AAA Northern California Tries to Cut Bicycle Safety Bill Off at the Pass

Things Have Come to a Pretty Pass on CA Senate Bill 910

As it was approved by the California Senate's Transportation and Housing Committee on May 3, Senate Bill 910 would require motorists to provide bicyclists with at least three feet of space when passing from behind or to slow to within 15 mph of a bicyclist's speed if a three foot gap could not be met or maintained.

If enacted, the bill would also legalize the practice by motorists of crossing a double yellow line to safely pass a bicyclist when the opposite side of the road is clear.

Well, AAA Northern California must have heard AAA Mid-Atlantic's cry for support for defending the roads for motorists in the alleged "war" that bicyclists are waging against them, because the automobile club officially opposes the bill as it was drafted and has spoken against it.

As was reported by San Francisco based blogger Dan Connelly (at "On Bicycles, And...What Else Is There?") during the week after the Senate Committee's decision, AAA Northern California objected principally to SB 910's provision that motorists be required to slow down when a passing distance of three or more feet could not be achieved.

Paula LaBrie, Legislative Council for AAA Northern California, justified her organization's position by arguing that, "a drastic decrease in speed differentials between the vehicle passing the bicycle and other vehicles on the road," could cause collisions that might jeopardize the safety of a cyclist.

But what about the inherent dangers presented by a motorist passing that cyclist too closely? And particularly at high speeds? We'd think that all parties involved would be focused on that issue since it's the very safety concern that SB 910 was drafted to address.

But that's just what AAA doesn't seem to get. As Connelly writes: "making exceptions to a 3-foot passing margin based on the context of road design is equivalent to making exception to a safe passing requirement." Can California safety advocates -- in cars, on bikes, or using any other form of transportation -- allow that sort of exception to be made?

Eighteen other states have already passed safe passing laws with strong bi-partisan support. Unfortunately, AAA Northern California still hasn't come around to the understanding that road safety shouldn't be a politically motivated issue. No exceptions.

For more on SB 910, California's safe passing bill, visit the California Bicycle Coalition's campaign site (they're collecting opinions and suggestions and passing the hat to fund the campaign).

Also, check out Dan Connelly's blog for more bike stuff, including coverage of the recently concluded Amgen Tour of California, of which, by the way, Better World Club was proud a sponsor.
Kicking Asphalt

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