California bike accident draws attention to 3-feet law

California residents may be aware of the requirement to allow 3 feet of clearance when passing a bicycle, but in a recent Coachella Valley incident, an investigator drew attention to the need for further education on the matter. According to a member of a cycling group, the investigator in the case did not cite the woman who hit another cyclist in his group.

The law was passed to reduce the potential for bicycle accidents by establishing the requirement that motorists allow 3 feet of clearance between the vehicle and a bicycle when travel is in the same direction. The law has been highlighted by the bicycling community through the development of websites and apparel with messages and logos emphasizing safety concerns when the road is shared by both automobiles and bicycles. In this particular incident, members of the group expressed that the lack of awareness by officers undermines the confidence and sense of safety intended by the legislation.

A representative of the sheriff’s office did not comment on the incident but noted that officers are continually informed of current legislation and issues. Cyclists indicate that there is hope that this incident will prompt better education efforts for both officers and motorists. An individual injured in a cycling accident in which a vehicle has not given sufficient clearance might find that legal action is warranted to address pain, suffering and other damages experienced due to the incident.

In filing a claim, a plaintiff is not dependent on the citing of a motorist or on any criminal action in the case to prove the motorist’s fault. Although such issues could add credence to a personal injury claim, a lawyer can demonstrate a motorist’s responsibility for a client’s injuries without these factors.

Source: KESQ, “Three-feet law gaining attention after accident“, Angelo Caruso, October 23, 2014

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