This Action Alert is from Dan Snyder, Relaunch Director and CEO of the California Bicycle Coalition. Let's all help support the passage of this important bill!

Senate Bill 910 (Lowenthal) would require motorists to give bicyclists at least 3 feet of clearance when passing from behind under most circumstances.

Next week SB 910 will be heard by the full Senate and we want to ensure that it receives strong support. So we're asking bike advocacy organizations and individuals throughout the state to send their own letters of support to their state senators.

This is especially important in districts with Republican senators — so far SB 910 has not received a single Republican vote. We're baffled by those who choose to treat this as a partisan issue: in eight of the 18 other states with 3-foot passing laws, Republican governors — including such prominent figures as Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal and Jeb Bush — signed them into law. In Kansas and Georgia, where 3-foot passing laws were enacted in just the past six weeks, the legislation was authored and signed by Republicans.

You can help us ensure the strongest possible vote for SB 910 by sending a support letter to your state senator. Simply copy and paste the letter below, modify it with the senator's name, State Capitol office number and fax number (using this roster), and send it by fax or email no later than next Tuesday, May 31.

We've already begun contacting organizations, clubs and bike industry figures in the districts of Republican Senators Sam Blakeslee (District 15) and Tony Strickland (District 19), both of whom have been supportive of bicycling in the past. Big thanks to Dan Rivoire in San Luis Obispo, Ed France in Santa Barbara and Corinne Winter in San Jose for their help with this effort.

Copy, paste, and personalize this letter:

May 27, 2011

State Capitol, Room NUMBER
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: SB 910 (Lowenthal) – SUPPORT

Dear Senator LAST NAME:

I'm writing on behalf of YOUR ORGANIZATION to urge you to vote yes on Senate Bill 910 (Lowenthal) when it comes before the full Senate next week.

Bicyclists too often face dangerous conditions on California's streets due to motorists passing too closely. When this happens, the slightest error by the motorist or the most minor shift by the bicyclist to avoid trash, broken glass or rough pavement can lead to a collision. This type of collision is the leading cause of adult bicyclist fatalities in California and the U.S.

By requiring motorists to give bicyclists more space when passing, we can minimize a leading cause of deadly collisions and help more people feel comfortable about choosing to ride their bikes.

SB 910 will require motorists to give bicyclists at least 3 feet of space when passing from behind under most circumstances. The bill modifies existing state law that requires a motorist to maintain an unspecified “safe” distance when passing another motorist or a bicyclist. Three feet is already the recommended passing distance in the California Driver's Manual.

Eighteen other states have already enacted a specified minimum passing distance for motorists. In just the past six weeks, Republican governors Sam Brownback of Kansas and Nathan Deal of Georgia signed 3-foot passing bills into law. Oklahoma is currently debating stiffer penalties for the 3-foot passing law it enacted in 2006.

A specified passing distance provides a more objective and easily understood measure of what constitutes “safe” and gives law enforcement and the courts a more objective basis for enforcing California's safe passing requirement. Most importantly, it helps emphasize a motorist's special responsibility to safeguard more vulnerable road users like bicyclists.

I hope we can count on your support.