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Cyclists across the city and around the state are pushing for cooperation from authorities and legislation that will improve the safety of bicycle transit in urban areas.

At the local level, the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition met last week with various San Diego Police Department representatives to voice concerns over bicycle safety, especially concerning sharing roadways when riding near the curb is impractical. The meeting resulted in a memorandum refreshing officers on the law being issued by assistant chief Boyd Long of Patrol Operations. The memorandum is currently posted on BikeSD.org’s website.

Statewide, SB 910 has passed in the Senate and is awaiting approval on the Assembly floor. The measure would change existing law to require motorists overtaking a cyclist to give a minimum three feet of clearance when passing. Failure to comply would result in a $35 fine, or $220 if the cyclist crashes and sustains injury as a result of unsafe passing. Full text of the bill is available here.

Cyclists welcome the addition of the three-foot rule, as they frequently have to contend with car doors unexpectedly swinging open when traversing crowded streets between moving and parked cars.

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Comments

billdsd Aug. 28, 2011 @ 10:52 a.m.

Fortunately, most drivers already leave at least three feet when passing bicyclists.

Unfortunately, some people just don't get it. Some are too clueless to realize how dangerous it is to pass closely or even realize that they are passing closely. Some people are psycho enough to pass closely even though they know it's dangerous because they want to intimidate bicyclists out of the road.

California already has a law making it illegal to pass closely. It's CVC 21750, which is being amended by this bill because some people, including law enforcement, seem to think that as long as they don't actually hit a bicyclist, that's good enough to be considered a safe distance. It isn't good enough and soon the law is going to make the minimum safe distance an explicit distance. Better definitions are needed to remove the confusion.

Let's hope that this law gets enforced.

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Twister Aug. 28, 2011 @ 1:46 p.m.

Bicyclists should ALWAYS ride on the right, well clear of the maximum point at which a car door might be opened, but should ALWAYS ride as far to the right as is safe under existing conditions.

Drivers should understand that this is absolutely necessary, as many bicyclists are spooked when a car door opens and may swerve to the left, right if front of your car. Even if you are found blameless, you still will have to live with having killed or injured someone. Cars should pass (even briefly crossing single yellow, yellow-dashed, or double or double-double yellow lines) when it is safe to do so. Vehicles should always drive just inside the left boundary (stripe or median) to leave as much clearance as possible, not only for bicyclists, but to maximize sight-distance to avoid children, cats, and other animals as well as the ubiquitous damned-fools. (If you are constantly encountering close-calls caused by damned fools, adjust your mirror (when it is safe to do so).

Bicyclists should always yield to vehicular traffic as a matter of the common courtesy that they have a right to expect from vehicle operators. Bicycle riders should never be "salmon," riding against traffic.

Police officers should never cite vehicle operators for minor "breaches" of the letter of the law when using common sense in the interest of safety. Enforcers of foolish consistencies should be challenged in court, and should receive stern warnings from the bench about lacking judgment, including an admonishment that the judge never wants to see the officer back in court for a similar petty pinch. A police officer who cannot apply a reasonable man/woman test in any situation should be busted to temporary latrine detail on the second offense, and drummed off the force as an embarrassment to fellow officers and the department upon the third.

All drivers should understand that a bicycle has all the rights of any other vehicle, and all bicyclists should understand that it always wise to avoid combat with bigger vehicles and their drivers.

You may be a spoiled brat if:

  1. You become incensed when you are inconvenienced, whether you are a bicyclist or motorist or in any other situation in life.

See my related blog: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

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billdsd Aug. 28, 2011 @ 5:15 p.m.

Riding to the far right is quite frequently dangerous.

You mention car doors, but did not explain it well. It is not possible for bicyclists to always see motorists sitting inside a parked vehicle. It is illegal for motorists to open a door in front of a bicyclist or any other traffic but they still do it anyway. In order to be safe, smart bicyclists maintain at least 5 feet from parallel parked cars. It is a hazard that makes it unsafe to keep far right and so it counts as an exemption from the far right requirement under CVC 21202(a)(3). Boyd Long, Assistant Chief of Patrol Operations for SDPD recently issued a memo reminding officers that the door zone qualifies as an exception under CVC 21202(a)(3).

http://www.bikesd.org/2011/08/sdpd-issues-bicycle-traffic-enforcement-guide-to-patrol-and-traffic-officers/

Another extremely common circumstance where it could be dangerous to keep far right is when the lane is too narrow for a bicycle and a car the share safely side by side within the lane. This is an explicit exemption named in CVC 21202(a)(3) and so bicyclists do not have to keep far right in lanes that are too narrow for safe sharing. According to most safety experts, the minimum width of a lane which is safe for side by side sharing by a car and a bicycle is 14 feet. Most outside lanes are 12 feet or less. It's actually rare that the right lane is wide enough for safe lane sharing. When it is, they usually install a bike lane.

When a bicyclist rides far right in a narrow lane, some drivers will try too hard to stay in the lane or as much in the lane as they can and they end up passing very close. Two of my friends have been hit this way and I had more close calls than I care to remember before I learned to take over the lane in this situation. Since I've been controlling the lane in narrow lanes, I almost never get close passes.

Always yielding to motor vehicles doesn't always make sense. I like to use my bicycle for transportation and my right to get to work or home is no less important than that of a motorist. I follow the right of way rules as they are. I have the same rights as a motorist. I yield when the rules say to. I don't when they don't. I behave as much like a vehicle as I can, except that I obey the rules more than most motorists.

http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/index.htm http://www.sdcbc.org/classes.htm

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