New law protects cyclists with 3-foot buffer and increased penalties

By DIANNE VILLALTA 

 

Senior Boa Pistol-Boesch wears a helmet and makes sure to look both ways before she crosses any street when riding her bike to school. Even with these precautions she still runs the risk of being hit by a car, which happened last year.

“I was by the school, the light was red she hit me because she was trying to make a right turn and I fell onto her hood. She waved ‘sorry’ from her red Camaro,” Pistol-Boesch said.

Senior Boa Pistol-Boesch rides her bike out of the school parking lot while wearing a helmet due to cars speedily racing home. She and other DPMHS students have been hit while riding bikes. Photo by Jake Dobbs
Senior Boa Pistol-Boesch rides her bike out of the school parking lot while wearing a helmet due to cars speedily racing home. She and other DPMHS students have been hit while riding bikes. Photo by Jake Dobbs

The California Bicycle Coalition made progress in it’s goal to triple the amount of people on bikes by 2020 when the Three Feet for Safety Act was passed on Sept. 15.

“I don’t think (the new law) is going to help very much,” Pistol-Boesch said. “People don’t really pay attention or care about new bike laws.”

The Three Feet for Safety Act, written by State Assemblyman Steven Bradford, requires that drivers give bicyclists a buffer zone of at least three feet. If a driver does not give the bicyclists three feet, they will be fined $35 and if a collision occurs they will be fined $220.

“(The new law is) good so I don’t get hit anymore. I got hit a few times,” senior Sean Williams said.

The new law was written to improve awareness. Previously laws only stated that drivers should keep a safe distance from cyclists but there was no specification of how much distance.

“I think its a great thing that will get more motorists aware about bicyclists,” said Tom Wild teacher and sponsor of Wheels for Youth, a school club promoting safe cycling.

The new law states drivers now must slow down and wait until a cyclist is safe before they pass by them, especially if there is traffic or other conditions that make it hard to have a three-foot buffer.