91.4 Centimeter Law Moving to Passage

California Bicycle Coalition created a "Give Me 3" campaign to promote the proposed three-foot law.

For those of you who don’t know the metric system, 91.4 centimeters is three feet, and that’s the distance motorized vehicles will have to give cyclists when passing if the bill in the California legislature becomes law.

Senate Bill 910 was introduced by Assembly Member Bonnie Lowenthal, 54th District, which makes up parts of Long Beach, Palos Verdes (nice area), and Catalina Island (not much traffic here). Bonnie chairs the state’s transportation committee.

Will the U.S. ever adopt the metric system instead of giving it lip service? In 1999 we lost the Mars Climate Orbiter because someone used English rather than a Metric number in a calculation. Doh! But I digress.

I support the bill if only because it removes the lamest of excuses used by motorists: “I can’t pass because I’d cross the double yellow line.” The law makes it legal to cross. It takes two seconds to pass, unless it’s lots of riders, and that happens. There are a handful of super-narrow roads in the Santa Cruz Mountains that can be a problem, especially for someone driving an SUV, which is a good reason not to drive an SUV on Summit Road.

There’s a modest fine associated with breaking this law, but seeing it enforced? Dream on. I’d really like to see it applied to motorcyclists who buzz me on Hwy 9 all the time. That’s bad form coming from a two-wheeled compatriot.

However, where this bill really shines is when it comes to cyclists who get injured. Read on: “The bill would make it a misdemeanor or felony if a person operates a motor vehicle in violation of the above requirement and that conduct proximately causes significant or substantial physical injury or death to the bicycle operator.”

Believe it or not, it is not a crime to maim a cyclist, just a driving infraction. That will change with this law. I’m all for it.

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