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New California law aims to protect cyclists

Even though many bicycle enthusiasts are quick to note the health and recreational benefits of cycling, they often concede that bicycle riding involves inherent risks. Riding a bicycle in an urban environment can be especially dangerous, as cyclists typically have no choice but to navigate around vehicular traffic and other obstacles. Fortunately, cyclists in the state of California may ride a little easier knowing that a new law has officially gone into effect.

California is now one of 24 states across the country to prohibit vehicles from getting three feet or closer to bicycles while passing them on the road. The state law replaces the old policy of mandating that motorists remain a safe distance from bicycles, providing bicycle riders with a specific amount of room to maneuver.

Motorists who fail to comply with the recently instituted policy will face monetary penalties. In the event that a bicycle rider sustains injuries as a result of a motorist passing them on the road too closely, the driver may face a fine of $220. And while motorists can also be penalized for breaking the law even when a bicycle accident does not occur, the new guidelines do acknowledge that some scenarios do not allow drivers to give bicycles extra space on the roadway. In instances where a vehicle cannot pass outside the three-foot boundary of a bicycle, the vehicle should hold back until passing is safely possible.

Right now it’s estimated that over 100 cyclists die every year in auto collisions. Accident victims and their families can endure serious physical, emotional and financial difficulties. That’s why it can be incredibly important to receive compensation for injuries and related expenses.

Source: KPBS, “It’s The Law: Vehicles Have To Give Bicyclists 3 Feet Of Space,” Jill Replogle, Sep. 15, 2014

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