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California Enacts Bicyclist Protection Law

September 21, 2014

California has enacted as law Assembly Bill 1371 titled “Three Feet For Safety” to protect bicyclists on California roads and highways. The new law requires drivers to allow three feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist, which goes further than existing law which required clearance of an undefined “safe distance.”

The law was enacted following a “Give Me 3” campaign by bicycle enthusiasts including the California Bicycling Coalition. Earlier versions of the law were vetoed by Governor Brown. The new law was drafted so as to alleviate the prior concerns and received the support of the Governor.

The law will require motorists to give three feet of distance between the bicyclist and the motor vehicle operated by a motorist when passing the bicyclist from behind. However, if roadway conditions are such that providing the three feet of clearance is not possible, motorists must slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent and then only pass when the bicyclist is not endangered.

The new law is set to take effect September 14, 2014. It is estimated that 21 other states have similar laws protecting bicyclists, and it is hoped that this will reduce accidents between motor vehicles and bicyclists in the State of California, providing protection to bicyclists. Violators will be subject to a $220.00 fine.

The Meisel Law Group is committed to protecting the rights of those injured due to the carelessness of others. The firm has successfully represented bicyclists severely injured when involved in accidents with motor vehicles including passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Most recently in June 2013, the firm won a $750,000.00 settlement for a bicyclist struck by a semi-truck on Highway 160 in Nevada (Baldino vs Hammon Trucking). The trucking company contested liability and claimed the bicyclist was not as injured as he claimed however the Law Firm successfully demonstrated both the severity of the injuries and the facts of the incident which supported a finding of complete responsibility on the trucking company.