the new law, a specific minimum passing distance will provide drivers with a more objective and easily understood measure of what constitutes “safe” and gives law enforcement and the courts a clearer basis for establishing a driver’s liability for unsafe passing. Most importantly, it helps emphasize a driver’s special responsibility to safeguard more vulnerable road users like bicyclists.
Too much tragedy. Information about some victims of passing-from-behind collisions in California.
Recent videos. You Tube channel videos showing bicyclists being buzzed, brushed and hit by passing vehicles demonstrating why California drivers need a more explicit standard for how to pass bicyclists safely. Amazingly, none of the bicyclists shown in these videos was seriously injured.
Other States. Twenty-one other states and the District of Columbia have already enacted a specified minimum passing distance for motorists. Pennsylvania’s new 4-foot passing law, signed in February, took effect on April 1. And Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman signed that state’s 3-foot passing law on April 10. Safely Passing Bicyclists Chart: Available here
Momentum Magazine. “Too often cars and bicycles come precariously close to each other. Bicyclists need at least three feet between them and a passing car.” Article found here
What you can do
Pass people on bicycles safely when you drive, giving at least three feet. When you are in a car with another driver, make sure they do the same.
Learn more about the Give Me 3 campaign to enact SB 1464
Contact The California Bicycle Coalition at firstname.lastname@example.org or 916-446-7558 if you’ve been hit or run off the road by a passing driver. They are documenting cases of unsafe passing as a way to help lawmakers understand why they must support SB 1464.
Support the Give Me 3 campaign with a donation.
Join the mailing list so The California Bicycle Coalition can let you know when they need bike-friendly Californians to contact their legislators on behalf of this bill.