Skip to main content

Two Bicyclists Killed By Motorists Since Safe Passing Law Vetoed

By October 16, 2011October 24th, 2022No Comments

The LAist: Two Bicyclists Killed By Motorists Since Safe Passing Law Vetoed, Activist Tells Governor, ‘Their Blood Is On Your Hands’

Bike safety advocates have been pissed at Governor Jerry Brown ever since he vetoed a safe passing law (SB 910), which would have required motorists to give bicyclists three feet of room while passing.

One advocate Ted Rogers at Biking in LA has written an open letter to the governor, requesting that he hold a summit with the bicyclists to discuss their grievances with him and to rethink the impact of his veto:

Come down to Los Angeles, and meet with cyclists such as myself. Explain more clearly why you chose to veto this bill, because the explanation you gave just doesn’t bear close examination. Then listen to us as we relate the dangers we face on a daily basis, and discuss solutions that could improve safety for all riders and encourage more people to choose to ride bikes, instead of further clogging our roadways.

Our mayor — the one who proposed what eventually became SB 910 — held a similar bike summit. And yes, he had to face a lot of angry bicyclists. But ended up building a much better relationship with the cycling community than would otherwise have been possible.

Since the governor’s veto, two bicyclists have been hit by motorists and Rogers believes the vetoed bill could have played a role in preventing their deaths:

Maybe the drivers never saw the riders they hit. Or maybe they tried to squeeze by without giving the riders sufficient passing distance.

Chances are, we’ll never know. But many cyclists — myself included — believe their blood, and the blood of future victims, is on your hands as a result of your veto.

At the time of his veto, Brown said after talking to the CHP and Caltrans, he was worried about a provision that would require motorists who had to pass closer than three feet to slow down to 15 mph: “On streets with speed limits of 35 to 40 mph, slowing to 15mph to pass a bicycle could cause rear-end collisions. On other roads, a bicycle may travel at or near 15 mph, creating a long line of cars behind the cyclist.”

That reaction baffled advocates and the bill’s author Sen. Alan Lowenthal, who said the 15 mph was created to allow motorists to pass a cyclist at a close range safely. SF.Streetsblog said that Brown’s worst fears about the law were not realized in the other states where it passed.