Do you like to ride your bike but fear passing traffic? Have you been brushed or even rear-ended by a careless motorist? Do you despair at the paucity of bike lanes? If yes, then the California Bicycle Coalition (CBC) wants you to sign on to their Senate Bill 1464 campaign so that cyclists can bike safe in the knowledge that finally a law exists to criminalize injury at the hands of a careless or negligent motorist. Believe it or not, these safeguards don’t exist today!
Senate Bill 1464, authored by Sen. Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach (a staunch cycling supporter and speaker at the LACBC Bike Summit last Fall), will require drivers to give bicyclists at least 3 feet of clearance when passing from behind. Nineteen other states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws similar to SB 1464. Pennsylvania recently upped the ante to 4 feet. Yet California is without similar safety legislation, and saw our hopes dimmed last year when Governor Brown vetoed the last bill sent to his desk (SB 910).
That bill is back as SB 1464 which addresses the Governor’s concerns by letting drivers to cross a double yellow centerline in order to pass a bicyclist. Yes, you can do that today. But this bill codifies it. The legislation would set a base fine of $220 for injuring a bicyclist in violation of the statute. (More about the campaign from Streetsblog Los Angeles.)
SB 1464 will receive a hearing in the Senate Transportation & Housing Committee on April 17th and the CBC wants you to let the committee know NOW why you want to see these protections written into law.
Support SB 1464!
There are many ways you can support this worthy campaign. You can use the CBC’s draft letter [.doc] as a template and send it out to the Committee members (roster). Or read our letter for the salient points. Then email your letter to Jim Brown at CBC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also sign onto the CBC web campaign. Or pick up the phone to urge Committee Chair Senator Mark DeSaulnier to move this through committee. Heck, if your local Senator is Fran Pavley (district 23), she sits on the committee; give her a call (916-651-4023) and tell her staff why you support safe cycling.
This is another bold campaign by the California Bicycle Coalition (cosponsoring with the City of Los Angeles) to put protections in place (and it’s their second heavy-lift on it) so consider supporting CBC with a contribution or donate to their ‘give three to get three’ fundraiser.
We’ll leave you with this thought from CBC:
“Believe it or not, under existing law it’s not illegal to injure a bicyclist with a car. In far too many cases drivers who injure bicyclists never gets cited or punished in any way. Drivers who kill bicyclists can be prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter, a criminal charge. But there isn’t a comparable charge for injuring a bicyclist, even when the injuries are severe or permanently disabling.”