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POLL: Do You Support a 3-Foot Rule for Motorists Passing Bicyclists?

SB 1464 is up for a vote in the state Assembly on Friday, requiring automobiles to give a minimum 3-foot clearance when passing a bicyclist. What do you think? Take our poll and tell us in the comments.

West Hollywood is getting more bicycle friendly all the time. Bike lanes were recently added along San Vicente Boulevard and more are planned on other streets. Meanwhile the and a push is on to .

Now comes word that Sacramento lawmakers may be doing something to make the entire state more bike friendly.

SB 1464 would make it a legal requirement for automobiles to give bicyclists a minimum clearance of 3 feet when passing. The proposed state bill has been approved by the California Senate and is up for a vote by the state Assembly this Friday. 

The California Assembly Transportation Committee voted in favor of the bill in June. An earlier version of the bill was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown because it would have required motorists to reduce their speed to at least 15 mph if providing 3 feet of passing space was not possible. 

Do you support SB 1464? Vote in our poll and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Matt Baume August 23, 2012 at 08:38 PM
This isn't just good for bicyclists -- it's good for everyone. Currently, drivers don't really know how much space they should give bikes when passing. Putting it into law makes it clear, so there's no more confusion or question.
William Margold August 23, 2012 at 08:53 PM
But what about bicyclists who arrogantly tempt fate by coming way too close to motorists? Forcing a driver to worry about another annoying problem is simply going to cause more traffic jams and accelerate more incidents of "road rage." If West Hollywood really wants to even the playing field, it should initiate city-wide bike license fees, and crack down on those clowns who persist on peddling away recklessly on sidewalks.
Todd Bianco August 24, 2012 at 02:19 PM
While it's a lovely thought to always allow a bicycle 3 feet of space, in practice, it's nearly impossible. Most of our streets were designed to barely fit one or two anes of traffic with cars parked by the curb. Where is that extra 3 feet coming from? And slowing to 15 mph when passing with less than 3 feet clearance? Good luck with that one too. There is also the issue of scofflaw bicycle riders. Most blow stop signs and even skirt around red lights. Some ride on sidewalks, which is unsafe for pedestrians. Many times a bicycle rider deliberately blocks the right traffic lane so cars have to go around. Packs of riders take up a full traffic lane, which isn't great for either the riders or drivers. If you eliminate all on-street parking along major arteries and put in bike-only lanes it would work. But you can't take away the street parking as there is no place to park all the cars of business patrons, workers and residents. It's a well-intentioned law that is completely unenforceable or even remotely practical. The answer may be better and more frequent driver education requirements as well as required bike safety training.
Manny August 24, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Does the law also ask bicyclists to allow a three feet clearance when passing an automobile? If so, they should add motorcycles to that and a three feet clearance when a bicyclist passes a pedestrian on the sidewalk.
Robb August 24, 2012 at 03:13 PM
I think it's smart legislation, however for L.A. may be impractical at this time. Our roads are congested with vehicles in motion as well as parked vehicles and to give a bicycle rider three feet of space may mean the automobile driver will have to drive into the opposite lane. Many of the streets I drive now there's barely enough room for two cars to pass. Although for other parts of California it would seem like a fair law.
David August 24, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Oftentimes it can be very difficult to do.Take for example Nichols Canyon Road.On Sundays there's usually a group of about 50 bicyclists the pedal up Nichols Canyon Road.If a car is in the back it's next to impossible to pass these people especially on the hills.Also Nichols Canyon Road is a very narrow twisting road.It's in my opinion a very dangerous road to traverse on.Therefore I don't think bicyclists should be allowed on Nichols Canyon Road.
Paul August 24, 2012 at 06:02 PM
People should just start riding bikes or horses and then the air will smell better. I hate all the pollution!
K. Burton August 24, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Todd, your comments raise several important issues on which there is much confusion. The most important is that state law requires motorists to pass bicycles as they would another vehicle, meaning they have to partially or fully leave the lane when necessary. The California "Three Feet for Safety Act" follows the lead of 21 other states and the city of L.A. in simply specifying a legally acceptable passing distance, and 3 ft. isn't much! Furthermore the law has a provision to "permit a driver of a motor vehicle to cross double parallel lines to pass a person operating a bicycle". Most motorists already allow more than 3 ft. when passing at high speed, and slow down if they have to get closer, so it won't be much of a burden to mandate that drivers "slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent" so as not to "endanger the safety of the operator of the bicycle". State law also allows bicyclists to take the full lane when necessary to avoid hazards, and signage to that effect is coming to streets near you. Bicycling on sidewalks is specifically allowed in most of West Hollywood (except where there are bike lanes) and all of Los Angeles, but that's no excuse for those bicyclists who don't yield to pedestrians. You are right to call for more driver and bicyclist education, because it's obvious that in-depth knowledge of cars or bikes doesn't imply an understanding of safe practice or the law.
Brian Hamilton August 24, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Fine, if we're going to pass this law--but I also want language that forbids a bicyclist from coming within three feet of a pedestrian on the street or the sidewalk! I am tired of being nearly clipped by a bicyclist speeding down the sidewalk, often when there's a bike lane a yard away, without regard to the safety of the pedestrians. In WeHo we have bicycle lanes. Use them! Stay off the damn sidewalks.
Chloe Ross August 24, 2012 at 08:36 PM
I have ridden a bicycle for transportation and I have ridden in NYC. I am very much a fan of this excellent vehicle. BUT, having said this - I think there needs to be a Uniform Code for bicyclers that all bicyclers should follow. However tempting (and it is) to ride on the sidewalks, swerve around cars or not follow the rules of the road in general - I object to SB1464. A friend of mine was hit by a bicycle making an illegal turn and it caused seriously damage. I hugely respect bike riders who ride their bikes civilly. And I think automobile drivers could take a hint from this - but the street are often narrow and unless the bikers observe the rules of the road 100% and the cars do as well - I think this law may cause some serious problems. Let us not even mention skateboards :}
Todd Bianco August 24, 2012 at 09:09 PM
I think you're right, Chloe, this new law is problematic. Just look at Fountain Avenue, It's narrow at points, wider at others, but there is parking on both sides of the street and not much room between the parked cars and the driving lane. There are those parts of Fountain that narrow so much that a bicyclist has to be in the same space as the car lane. With no middle median for left turns, there is little space to go except into another lane and worse, veer into opposing traffic. I am very conscious of bicyclists when I drive as well as when I park on a street and open my door. But i see more dangerous bicyclists than safe ones. How about the ones riding against traffic? I see that all the time. The ones on sidewalks is just wrong too as it's very dangerous to pedestrians. I see bicyclists weave between lanes of cars that are stuck in traffic and take left turns with motor vehicle traffic but also blow through crosswalks nearly hitting pedestrians. This is just to say that many areas of WeHo/LA are just not bicycle friendly. I spend many weekends in Palm Springs and it's a much better city for bicycles. There are miles of dedicated bike lanes (the best way to ride a bicycle) and the streets are generally very wide and well-paved so there is plenty or room for everyone. It all comes down to obeying laws and being courteous. This law doesn't fix that problem.
Paul August 24, 2012 at 09:10 PM
You have to ride on the side walk because it is dangerous bike riding on the street. Dumb, foolish rule West Hollywood passed making it illegal! One can ONLY hope if one of those fools who made that decision does not find themself hurt after they get run by a car while bike riding around town. Regarding pedestrians, I always say excuse me letting them know I am coming through and to move it. A little consideration goes a long way in this world.
me August 24, 2012 at 11:17 PM
"letting them know i am coming through and to move it. A little consideration goes a long way"......MOVE IT????.....HA-larious!!!!
Chloe Ross August 25, 2012 at 05:03 PM
My question is simpler - is a bicyclist a driver or pedestrian? Can they ride on sidewalks and drive on roads or are they vehicles? And what about younger adults who have just graduated from the park to the street. I find it confusing But spent much time on a bike in my teens and in NYC and really love them - they are non-polluting and efficient and great exercise. Perhaps we need a Uniform Bicycle Code to define the terms and set out the guidlines. And an easy to read and easy to understand one - no legal mumbo jumbo to confuse readers. Just a great code and rules of the road for bikes. And for riders under a certain age.
Paul August 25, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Best to go back to horses and biking and use what they did back before cars like trollies, trains etc....... That would solve a lot of the worlds woes.
Brian Hamilton August 25, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Bicycle riders are subject to many of the same laws as motorists under the CA Vehicle Code: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/vc/tocd11c1a4.htm
Todd Bianco August 25, 2012 at 08:38 PM
I went to UCSB and lived both on campus and in Isla Vista. The entire campus as well as IV is built for bicycles and I enjoyed the whole experience. There were bike cops on campus to make sure people were following the yield signs and not screwing up the bike traffic which was very heavy any given school day. Most of us had cars, but we simply parked them in a lot and used them to go into Santa Barbara or Goleta to get stuff. The rest of the time, it was all bikes and bikes always were given a right of way. Unfortunately you can't replicate that experience in LA or WeHo and I gave up riding a bike here (1) because I can walk to almost anything I need and (2) it's just too dangerous. I know that bicyclists are covered in the CA vehicle code, but few know the rules and even fewer abide by them. Again it comes back to education of both drivers and bike riders, future planning that includes bike paths and common road courtesy. That's probably too much to hope for.
Paul August 29, 2012 at 04:33 PM
I wish people would give up driving cars and ride bikes or horses so the air wouldn't smell bad.
Paul August 29, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Also, if people rode bikes instead of driving cars there wouldn't be so many fat people in the world.
Brian Hamilton August 29, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Well, that's not universally true. :-) www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151154813252754&set=o.112110435551837
Cino September 29, 2012 at 12:58 AM
As a cyclist I think there should be as much concern about cyclists who cause just as many accidents as motorists. I have seen bikers ignore all rules of the road and carelessly cause accidents then blame the motorists.

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