California Senate Bill Would Require More Space When Cars Pass Bicycles

SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – The state Senate was scheduled to vote Thursday on legislation that would require drivers to allow at least three feet of clearance when passing bicyclists from behind.

The California Vehicle Code currently requires drivers that overtake other vehicles to pass at a safe distance without specifying exactly how much room to allow. The bill (.pdf) by state Sen. Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach would allow drivers to cross a double yellow center line when safe in order to give a cyclist the three feet of clearance.

When there isn’t three feet available to pass, drivers would be required to slow down and give as much space as feasible under the proposal, co-sponsored by the City of Los Angeles and backed by bicycling advocates.

KCBS’ Rebecca Corral Reports:

A similar bill was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year.

While enforcing such a law would be difficult, Christopher Monsere, director of the Intelligent Transportation Systems Laboratory at Portland State University, said it could provide a good reference point for discussion and expectations.

“All modes sort of view the other modes with a little suspicion, but motorists who are also cyclists tend to have a little bit more empathy towards the cyclists’ position. And same thing with pedestrians who are cyclists,” he said.

Monsere views distraction and speed as the most important factors for policy makers to consider in road safety. He noted that distraction is a problem that affects everyone.

“Driver distraction, cyclist distraction, pedestrian distraction,” he said. “Those laws about cell phone use and those other things that are going on in the vehicle and when we’re using our bikes, those have the most opportunity to make an impact on safety.”

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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