California’s New Bicyclist-Passing Law “Three Feet for Safety” Takes Effect September 16


California’s new bicyclist-passing law “Three Feet for Safety” takes effect Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. In support of the law the California Bicycle Coalition (CalBike) is launching “I Give 3” — a media awareness and outreach campaign. This September CalBike is collaborating with bill author Assemblyman Steven Bradford of Gardena, the California Chapters of the American Automobile Association, the California Highway Patrol and CalBike’s affiliate members across the state, to educate both the media and the public about the law and why it’s so crucial for motorists to give at least three feet distance when passing a bicyclist for the safety of everyone concerned. Follow the social media conversation with #IGive3Feet. Learn more at calbike.org.

“As a lifelong cyclist, I know firsthand that when cars and bikes collide, it often turns to tragedy,” Assemblyman Bradford said. “This bill is a great reminder that we all have to work together to keep our roads safe for all users. I thank the California Bicycle Coalition and all of the grassroots supporters who put safety first and helped us finally pass this legislation.”

A series of press conferences will be held across the state hosted by CalBike, the Auto Club of Southern California, and CalBike’s affiliate members across the state. Three Feet for Safety illustrates what many motorists still don’t understand – that bicyclists legally have a right to be on the road in California, even on streets that don’t include indicated bike lanes. Motorists need to respect bicyclists by learning to pass them safely.

Further, CalBike is also working with Caltrans to get approval for an official traffic sign that will remind drivers of the law. Later this month,
“More and more Californians are discovering that bikes are an easy, healthy, and fun way to get around, but it’s unnecessarily dangerous when a motorist passes too closely.” said Dave Snyder, the Executive Director of the California Bicycle. In fact getting hit from behind, or sideswiped by a car passing too closely, is one of the top ways bicyclists are injured. Nationally, forty percent of fatal bike crashes are caused by unsafe passing according to the League of American Bicyclists.

Motorists who get caught violating the new law will face a $35 fine plus fees, or a $220 fine — $959 with fees — if a collision occurs. Where a violation results in a collision that injures a bicyclist, the law will be valuable because it establishes a basis for citing the driver for unsafe passing.

California now joins twenty-four other states with similar laws. The law goes into effect as California’s state and local governments work to boost bicycling for improved health, reduced traffic congestion, and economic growth. Bicycling has increased 50% in California since 2000, according to the California Household Transportation Survey, with about two million bike trips daily in the Golden State. In 2014, California moved from 19th to 9th in the annual Bicycle Friendly State rankings by the League of American Bicyclists. The state Dept. of Transportation says it’s working with its partners to infuse about $360 million into biking and other active transportation projects over the next three years while local sales taxes and the state’s cap-and-trade revenue are slated to contribute more than $1 billion to improve bicycling infrastructure.

California’s chapters of the American Automobile Association are supporting the campaign with safety information cards that it is distributing to drivers it helps on the streets and in its annual “School’s Open Drive Safely” campaign directed to 250,000 children, young drivers and parents. The California Highway Patrol is distributing the cards to its public information officers and to visitors at hundreds of its community and safety events, in addition to social media tweets and facebook posts about the law for their followers.

The California Bicycle Coalition (CalBike) is also providing bumper stickers and window clings for free to motorists who want to put them on their car to remind other motorists of the need to pass safely. The stickers can be ordered in bulk at calbike.org/bulkgiveme3form