It's The Law: Vehicles Have To Give Bicyclists 3 Feet Of Space
A California law that takes effect Tuesday mandates a safety buffer between bicyclists and passing vehicles.
Under the new law, vehicles must stay three feet away from cyclists when passing them on the street. Previously, the law said vehicles had to pass at a “safe distance.”
The goal is to make the roads safer for those who pedal in California, where more than 100 bicyclists are killed annually in collisions with motor vehicles, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
Breaking the law carries a $35 fine. If a collision results from breaking the law and a bicyclist is injured, the motorist can be fined $220.
On College Avenue, outside of San Diego State Univeristy, students bike through heavy traffic on the four-lane road — with no bike lane. Here, cyclist Jared Herholdtz stopped to talk about the new law.
“Everything I do essentially revolves around the bike,” Herholdtz said. “I think it’s a great way to live, and I think promoting laws like that are going to encourage more bikers because it can be kind of scary to be on the road.”
At a gas station down the road, Karl Bradley filled up the tank of his pickup. He hadn’t heard about the new law.
“It sounds like a good concept for safety, but it also sounds like it might be somewhat difficult to execute in certain situations,” Bradley said. “I don’t know if there’s always enough room between the vehicle and the curb to allow three feet for a bicycle.”
The new law does include an exception to the three-foot rule if traffic or roadway conditions make it impossible for motorists to comply. In that case, they’re supposed to slow down and only pass the cyclist when it’s safe.
California joins 23 other states that require vehicles to stay three feet away from cyclists while passing.