Thanks to the strong leadership of New York Bicycling Coalition Board President Jim Reed and New York Bicycling Coalition Board Member Emeritus Ivan Vamos, who himself was hit by a car, and support from Transportation Alternatives, the New York Bicycling Coalition (NYBC) has launched an all-out campaign this legislative session in Albany to amend the vague and impossible to enforce 2010 Safe Passing law.At the very least, we think there should be a 3 feet passing standard, which is now the law in 26 other states across the country. Email your legislators now by sending an email through this very easy-to-use form.NYBC applauds the leadership of State Senator Tom O’Mara and Assemblyman Phil Steck for sponsoring this legislation, amendment as A09189/S06649. State Senator O’Mara and Assemblyman Steck have begun circulating memos in their respective chambers seeking co-sponsors for the 3 foot amendment.
WHAT’S NEEDS TO HAPPEN?
Two simple, quick changes to the existing amendment. Currently, Vehicle & Traffic Law § 1122-a. entitled Overtaking a bicycle states: “The operator of a vehicle overtaking, from behind, a bicycle proceeding on the same side of a roadway shall pass to the left of such bicycle at a safe distance until safely clear thereof.”
The amendment would change the statute to read: “The operator of a vehicle overtaking, from behind, a bicycle proceeding on the same side of a roadway shall pass to the left of such bicycle at a distance of not less than 3 feet until safely clear thereof.
NYBC also recommends the addition of this clause to the existing statute: “The collision of a motor vehicle with a person operating a bicycle is prima facie evidence of a violation of this section”.
WHY THREE FEET?
Three feet, which can be visualized as the length of a yard stick or the length of an extended arm, gives bicyclists, motorists and law enforcement a clear sense of what is safe and what is dangerous. Three feet, particularly if it is enforced, will save lives and reduce crashes that so often result in death and needless tragedy. It’s a small, but important, amendment to the current arbitrary standard (“safe distance”) which leaves much room for misinterpretation.
Here are the reasons this simple change makes sense:
- The existing law is ambiguous and extremely difficult to enforce.
- The existing law can easily be changed with by deleting a single ambiguous word (“safe”) and adding a clear statement of “not less than 3 feet”.
- Most importantly, a 3’ law will save lives by better protecting NY cyclists and will save millions of health care dollars by reducing the number of NY bicycle/vehicle collisions.
The majority of states have adopted at least 3’ as their safe passing standard. 26 states, and D.C., have defined a “safe distance” for a motorist passing a bicyclist as “at least 3 feet.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Let’s bring NYS law in to the 21st century – let’s save lives and eliminate the high cost of injuries and deaths!