The California Assembly on Monday passed a bill authored by State Senator Alan Lowenthal that would mandate a 3-foot bicycle buffer zone for passing cars, an effort to reduce thousands of annual bike-vehicle fatalities.
Senate Bill 1464 passed 52-19 and would allow cars to cross the double yellow line to give cyclists enough room. The Senate will vote on the bill before it reaches Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.
Lowenthal's office released a statement that hailed the bill passage as a bipartisan effort which aims to reduce the more than 3,000 annual bike-vehicle deaths that occur on the state's roads.
The bill is aimed at reducing the more than 3,000 vehicle versus bicycle accidents that occur on state roads each year and which, in 2011, resulted in more than 100 cyclist deaths.
SB1464 "now moves back to the Senate for a routine concurrence vote before heading to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. The bill previously passed the Senate in a bipartisan 27-6 vote," Lowenthal's staff wrote.
"Californians are turning to bicycles more and more as both a form of leisure and for their daily commute," Sen. Lowenthal said. "SB1464 will give drivers the guidelines and incentive to more safely share the road with cyclists."
In addition, lawmakers approved AB 2245 on Friday, which would exempt new bike lanes being added along existing roadways throughout Los Angeles County from the California Environmental Quality Act. It was endorsed by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency and is expected to accelerate approval of some bike lane projects.
Across the region, cities and communities are adding dozens of miles of new bike lanes, and Long Beach has been ahead of this movement, having master planned the city of 50 square miles with bike paths. The on Second Street in Belmont Shore have attracted alot of attention, although they get mixed reviews by cyclists and locals.
There are now more than 200 miles of striped bike lanes across the city of Los Angeles, and more than 30 miles of bike and sharrow lanes are being added in Santa Monica alone.
Gov. Brown vetoed a similar bill in 2011 that would have required drivers to slow to at least 15 mph if they could not provide three feet of passing room. But, the 2012 amendment removed the 15 mph provision.
— Patch editors Jenna Chandler and Nancy Wride contributed to this report.