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Thursday, September 4, 2014

People Power of Santa Cruz County Launches "I Give 3 Ft" Safety Campaign

California’s new bike-passing law takes effect Tuesday, Sept. 16 and many motorists aren’t aware of the new requirements, so People Power of Santa Cruz County, the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency (HSA), and the California Bicycle Coalition are launching a safety campaign urging motorists to pass bicyclists safely by giving at least 3 feet of clearance when passing. On Tuesday, Sept 16, California joins twenty-five other states with similar laws.

People Power and HSA are hosting a press event on September 16th at 10 AM at Santa Cruz City Hall, to encourage widespread education of motorists and cyclists on the new law. The event will feature local elected officials, the Watsonville and Scotts Valley Police Departments, and the Capitola AAA office.
“This bill will be a powerful educational tool in Santa Cruz County,” says People Power Director Amelia Conlen. “People on bikes are often passed dangerously close, especially on our rural roads. The new law gives us the opportunity to talk to drivers and cyclists about how to interact safely.”

“More and more Californians are discovering that bikes are an easy, healthy, and fun way to get around, but it’s unnecessarily dangerous sometimes when a motorist passes too closely,” said Dave Snyder, the executive director of the California Bicycle Coalition, whose organization advocated for the bill to remind motorists that three feet is the minimum clearance necessary for safety. Bicyclists need some “wiggle room,” Snyder said, to safely avoid a pothole or road debris without having to worry about getting hit by a passing car.

At least three cyclists have been killed in automobile collisions in Santa Cruz County in the past year.

AB 1371 was signed into law last September. When it takes effect, violators will face a $35 fine plus fees, or a $220 fine -- $959 with fees -- if a collision occurs. Where a violation results in a collision that injures a bicyclist, the law will be valuable because it establishes a basis for citing the driver for unsafe passing.

People Power is providing free bumper stickers and window clings to motorists who want to put them on their car to remind other motorists of the need to pass safely. Visit the press event to pick one up.

For more information, please contact Amelia Conlen, People Power Director, at (831) 425-0665 or director AT peoplepowersc DOT org