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‘Give me 3’ bike safety bill heads to governor for final decision

By Hayley Fox
Published: Tuesday, September 04, 2012, at 03:50PM
Tony Pierce

If passed, the "Give me 3" bill would require drivers to give cyclists at least 3 feet of room when passing them from behind.

The proposed "Give me 3" ordinance, which would require drivers to give cyclists at least three feet of room when passing them from behind, has recently passed a final State Assembly vote and now faces approval by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Senate Bill (SB) 1464 is co-sponsored by the city of Los Angeles along with the California Bicycle Coalition (CBC) and aims to define what a safe passing distance is on the road. Jim Brown, CBC's Communications Director, says the governor has until Sept. 30 to approve the bill -- or veto it, as he did last year.

If he doesn't act on it in any way, it will automatically become a law at the end of the month.

This year's version of the bill is without a problematic provision that mandated drivers to slow down to 15 mph in order to pass a cyclist, if the driver was unable to make three feet of room. The California Highway Patrol was concerned sudden deceleration could cause accidents, said Brown, and the governor ended up vetoing the bill its first time around.

Now, this clause has been removed and Brown said supporters are "as confident as we can we be" that the bill will pass.

Aaron Paley, a founder and executive producer of L.A.'s CicLAvia, told Blogdowntown last month that the increasing appeal of alternative transportation may be due in part to new legislation -- such as the "Give me 3" bill. He said that the number of Angelenos riding bikes, buses and trains has grown in recent years.

"There is a definite sea change occurring of how people perceive the issue of 'how do i get from point A to point B,'" said Paley. "I see a major change in Los Angeles in the last decade."

Although the downtown L.A. community has been working towards safer streets through education campaigns and road modifications such as the green Spring Street bike lanes, there are ongoing issues between drivers and cyclists.

When the "Give me 3" campaign was kickstarted in L.A. two years ago, it was accompanied by a Bicycle Safety Awareness Campaign orchestrated by the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) along with other bike advocacy groups.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) bike blog reported then that "unsafe passes are a frighteningly regular occurrence" for bike riders in L.A.. They went on to say that drivers often "crowd" bicyclists from behind or cut in front of them more "aggressively" than they would with another driver.

If passed, SB 1464 would designate exactly what a "safe" passing is; drivers who break the law, could face minimum fines of $35 for a violation which does not result in an injury, and at least $220 for an incident that injures a biker.

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