Landmark Bike Legislation on CA Gov's Desk

California Bicycle Coalition's Jim Brown is busy carrying boxes of letters from his organization's office to the governor's offices. These letters, predictably, are all in favor of SB 910.

"I have them sorted, in an expandable folder, based on citizen support, letters from victims, victims' families, letters from medical personnel," said Brown. "The governor's staff gets letters, but they aren't used to getting boxes of letters."

SB 910 would finally bring California in line with 19 other states that have already passed a 3-foot law. This past week Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Governor Brown engaged in a lengthy telephone conversation, according to Brown, with the mayor urging passage of the bill, a version of which was unsuccessful during the 2007 legislative year. This bill has gotten to the finishing sprint, but, hasn't yet crossed the line.

The bill, sponsored by California State Senator Alan Lowenthal (27th District), would require motorists to grant cyclists a minimum of three feet in order to execute a pass. The law also grants motorists the legal right to cross a double yellow, if necessary to obtain this distance between vehicle and cyclist, but only when crossing the double yellow is safe.

The 3-foot minimum distance is waived for motorists when their vehicles are traveling at a speed no greater than 15 miles per hour.

The governor must by law sign or veto this bill by October 9, 2011, however, he may sign the bill at any time prior to that date, including today or over the weekend. Therefore, time would be of the essence for anyone to write a letter to the governor.

The California Bicycle Coalition (CBC) published a page on its website explaining the bill. The State of California's legislative website houses the bill's text.

Letters may be written via one of two easy ways. The CBC has a page, where a form letter has been drafted, and where a "P.S." to the letter can be added to express a note in the writer's own words.

Alternatively, the Governor's office has a page where emails can be sent, with a toggle that allows the sender to choose the topic. The toggle option is: "SB00910\Vehicles: bicycle: passing distance."

You may also choose simply to email your letter to the CBC, pybassing its form letter, by using its email address of In this case you can send your letter in the text of the email, or attach a printable pdf or doc file on your letterhead.

If you do choose to route your letter through the CBC, note that you may be placed on its mailing list. However, its outbound mailings have an unsubscribe utility, says Brown, in case you choose not to receive future mailings.

There is a very incomplete list of Slowtwitch articles further down this page that are germane to this issue.