Under New Law, California Cyclists to Get Three-Foot Buffer

On September 23, California’s governor signed legislation requiring drivers to stay at least three feet away when passing cyclists, according to U-T San Diego. The current law only requires that a driver keep an unspecified safe distance when passing a bicyclist. This new law requiring the three-foot buffer is set to go into effect on September 16, 2014.

This new law stemmed from a proposal by Assemblyman Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, as a way to better protect bicyclists from aggressive motorists. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sponsored Bradford’s bill. Villaraigosa, an avid cyclist, was involved in a 2010 bicycle accident when a taxi driver abruptly pulled in front of him. Other groups that supported the bill included several cycling organizations, such as the California Association of Bicycling Organizations.

The governor had vetoed two previous incarnations of this bill in 2011 and 2012, citing provisions in the bills that could both cause more collisions and make the state liable for collisions. In those versions of the legislation, drivers would have been allowed to cross a double yellow line to make room for a cyclist or been required to slow to 15 mph when passing within three feet of a cyclist. In the version of the law signed by the governor, if motorists do not have three feet of space to leave a cyclist while passing, then they are required to slow down and wait to pass the cyclist when it would not endanger the cyclist’s safety to do so.

“This gives clear information to drivers about passing at a safe distance,” said Government Affairs Manager for the Automobile Club of Southern California Steve Finnegan, whose organization supported the legislation. “Everyone using the road needs to follow the rules and watch out for everyone else.”

Our San Diego bicycle accident attorney has been defending the rights of bicycle accident victims for years. As an accomplished attorney and cyclist, he has a thorough knowledge of the bicycle safety laws and how to navigate the legal process to help his clients hold those at fault for their pain and suffering accountable and recover the compensation they need to move on with their lives.

Please visit our website for more information on how we can help you, or contact our firm at (858) 530-4800 for a free consultation.

Did you know?: In 1975, cyclist deaths occurred equally in rural and urban areas. In 2011, 69 percent of cyclist deaths were in urban areas.

Dudek Law Firm, APC—San Diego bicycle accident lawyer



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