Earlier this week, the California assembly passed the so-called '3 Feet' bicycle safety bill, which requires drivers to give bicyclists at least three feet of space when passing on California roads. The bill now goes to the state Senate for a concurrence vote. The Senate previously passed a similar bill, so this version will likely make it to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk in the relatively near future.
The goal of the proposed new law is to reduce the number of bicycle accidents, injuries and fatalities in California. According to state data, more than 3,000 car-bike crashes occur every year in California. In 2011, about 100 bicyclists were killed in such accidents.
Given those statistics, it is encouraging that the bill has thus far received wide, bipartisan support in both the Senate and the Assembly. In 2011, Gov. Brown vetoed a similar bill that would have required drivers to slow down to 15 mph if they were not able to give bikers three feet of space. The current bill does not contain that provision, so it appears that the governor will have no objections to it.
In addition to requiring three feet of passing space, the bill removes the traffic penalty for passing the center double yellow line if drivers do so to give bicyclists more passing room.
In other bike-related news, the Assembly also recently passed a bill which aims to exempt new bike lanes from the California Environmental Quality Act. This is expected to make the process of proposing and passing new bike lane projects quicker and easier.
Source: Patch, "Assembly Passes Lowenthal's '3 Feet' Bike Safety Bill," David Carini, Aug. 29, 2012