A new California bicycle law that recently went into effect requires cyclists to do what many say they have been doing all along. Now, bicycles, similar to any other slow moving vehicle, will be required to pull over to the far right of the road when traffic begins to get backed up behind them.
The law went into effect at the start of this year, but tons of riders assumed it was a rule before that.
“Sharing the road goes both ways,” said Gary Helfrich, executive director of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition. “We always teach in bike safety classes [pulling over for traffic is] how to behave anyway.”
However, Helfrich and other officials are quick to remind motorists that cyclists are not required in any way to put themselves in danger. Drivers should not be expecting riders to pull over before they feel it is safe. Same as with other slow moving vehicles, cyclists with five or more motorists behind them are only required pull over at a turnout or when they deem they have enough space to do so.
“Cyclists aren’t required to stand down in a drainage ditch as you drive by,” was Helfrich’s message to drivers.
In addition, California bicycle law still requires motorists to provide cyclists with at least a 3-foot buffer space.
In 2013, more than 900 cyclists were killed and another 494,000 were injured in bicycle accidents. This new law, which essentially just expands on the already existing slow-moving vehicle laws, should help to make the roads a little safer by making cyclists obligations somewhat clearer.
Frederick M. Dudek is a cyclist himself who helps other riders take their lives back after being injured in a bicycle accident.