California Assemblyman Steven Bradford introduces 3 foot passing bill

Will the third time be the charm?

Steven Bradford of Gardena, California introduced Yet Another Attempt at a safe passing law by amending AB 1371. It has the usual safe passing with a minimum of three feet language we’ve seen in the previous two attempts introduced before by then-State-Senator Alan Lowenthal (who has moved on to the US House of Representatives). To overcome any possible bogus objections from the Governor’s office on this go around, Bradford includes precise language on how motorists should and should not pass when they’re driving past a bicycle. It also allows motorists to cross the double yellow centerline or double white lines (which mark “preferential use lanes” e.g. HOV lanes and bus lanes) to pass a cyclist when it’s safe to do so.

Give Me 3 Feet

Cyclists in California now call any hit-from-behind collision against a cyclist a “Jerry Brown,” in honor of Governor Jerry Brown’s vetoes of the two past attempts at a three foot passing law in California. Only Brown and Texas Governor Rick Perry have vetoed safe passing laws submitted to them. 22 states now have a safe passing law on the books.

You can follow the status of AB 1371 here. I’ve copied the text the bill’s legislative counsel digest, as amended, below. It provides a summary of how the bill would change state law.

An act to amend Sections 21460 and 21750 of, and to add Section 21750.1 to, the Vehicle Code, relating to vehicles.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

Vehicles: bicycles: passing distance.

(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 and passing a bicycle by requiring, with specified exceptions, the driver of a motor vehicle overtaking and passing a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction on a highway to pass in compliance with specified requirements applicable to overtaking and passing a vehicle, and to do so at a safe distance that does not interfere with the safe operation of the overtaken bicycle, having due regard for the size and speed of the motor vehicle and the bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, and the surface and width of the highway. The bill would prohibit, with specified exceptions, the driver of the motor vehicle that is overtaking or passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway from passing at a distance of less than 3 feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator. The bill would make a violation of these provisions an infraction punishable by a $35 fine. The bill would also require the imposition of a $220 fine on a driver if a collision occurs between a motor vehicle and a bicyclist causing bodily harm to the bicyclist, and the driver is found to be in violation of the above provisions.

(2) Existing law prohibits a person from driving a vehicle to the left of double parallel solid lines, or double parallel lines, one of which is broken, except as provided. Notwithstanding that prohibition, existing law permits a driver to cross those double parallel lines if the driver is turning to the left at any intersection or into or out of a driveway or private road or making a U-turn under the rules governing that turn.

This bill would prohibit a person driving a vehicle from crossing over any part of any double parallel solid white lines except in the above situations or when entering or exiting designated areas of exclusive or preferential use lanes, as provided. The bill would permit a driver of a motor vehicle to cross double parallel lines to pass a person operating a bicycle in the same direction, if in compliance with a specified provision.

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.

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 reimbursement.

This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

9 Comments

  • bikinginla
    March 27, 2013 - 10:39 am | Permalink

    It looks like this would also apply to cyclists riding in a bike lane, as opposed to last year’s version which only applied to vehicles passing a bike in the same lane.

  • March 27, 2013 - 11:54 am | Permalink

    If you favor this law, please sign our petition urging Gov. Brown to sign the bill this time. Find it at:

    http://signon.org/sign/three-feet-please

    Maybe third time will be the charm….

  • March 27, 2013 - 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Now if I remember correctly, Gov. Brown didn’t sign the last bill because of the possible legal storm it would cause if cyclists started suing for violations of the bill. Is there something new in this version that would better handle such a situation?

  • bikinginla
    March 27, 2013 - 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Actually, it wasn’t cyclists he was worried about; frankly, I doubt we even crossed his mind.

    Brown was worried about people suing the state stemming from motorists getting into a collision after crossing the center line to pass a bike, even though the law requires them to pass only when safe to do so. And even though that hasn’t been a problem in any other state that has a similar provision, and even though the state is largely indemnified from such lawsuits.

    In other words, it was BS excuse to veto a law for reasons that had nothing to do with the provisions in it. I’m told he traded our safety for political expediency, which makes him the lowest form of political life, in my book.

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  • Ann
    January 7, 2014 - 12:43 pm | Permalink

    I realize this is passe, but what happened to the part of the bill that allowed cars to pass a double yellow line:
    This bill would prohibit a person driving a vehicle from crossing over any part of any double parallel solid white lines except in the above situations or when entering or exiting designated areas of exclusive or preferential use lanes, as provided. The bill would permit a driver of a motor vehicle to cross double parallel lines to pass a person operating a bicycle in the same direction, if in compliance with a specified provision.

  • January 7, 2014 - 12:53 pm | Permalink

    The yellow-line exception was removed in the first amendment in the Assembly Transportation Committee last March. Brown claimed to veto the 2012 version of a 3 foot passing bill because of its yellow line exception. See http://www.cyclelicio.us/2012/california-vetoes-3-feet-2012/

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