California drivers to face fines for coming close to bicyclists

September 16, 2014

bicycles-70aMotorists in California must now stay three feet away from bicyclists when passing them on the road or risk receiving traffic tickets.

A new state law takes effect Tuesday, which allows officers to cite those who do not obey the distance requirement. Drivers may only come within three feet of bicyclists when passing them if there is no more space available and no danger is present.

“Motorists are reminded to pay close attention as the school year approaches and exercise caution when they see bicyclists on the road,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow to the Sacramento Bee. “Be sure to move over or slow down to pass when you see a bicyclist on the road and help keep our roadways a safer place.”

In 2012, 153 bicyclists were killed in California, according to state data. That figure marked a 7 percent increase from 2011.


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kayaknut

This might be boom for another business, installing cameras in vehicles to capture the cyclists breaking the law. For all the cyclists I see on the road, a higher ratio operate their bikes in violation of current laws.


tomsquawk

better business would be to have a yardstick mounted on your right front fender


OnTheOtherHand

Sure enough! If the yardstick hits a cyclist, you will have proof that you were at fault for a (likely) serious accident.


OnTheOtherHand

Dashcams are probably a good idea for many reasons. Just be sure that you know the law and the circumstance before you focus on cyclists or you may find that some of those “law-breakers” are actually riding legally. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about exactly what cyclists can and can’t do on the road.


kayaknut

“Or we may just have proof of the violation of riders”, The items I personally see very often are not rider single file, running stops signs and stop lights, changing lanes without signally or not safely, riding against traffic, riding at night without proper lights and reflectors failure to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and riding on sidewalks, all which are illegal, other items I see that I am not sure are illegal but should be are riding while talking on a cell phone with out a hands free device, texting and riding, carrying items in one hand while riding with the other. Earn respect by giving respect.


Rawhide

Hit a cyclist no matter the reason and you’re in big trouble…


Imho, Cyclist’s will now push the limits and become more emboldened to ride two abreast and stay out in traffic or next to the white line more than they used to, knowing drivers must slow down and avoid hitting.

On highway 41 between M.B. and Atascadero that could lead impatient drivers to cross the double yellow line to go around them, or slowly follow behind them until safe to pass.


OnTheOtherHand

I doubt that cyclists who are not already riding rudely will suddenly change because of this law. Previous law already makes drivers who hit cyclists riding legally liable if they hit them. This law only serves to make the point that a 3′ passing distance is considered safe so that people will be less likely to try a squeeze play when passing cyclists.


If it is not safe to pass a cyclist you are supposed to slow down and wait until it is safe. If the cyclist(s) are responsible riders, they will give you a chance to pass as soon as they feel that they safely can do so. I wish I could offer you a better solution for those that don’t ride considerately.


hijinks

This 3-foot distance is common sense, but is only possible if bicyclists behave appropriately. Almost every time I go out in happy town or on LOVR the highway part, I encounter bicyclists riding side by side in the bike lane — or sorta in the bike lane since there’s not room for side by side IN the bike lane — so one of the dopes is out in the traffic lane interfering with car traffic. So, what’s the law say about him being in car space instead of the bike lane? My conclusion: there are a lot of fancy-dressed really rude bike riders around here. If you want to have a conversation, bikers, get off your bike and walk on the beach. Roads are for getting places — for cars and bikes.


ordinarycitizen

Bike lanes should be required to be a minimum of 5 feet wide, if its not, bikes should not be allowed to use it and the cyclist should be cited if they do. For instance Hwy 41, there are spots where there is only a foot or less of room to ride left of the line, what is supposed to happen there? backup traffic for miles and cause an accident or pass in the other lane and cause a head on. When will bicyclists start being cited for running stop signs? Bike riders need to be held accountable.

This is one of the most idiotic laws! I’m sure it was written by a cyclist in tight shorts!


MaryMalone

Huasna Road is another doozy of a road to negotiate when cyclists insist on traveling side-by-side, despite the inability to see around a couple of hairy corners.


NorthCountyGuy

This new law isn’t about safety. its just another revenue-enhancement scam.


The problem isn’t autos. The problem is felony, reckless drivers on bikes.


If the government cared about safety, it would be ticketing felony, reckless drivers on bikes.


OnTheOtherHand

It is both cyclists and drivers. The law wasn’t passed for revenue enhancement and I suspect that it will rarely be enforced because of the vague wording. It has been pushed for years by cyclists in this state as a way to make clear they have a right to safely use the roadway to the many people who remain in denial of the fact.


SLOBIRD

I totally support, encourage and love to see kids and folks riding their bikes. I am willing to share the road but not give up my right to drive on the road according to the speed limit and within my lanes. This law is not reasonable as it puts all the burden and responsibility on the car and nothing on the bike rider.


Bicycle riders should have to remain in the bike lane, ride single file, stop at stop signs/lights and abide to the same rules of the road as auto drivers. I am absolutely not willing to give up my right to drive my car safely for some hot shot bike riders who now put me at risk; everyone who has driven a car has encountered the riders who shoot through intersections, ride 3/4 across, and have no limit on their speeds, ride outside the bike lane, etc. I sincerely hope the bike riders don’t think they have the right to the car lanes without observing the laws.


Be safe everyone!


Messkit

Will the Police be ticketing bicycles for NOT being in their own lane, or NOT following all traffic laws? Is it going to be my fault, when bicycles are 3 or 4 abreast, extending out into traffic without a care in the world?


When I politely and quickly beep my horn to warn riders of my approaching, and get “the finger” in response, do they still wonder why cars and bicycles have such a hard time getting along?


Who loses in the battle between cars and bicycles? Not the car. My 3 tons wins every time. Bicycles should do absolutely everything they can to be visible, and avoid cars and trucks when they are on the streets. And if they don’t, then law enforcement can make sure they do….before they become a greasy spot on the pavement.


OnTheOtherHand

I agree that there should be more law enforcement targeted at cyclists but the fundamental idea that motor vehicles have a greater right to the road because of their size and speed needs to be challenged and this law does that to a degree. Change your mindset about relative rights and mellow out a bit when driving.


Messkit

Yes, the larger, faster, heavier car/truck does indeed have a greater right to the road their owners paid taxes on their vehicle for. The car/truck has the innate ability to crush the bike a rider at any speed. So yes, seeing as the car/truck presents the most danger TO the bicycle rider, the car/truck has a more fundamental right to the roads and streets.


Same as pedestrians have a greater right to the sidewalk, than bicycle riders do.


Kevin Rice

Bicyclists should be required to stay away from the white line when there is room on the shoulder.


catdude

That sounds like a good idea, Kevin, but the reason they ride the line is debris on the road; it gets heavier the further from the line, and the risk of a flat tire becomes greater the greater the distance from the line, and the risk of a flat is large. That said, I think they are nuts riding the line; just takes one texter and they are toast. As a lifetime daily motorcycle rider, you could not pay me to ride a bicycle on 41 or hwy 1 (trust my life to cager? Not a chance…).


Perspicacious

Your statement proves the point that bicyclists are stupid. they would rather risk becoming a hood ornament on a Peterbilt than a possible flat tire. Morons.


OnTheOtherHand

There are definitely risks to cycling but it is worth it for many people. The risks are not as bad as catdude thinks if you know what you are doing and pay attention. It is more important to be aware of your surroundings and other traffic on a bike than it is in a car but it can be done and much of it becomes a good habit with practice.


I have been cycling “seriously” for almost 40 years and have only had one car collision. A car ahead of me stopped a touch faster than I was able to stop in slow traffic. That was early on and I learned from the experience.


I was lucky enough to learn to ride properly with people who emphasized good riding habits and I have no doubt that contributed to my safe cycling history. Unfortunately, not only is that opportunity uncommon but it seems to be more uncommon than it used to be.


MaryMalone

Here is a clue. If the road is consistently debris-filled to the point that you feel it is not safe to ride on the side of the road, then don’t ride on that road.


Sufferin’ Jesus, be practical.


OnTheOtherHand

Give me some reasonable alternative routes and I will. Or push the appropriate road dept. to do a better job of sweeping/maintenance. I am not going to stop riding because I can’t get where I want to go.


OnTheOtherHand

Texters are a huge danger to everyone on the road — as bad or worse than drunks. A cyclist hit by a vehicle will almost certainly be injured worse than someone in a car or truck but they will be hurt too. BTW, Hwy 1 is one of the safer roads for cyclists in the area because of its wide shoulders in most places between San Simeon and SLO. It still has car-bike accidents but they are almost always due to one or the other not paying sufficient attention rather than to inevitable conflict.


achillesheal

“No more space available and no danger is present”.


So when the cyclists are riding 3 abreast in the bike lane, should we cross the yellow line into oncoming traffic to comply with this law, or slow down to the bicyclists speed until it is safe to pass and risk getting rear-ended?


Isn’t crossing double yellow, under any circumstance a far more serious violation?


Perspicacious

Not necessarily. You can cross the double yellow when it is safe AND if it is to avoid a collision. Use common sense, if it is a straight stretch with good visibility and the bicyclist is going slow, swing a couple of feet over the line. No cop in his right mind would cite you for doing that as long as it was cautious and didn’t endanger any oncoming motorists.


TaxMeAgain

YES, you should cross the double yellow line. YES. The yellow line is to restrict PASSING CARS and driving over it to keep an unprotected person safe is appropriate.


achillesheal

Please point out where the vehicle code says you can cross double yellow: All I could find was: Vehicle code says: 21460. (a) If double parallel solid yellow lines are in place, a person driving a vehicle shall not drive to the left of the lines,

except as permitted in this section.


I don’t see anywhere it’s permitted except to turn into your driveway or avoid an emergency vehicle. The law doesn’t mention its ok to provide a 3 foot buffer to a bicyclist.


I can still get a hefty fine when I use common sense because intent doesn’t matter with traffic laws.


Perspicacious

Hopefully the officer that witnesses this has a brain and can use some rare sense, i.e., spirit of the law rather than letter of the law. The basic understanding in court is if you violated a provision of the vehicle code to avoid a collision then you are in the clear. Case in point: Driving up 101 the other day and a lane was a closed off construction zone. Fast lane open but traffic was stopped. I saw a car flying up behind me from a half mile away and figured it wasn’t going to stop, I pulled into the closed off construction zone(technically a violation) and the car skidded right past me and slammed into the vehicle ahead of me causing major damage and injuries. Moving along to the subject at hand: Suppose I am on Corbett Cyn Rd. and there is a bicyclist moving at about 10 mph and we have just crested a rise in the roadway…I am NOT going to be going 10-15 mph on the other side of this blind crest so someone going 55 can come hill and slam into me. I am going to cross the center line partially and pass the bicyclist as long as there isn’t anybody coming towards me.


OnTheOtherHand

Interesting that you picked the Corbett Canyon situation as an example. A couple of years ago I was riding my bike there and some hyped-up guy towing a trailer tried to pass me just before the crest of the hill through the Eucalyptus grove. He was barely past me when an oncoming vehicle came around the bend forcing him to cut back so sharply that his trailer swung off the pavement a bit.


Do pass when safe but have the judgment to know when that is and the patience to use that judgment.


achillesheal

I get your point and crossing the double when safe is what I do in practice now. My point is that we have government writing so many laws, and some contradictory, that you can be in violation for any number of things at any given time.


Is the goal truly safety, or is it control? and of course revenue.


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