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California's three-foot bike law: What the heck is that?

OK, for starters, your bicycle doesn't have to be three feet long or high to comply with some California bike-related law.

In fact, the statutory enactment cited in the headline above has nothing to do with bike configurations at all. Rather, it is most decidedly focused upon the drivers of passenger vehicles across the state.

To wit: If you're behind the wheel of a car, truck or motorcyclist and passing by a bicyclist, whether in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Sacramento or anywhere else in the state, steer clear of that rider by at least three feet.

Whizzing by that defenseless individual at a distance of less than 36 inches will get you ticketed.

Maybe.

Well, in all likelihood, probably not.

Therein lies the rub with California's so-called bike buffer legislation, enacted into law in September of last year, its rationale being clearly guided by a perceived need to enhance safety for the high numbers of bicyclists across the state.

The problem that critics of the law have with the statutory provision, according to a recent media focus on the three-foot bike law, is twofold.

First, it is almost never enforced.

And, second, the above article states that some motorists in California "are unaware the law [even] exists."

It's not like the mandate came out of left field or is a singular enactment relevant only to California. Reportedly, more than a score of other states have a similar law.

So, it's on the books and unquestionably has a safety-enhancing effect when adhered to by drivers of passenger vehicles.

There seems to be only one open-ended question regarding it, namely this: When will traffic officials begin enforcing it?

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