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CA Cyclists Get Added Layer Of Protection

Published On: Jan 01 2014 08:14:07 PM CST
CA Cyclists Get Extra Layer of Protection
SALINAS, Calif. -

A new law taking effect later this year involves a popular activity here on the Central Coast:  cycling.  Lawmakers are asking drivers to take extra steps to save lives and prevent injuries.  Basically, it's a change to the law dealing with one car passing another from behind, in the same lane and direction of travel.  Now cyclists are being treated in a similar way to help prevent accidents. 

"Some people, you know, respect bikes and some people don't," said bicyclist Robert Hallatt.

That's why the California Bicycle Coalition said it worked to pass a new law mandating drivers give cyclists 3 feet of space.  That's because some drivers just cut it too close. 

"Just when big trucks get too close, you know it only takes a little bit to get in their way," Hallatt said.

The coalition said the law will be monitored the same way California's current passing law is enforced -- meaning some drivers will get caught and some won't.  The change doesn't affect the fact that drivers can't pass other drivers or cyclists, unless it’s safe to do so.  Some cyclists said they wonder how effective the law will be because they think it'll be hard for drivers to judge a 3 foot buffer.

"You know a lot of times there's bike lanes which are good.  But a lot of roads don't have enough room to do that.  So I don't know how they'll be able to pass you," Hallatt said.

A ticket for driving too close will set you back more than $200, and if you get into an accident causing an injury, you could pay almost $1,000.  The coalition said the easiest way to be sure you're giving a cyclist enough space is to imagine your door is open -- because all passenger side doors are at least three feet wide. 

If the bicyclist is traveling in a bike lane, the coalition said this new three foot buffer doesn't apply -- because those are legal lanes that have a buffer.  Drivers still have some time to get used to giving cyclists enough space.  The law doesn't take effect until September.