Did you know that as of September 16, 2014, California motorist have been required to “give bikes three feet” when passing in the same direction of travel as the bicyclist? Three feet of clearance has been recommended by the California DMV in its’ driver handbook for several years, but this new law makes it official.
With summer upon us, more bicycles are out on the area road, and it is a good time to familiarize oneself with this fairly new law. The three feet distance extends to any part of the bicycle, the bicyclist and any part of the motorist’s vehicle. Prior to the passage of this law, the California law was that motorists were to pass at a less specific “safe distance”.
Full text of the law can be read here.
Bicyclists consider this new legislation a victory, as it took four attempts to get the law to pass. Other states have previously adopted such a law. Pennsylvania has a four foot rule. Here is a video of one frustrated bicyclist as a truck passes him too closely:
Sometimes a clearance of three feet is not available, and in such cases the motorist is required to slow and pass the bicyclist only when it is safe to execute the pass. Motorists failing to maintain the three feet distance when it is available, or pass at an “unsafe distance” when three feet is not available may be cited, and fined over $200 for passing too closely. If a bicyclist is injured during the motorist passing, the fine may be significantly higher. A violation of this new law would be an infraction and would affect a driver’s record and insurance in a similar manner as a speeding ticket.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an auto vs. bicycle accident, call me at (916) 921-6400.