Covid 19 has inflicted severe impacts across our country but it also highlighted cycling as the safest mode of transportation during the pandemic. When roads closed to vehicle traffic across the country, cyclists flocked to the roads and bike shops ran out of inventory. Covid 19 proved there is a huge potential cycling population if cyclists feel safe to ride on the roads. Sadly, road closures are temporary and separated bike lanes are interrupted by dangerous segments that most potential cyclists are unwilling to risk.
In their October 5, 2015 press release, “Three Feet For Safety – CHP Focusing on Keeping Cyclists Safe,” the CHP cited their partnership with us, we were previously known as 3FootCycling.com, and stated:
“As more Californians make bicycle riding their primary form of transportation or recreational sport, the CHP reminds our communities to focus on keeping cyclists safe by sharing our roadways. On average, in California over 13,000 cyclists are injured and over 140 are killed each year in traffic collisions. Last year in the Bay Area alone, over 2,700 cyclists were injured in collisions, and 21 cyclists were killed. It is our responsibility to ensure this number does not increase, and quite frankly, it is our responsibility to do all we can to prevent vehicle versus bicycle incidents from occurring.”
Those injury numbers are staggering yet Federal Highway Administration research stated up to 60% of cyclists that end up in emergency rooms due to motor vehicle collisions do not report to law enforcement. This was confirmed by National Transportation Safety Board findings stating “Police crash report data likely underestimate the scope of bicyclist nonfatal injuries.” This means the actual number of California cyclist injuries likely approached 30,000 per year.
The Governor’s Highway Safety Association tells us fear is the top reason preventing potential cyclists from riding on the roads. The National Highway Transportation Association (NHTSA) and the Pedestrian Bicycle Information Center’s (PBIC) August 2020 publication highlighted our work, explained the main components of potential cyclists’ fear are near misses and perceived risk, and that near misses “are overwhelmingly more frequent than collisions.” Just as importantly, and alarming to most of us, the publication went on to state “many officers are fortunate to get even an hour of training time focused on pedestrian and bicyclist laws or issues.”
To address these issues we are working on a bill that would include in the California Driver’s Handbook the importance of maintaining a safe distance from pedestrians and bicyclists, and would include in the California driver’s license examination requirements, knowledge and understanding of the provisions of the Vehicle Code governing maintaining a safe distance from bicyclists and pedestrians. This bill would also define the offense of reckless driving to include driving such that the clearance from any part of the vehicle poses a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of a bicyclist or pedestrian.
Cities and counties across California have adopted Climate Change Action Plans, Complete Streets Resolutions and Bike/Pedestrian Master Plans that all call for less driving and more walking and biking. They all state safety is their top goal. Our bill will help ensure pedestrians and cyclists are kept safe on our roads.
For this bill to pass we need your support!
Please add your name to the petition below to help us keep cyclists and pedestrians safe!
Law enforcement typically doesn’t enforce the three foot law because it’s just a $35 infraction.
I support a stronger law that will change driver behavior of coming too close to cyclists and pedestrians.
While I was biking on Broadway in Oakland (which has painted bike lanes in places), a car suddenly crossed into my lane without signaling. I jammed on the brakes to avoid a collision, flew over the handlebars, and landed on my face.
The driver stopped and called the police and an ambulance. What followed was fourteen hours in a trauma center and seven weeks of recovery from arm and wrist fractures.
Thanks to cyclistvideoevidence.com, I always ride with a camera, and the recording makes it clear who was at fault.
What I learned from this accident is that unprotected bike lanes are ineffective for keeping cyclists safe.
Even in communities with great bicycle infrastructure, cyclists will always be forced to compete for space on roads because cyclists will always have to share some of those roads with drivers.
Drivers often take advantage of their larger size and more powerful vehicles, sometimes unintentionally but sometimes in a very mean spirited way.
Bullying is a precursor to more dangerous behavior.
We need tools like this legislation to “nip dangerous driving in the bud” before this aggressive behavior leads to collisions.
Thank you so much for this effort!
Great point Bruce Dughi. I would like to remind traffic officials of a time when then World Champion road racer Greg Le Mond was harassed by a motorist. When his bullying didn’t work, he got out of his truck with a pistol and threatened him and several of my friends. When they called for police none came. In fact, when they went in person to the Sheriff’s office of Eldorado County it seemed that no one would take action – until the Sheriff’s own son pointed out that Le Mond was the person on his poster in his bedroom.
Even that wasn’t enough, rather at that point they discovered that the Canadian Nation Champion was also in the group, so now they feared an International Incident.
They finally arrested the gunman – but let him out the next day and gave him his gun back.
Upon his release he took his gun and shot his brother-in-law through the head as he lay in a hospital bed.
Sometimes we need to take hostility towards those who are unarmed a little more seriously
I was hit by a vehicle while riding legally in the lane and the driver was not cited, even though there were witnesses and I had video of the incident.
Current law does not adequately protect cyclists on our roadways.
Not too long ago a Union City police car passed me with about 18” of clearance. Unfortunately my camera had recently failed.
Yes we need a law like this and it must be advertised and included in driving tests.
This legislation would make critical strides forward in protecting cyclists and pedestrians – both through education and enabling enforcement.
Without these protections, pedestrians and cyclists are often unable to hold motorists accountable for their actions that cause extreme harm and death.
Currently, acts by motorists who do not exercise great care when operating their vehicles near cyclists and pedestrians are often simply ignored. This has to stop. Disregard for human life cannot be tolerated. And if we want to not only protect human life but also encourage everyone to find alternate means of transportation that do not harm the environment, we need to make the roads safer.
Thanks for putting forth this important legislation.
I recently has a motorist pass me and three other cyclists at 40 mph, 4” from my shoulder. I caught very good rear and front video of the incident, including the license number. When I reported it to the police they were unresponsive, not feeling that this assault was something they wanted to waste their time on.
We need more driver education and laws that make it clear that the kind of behavior I experienced is assault and deserves serious enforcement.
Thanks for working toward this goal.