The "Three Feet for Safety Act" requires a motorized vehicle driver traveling in the same direction as a bicyclist, to give the cyclist three feet of space when passing.
"Forty percent of car-bike crashes are motorists hitting bicyclists from behind,” said Charlie Gandy with the California Bicycle Coalition. “So the intent here is to share the message that three feet is a minimum amount of space necessary to pass safely."
The law states that if traffic or roadway conditions prevent a driver from giving a cyclist three feet of space, the driver must slow to a speed that is "reasonable and prudent" and pass only when a cyclist won't be in danger.
“The idea is for motorists to recognize that cyclists on the right side of the road are relatively vulnerable, particularly at higher speeds,” said Gandy. “So, slowing down if the road is not wide enough to pass with less than three feet, and then passing cautiously, is the fallback position.”
Failing to follow the new law will bring a $35 fine. If a driver hits a cyclist while violating the law, the fine will rise to $220.
Under the previous law, a driver only had to pass a cyclist to the left at a "safe distance."
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