Category: law

3 foot law in the Sentinel

Stephen Baxter wrote a decent piece for the Sentinel about the three foot law coming into effect on September 16. There might be a quote in it from Yours Truly, and of course the usual reader comments following about the law breaking scofflaws that cyclists all are. They don’t provide any solutions, of course, so I’ll suggest my own: give all of those law-breaking cyclists a car, because more idiots in cars will make our roads safer, less congested, and better in every way!

Santa Cruz Bike Party Friday June 21 2013

Read it: Cyclists, police prepare for new ‘Three Feet for Safety’ law in Santa Cruz County: New rule requires drivers to keep cyclists at arm’s length.

California legislation proposes suspended license for hit and run

Mike Gatto (D – Los Angeles) introduced legislation in the California Assembly this week to mandate an administrative six month suspension of driving privileges for those convicted of misdemeanor hit and run. Misdemeanor hit and runs are property-damage-only collisions. The penalty for felony hit and run — anywhere from 90 days in jail to five years in the Big House, or a fine ranging from $1000 to $10,000 depending on the circumstances — remains unchanged.

In Gatto’s home district, 48% of all reported collisions in recent years involve a driver who leaves the scene. About half of all such cases remain unsolved.


California Governor signs 3 foot passing bill (for real this time)

New and improved news, this time with actual FACT CHECKING!

Santa Cruz Wildcat race

Legislative update from the office of California Governor Jerry Brown:

9-23-2013 SACRAMENTO – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that he has signed the following bills:


  • AB 1371 by Assemblymember Steven C. Bradford (D-Gardena) – Vehicles: bicycles: passing distance

Read the press release issued earlier today here.

AB 1371 is Steven Bradford’s “Three Feet for Safety Act” that mandates (sorta kinda) a minimum three feet of clearance when a motor vehicle passes a cyclist. And because people keep asking about this, the law specifies “3 feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator.

“I sincerely thank the Governor for signing this commonsense measure to protect cyclists on our roads,” Bradford said. “When cars and bikes collide, it often turns to tragedy. This bill is a great reminder that we all have to work together to keep our roads safe for all users.”

Bradford’s original bill was a work of genius; subsequent amendments in committee of both chambers of the California legislature weakens the law, mostly to incorporate compromises that Brown deemed essential to guarantee his signature.

The most important compromise is the so-called “Part D exception,” which says:

If the driver of a motor vehicle is unable to [pass more than three feet away from the cyclist] due to traffic or roadway conditions, the driver shall slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent, and may pass only when doing so would not endanger the safety of the operator of the bicycle, taking into account the size and speed of the motor vehicle and bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and surface and width of the highway.

Still, cyclist and cycling advocate organizations statewide supported AB 1371 as a symbolic measure that recognizes the importance of taking increased care while driving around cyclists.

The law will take effect September 16, 2014. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 22 states currently have a minimum passing distance law on the books.

Federal judge rules against lane control in Massachusetts

Several people are pointing to this editorial applauding a Federal judge ruling that affirms the common societal belief that cyclists should stay out of the way of faster motor vehicles at all costs.

[U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth] Neiman’s description of what’s actually legal seems closer to what Hadley police were arguing. As the magistrate put it: “The court … has little trouble concluding that Massachusetts law requires a slower-traveling bicyclist to pull to the right to allow a faster-traveling motorist to pass when it is safe to do so under the circumstances.”

[Cyclist Eli] Damon and his attorney had argued he had a right to ride in the center of a lane. Hadley police say that in a section of Route 9 with two travel lanes in each direction, Damon rode in the middle of the lane closest to the side of the road; as traffic backed up behind him, he waved for drivers to pass him in the travel lane available to the left.