California's new bike-passing law took effect Tuesday. It’s designed to reduce car and bicycle crashes and make the roads safer. Between 2007 and 2012, 960 bicyclists were killed or injured in San Diego County.
“The Three Feet For Safety Act requires drivers to give bicyclists in California at least three-feet clearance when passing in the same direction — similar to the requirements when overtaking and passing another vehicle on the roadway,” California Highway Patrol Chief Jim Abele said. “Remember that avid bicyclists aren't the only one's that ride bikes. We're in the middle of the school year and it’s incredibly important to watch for kids. Bicyclists and adults who ride for recreation are a lot more aware of their surroundings, children generally are not."
California joins 24 other states with the new bike rules, which come with a $35 fine or $220 fine if a driver hits a bicyclist and causes harm. San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman says you can avoid being cited by providing a three-feet buffer zone.
“The main complaint that we get no matter what the community is, usually involves traffic. And so our officers understand this law and we will be going out and enforcing it, when we see it,” Zimmerman said.
Cyclist Mia Bolton says she's happy with the new law, but also realizes it's a two-way street.
“We also need the bicyclist to respect the rules of the road and respect the cars are there, so it’s not just motorist yeilding to bicyclist, its everyone working together for our streets,” Bolton said.
A group of traffic safety advocates including AAA launched the "I Give Three Feet" campaign Tuesday to build public awareness of the new law.