After failing to pass last year, a bill that intends to make bicycling safer in California has passed the State Assembly and is now awaiting a signature from the governor. The bill, known as “Give Me 3,” would require motorists to give bicyclists a minimum of three feet of space when driving past them.

The governor vetoed the bill last year after the State Highway Patrol of California protested a particular provision in the legislation. The provision would have required motorists to slow down to 15 miles per hour, if they were unable to provide three feet of space for the cyclist. The Highway Patrol was concerned that the provision would result in an increase in accidents, as motorists would have to slow down quickly to abide by the law. That provision was taken out of this year’s version of the bill and now backers are confident the Senate bill will become law. The governor can sign the bill into law, veto it, or it will automatically become law if he takes no action by September 30.

Cyclist organizations, including the California Bicycle Coalition, have supported the legislation. They claim that cyclists are often targeted by motorists who pass them too closely and cut them off. If the bill becomes law, such aggressive activity will come at a price. The minimum fine for a violation is $35 with a $220 penalty for violations that result in an injury.

The “Give Me 3” ordinance, or Senate Bill 1464, is particularly positive for cyclists in the vehicle-crowded streets of Los Angeles, where more bikers are taking to the roadways each year.

California is a leading state in the country in terms of the number of cyclists on the road, in part due to good weather and a large population base. This legislation aims to make the roads safer for the ever-increasing population of bicyclists in the state.

Source: Southern California Public Radio, “‘Give me 3’ bike safety bill heads to governor for final decision,” Hayley Fox, September 4, 2012.

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