On September 24, Governor Brown signed bill AB 1371, better known as the “Three Feet for Safety Act,” which will require motorists to give at least three feet of space when passing a bicyclist on the road in California. The law also states that drivers must slow down and pass only when it will not endanger the bicyclist.
When I spoke with Andy Hanshaw, executive director of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, he said a reasonable speed is what is required of drivers to pass, but he said that that speed hasn’t been determined as of yet. Drivers must slow down and only pass when reasonably necessary. Bicyclists, by law, are allowed to ride in the middle of a lane, sometimes angering motorists.
“Sharrows” — the image of a bicycle with arrows above it painted in white onto our city streets — have popped up all over San Diego; they are meant to point out to motorists that a bicyclist is allowed to be in the middle of the road.
Colliding with a bike from behind is the cause of 40 percent of all fatalities between a bicyclist and a motorist, according to calbike.org’s website.
While the law will not take effect until September 16 of 2014, the website further states that motorists who violate its provisions now will still be fined for illegal passing. This will entail a $35 base fine, plus the fee, which would bring the total to $233. The base fine will increase to $220 if a collision occurs, causing bodily harm to the bike rider.
“The law is [for raising] awareness,” Hanshaw said, “a tool to calm down aggressive driver behavior.”