Cyclists urge Hawaii lawmakers to adopt 'safe passing' bill

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A proposal to prevent cycling deaths and injuries is gaining momentum.

House Bill 2215 would create a mandatory buffer zone between motor vehicles and bicycles.

The measure would require drivers to provide at least 3 feet of space from the vehicle's side view mirror when overtaking a bicyclist on the left.

Long-time bicyclist John Goody supports the idea. He wound up in the emergency room in 2015 after colliding with an automobile in Laie.

"(I) landed on my face and my head, landed and rolled over on the shoulder," said the Kahaluu resident. "I think my ribs must have hit the fender because they were cracked.

There have been 12 bicycle fatalities in Hawaii over the last four years. And of those, five were struck from behind.

"As you talk to many cyclists, alarmingly, many of them have had a bad experience where people come way too close to them," said Daniel Alexander, advocacy, planning & communication director of the Hawaii Bicycling League.

Cyclist Michael Lau said the measure is long overdue.

He had a close call while riding along Kalanianaole Highway last year.

"I noticed that this car was coming kind of close to the bike and so I held my hand out to just kind of ward the car off and as he passed, he actually hit my hand," said the Kaimuki resident.

Some 26 states and Washington, D.C. have already set 3 feet as the minimum distance for safe passing.

HB2215 recently cleared the House Judiciary Committee and will cross over to the Senate for consideration.

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