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California now has a 3-foot Safe Passing law operational! 2014! Here are comments from the media:

North Coast Journal - Sept 16, 2014:
"Bill Burton, who founded Arcata’s Library Bike nonprofit and is director of (think: checking out a bike like a book), sent a happy but poignant note to the press today noting that the new Three Feet for Safety law goes into effect today, Sept. 16."..
.."Burton, who wrote the early versions of the bill and lobbied heavily for it, said the law contains “many compromises … [but] nevertheless today we get a good safe law initiated.” He said the law might reduce cyclist deaths by about half in California. (The California Department of Motor Vehicles estimates more than 100 cyclists are killed and hundreds of thousands hurt in bicycle collisions each year.) Burton listed some of his friends who died while bicycling when a vehicle violated their space and hit them, including Greg Jennings, hit on State Route 299 on his way home to Blue Lake from work in Arcata, and John Mello of McKinleyville who was hit on U.S. 101 near Trinidad."
The whole article is here:

Two years apart, century's improved!
2012 -2014 Portugal: 
- The country has adopted sweeping new bicycle safety laws, and the improvements are being felt. A motor vehicle must pass with 1.5 meter space. In a country where passing is a standard skill, expected, and road arrows show limits so safe passing space, the new law is not hard for motorist.  In fact a calm interaction between bikes and cars now exists on most rural roads.  
- Bikes may ride side by side, in groups.  The passing distance is shorter when the bikes group side by side, thus less time for cars to be in a passing zone or accelerating to pass a group.
- Bicycles have finally fully gained the right to be on the roads. In the past decade changes from an old system where pedestrians and bikes were at fault for any accident with a motor vehicle (motor vehicles had priority - 1990s).

Riding in Portugal in 2013 and riding here in 2014 this editor can sense the safer road interactions. In 2013 and before many vehicles skillfully buzzed the bike rider at just inches clearance.  The trucks would confidently hold there throttle in full action passing bicyclist. Some taxi and private cars would actually attempt ramming a bicyclist on the wrong side of a street, just to enforce road superiority in Lisbon.
Now, 2014, a calmer streets environment exists. Some passes are closer than the 1.5 meter law, but fewer and most skillfully done. More attempts by motorist are made to respect the other road users.  

Another feature of the new passing requirements is a "zone of coexistisance" on the road. If the driver can not give the 1.5 meter passing space, they must slow to a speed within 20 km/ hr of the bike riders, and may pass closer when safe.

Riding in Portugal has now become a relaxed transportation activity. Just a little change in space has gone a long way in advancing bicycling.

All these features have been discussed for California law, a least we will have some of the European vibe!

2014 - Ideas from Europe!
Last year members of the European Cycling Federation (ECF, 2012) met with me; they said keep politically going - get a One Meter Safe Passing law passed in California.  After two years of vetos from the Governor, the encouragement from the ECF helped, and we did go on, achieving a 3-Foot Safe Passing Law!

Now I am returning to Europe,,, with victory panels,,,and to pick up more inspiration.

Look here for European updates, stories of; Lisbon's bike-in restaurant,,,,,, riding on Brussels winter roads with studded tires,,, recycling quality 1980s road bikes at affordable prices,,, cell phones and high quality bike clothes that make riding in Europe easy,,, local food stops that expand your bike experience,,, riding with one wheel cargo trailers in Portugal and Belgium,,, trains that allow bikes onboard - some at 200mph do, some at 40mph do not,,,, Well, I'm looking forward to bringing you some Interesting pictures!

2013 - Success California!
3-Foot-Passing-Law Information:

Sept, 23, 2013
Governor Brown signed AB1371, the 3-Foot Safe Passing bill today!

From our Editor:

"I have needed this law for the past 40 years! The next generation of riders will enjoy a calmer interaction of motor vehicles and bikes as a decade of driver calming evolves.  Maybe now I can enjoy the classicical music I hear-imagine as I ride,,, on safer streets,,, not needing to check over my shoulder for every sound from behind...."

Sept. 23, 2013
Governor Brown signed the 3-Foot Safe Passing bill today,,, a day after receiving the Portugal comparison letter below:

"Sept, 20, 2013
Dear Governor Brown,
Please recognize we are serious about deaths and accidents on California roadways, where motor vehicles hit bicyclists. Our legislature has three times passed a 3-Foot Passing law; that is not an easy endeavor! Please now celebrate a safer California...

My safety and the safety of my loved ones are at risk from unsafe passing. I urge you to sign YES on AB 1371...

California can change some basic ways and be better than Portugal...

22 Portugal ideas for California:

A 24 hour tele-nurse phone for everyone.

Public military instalations are open to all. Even castles are open to the public.

Libraries set open to be attractive for waiting transit times.

Favored installation of solar electric with incentive payback 6 times market rate.

Narrower streets require less infrastructure investment.

Free trash collection in central bin spots saves space and favors localized recycling, and cleans public spaces.

Install orange trees for public fruit.

Have Welcome Centers at airports. Ones that speak other languages, and can reserve low cost travel housing

Have high school students run the Welcome Centers; with internet access and music- performance allowed there.

Allow outdoor drying of laundry.

Low-head hydro power has small impact with large electric power gain.

Install Roman road, stone, with permeable space between rocks. Modern layout with lazer is smooth, lifespan in hundreds of years, these roads are a no carbon product.

Have home care attendants that help old folks clean their homes and other general assisted living support.

Install wind power for electricity.

Repair train tracks for public service.

Ancient traveled paths may not be 
blocked by private land owners.

Houses may be rebuilt from ruins in remote rural areas without a permit.

Shepherds may move animals on public streets, with permits.

All people and modes may use roadways, including quad cycles, Vespa (slow/small) trucks, rotortiller vehicles, race vehicles, and all cyclists.

Bicycle loaning systems of the simplistic kind are supported.

Public water is available at every town center. 

Public Internet and wi-fi is available in every town.

Bus service to every town at least once in the morning and once at night.

School children are allowed to use the public transit system.

Portugal approved a 4.5-foot safe passing law for cars passing bicycles (1.5 meters)(2013).

All laws can be bent a little without being bad or criminal.

Bill Wright Burton

p.s. Food, Music and Hats could be better in California too!
But why does California need to be better than Portugal?
   BWB "

Maybe we need California to act on some of the other 22 items listed;
Governor Brown approved one,,,,, the 1-meter safe passing,whoops,,, the 3-feet safe passing law!

Truckers that regularly give safe space to cyclist:

Many trucking firms have been observed using professional driving practices of exceeding 3-foot space for cyclists. Some noted firms in California that respect cyclists  are noted here:
Altos Bros. Trucking
Humboldt Creamery
Brettendorf Trucking
Sierra Pacific Industries
Eagle Rock Quarry
Figas Construction
Redwood Crane Service, SF Bay Area
Los Robles Unified School District busses, Sacramento
Big Creek Lumber, Santa Cruz
Swift Trucking, Redding area

Sharing the Road, Passing, and Human Behavior:
The DMV states a bicyclist should use the center of the lane when roads are narrow. Their exact wording:
"If there is no shoulder or bicycle lane and the traffic lane is narrow, ride closer to the center of the lane. This will prevent motorists from passing you when there is not enough room. Bicyclists can travel at speeds of 20 mph, or faster. You should also use the traffic lane when you are traveling at the same speed as the traffic around you. This will keep you out of motorists’ blind spots and reduce conflicts with right-turning traffic."

Following the same logic, cars should move towards the center when conditions such as obstacles exist near the right side of the roadway (there is no logic in passing off the edge of roadway on the shoulder, where many times pavement is absent).

Thus the progress of faster motor vehicles approaching slower vehicles needs to be to the left of the slower vehicle, or to not pass the slower vehicle at all!  Progress is the key concept here.  

In Europe, on very narrow roads, the acceptance of quick safe passes has been mastered by human drivers. In England this is done regularly, on transposed road patterns (left hand drive), safely. So why is it imagined that Californians can not safely control their vehicles with passes over the center line?

Californians regularly pass over the center line to pass bicycles. Trucks regularly do a courteous maneuver of moving partially over the centerline to pass bicycles when safe to do so. This is already accepted progress behavior in California, yet against the law! Crossing the double solid lines for a pass is not allowed in this state. However crossing these lines is allowed for turns into driveways and other selected maneuvers.  So Californians cross the double solid center line as standard behavior, albeit illegal.
Standard behaviors that are not allowed include speeding, rolling through stop signs (The 'California Stop'), driving while talking on cellphones, and others.  Thus laws are made to curb these behaviors.  But curbing passing a slower vehicle when there is safe roadway to use is just a law that limits progress. Progress is the key here.

Wider roads may be argued for here, to pave space for every possible user.  Wide shoulders and/or separated bike lanes might be safer, but realistically the shared space model will be the ongoing norm, worldwide. 

Streets just need to be wide enough for the behavior of its users. Calm drivers passing bicyclist safely will continue, no matter the width, regardless of the state or agency (Caltrans) that built the facility.  Other states allow drivers over the solid lines to pass a bicycle. Safe human behavior, save driving, and respect for others can proceed left of the center line. Crossing the double solid lines to pass a bicycle will help transportation progress on key California roadways.

Today is May Day, and we have video of behavior of motorist who are unable to control their vehicle and pass with safe space:

United States 2008 Data, Bicycles:

In 2008, 716 pedalcyclists were killed and an additional 52,000 were injured in traffic crashes. Pedalcyclist deaths accounted for 2 percent of all traffic fatalities, and pedalcyclists made up 2 percent of all the people injured in traffic crashes during the year.


NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590

Today is Earth Day, April 22, and the 3-Foot Safe Passing Bill passed!

Assembly Bill 1371 passed the Assembly Transportation Committee with an 11 to 2 vote today - Earth Day!  The bill generated bipartisan support. Testimony was in support of the bill, including the Southern California AAA, Los Angeles Mayors Office, and Director Bill Wright Burton.  There was notice of positive interaction of the concerns of Caltrans and the insurance industry by Assemblymember Steven Bradford.  

The AB1371 bill moves on with the current support to the full assembly for their vote.

April 18, 2013

Assembly Bill 1371 has been updated and sent to the Assembly Transportation Committee for hearing on April 22, 2013.  A copy of the full text is available here:

We have reviewed changes and send the following letters to the committee and author:

AB 1371
Victoria Alvarez,
Assembly Transportation Committee

Dear Ms Alverez,

I am in support of AB 1371.

 I am the director of a bicycle organization that has over 4000 loaded Library Bikes in California.  The safety of bicycle riding in California is a major detractor for new riders. Many feel the road is too aggressive.

AB 1371 will reduce the aggressive interactions of cars and bike riders.

AB 1371 will add space to the roadway that commercial drivers can use to pass bicyclist also. I know 95% of the time there is safe road space  to pass on the other side of the centerline. This bill will legalize the currently illegal, but safe, behavior of commercial drivers crossing the centerline to pass bicyclist safely.

AB 1371 will reduce congestion on roadways, as more safe passing will be allowed.

Thank you,

Bill Wright Burton

April 18, 2013
Erasmus Viveros,
Legislative Aide for Assemblyman Steven Bradford

Re: AB 1371, 3-Feet for Safety bill

Dear Mr. Viveros,

Thank you for discussing AB 1371 with me last Tuesday.

I have read the april 8 revised bill AB 1371 and have found that it is not changed significantly from last years bill. The attempt to emphasize the responsibly of safe driving to the passing vehicle is logical.  This language is acceptable to me. However the words "regardless of the conditions of the roadway" is not absolutely logical, as there could be certain conditions or locations where roadway conditions contribute to an accident.  

Regarding the sections where "bodily injury" or "bodily harm" is described as the threshold to determine if a fine is due; I believe any time there is an injury to the cyclist (phycological , bodily, or financial injuries) the threshold is met, thus no need for the word "bodily".  I would prefer removal of the word "bodily" from two places in AB 1371 where it occurs.

I will be at the hearing on April 22, and I remember the rapid review speed the committee likes to proceed at.  Bonnie Lowenthal will efficiently move this bill towards success if her committee is satisfied.  At past committee reviews I have presented trucker support, as they tend to favor safe trucking interactions in traffic. The double lane crossing helps the truckers to have a new discretionary  road space for safe use. (I am also a licensed commercial truck driver, Class A, with doubles/triples endorsement).  I will be working on this support again.

The insurance industry wants a safer California also, and they may stay supportive with the new wording. I hope to find out more about their support or concerns.  

Thanks again,

Bill Wright Burton

Earlier News:

California Assemblyman Steven Bradford introduces 3 foot passing bill


Posted on March 27, 2013 by Richard Masoner

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Will the third time be the charm?

Steven Bradford of Gardena, California introduced Yet Another Attempt at a safe passing law by amending AB 1371. It has the usual safe passing with a minimum of three feet language we’ve seen in the previous two attempts introduced before by then-State-Senator Alan Lowenthal (who has moved on to the US House of Representatives). To overcome any possible bogus objections from the Governor’s office on this go around, Bradford includes precise language on how motorists should and should not pass when they’re driving past a bicycle. It also allows motorists to cross the double yellow centerline or double white lines (which mark “preferential use lanes” e.g. HOV lanes and bus lanes) to pass a cyclist when it’s safe to do so.

Give Me 3 Feet

Cyclists in California now call any hit-from-behind collision against a cyclist a “Jerry Brown,” in honor of Governor Jerry Brown’s vetoes of the two past attempts at a three foot passing law in California. Only Brown and Texas Governor Rick Perry have vetoed safe passing laws submitted to them. 22 states now have a safe passing law on the books.

You can follow the status of AB 1371 here. I’ve copied the text the bill’s legislative counsel digest, as amended, below. It provides a summary of how the bill would change state law.

An act to amend Sections 21460 and 21750 of, and to add Section 21750.1 to, the Vehicle Code, relating to vehicles.


Vehicles: bicycles: passing distance.

(1) Under existing law, a driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle or a bicycle proceeding in the same direction is required to pass to the left at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken vehicle or bicycle, subject to certain limitations and exceptions. A violation of this provision is an infraction punishable by a fine not exceeding $100 for a first conviction, and up to a $250 fine for a 3rd and subsequent conviction occurring within one year of 2 or more prior infractions.

This bill would recast this provision as to overtaking and passing a bicycle by requiring, with specified exceptions, the driver of a motor vehicle overtaking and passing a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction on a highway to pass in compliance with specified requirements applicable to overtaking and passing a vehicle, and to do so at a safe distance that does not interfere with the safe operation of the overtaken bicycle, having due regard for the size and speed of the motor vehicle and the bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, and the surface and width of the highway. The bill would prohibit, with specified exceptions, the driver of the motor vehicle that is overtaking or passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway from passing at a distance of less than 3 feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator. The bill would make a violation of these provisions an infraction punishable by a $35 fine. The bill would also require the imposition of a $220 fine on a driver if a collision occurs between a motor vehicle and a bicyclist causing bodily harm to the bicyclist, and the driver is found to be in violation of the above provisions.

(2) Existing law prohibits a person from driving a vehicle to the left of double parallel solid lines, or double parallel lines, one of which is broken, except as provided. Notwithstanding that prohibition, existing law permits a driver to cross those double parallel lines if the driver is turning to the left at any intersection or into or out of a driveway or private road or making a U-turn under the rules governing that turn.

This bill would prohibit a person driving a vehicle from crossing over any part of any double parallel solid white lines except in the above situations or when entering or exiting designated areas of exclusive or preferential use lanes, as provided. The bill would permit a driver of a motor vehicle to cross double parallel lines to pass a person operating a bicycle in the same direction, if in compliance with a specified provision.

Because this bill would create a new crime and would expand the scope of an existing crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

April 8, 2013,


MEASURE	:  A.B. No. 1371
AUTHOR(S)	:  Bradford.
TOPIC	:  Vehicles: bicycles: passing distance.
+LAST AMENDED DATE  :  03/21/2013

                Majority Vote Required
                State-Mandated Local Program
                Non-Tax Levy

LAST HIST. ACT. DATE:  04/01/2013
LAST HIST. ACTION   :  Re-referred to Com. on  TRANS.
HEARING DATE	:  04/22/2013

TITLE	:  An act to amend Sections 21460 and 21750 of, and to add
	Section 21750.1 to, the Vehicle Code, relating to

Click here to see the ab1371 bill:

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