California three foot law, 2012 redo

California Senator Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach will try once again to get a three foot law onto the California Vehicle Code.

You might recall the state legislature passed a similar bill last year only to have Governor Jerry Brown veto it. Brown said he didn’t like the 15 MPH exception in last year’s S.B. 910.

Senator Lowenthal introduced S.B. 1464 last Friday, with identical language to S.B. 910, but without the 15 MPH exception. Some highlights of S.B. 1464 include:

  • Adds a minimum 3 foot distance to California’s current passing law, which specifies “a safe distance without interfering with the safe
    operation of the overtaken vehicle or bicycle.” (CVC 21750)

  • Current fine for violating the safe passing law is $100 for a first conviction, up to $250 for 3rd and subsequent convictions. S.B. 1464 reduces this to $35 to encourage more enforcement of the law. If a collision resulting in injury to the cyclist occurs, the fine jumps up to $220. (CVC 21750)
  • Adds a provision to allow drivers to cross a double yellow line when necessary to pass a cyclist in a substandard width lane (CVC 21460).

More about this from California Bicycle Coalition. H/T Serge.


  1. I like this legislation, I think it’s important… but I really don’t feel safe with three feet of distance between me and a car. I dunno. Anyone else? 

  2. Three feet doesn’t seem like enough to me either.  I think the focus should be on ‘change lanes to pass’.  The ordinance just passed in Plano, TX includes this as an option but the wording is a bit ambiguous.

  3. Many of the roads that I cycle on and which have bike lanes, have the bike lanes placed in the door zone for the parked cars, which means that I ride to the far left of the marked bike lane.   It is in these cases that I have the closest passes.   Although I don’t like complicating the law, it would be nice to have it explicit that it applies to both same lane, or adjacent lane passing.   The white line that marks a bike lane offers no safety benefits.

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