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Gov. Brown vetoes bill restricting how motorists pass bicyclists

September 28, 2012 |  4:50 pm

For the second time in two years, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday vetoed legislation requiring motorists to provide at least 3 feet of space between their vehicle and bicyclists they pass.

Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) said the measure was aimed at reducing accidents in which motorists clip cyclists. Brown said in his veto message that he applauds Lowenthal’s commitment to improve bicycle safety but he objected to the bill allowing motorists to cross the center line if it is needed to provide the buffer space.

"Crossing a double yellow line is an inherently dangerous act that increases the risk of head-on collisions," Brown wrote. "When a collision occurs, it will result in a lawsuit where the state is likely to be sued as a 'deep pocket.' By making it legal to cross a double yellow line, the bill weakens the state’s defense to these lawsuits."

The governor noted that Caltrans had some ideas to improve bicycle safety but added: "Unfortunately, the author declined to amend the bill."

Lowenthal said he thought he had addressed the governor’s concerns by changing the proposal from last year. ``Inexplicably, the governor has moved the goal post and vetoed the legislation again, this time based on an 11th hour concern raised by some lawyers over at Caltrans,'' the senator said in a statement. ``Unfortunately, this governor has chosen faceless bureaucrats over cyclists’ safety.”

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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

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