Home > Legal/Legislative > CABO Opposes 3-Foot Passing Bill SB910

CABO Opposes 3-Foot Passing Bill SB910

May 4th, 2011

Regrettably, CABO opposes SB910 for the following reasons (most of which are mentioned in the bill analysis):

1. The law already provides that motorists must pass bicyclists at a safe distance without interfering with their safe operation.

2. We don’t believe that three feet is measurable or enforceable in practice.

3. Emphasizing three feet as the passing distance may encourage some drivers to pass too closely when greater clearance is needed.

4. A 15-mph speed differential also can’t be measured or enforced, and is not always appropriate.

5. By amending CVC 21750 to remove references to bicycles and replacing it with CVC 21750.1, which always requires passing on the left, the bill apparently makes it unlawful to pass a bicyclist on the right, even if the bicyclist is turning left.

6. The language of proposed CVC 21750.1 is ambiguous:

“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 or 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.”

“At a safe distance,” “at a minimum clearance of three feet,” or “at a speed not exceeding 15 miles per hour faster than the speed of the bicycle” can be read as a series of three items any one of which is sufficient. It’s also unclear whether “without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken bicycle” modifies all of these, or only the last.

7. We support the concept of permitting motorists to cross double yellow lines to pass bicyclists. However, “substandard width lane” is undefined, and the condition given, when “it is safe to do so,” is too vague and allows too much latitude for driver misjudgment.

(June 24 update: CABO Now SUPPORTS 3-Foot Passing Bill SB910)

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  1. May 10th, 2011 at 13:42 | #1

    How about this wording?

    “The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass delete(to the left)delete at a safe distance, at a minimum clearance of three feet delete(or at a speed not exceeding 15 miles per hour faster than the speed of the bicycle,)delete without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken bicycle.”

    This would change your concern #3, #5 and #6. Would CABO support this?

  2. May 11th, 2011 at 09:45 | #2

    In committee activity 5/10, they removed the “on the left” language (addressing CABO’s concern #5) but left the “or” (concern #6) and the 15mph language (concern #4). They also incorporated the “substandard width lane” language from CVC 21202(a)(3), addressing CABO’s concern #7. Since the bill is still under consideration, they also haven’t addressed concerns #1, #2, #3.

  3. Paul Nevins
    May 18th, 2011 at 08:13 | #3

    Will this bill address the ‘impeding traffic’ provision of the vehicle code which police officers use to claim cyclists are at fault for struck from the rear accidents even when the cyclist is killed?

  4. Paul Nevins
    May 18th, 2011 at 08:17 | #4

    The bill should be amended to read ‘a minimum of three feet AND no more than 15 mph AND without interfering etc.’

  5. June 2nd, 2011 at 08:45 | #5

    According to the status report (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=sb_910&sess=CUR), the bill passed the Senate yesterday (6/1) 26-9, and was ordered to the Assembly. Its language has not been fixed yet – no amendments since 5/10.

    Time is running out, this thing is about to become law, and California cyclists’ safe passing protection will be removed.

  6. Paul Nevins
    June 2nd, 2011 at 15:58 | #6

    Instead of complaining from the cheap seats get in and lobby to fix the bill. We absolutely need a minimum passing distance AND a maximum passing speed (not or). Enforcement is not an issue, being able to penalize motorists who are dangerous to cyclists is critical to changing attitudes. When motorists realize they will not skate after an ‘accident’ and police can no longer arbitrarily fault cyclists we will be much safer. Take what we can get now and keep pressure on to make it better. Only an idiot will refuse a half loaf and starve while insisting he must get all or nothing.

  7. June 2nd, 2011 at 16:17 | #7

    Paul, do you know of any evidence from any of the states which have 3 foot laws for several years now that support your claim that such a law makes cyclists any safer, much less much safer?

    Given the relatively tiny percentage of motorists that are involved in crashes with bicyclists due to passing too closely, I just don’t see how penalizing them after a passing-too-close crash is going to impact anyone else to any significant degree.

    Perhaps I’m missing something, but it seems to me that support for this bill is much more about symbolism and emotionalism than actually improving bicyclist safety.

  8. June 2nd, 2011 at 16:38 | #8

    Paul Nevins :
    Instead of complaining from the cheap seats get in and lobby to fix the bill.

    CABO has provided language but it was not included.

    We absolutely need a minimum passing distance AND a maximum passing speed (not or)… Take what we can get now and keep pressure on to make it better. Only an idiot will refuse a half loaf and starve while insisting he must get all or nothing.

    California already has a safe passing law. This bill would remove that protection for bicyclists (only). This bill would provide neither safe passing, nor minimum passing distance, nor maximum passing speed.

    I don’t want all or nothing – I just don’t want to lose the protections we already have.

  9. Paul Nevins
    June 18th, 2011 at 06:57 | #10

    Go to Jerry Brown get it vetoed. Have the governor make the legislators fix.

  10. June 18th, 2011 at 07:28 | #11

    @Paul Nevins
    LOL, Paul!

  11. June 24th, 2011 at 22:11 | #12

    June 22 Update: CABO Now SUPPORTS 3-Foot Passing Bill SB910: http://www.cabobike.org/2011/06/24/cabo-now-supports-3-foot-passing-bill-sb910/

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