Back in 2013, the California legislature passed the Three Feet for Safety Act to protect bicyclists from injury at the hands of motor vehicles. Prior to that time, the three-foot cushion existed only as a recommendation and did not have the force of law.
Looking again at this vital law shows what it can and cannot do to protect bicyclists.
What the law accomplishes
A review from SF Weekly revisits this important bicycle protection law that became operative in September of 2014. Codified as California Vehicle Code section 21760, the law requires motor vehicles to allow for three feet of space when they pass bicyclists going in the same direction. The law also enables authorities to issue citations and modest fines for failure to obey the code.
When conditions prevent three feet of passage, the law does allow a driver to pass the bicyclist at a separation of fewer than three feet. However, the driver still must slow to a safe and prudent speed for passage. The language of the law allows for discretion on the part of drivers, officers and judges when following the provisions of the Three Feet of Safety Act.
What bicyclists can do to increase safety
While the law provides some measure of protection, bicyclists still have a role to play to ramp up their safety. They should wear bright clothing and use lights that attract the attention of drivers. They should also try and keep track of drivers and not assume that all drivers will follow the law. Negligent drivers will still pose a danger to bicyclists on California roads.