Obscure Law Protects Californian Cyclists
There is a law in California that went into effect more than a year ago, but many people are unaware of it. The law, designed to protect cyclists, dictates that drivers maintain a distance of at least three feet from anyone riding a bike on the roadway. To date, only six citations have been handed out.
While critics of the law call it unenforceable due to it being based on a judgment call, those in favor of it want to see more enforcement. There is little doubt that there is an issue with safety across the state when it comes to cyclists, and proponents of the law are hoping that more citations will make drivers aware.
Even though many people are not aware that the law is on the books, bike advocates say it can still be effective. The only thing missing is enforcement on the part of local police agencies and the California Highway Patrol. A study conducted by Rutgers University has shown that, even in states where similar laws have been in effect for many years, the laws are not typically enforced unless there is a collision. In those cases, vehicle drivers may be cited for driving too closely to cyclists.
According to the CHP, there has been a decrease in vehicle-bicycle accidents across the state in recent years. Furthermore, accidents from 2011 to 2012 show that, in more than half the cases, cyclists were found to be at fault. For the remainder, 20 percent were the fault of the vehicle driver, and the rest were hit-and-run or undetermined as to cause.
Whether you were previously aware about the law or not, officials urge drivers to keep a safe distance from cyclists. Cyclists are also urged to keep an eye out for vehicles, and to maintain proper safety equipment on their bicycles. When cyclists and drivers are respectful of each other, everyone is safer.
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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.