Tag Archives: California bike law

California Enacts “Three Feet for Safety Act”

As of September 16, 2014, a new California bike law now requires drivers to maintain a three foot minimum buffer from bicyclists when passing. Called the “Three Feet for Safety Act”, it was signed into law and enacted this September after many years of campaigning by cycling activists. The new act states that should road conditions or traffic make it impossible to maintain the three foot rule, drivers may pass bicycles if they have slowed to a “speed that is reasonable and prudent” and “when doing so would not endanger the safety of the operator of the bicycle.” In a large public awareness campaign, the State and various transportation agencies have begun to educate the public on the rules and necessity of this new bicyclist protection program. The California Bicycle Coalition recommends that drivers wondering how much space to leave, should think of how much space they leave when parking. Generally, drivers leave enough space between their car and another to open their door, which the coalition states is “usually about three feet.” If drivers are unsure, the recommendation is to leave even more space, or change lanes. Bicyclists have the right to use the full lane of traffic on any California public road or highway, and are required to follow the same traffic laws regarding stoplights and stop signs as vehicles. The act does not change this, but extends the commitment to protecting bicyclists that pedestrians and schools already have through crosswalks and specific speed limits.

What are the consequences of NOT obeying this new law? Fairly hefty, as drivers may be fined $35 for “veering too close” and $220 if they are involved in a collision where the cyclist is injured and they were in the buffer zone. The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) offers the following tips:

Drivers:
Slow down near bicyclists, pay attention and avoid driving distractions
Look for bicyclists before opening your car door
Be aware of oncoming bicyclists when making a left turn
Check your blind spot for bicyclists before turning right
Bicyclists:
Ride with the flow of traffic, not against it
Ride with a white front light at night
Be visible. Don’t hug the curb and ride in a straight line
Be predictable and use hand signals
Stop at red lights and stop signs
Ride 3-5 feet to the left of parked cars to avoid opening doors