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Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes bicycle safety bill, saying it is unsafe

October 7, 2011 |  4:09 pm

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday vetoed legislation that would have required motorists to give bicyclists at least three feet of room while passing, or slow down — citing concern that it could cause more car accidents.

Brown worried about requiring motorists to slow to 15 mph when passing bicyclists if there is not three feet between them, which proponents argued is necessary to reduce the number of cyclists injured and killed in California.

The governor said the California Highway Patrol and Caltrans raised "legitimate concerns" about the requirement to slow down.

"On streets with speed limits of 35 to 40 mph, slowing to 15mph to pass a bicycle could cause rear-end collisions," Brown wrote. "On other roads, a bicycle may travel at or near 15 mph, creating a long line of cars behind the cyclist."

The governor said he is willing to work with the bill's author, state Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), to address the concerns next year. Brown noted that the law already requires motorists to pass at a "safe distance" and said that establishing that distance as three feet might be helpful.

Still, Lowenthal said the governor made a mistake in not signing his bill, which had been supported by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Tour de France cycling champion Lance Armstrong.

"I’m very disappointed," Lowenthal said. "I think his veto makes bicycling less safe."

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

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