After being vetoed twice before, Governor Brown finally signed the Three Feet for Safety Act into law. The Three Feet for Safety Act will go into effect on September 16, 2014.
Previously, CA law only required drivers to pass bicyclists that are traveling in the same direction “at a safe distance”.
AB1371, better known as the “Three Feet for Safety Act”, was sponsored by Assemblyman Steven Bradford, of Gardena. With Governor Jerry Brown’s signature, California law will now require drivers to provide a buffer zone of at least three feet when passing a bicyclists going in the same direction. The act is meant to protect cyclist from drivers who intentionally drive very closely when passing them on the road.
Critics of the new law claim that it will be too difficult for a driver to estimate three feet. Previously, Governor Brown vetoed an older version of the law that required drivers to slow to 15 mph when passing a bicyclist. He claimed that slowing traffic around bicyclists could cause collisions. The new law adds that if the driver cannot give three feet between his or her vehicle and the bicyclist, the driver must “slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent, and may pass only when doing so would not endanger the safety of the operator of the bicycle, taking into account the size and speed of the motor vehicle and bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and surface and width of the highway.”
A violation of this act comes with a penalty of a $35 infraction. However, if a collision occurs between a vehicle and a bicycle that causes injury to the rider, and the driver is found to have violated the act, the driver shall be fined $220, in addition to any civil claims that might result.
The law’s full text can be found on the CA Legislature’s website