Friday, October 5, 2012

California Governor Vetoes 3-foot Bicycle Passing Bill

The new California bill that was approved by the State’s Senate last month was recently vetoed by the Golden State’s Governor, Jerry Brown.

The bill called SB 1416, which would supposedly require vehicle drivers to yield 3 feet of space to bicyclists on the road particularly when they are passing from behind, was returned unsigned to legislature last September 28.

Nevertheless, Gov. Brown explained his part about vetoing the bill to the California State Senate. In his memo quoted below, Gov. Brown noted:

“Crossing a double yellow line is an inherently dangerous act that increases the risk of head-on collisions. When a collision occurs, it will result in a lawsuit where the state is likely to be sued as a ‘deep pocket.’ By making it legal to cross a double yellow line, that weakens the state’s defense to these lawsuits,”

Incidentally, the said bill expressly allows vehicle to cross a double yellow line, according to Gov. Brown. He also added that although he approved of better bicycle safety, legally permitting vehicles to cross a double yellow line when passing would eventually expose California lawsuits that might stem from head-on collisions.

Furthermore, Gov. Brown also noted that the state’s Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) had recently offered amendments to the proposed bill that would protect the state from possible lawsuits. However, rumors have it that the bill’s author, Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) is more likely to disagree to the changes of the bill.

It could be recalled that last year, a similar bill was likewise passed in the State Senate but was similarly vetoed by the California governor due to its speed limit requirement. As a result of which, advocates of the said bill removed the speed limit and then introduced this modified one, which was recently denied by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Meanwhile, a Los Angeles bike accident lawyer here speculates that probably the next bill favoring bicyclists’ safety on the road would be customized enough to pass the Governor’s strict approval after it has been denied a couple of times.