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3-foot passing bill returns

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As most of you know, we've reintroduced our 3-foot-passing legislation. Senate Bill 1464, once again authored by Long Beach Sen. Alan Lowenthal, was introduced in February. On Tues., April 17, SB 1464 will be heard in the Senate Transportation & Housing Committee, its first hearing.

SB 1464 overview

SB 1464 is nearly identical to SB 910: it requires drivers to give bicyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing from behind. It also authorizes drivers on two-lane roads to cross the solid double yellow centerline, when safe to do so, to give bicyclists at least three feet. You can read more about the bill here.

SB 1464 does not contain the exception found in SB 910 that required drivers to slow to 15 MPH when passing closer than three feet. The CHP opposed that provision, which was the reason Gov. Jerry Brown cited when he vetoed the bill. So for now SB 1464 doesn't make any exceptions to the three-foot requirement.

Yet all parties agree that a reasonable exception is needed. So instead of taking the 'prescriptive' approach we tried in SB 910, we've crafted a 'descriptive' exception closely modeled after California's basic speed law (CVC 22350): when a driver is unable to give a bicyclist three feet due to a substandard lane or other traffic or roadway conditions, he or she must slow to a reasonable and prudent speed. The exception also requires the driver to give the bicyclist the maximum amount of space feasible when passing.

We're confident this approach gives law enforcement the flexibility it needs to enforce the exception effectively -- enforcement is very important -- while addressing the concerns of the CHP and the governor. We'll submit this exception as an amendment to SB 1464 prior to the Apr. 17 hearing.

We need your support now

Most of your organizations supported SB 910, so I'm writing to ask you to support SB 1464 as well. You can do this by sending a letter of support for SB 1464 to the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee by next Tues., April 9. That's the day when committee staff prepares an analysis of the bill for members, which will include the number of letters for and against the bill, and the names of organizations supporting and opposing the bill. Letters from organizations carry special weight -- we need to hear from as many of you as possible.

Here's what you do: simply download a sample letter from our website, copy and paste it onto your letterhead, modify it as you wish, and email it back to us. We'll deliver copies to the committee and the author's office. Please send your letters to us no later than 5 PM on Monday, April 8.

If your State Senator serves on the Senate Transportation & Housing Committee, please also consider calling his or her district office to express your support before next Tuesday. A brief phone call is enough.

Next steps

Tomorrow we'll contact all individuals in our database to ask for support letters. You should also receive that alert -- please forward that alert to your members to maximize the response we get. Last year we generated an unprecedented number of letters for SB 910 and we need to re-engage that support in order to win passage of SB 1464.

If you have questions or feedback, please contact me at 916-446-7558 or jimbrown@calbike.org.

Thanks so much for your support!

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