The California Biking Coalition works diligently to help keep roadways safe for people riding bicycles. CalBike helped pass an important piece of legislation in the state in 2013.
The Three Feet for Safety Act created a new law requiring motorists to maintain a three-foot clearance when passing a bicycle on the road.
The importance of the act
The Three Feet for Safety Act is an incredibly important law in helping to avoid accidents involving bicycles on roads. Almost every time a vehicle and bicycle travel together, the vehicle will need to pass the bike. Passing too close is very dangerous for the bicyclist as it can create instability that could lead to the rider falling or it allows the chance for the car to clip the bike. In either situation, the end result is a serious bicycle crash that could cause severe injury or death for the bicyclists.
The potential penalty
If a law enforcement officer sees a motorist violating the act, the officer can cite the driver. The penalty for the violation is a fine. It will be higher if the vehicle caused the bicycle to have an accident and the bicyclist suffered injuries.
As with any accident, other potential charges and penalties are possible under other California laws, including hit-and-run charges if the vehicle causes the bicycle to crash and leaves the scene before law enforcement arrives.
Abiding by the Three Feet Safety Act is not difficult. It only requires leaving space about the same as a driver would for opening the doors of the vehicle. Safe passing, especially when it involves bicycles, can save lives. Motorists have an obligation to ensure they do not put others at risk on the road, including those who are not in other vehicles.