While Los Angeles may not be known as a biking city, a surprising number of bicycle-related accidents and deaths happen each year, leaving the victims, and their families and friends, devastated emotionally and financially. Thankfully, a recent amendment to the California Vehicle Code, specifically Section 21750 and Section 21760, will provide greater rights for bicyclists throughout the state. These updates, which go into effect this fall, which require specific distance between automobiles and bicyclists when the car is passing or overtaking a bicycle and will also set fines for violations even if no accident actually occurs.
Section 21750 will read, in part:
(a) The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken vehicle, subject to the limitations and exceptions set forth in this article.
Section 21760, or the ‘Three Feet for Safety Act’ will read in part:
(b) The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking and passing a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall pass in compliance with the requirements of this article applicable to overtaking and passing a vehicle, and shall do so at a safe distance that does not interfere with the safe operation of the overtaken bicycle, having due regard for the size and speed of the motor vehicle and the bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and the surface and width of the highway.
(c) A driver of a motor vehicle shall not overtake or pass a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway at a distance of less than three feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator.
(d) If the driver of a motor vehicle is unable to comply with subdivision (c), due to traffic or roadway conditions, the driver shall slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent, and may pass only when doing so would not endanger the safety of the operator of the bicycle, taking into account the size and speed of the motor vehicle and bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and surface and width of the highway.
(e) (1) A violation of subdivision (b), (c), or (d) is an infraction punishable by a fine of thirty-five dollars ($35).
(2) If a collision occurs between a motor vehicle and a bicycle causing bodily injury to the operator of the bicycle, and the driver of the motor vehicle is found to be in violation of subdivision (b), (c), or (d), a two-hundred-twenty-dollar ($220) fine shall be imposed on that driver.
As an experienced Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyer will attest, a goal of the Three Feet for Safety Act is to protect bicycle riders and help minimize bicycle accidents caused by negligent and/or aggressive drivers who must share the streets and highways with bicycle riders. Drivers must pay close attention, as under the new law, the driver will be fined if he drives past a bicycle with a distance of less than 3 feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its rider. Ideally, the number of spine injuries, fractures, head injuries and even brain injuries, and wrongful deaths associated with Los Angeles bike accidents will decline when this new law goes into effect.
BIKLAW personal injury law attorneys represent victims of personal injury accidents, including bicycle accidents. If you have been injured in accident that was not your fault, let us help you fight for your legal rights and the financial compensation you deserve. Contact us today.