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Cycling Injuries, Fatalities Underscore Proposed New Law

California’s SB 1464, otherwise known as the “Three Feet for Safety Act,” would require that motorists give cyclists a 3-foot clearance when passing.

Local two-lane highways may get safer for pro and amateur cyclists alike if a new law gets passed.

California’s SB 1464, otherwise known as the “Three Feet for Safety Act,” would require that motorists give cyclists a 3-foot clearance when passing. In cases where the distance isn’t possible, the motorist would be required to slow to a “reasonable and prudent” passing speed.

The proposed law also permits motorists to, when safe, move into the oncoming traffic lane to provide the required three feet.

Motorists who violate the proposed law would get hit with a $35 fine; if a cyclist is injured due to a violation, the fine goes up to $220.

The California Bicycle Coalition is currently sponsoring a campaign in support of the legislation.

“Many Californians who want to ride their bikes on streets and roads won't … because they're concerned about drivers who pass too closely. They've either seen or heard about a bicyclist who was buzzed or hit by a passing car and they're scared!” the Coalition has posted on its “Give Me Three” campaign website. “Sometimes drivers deliberately pass too closely but more often they do it because they don't understand that it's really dangerous.”

The Coalition argues that cyclists need the space to get around debris and/or rough pavement.

“If they need to move to avoid a hazard and a passing driver doesn't give them enough space, a deadly collision can occur,” the campaign website states.

The lead author on SB 1464 is Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach). The bill has passed the state Senate and is currently on the Assembly Floor.

A similar bill was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. SB 910 introduced by Lowenthal in 2011 required that motorists had to slow to 15 mph if they couldn’t provide the 3-foot clearance. In his veto message, the governor stated that the 15 mph hour mandate could increase rear-end collisions on California highways.

“It’s … important to remind both drivers and cyclists to share the valley roads," said CHP Officer Joe Zagorski.

after a motorist inadvertently allowed his pickup truck to drift onto the shoulder of Grand Avenue where the cyclist was pedaling.

Dettloff was struck from behind by a 2005 Nissan Frontier and thrown to the pavement, said CHP Officer Nathan Baer. Dettoff was pronounced dead at the scene 20 minutes later.

The 60-year-old Wildomar man at the wheel of the Nissan was not hurt, Baer said.

"Collisions like these are completely preventable and should not happen," Baer said. "The CHP ... cannot be everywhere at once, so it is up to the motorist to help us by avoiding distracted driving, obeying traffic laws, and thinking of others while driving."

Ian Brett Cooper August 23, 2012 at 04:04 AM
@ Teller of Truth: You are talking rubbish. If a cyclist was always in danger when sharing the road with cars, I would have been in numerous accidents in my 40 years of road cycling. I have not been in a single one. Why? Because cycling is very safe.
Teller of Truth August 23, 2012 at 04:05 AM
You've already demonstrated your ideology as being unsafe!
Constant Comment August 23, 2012 at 08:22 PM
@IAN, see what happens when you get your drivers lic. suspended. I wouldn't worry so much about the way other people drive their automobiles....but rather about testicular cancer. Look at Lance Armstrong. just sayin........
Ariel Richardson August 25, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Finally, people are wising up. I am a 22 year old responsible cycilist who follows all the rules of the road. I stay in the bike lane (not the sidewalk which is illegal for cycilists to ride in and disrespectful to pedestrians), stop at stop signs, obey traffic laws...and I have been constantly harrassed on the road. People feel the need to honk their horns (why...?) or yell "Get out of the road!". Some truckers even have the audacity to pull into the bike land while I am in it just to scare me. I'm more worried about them, if they did hit me I would sue 'em. In big cities all over the world, tons of adults ride bikes to get around. New York, Portland, San Fransisco... Lake Elsinore seems very backward in it's approach to cycilist safety.
Constant Comment August 25, 2012 at 10:39 PM
@Ariel, thank you for telling your honest opinion of the true bicycling situation. I believe that IAN feels the need to fabricate just how safe he is, in order to get his point across. I hope you never have a need to sue anyone. Stay safe out there! }~)

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