A group of traffic safety advocates today launched the “I GIVE 3 FT” campaign to build awareness of a new state law requiring a three-foot passing distance between motorists and cyclists. The group includes the Automobile Club of Southern California, State Assemblymember Steven Bradford, author of Assembly Bill 1371, the “Three-Feet-for-Safety Act”, the California Highway Patrol-West Valley and the California and Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalitions.
California’s new bike-passing law takes effect Tuesday, Sept. 16 and is designed to reduce car-versus-bicycle crashes. It also provides a way for law enforcement to enforce safe passing. Twenty-five other states have similar laws.
The Southern California "I GIVE 3 FT” safety campaign is part of a statewide effort that includes the two California AAA clubs, law enforcement, bicycle groups and non-profits to draw attention to road hazards facing bicyclists and drivers. Today’s campaign launch was held at the newly opened Serious Cycling bicycle store in Northridge.
The law goes into effect as state and local governments work to boost bicycling for health, safety and quality of life. In 2014, California moved from 19th to 9th in the annual Bicycle Friendly State rankings, according to the League of American Bicyclists. The state Dept. of Transportation and local transportation agencies are infusing more money into biking and other active transportation projects.
The growing bicycling population means more awareness is needed by all road users. Nationwide, hundreds of bicyclists [726 in 2012] are killed and tens of thousands [49,000 in 2012] are injured annually. In Los Angeles County, bicyclist fatalities and injuries have increased along with an increase in the amount of bicycling. In 2012, there were 4,958 bicyclists killed and injured here, up 65% from 2007, according to CHP statistics. Most injuries are minor, but the worst injuries and fatalities are caused by preventable actions such as unsafe passing by motorists and bicyclists not following the rules of the road.
When the new law takes effect, violators will face a $35 base fine, ($233 when penalty assessments are added). If there is a collision, the base fine goes up to $220 ($959 with assessments.) Where a violation results in a collision that injures a bicyclist, the law provides a way for law enforcement to cite the driver for unsafe passing. The new penalty equals the lowest fine imposed for reckless driving with bodily injury.
“As a lifelong cyclist, I know firsthand that when cars and bikes collide, it often turns to tragedy,” Bradford said. “This bill is a great reminder that we all have to work together to keep our roads safe for all users. I thank the Automobile Club, LA County Bicycle Coalition and Cal Bike, and all of the grassroots supporters who put safety first and helped us finally pass this legislation.”
As part of the safety awareness campaign, the Auto Club, with law enforcement and bicycle groups, is hosting public awareness events in multiple counties as well as publishing stories about the law in its Westways magazine that is delivered to millions of Southern California households. Today, it also will begin distributing 200,000 tip cards about the law to motorists via its network of roadside assistance contractors and partners.
“The Auto Club is part of this awareness campaign because we believe it is imperative that both motorists and cyclists know about the new law and follow all traffic laws to make roads safer for everyone,” said the Auto Club Public Affairs Specialist and bicyclist Marianne Kim.
The Auto Club also will distribute the cards as well as clear vinyl window graphics (“clings”) at events and include information about the law in its annual School’s Open Drive Safely campaign directed to 250,000 children, young drivers and parents, according Kim.
The CHP is distributing the cards to its public information officers and to visitors at hundreds of its community and safety events, in addition to publicizing the law on social media sites.
“Collisions between bicyclists and motor vehicles can result in serious, potentially life-threatening injuries,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “By adhering to this new law, motorists are allowing for a safe passing distance – a benefit to both driver and rider. However, it is important to remember, creating a safer roadway environment is shared responsibility.”
The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) and the California Bicycle Coalition (Cal Bike) have placed information about the law in e-newsletters going to their members. The biking organizations also collaborated with AAA and Wire Media to create the “I GIVE 3 FT” tip card and window “clings” to publicize the new law. The “cling” can be downloaded from Wire Media here. Requests for the window graphic and Cal Bike stickers can be obtained directly from Cal Bike at https://calbike.org/bulkgiveme3form
“LACBC is proud to partner with AAA, CalBike, and CHP on the campaign to promote the new 3 Foot Law. We're certain the new law will further support the growing number of people who share our vision to make LA County a healthy, safe, and fun place to ride a bike,” said LACBC Executive Director Jennifer Klausner.
”We hope this law encourages people to slow down for a moment before passing a bicyclist and give thought about how much space they’re leaving as they pass,” said Dave Snyder, executive director of the California Bicycle Coalition.
AB 1371 was signed into law last September with the support of a number of bicycle coalitions statewide and traffic safety groups including the Auto Club and AAA Northern California.