Brown signs bike buffer law as SF wrestles with cyclist-motorist relations

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Missouri and other states have managed to enforce wider, stricter bike buffers than California's new three-foot rule.

It took three tries, but cycling advocates and California legislators were finally able to get Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature yesterday on a new law requiring motorists to give at least three feet of clearance when passing bicyclists.

We criticized Brown for vetoing a similar bill in 2011 when he raised concerns about slowing automobile traffic, and then he frustrated supporters of the bill last year when his veto-prompting issue was how the new bill encouraged motorists to cross a double-yellow line to pass cyclists when it was safe to do so.

This time, the compromise that won Brown over was a requirement that drivers slow down to a “reasonable and prudent” speed if they aren’t able to given cyclists a full three feet because of road conditions. That’s not ideal, but at least it’s finally becoming illegal for cars to zip closely past cyclists, a dangerous, unnerving, and unfortunately too common practice.

San Francisco has become an intriguing testing ground for cyclist-motorist relations as the number of people choosing to pedal to work, play, or on errands has exploded, based on both official stats and by simply observing Market Street at commute time, which is like a mini Critical Mass everyday, or the overflowing bike parking areas in downtown buildings.

The city is also now wrestling with anti-cyclists biases in law enforcement and among some political figures, which will be the subject of City Hall hearings next month. Certainly, there is bad behavior on the roads by both cyclists and motorists, and often times poor understanding by both about the rules of the road, particularly on those dangerous “right hook” turns when motorists cross a bike lane (motorists should signal, then pull all the way to the right when it’s their turn, and cyclists should pass on their left, taking the lane if necessary), which have resulted in at least two cyclist fatalities in SF this year.

This new law provides some much needed clarity and public awareness to an important public safety issue -- and it should be just the beginning of creating new laws and public education campaigns to help promote safe cycling and raise driver awareness of the need to slow down, pay attention, and share the roads. 

UPDATE: Dave Snyder, executive director of the California Bicycle Coalition, which worked on the new law, told us he expects more benefit from publicizing the new law than from police enforcing it.

"The main benefit is educational, just getting people who drive to give people on bikes plenty of space. I don't expect much enforcement," he told us. "There's a heckuva lot more that we need to do to make California bicyclists safer."

The main need he cited is more money for bike lanes, particularly those separated from automobile traffic: We ned funding to build bike networks so we dno't need to worry about being passed at high speed."

Comments

It would require the police to notice that the door mirror of a car was two feet and eleven inches away from the handlebars of a bike. Not easy to do at speed.

And surely we already have a law about "dangerous driving" so any vehicle that is too close to another vehicle can be cited because of that.

In the end though, you either hit a bike or you do not. Missing by two feet is missing.

One other thing too - I assume there is an exemption for cases which are an emergency i.e. a SUV swings into your path and so you swerve to avoid it.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 11:51 am

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 11:58 am

he feels can't be solved by passing a law or increasing a penalty. Except of course - the death penalty. That's a law he wants repealed and quickly!

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

about the massive amount of crime in the black and Hispanic community, which he blames whites and cops for, of course.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 1:51 pm
Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 1:27 pm

Jason Grant Garza here ... are we now "watering down" a very very very IMPORTANT set of facts? While the article states " The city is also now wrestling with anti-cyclists biases in law enforcement and among some political figures, which will be the subject of City Hall hearings next month. " It TRULY ignores (maybe hoping that it will not be necessary) ithat KIM is investigating INCORRECT FAULTY POLICE INVESTIGATIONS and METHODOLOGY http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2013/09/04/kim-calls-hearing-how-sfpd-inves... " Sup. Jane Kim today called for a hearing on how the SFPD investigates cyclist fatalities." To which if you look at the Kim article I wrote a blog in regard to a meeting to show paperwork, videotapes, etc on the CORRUPT Police Investigation Services ( similar to OCC, MOD, HRC, Sheriff, Police Commission .)

Today is 9/24/13 and would you be SURPRISED to KNOW that KI\M'S Office has NOT contacted me even after they MALTREATED me and my rights on 9.9.13 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xtqja9Up02A&feature=c4-overview&list=UUiG... where I am escorted out and when I returned on 9/19/13 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DogpfAUdBg4&feature=c4-overview&list=UUiG... and I STILL have NOT received an interview. Could the same (Failure of correct investigative procedure) be for KIM? You decide ... with the 'videos, paperwork, etc that I have ... NO MEETING as of yet? Due diligence ... isn't that WHAT KIM is investigating in the corrupt police investigations?

Keep drinking the KoolAid ....

Keep watching the videos to see IF i get a meeting with KIM.

My prediction ... business as usual ... no contact ... no proper followup ... more obscuring and NOT correcting failing faulty investigations to allow for the for the TRIPE that they care and HAVE DONE all possible.

Keep your eye on the PRIZE (accountability) for if not you'll just have another law with no ENFORCEMENT ...oh, that is right ...even this new law per the article will be difficult to enforce ... ha,ha,ha.

P.S. Per there is NO hearing scheduled next month see the 9/19/13 video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DogpfAUdBg4&feature=c4-overview&list=UUiG...

Keep drinking the KOOLAID.

Posted by Jason Grant Garza on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

There is no way to follow every law written, at a certain point cops don't give a shit about this petty shit so its as if there was no law at all.

The only purpose these laws serve is to give cops the ability to fuck with someone, as in the crime of burglary tools or women who might be hookers having condoms.

Leave it to progressobots to have the short term "me me me me" view on this.

Posted by area 51 on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

I'd rather the cops were chasing down real criminals than handing out tickets for being two feet and eleven inches from some weaving, wandering cyclist would wouldn't keep right.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

This is a civil rights gain for cyclists. Kudos to Dave and friends, good work.

Posted by marcos on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 7:06 pm

PS: Traffic regulations are not a civil rights issue because the use of public roads is a privilege and not a right.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 7:33 am

I'm pretty sure the use of public roads is in fact a right. Otherwise they'd be private.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2014 @ 5:46 pm

It's a privilege and not a right

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2014 @ 6:33 pm

Bicycling is an implicit right.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 30, 2014 @ 6:46 pm

How can driving be a privilege but riding a bike isn't?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2014 @ 7:15 pm

One needs a license to drive legally. Having a license to drive is a privilege, there is no right to a drivers license.

One does not need a license to bicycle, thus no privilege. One is allowed to bicycle wherever it is legal to drive except where expressly prohibited like most freeways.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 30, 2014 @ 7:41 pm

driving and cycling except that most jurisdictions have decided to regulate driving but not regulate cycling. That could change in the future and probably will, with training, testing licensing, registration and insurance all required for bicyclists as with drivers.

For that matter, even a pedestrian does not have unfettered access to public highways - jaywalking is a crime.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2014 @ 8:55 pm

So there is an implicit right to ride a bicycle under state law while driving is a privilege. In practice, bicycling is unregulated other than having to obey traffic rules in most circumstances while a drivers license requires passing through several regulatory hurdles commensurate with piloting two tons of metal at speed through the public thoroughfares.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 30, 2014 @ 9:41 pm

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