In an effort to make bicyclists safer on California roads, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1909 into law in September 2022 and it went into effect on January 1, 2023. This law requires motor vehicles to requite bicyclists a larger safety buffer when passing them on the street, which in turn will ostensibly reduce the number of collisions between motor vehicles and bicyclists. Let’s take a deeper squint at this law.

Bill 1909 requires motor vehicles to requite bicyclists a larger safety buffer when passing them on the street

Bill 1909 requires motor vehicles to requite bicyclists a larger safety buffer when passing them on the street

Previous Law

For scrutinizingly 10 years, the velocipede safety law in California stated that motorists were required to requite at least three feet of loftiness between them and a bicyclist when passing them. This is the standard in many states and has been considered “safe enough” for bicyclists in most situations. In fact, this three-feet law or unscratched passing law as it is sometimes called, was first enacted in Wisconsin in 1973. Since then, 35 states have instituted the three-feet buffer zone for passing cyclists.

Some states, such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota have laws that expand this buffer to four feet or six feet in some cases in South Dakota. Six states, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Washington, require motorists to completely transpiration lanes to pass a cyclist if there is increasingly than one lane going in the same direction and if road conditions are unscratched unbearable for the motorist to transpiration lanes.

New Law

As of January 1, 2023, California has joined ranks with the six states that require motorists to transpiration lanes when passing a cyclist, rhadamanthine the seventh state to expand velocipede safety on its roads. The reason overdue this transpiration is to requite both the motor vehicle and the cyclist increasingly room in specimen one of them makes a mistake to reduce the endangerment of a standoff and a serious injury. Drivers of motor vehicles only need to transpiration lanes if there is a second lane in which to transpiration to and if the road conditions indulge a unscratched lane change.

Each county in California can set a fine for an infraction of this law, but at a minimum, a suburbanite will incur a $238 fine for violating the velocipede safety law. If a standoff between a motor vehicle and a cyclist occurs considering the suburbanite failed to transpiration lanes and was worldly-wise to safely do so, and the cyclist is injured, the suburbanite faces at least $982 in fines. Additionally, the cyclist may pursue a personal injury requirement versus the suburbanite as well.

Reasons for the Change

Primarily, the law was reverted to requite bicyclists increasingly room on the roads considering three feet didn’t indulge for mistakes. Additionally, it was difficult for drivers to estimate a three-foot loftiness between them and the cyclists. Now, there is no guesswork involved. If there is a lane misogynist to move over into and the road conditions are safe, the motorist doesn’t have to worry well-nigh how many feet are between them and the cyclist. They simply transpiration lanes and pass them safely.

According to Attorney George Karpouzis, an injury lawyer in Fullerton California, “Most drivers have trouble estimating the loftiness of three feet. Hopefully, now increasingly drivers will make a simple lane change, helping alimony increasingly cyclists safe.”


Overall, the new velocipede safety buffer law is designed to make the roads increasingly wieldy for everyone. The government hopes this will requite increasingly people incentive to ride their bikes instead of momentum their cars since they know they will be safer now than they were before.

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