Amend the California Vehicle Code to allow motorists to cross a double yellow center line to pass a bicyclist, when safe to do so, as several other states already allow.
Matthew O’Neill, an experienced ultra-distance cyclist, was struck and killed by a teenage driver in Santa Maria, California on August 9, 2014. Matthew was riding legally and visibly on a straight section of a rural country road with double-yellow lines. The driver told police that he had seen the cyclist.
Matthew was just about to be awarded his doctorate in Special Education, Disabilities, and Risk Studies, and his family and friends want to keep Matthew's legacy alive by helping to prevent this tragedy from happening to another cyclist. To celebrate the life and dedication of this amazing man, we ask that you sign our Change.org petition to amend the California Vehicle Code.
Although the recent implementation of California's 3 Feet for Safety Act has clearly informed motorists of the need to leave sufficient space when passing cyclists, it still does not fully address the needs of cyclists nor of motorists when it comes to narrow two-lane roads with long sections of double-yellow lines. Currently it is not legal for faster motorists to pass slower cyclists over a double yellow line, even when safe to do so.
The majority of roads in California, and almost all two-lane roads, have lanes that are 10’ to 12’ wide, too narrow for cyclists to safely share side-by-side with motor vehicles. Here's why:
A bicycle is a two wheeled articulated vehicle that remains upright by balance. A cyclist is approximately 2' wide, and requires at minimum 12" on either side for balance and minor obstacle avoidance. Assume a 4' minimum operating space for a bicyclist, the operating width used by the AASHTO design manual and the guidelines set forth by the Federal Highway Administration.
If you add the 4' operating space for a cyclist to the 3' required for minimum legal safe passing clearance and 8.5' (*excluding* mirrors) maximum vehicle width in California you come up with 15.5'. Most lanes in California are 10 to 12 feet wide and require moving into the next lane to safely pass a cyclist safely and legally.
Most rural roads have lanes 12’ or narrower and many miles of double yellow. It is unreasonable to assume that motor vehicle traffic will slow to the speed of cyclists until there is either a passing lane or a turnout. Faster vehicles will either pass unsafely and illegally (too closely) or just illegally (by crossing, at least partially, a double yellow).
Many states already have sensible laws that allow motorists to cross double yellows to pass a slow moving vehicle such as a cyclist or farm equipment. For example, here is Ohio's statute:
§4511.31. Hazardous zones
(A) The department of transportation may determine those portions of any state highway where overtaking and passing other traffic or driving to the left of the center or center line of the roadway would be especially hazardous and may, by appropriate signs or markings on the highway, indicate the beginning and end of such zones.
(B) Division (A) of this section does not apply whenall of the following apply:
(1) The slower vehicle is proceeding at less than half the speed of the speed limit applicable to that location.
(2) The faster vehicle is capable of overtaking and passing the slower vehicle without exceeding the speed limit.
(3) There is sufficient clear sight distance to the left of the center or center line of the roadway to meet the overtaking and passing provisions of section 4511.29 of the Revised Code, considering the speed of the slower vehicle.
---Comment: Section 4511.31(B) should help reduce tension between cyclists and faster drivers. Now, they can pass in "no passing" zones IF passing is safe.---
By allowing faster traffic to pass slower cyclists when safe to do so, drivers of motor vehicles would not be forced to make the decision they now need to make in California: either endanger a cyclist's life and break a law, break a different law, or wait an unreasonable amount of time behind a cyclist until a passing lane or turnout is reached. The three foot law needs to be amended to meet the needs of safety and efficiency for all road users.
Please help us honor Matthew and sign our Change.org petition to amend the California Vehicle Code.
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