[KHTS] – A new California law that takes effect Sept. 16 will require drivers to give bicyclists 3 feet of room while passing on roadways.
The “Three Feet for Safety” law, authored by Assemblyman Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, threatens motorists with a $35 fine plus fees, if they get too close to a cyclists. If a collision occurs, the fine could range from $220-959, including court fees, which can increase such a fine by thousands of dollars.
Local Cyclist and bike activist, Kevin Korenthal, sees the law as more of a message to drivers than a cut and dry law about exact measurements.
“They have a responsibility to give bicyclists enough space to safely pass them,” says Korenthal.
“But bicyclists need to be safe while riding as well,” says Korenthal.
The law, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last September, requires motorists to give bicyclists 3 feet of room, on either side of the vehicle, when passing a cyclist. If this is not a possibility, motorists are required to follow behind the bicyclist until there is room to pass.
“Three Feet for Safety illustrates what many motorists still don’t understand – that bicyclists legally have a right to be on the road in California, even on streets that don’t include indicated bike lanes,” according to a statement from the California Bicycle Coalition. “Motorists need to respect bicyclists by learning to pass them safely.”
“As a lifelong cyclist, I know firsthand that when cars and bikes collide, it often turns to tragedy,” Bradford said.
“In fact, getting hit from behind, or sideswiped by a car passing too closely, is one of the top ways bicyclists are injured,” according to the CBC. “Nationally, 40 percent of fatal bike crashes are caused by unsafe passing according to the League of American Bicyclists.”
California is the 22nd state to pass similar laws.
Bicycling has increased 50 percent in California since 2000, according to the California Household Transportation Survey, with about 2 million bike trips daily statewide.
In 2014, California moved from 19th to 9th in the annual Bicycle Friendly State rankings by the League of American Bicyclists.
– Kimberly Beers