New York Adopts Safe Passing Law

The state Assembly last night unanimously approved our bill to require motorists to pass cyclists at a safe distance. The Assembly approval came three days after the state Senate approved the bill. It now goes to Gov. Paterson to be signed. 

The law, to be called Merrill’s Law, is named in honor of Hartsdale resident Merrill Cassell, who was killed on Route 119 in November when he was sideswiped by a Beeline bus. The driver didn’t receive a ticket and was back driving the next day. 

This law gives us a right to the road, and will make riding safer for us all. 

The bill emerged from the tragedy, and the Bike Walk Alliance, along with Westchester Cycle Club and the NY Bicycle Coalition, worked with our state legislators to make it happen. Once signed by the governor, New York will be among 24 states that require that motorists pass “at a safe distance” or by three feet. The state Assembly balked at the three-foot requirement, but after our statewide lobbying campaign, agreed to the “safe distance” terminology, which is in force in such bike-friendly states as Oregon and Washington. 

Hats off to state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, of Yonkers, who crafted the bill’s first draft, and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, of Scarsdale, who negotiated with Assembly leadership to find language that would pass muster. 

I’ll keep you posted on the victory party, which we’re planning for after the bill gets signed.
BWA President David Wilson

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