Hopes of the Governor signing the watered down “3 Feet Bill“, or Senate Bill 1464 by Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, were dashed when he vetoed the bill on new-found fears of state liability in the event of a collision. The governor wrote in his veto message that, “Crossing a double yellow line is an inherently dangerous act that increases the risk of head-on collisions”, and noted that the law could result in the state being sued if such collisions occurred. While the section allowing drivers to cross a double yellow traffic marking remains unchanged from its first incarnation, and having been vetted by both houses twice, the Governor’s fear of lawsuit, (or protecting the assets of the state depending on your view) prevented him from signing the Bill into Law.
About 20 other states have a “3 Foot Rule” so there must be some precedent to indemnify the state from motorist collisions resulting from passing a person riding a bike.
The good news, at least in Sacramento, is that new census figures show less cars being used in the Sacramento area according to an article in the Sacramento Bee. Highlights of the article:
- number of households without a car in the Sacramento-area rose more than 25 percent from 43,700 in 2007 to 55,600 in 2011
- More than 90 percent of Sacramento-area workers who make more than $25,000 annually and bike to work, also own a car, census figures show.
So despite the lack of a 3 foot safety buffer, there are less drivers likely to infringe on a bike rider’s “space”, and even people that own a car are using their bicycles more. The decreasing number of drivers, or those willing to drive is shrinking the states’ revenue stream from motor vehicle operation.
And we pointed out in an earlier opinion, the trend in decreasing motor vehicle use will create a funding gap for the nation and the state, that will trickle down to the city that we illustrated here.
Perhaps with this growing realization, the Governor signed Assembly Bill 2189 by Democratic Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, Los Angeles, giving undocumented immigrants the right to legally drive in California.
Documents expected to be provided by the President’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program were not approved by California’s list of specific documents to obtain a drivers license, and this Bill adds the documents to the list, thus enabling the undocumented to become documented licensed drivers. Voila! A short lived artificial stimulant is created by increasing the number of people who can legally drive in the state. With the veto of SB1464, are bike riders at risk from these new drivers anymore than they already are?
Assemblyman Cedillo contends that issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants will enhance public safety by ensuring that they are trained and tested, and making it more likely that they will buy insurance. Or not, as the state of New Mexico discovered after passing a similar law.
From the article, New Mexico State Rep. James White said,””The law was originally designed to increase the number of insured drivers and there really is no evidence that has happened.”
Considering AB 2189 may affect as many as 400 – 450,000 undocumented immigrants in the President’s program, Assemblyman Cedillo figures it would apply to less than one in every four undocumented immigrants in California.
All these “new” drivers are more customers for the gas pump and car market to slow the rate of diminishing revenue to state coffers.
While it would be nice for California to join the growing list of states more interested in their citizen’s safety than maintaining the status quo, commonsense should prevail among road users so that everyone makes it home safely. Statistically speaking, it is still safer to ride your bike down the street than it is to walk across it.