The California Department of Motor Vehicles is alerting drivers about a new law requiring them to give bicyclists, traveling in the same direction, 3 feet of clearance when passing. The Three Feet for Safety Act takes effect Sept. 16

According to the new law (AB1371), which Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr. signed a year ago on Sept. 23, 2013, if traffic or roadway conditions prevent motorists from giving cyclists 3 feet of space, drivers must “slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent” and only pass when a cyclist will not be in danger. Violations are punishable by a $35 fine.

Motorists who collide with cyclists and injure them while violating the Three Feet for Safety Act can be subject to a $220 fine. Under the previous law, a vehicle was simply required to pass to the left at a “safe distance.”

Bicycle riders on public roads have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists, and are subject to the same rules and regulations. Refer to the California Driver Handbook for more information.

DMV advises that “motorists must look carefully for bicyclists before turning left or right, merging into bicycle lanes, and opening doors next to moving traffic. Respect the right-of-way of bicyclists because they are entitled to share the road with you.”

California is among 24 states requiring motorists to give bicyclists 3 feet of clearance while passing, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.


  1. Share the road. Sounds really nice and friendly. Like something we should gladly do. However, highway 243 was not designed to be shared by cars and bicycles. It is a narrow winding corridor with blind curves and dangerous drop offs. To me, sharing the road only makes sense if the roads are designed to be shared. Forcing drivers to dangerously alter their driving pattern to accommodate a recreational cyclist does not make common sense. Too often I have experienced a great deal of anxiety and concern when coming upon a cyclist. I’m traveling a safe 35 MPH, come around a corner and there in front of me is a cyclist, on the other side, another vehicle. Hit the brakes. Dogs and groceries go flying, passengers scared, now I need 3 feet to get around the obstacle. The road was not designed for this activity. And that IS the bottom line. So basically it is a lovely idea, that simply does not fit all situations. The laws in place have already given cyclists the same privileges as cars. But they do so without situational common sense. Bicycles on highway 243 are an impediment to normal vehicle traffic and are a safety hazard. Like it or not, that simply is. the way it is. I’m sure it is great fun to travel these scenic and thrilling roads on a bike. But having “fun” should not trump common sense. So, if we want people to share the road, then do as the city folk do. Build a bike lane. If there isn’t room for one, then for goodness sake use some common sense. Ride in a safer environment.

  2. That is EXACTLY how I feel. Very well written. If it were childish, I would dot this message with ten exclamation points.

    I love to ride my bicycle. I know the traffic law will protect my rights in court, if I survive, however my most important asset is my brain, that tells me it is not safe to share the road between a bicycle and an SUV. This compares to an elephant making love to a mouse. It’s cute but in reality it ends VERY badly for the mouse. Even though the mouse has rights, the laws of physics and the laws of gravity supersede the traffic laws of man.

    OK so what are we going to do about it? who wants to amend the law? or is this just a vent session?