California passes law mandating bike buffer zone

Bicyclists in California may have safer rides as a result of a bill that went into effect on Sept. 16. The state law, called the Three-Feet-for-Safety Act, states that drivers must allow a buffer zone of at least three feet in between their vehicles and bicycles. A representative for a bicyclists’ advocacy organization said that the law might help drivers understand how to conduct themselves more safely around cyclists.

The new law imposes a $35 fine for not allowing cyclists enough room to ride safely and a $220 fine for drivers who cause accidents while not observing the three-foot rule. However, with court costs and other fees, drivers who violate the rule may receive a ticket totaling around $230, while drivers who cause accidents could pay more than $950.

The nationwide rate of car accidents injuring bicyclists rose 18 percent from 2007 to 2012. A San Diego police chief said that more than 500 bicyclists, four of whom died, suffered injuries as a result of car accidents in San Diego in 2013. She urged drivers and cyclists alike to have patience when sharing the road, adding that drivers could avoid tickets and cyclists’ lives could be saved.

Bicycling enthusiasts quoted in reports noted that although the law is a good start to making roadways safer for cyclists, other problems endanger Californian cyclists every day. Most cyclists only suffer minor injuries in car accidents, but many suffer serious injuries or death as a result of driver negligence. The types of injuries that can occur in bicycle accidents may cause severe, lifelong complications that could leave accident victims out of work or dependent on their loved ones for around-the-clock care. Personal injury attorneys are sometimes able to help victims or their families seek compensation from the drivers responsible for their accidents.

Source: UT San Diego , “Driver alert: Bike buffer zone now the law“, Lyndsay Winkley, September 16, 2014

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