Three Feet for Safety Act Goes into Effect in California
Starting September 16, 2014, California joins the 25 other states that already require motorists to keep a minimum distance when passing a bicyclist.
The new California Act states that you must keep at least three feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator. If traffic or roadway conditions make it impossible to keep the three-feet distance, you must slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent. You may pass only when doing so do not endanger the safety of the bicyclist.
A violation of this Act may cost you $35. If you violate the law and cause bodily injury to a bicyclist, you will be fined $220.
Other States with Passing Laws
The following states have enacted three-feet passing laws: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. So has the District of Columbia.
Pennsylvania has a four-feet passing law.
Several other states have general laws which states that motorists must pass bicyclists at a safe distance and speed, without specifying the distance.
Always Be Patient
On a two lane road, you should always avoid being next to the bicyclist at the same time as oncoming traffic is at the same location. Keep well back and wait until it is safe to pass.
If you are too close and the bicyclist must brake or move away from the right side of a lane, you could run them over.
Read more about the new law: V C Section 21760 and California Driver Handbook