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State Senate OKs three-foot passing rule for cyclists

Published: Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 11:29 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 11:29 a.m.

A bill is heading to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk that would require motorists to keep three feet of distance when passing cyclists and slow to a safe speed when that safety cushion is not possible.

Senate Bill 1464 was given final approval by the Senate on Wednesday evening in a 28-4 vote.

The bill by Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Paramount, and state Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro, D-Arcata, addresses the biggest fear that most cyclists have, that of being rear-ended by passing motorists.

While those accidents may be infrequent, however, they are usually the most serious.

The new law also would give law enforcement officers the ability to address one of the most common forms of harassment of cyclists by motorists, called “buzzing,” when drivers intentionally pass riders at a very close distance.

The new legislation would also allow motorists to cross double-yellow lines if necessary to safely pass cyclists, which currently is illegal.

A similar bill was vetoed by Brown last year, but this bill was rewritten to remove a provision that Brown had cited in his rejection.

The provision that was removed had required motorists pass at a speed no greater than 15 mph faster than the cyclist is traveling if there is not three feet of passing room.

The new bill only requires that passing be done at a prudent speed.

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