California Senate Bill 910 proposes a maximum 15 MPH speed differential for cars passing bicycles in addition to a three foot passing distance.
Update: The bill has been amended so that motorists have an option of passing at least 3 feet or with the 15 MPH speed difference. The and has been replaced with or. SB 910 passed the state Senate and now sits in the state Assembly Transportation Committee.
California State Senator Alan Lowenthal introduced SB 910,on February 2011 with support from the City of Los Angeles and the California Bicycle Coalition. As amended on March 25, SB 910 adds a new section 21750.1 to the California Vehicle Code, which would read in part (with emphasis added by me):
The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left at a safe distance, at a minimum clearance of three feet, at a speed not exceeding 15 miles per hour faster than the speed of the bicycle, without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken bicycle.
The “motor vehicle” language specifically exempts cyclists from the three foot and 15 MPH requirement.
Santa Clara County Expressways are a network of high speed arterials with 40 MPH to 55 MPH speed limits. Some of these expressways are popular with commuting cyclists of all abilities because they feature wide, smooth shoulders and few intersections. Fast recreational cyclists riding at 30 MPH are common on Foothills Expressway from Cupertino through Los Altos to Palo Alto, but slower commuters poking along at 10 to 15 MPH aren’t uncommon, and some uphill segments drag cyclist speeds down to the single digits.
Cyclists are also allowed on long stretches of California Interstate highways and other limited access highways. Long distance touring cyclists often utilize these roads. On hills and in headwinds, their speeds very often drop down below 10 MPH.
SB 910, if passed, brings the effective speed limit on parts of Foothills Expressway from 45 MPH down to 25 or 30 MPH. I honestly can’t see the CHP or the Santa Clara County Sheriff even pretend to enforce this law. Interstate 5 through Siskiyou and Shasta Counties would be even worse, with a signed 65 MPH limit. Orange County cyclist advocate Brian DeSousa believes this 15 MPH law will be “a lightning rod for suburban cities and counties to come out in opposition.”
Complete text of the bill as amended on March 25 2011 is to the right.
What do you think? Good idea or not?