As of this week, motorists must take extra care when passing bicyclists.

Bicycle fatalities are on the rise, and a new law – which went into effect Sept. 15 – is designed to minimize deadly crashes between cars and bikes.

Authored by Assemblyman Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, the new law mandates that drivers must ensure there is a three-foot buffer between their car and the cyclist when passing bicycles.

Three-foot buffer law for cyclists now in effect 

The new vehicle code section 21760 specifically states: “a driver of a motor vehicle shall not overtake or pass a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway (street) at a distance of less than three feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator.” Read more. >>

The law has several stipulations. Drivers who approach a cyclist from behind – and cannot pass – must also leave three feet.  Additionally, in the event it is impossible to pass a cyclist at three or more feet distance, the law says drivers “shall 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.”

Penalties for breaking the new law can be stiff.   If a collision occurs, the fine is $220.

The goal? To avoid crashes allow bikers and motorists to safely share the road.

California Law Requires Drivers to Give Cyclists Space

California joins 22 other states that already have similar laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Three-foot buffer law.

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