Monday, January 29, 2007

Proposed California bicycle safety law

The Si Valley paper reports:
Assembly Bill 60, introduced by Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, would prohibit drivers from passing cyclists unless their vehicle stays at least three feet from the bike. ...

Under existing law, a driver overtaking a bicycle in the same direction is required to pass to the left at a ``safe distance,'' or face fines of up to $250.

Under the proposed law, a driver passing a cyclist in the same direction must keep ``a minimum of three feet,'' without interfering with the safe operation of the bicycle. Violators would face a $250 ticket.

The measure also allows a motorist to swerve away from the bike and cross the double yellow line into a center turn lane. Under existing law, that center lane can only be used to make left turns and, in some places, U-turns.
This is a sensible proposal. I drive and bicycle on 2-lane roads with a double-yellow divider and no bike lanes or shoulders. The current law is impractical because it is impossible for a car to pass a bicycle without either breaking the law or endangering the cyclist. Usually the car does both. This law would give a legal rule for a car to pass safely.

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