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.
An act to amend Section 21750 of, and to add Section 21750.1 to, the Vehicle Code, relating to vehicles.
(1) Under existing law, a driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle or a bicycle proceeding in the same direction is required to pass to the left at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken vehicle or bicycle, subject to certain limitations and exceptions. A violation of this provision is an infraction punishable by a fine not exceeding $100 for a first conviction, and up to a $250 fine for a 3rd and subsequent conviction occurring within one year of 2 or more prior infractions.
This bill would recast this provision as to overtaking a bicycle by requiring the driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction to pass to the left at a safe distance, at a minimum clearance of 3 feet and at a speed not exceeding 15 miles per hour faster than the bicycle, without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken bicycle. The bill would make a violation of this provision an infraction punishable by a $250-fine. The bill would make it a misdemeanor or felony if a person operates a motor vehicle in violation of the above requirement and that conduct proximately causes significant or substantial physical injury or death to the bicycle operator.
Because this bill would create a new crime and would expand the scope of an existing crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
(2) The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
SECTION 1. Section 21750 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:
21750. The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction
shall pass to the left at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken vehicle, subject to the limitations and exceptions set forth in this article.
SEC. 2. Section 21750.1 is added to the Vehicle Code , to read:
21750.1. (a) (1) 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.
(2) A violation of paragraph (1) is an infraction punishable by a fine of two hundred fifty dollars ($250).
(b) If a person operates a motor vehicle in violation of subdivision (a) and that conduct proximately causes great bodily injury, as defined in subdivision (f) of Section 12022.7 of the Penal
Code, or death to the bicycle operator, the person driving the motor vehicle, upon conviction, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail or in the state prison.
SEC. 3. No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.
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?