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Gov. Brown signs bill: Giving 3 feet for bicyclists will be the law in California — in a year

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California became the 22nd state to require that motorists give bicycles 3 feet of clearance after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on Monday.

California Bicycle Coalition poster

California Bicycle Coalition poster

It was the third time that a 3-foot passing bill had landed on Gov. Brown’s desk. He vetoed the earlier two measures for various reasons.

The bill was submitted by Assemblyman Steven Bradford, a Democrat from Gardena in the South Bay of Los Angeles. It has passed the Assembly by a 54-24 vote and the Senate by 31-7.

The law goes into effect more than a year from now on Sept. 16, 2014.

Congratulations to bicycle advocates in California for not giving up on this law.

Exceptions

A 3-foot passing bill for California has been watered down quite a bit since it was first raised several years ago.

Although the bill signed by Gov. Brown establishes a distance of 3 feet for passing, there are exceptions. According to AB 1371:

“(a) This section shall be known and may be cited as the Three Feet for Safety Act.
(b) The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking and passing a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall pass in compliance with the requirements of this article applicable to overtaking and passing a vehicle, and shall do so at a safe distance that does not interfere with the safe operation of the overtaken bicycle, having due regard for the size and speed of the motor vehicle and the bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and the surface and width of the highway.
(c) A driver of a motor vehicle shall not overtake or pass a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway at a distance of less than three feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator.
(d) If the driver of a motor vehicle is unable to comply with subdivision (c), due to traffic or roadway conditions, the driver 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, taking into account the size and speed of the motor vehicle and bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and surface and width of the highway.”

 

As you can see, there’s plenty of wiggle room for errant motorists and their attorneys to weasel out of a ticket. Maybe that can be strengthened in the next round.
Violation of the law is a traffic infraction that’s punishable by a $35 ticket. If a violation results bodily injury, a $220 fine can be imposed on the driver.
Nationwide, 22 states and the District of Columbia require that motorists give bicyclists at least a 3 foot gap. Pennsylvania’s law requires a 4-foot buffer when passing a bicycle.

The 21states with 3-foot laws are: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia (July 1), Illinois, Louisiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.  See details at “22 states require motorists give bicyclists 3 feet or more.”

 

Pennsylvania has a 4-foot passing law.

The only other governor to veto a 3-foot law is Rick Perry of Texas. A number of cities in that state passed local ordinances to require 3-foot passing to protect bicyclists.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2013/09/23/giving-3-feet-for-bicyclists-will-be-the-law-in-california-in-a-year/

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