A Bill that was vetoed by Governor Brown four times has finally made it into law. Bicycle groups are hailing the passage. AB 1371, authored by Assemblyman, Steven Bradford of Gardenia, calls for a 3-foot buffer zone between a car and bicyclist. Advocates of this Bill have been hoping to get it into legislation since 2006. Twenty-two other states have similar bills according to local authorities.
Motorists will now have to slow down and pass at the minimum of 3-feet. If 3-feet isn’t available, motorists must slow down and pass when that amount of space is available. This version of the bill that the Governor signed does not allow drivers to cross a center line or divider to find that 3-feet…and, if a fine of thirty five dollars for a first time infraction doesn’t sound like much, Matt Harvey from the California Highway Patrol says it really isn’t about the fine. “The idea isn’t to gouge people…the idea is to really just educate people about safety…and hopefully, this does that. Maybe if we see that a small fine isn’t doing the trick, we can increase it.”
Local riders are happy the Bill has passed. Rick Knapp, President of the local Humboldt Bay Bicycle Commuters Association (HBBCA), hopes it will help with the education of drivers but that riders need to dress appropriately and everyone needs to concentrate. “We have hundreds of people bicycling in Humboldt County. A lot of times motorists don’t notice us. That’s why I wear bright clothing…We’re all trying to do our part out there…bicyclist and motorists need to concentrate on how they can safely share the road.”
Standing 3-feet away from a car isn’t very much space especially when you include an extending mirror. Bicyclists that we talked to today say it gets a little unnerving when vehicles get close. They’re hopeful drivers will become more cautious. The Bill went into effect yesterday and motorists who disregard the new law and cause an accident will be looking at fines in the hundreds of dollars.