Safe passing laws are intended to make bicycling safer and more enjoyable by requiring motorists to leave a safety buffer between their vehicle and the cyclists they pass. Whoosh goes the motor vehicle! Just like in the commercials! So powerful, I pray to thee.
The text of NY’s current safe passing law requires motor vehicle operators to leave a “safe distance” when passing bicyclists. Consult the legislative history and learn that a “safe distance” is at least 3 feet. That two step boogie, law and legislative history, is apparently one step too many. The NY State legislature is now considering an amendment to the existing law to specify right in the text of the law that motorists are to leave at least 3 feet. A one step dance that anyone can do.
But will they? I could point out that (a) too many motorists are and will continue to be blissfully unaware of the current safe passing law and any amendment and (b) next to zero, but probably zero, police officers have or will enforce the law, clarification or no, but I won’t. Securing changes in the law may comfort some, so let’s get on it.
I received the following email from the New York Bicycle Coalition (“NYBC”).
Thank you for emailing your legislators and asking them to support a 3 foot amendment to the safe passing law – we greatly appreciate your help!
Because of you, Senate Transportation Committee members passed S06649 (AKA the 3 foot amendment) by a vote of 16 to 1! It’s a great victory to get things started, but there is still a journey ahead.
Over next few weeks, there are going to be more votes in the Senate and Assembly that are critical to winning passage of the 3 foot amendment. Now is the time more than ever that we need to make our voices heard, especially among Assembly members.
Please take a quick moment to review this short and easy-to-read document, then look up your assembly member’s contact information and schedule a quick meeting!
There are many ways to communicate with legislators, but nothing is more effective than meeting with them in person and sharing your message. As their constituent, your needs are among their top priorities.
We won’t be able to win passage of the 3 foot amendment without your help, so please act now.
Click on the link above. I did and learned that my Assemblyperson, Patricia Fahey, is already on board with the amendment. Thank Lorenz. Huge relief! I care deeply about safe bicycling but I am about as likely to schedule a quick meeting with my Assemblyperson as I am to go out and buy the clothes one might wear to a quick meeting with an Assemblyperson. My long pants that fit at the moment are bright red, canary yellow, burnt orange and blue denim with worn knees from kneeling to put drops in Frida’s eyes. No khakis. No olive khakis. No grey wool. I guess I could wear dark blue cords, but my pits are batchy and my voice is cracking just thinking of A Quick Meeting!
My dear readers, though, are surely in a better place than I. You may still make a habit of being “in the world.” You may have laundered dress shirts protected by plastic in your closet. And your Assemblyperson may not yet be on the thumbs up list. Three yesses? If so, we need you! You can do it. The NYBC encourages you to meet with your Assemblyperson, but sending an email is better than nothing. Get clicking!