Rip open a bag of Ritz crackers, and pop a cork on your finest bottle of champagne (Twisting the top on a $15 Sparkling wine is also acceptable); It is time for another small victory dance!
In September Governor Brown signed off on a 3 foot passing rule to protect bicyclists on the road.
Now, the legislation, and it’s modest, or rather shy, fines of $35 for passing too closely and $220 for striking a cyclist with your car don’t go into effect until September 2014, but both cycling advocates and concerned motorists are happy to have some clarity concerning the rules of the road. A safe passable distance when overtaking a cyclist is 3 feet.
Feel free to share in our sad little clown chuckle about AAA of Southern California getting credit for supporting the bill after years of AAA fighting against the three foot regulation. We may be sad about that, but there is no reason to linger on good PR.
It does pay to note not all motorists and cyclists are free from worry or reservation about the bill. Bay Area CBS station, KPIX and LA’s KCAL reported on reactions from bicyclists. What is our biggest fear for cyclists even in light of this new law?
The opinion that it is cyclists who ride to close to cars, and it is cyclists should be responsible for their own safety. As Paul Thornton wrote in his blog for the LA Times:
First, "traffic lanes" are for cyclists too.
Second, … cyclists must take responsibility for their safety, which is precisely why many hug the left stripe of a bike lane. Road hazards -- bumpy and poorly maintained pavement, trashcans out for pickup and motorists who don't think twice before pulling out of a driveway onto the first few feet of road space -- tend to congregate on the right. And let's not forget the ever-present possibility of getting "doored."
Finally, drivers do bear plenty of responsibility for cyclist safety. Why? It's simple physics: Cars are faster and exponentially heavier than cyclists, and yet it takes far less human energy to make trucks go 50 miles per hour than it does for a bike rider to peddle along at 20. The danger a reckless cyclist poses is almost entirely to himself; the same can't be said for motorists.
We would add that your job, as a private commuter, is to pay attention. It is only when you are on public transportation (or when you are being driven around) that the responsibility is not yours.
If you are on a bike, a motorcycle, in a semi-truck, in a car, wearing roller-blades, or even your shoes, if you are transporting yourself, you are responsible for paying attention to where you are and where other commuters are around you. They have the same responsibility. Like speed limits and other low fine traffic violations, The 3 foot law encourages mindfulness of proper and reasonable traffic safety.
We would love to see LA and the Bay area take a chapter from the book of the great folks in San Antonio, TX. San Antonio PD sound as serious about protecting cyclists from cars as they are from cyclists themselves - we all have seen the motorist or cyclist that is posing a danger to everyone around. This is why laws exist to penalize hazardous driving/riding behavior, and passing too closely to a human being is something worth being reminded not to do.
Congratulations, CA cyclists. Thank you, Gov. Jerry Brown, for seeing reason to sign this bill. Thank you, Assemblyman Steven Bradford, for the proposal that passed. Thank you, supporters of this bill, for being vocal with your support. We hope to see many continued improvements in California and across the United States for cyclists, pedestrians, and for mass transit.