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In school zones and everywhere in CA, law requires motorists to give bicyclists three feet for safety


In addition to California having a Three Feet for Safety law since 2014, in 2022 CA Assembly Bill 1909 (Friedman-Haney-Portantino), signed by the Governor on September 16, 2022, amended CA Vehicle Code Section 21760 to now further require drivers of motor vehicles to change lanes when passing someone on a bicycle whenever feasible, just as they would if passing a car. That law became effective January 1, 2023. See details, as well as other bike-related provisions of AB 1909:

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3 feet is law in caThanks to Officer Rios of the Monterey branch of the California Highway Patrol for providing the press release below, which is published here accompanied by Bicycling Monterey’s related tips.

For more about Three Feet for Safety, including local media coverage, FAQs, stickers to help in the public education effort, and some background about the bill, click here.

SACRAMENTO, Calif.  – With children heading back to school, motorists can expect to see more children riding to and from school on their bicycles.  The California Highway Patrol (CHP) would like to remind the public that on September 16, 2014, a new law affecting motorists and bicyclists takes effect.

According to the law, the Three Feet for Safety Act (VC 21760), a driver must allow three feet of distance when overtaking or passing a bicyclist.  If three feet is not available, a driver must then slow to a safe speed and pass when no danger is present.

“Motorists are reminded to pay close attention as the school year approaches and exercise caution when they see bicyclists on the road,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow.  “Be sure to move over or slow down to pass when you see a bicyclist on the road and help keep our roadways a safer place.”

According to data from the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, in 2012, there were 153 bicyclists killed in California, which reflects a 7 percent increase from 2011.  Those deaths accounted for 5 percent of the total collision fatalities in California.

“As important as it is for vehicles to be mindful of our bicyclists, those who ride must exercise safe practices and ride smart,” added Commissioner Farrow.  “With both drivers and bicyclists doing their part, we can help reduce the number of tragedies involving bicyclists.”

The danger surrounding motor vehicle traffic is just one aspect of a child’s safe passage to and from school.  According to, more children ages 5 to 14 are seen in emergency rooms for injuries related to bicycling than any other sport.  Bicycle helmets, which are required by law for children under 18 years of age in California, can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by 88 percent – yet only 45 percent of children 14 and under usually wear them.

The CHP joins with in offering the following traffic safety tips for bicyclists:

  • “Use your head, wear a helmet.”  It is the single most effective safety device available to reduce head injuries and deaths from bicycle crashes. [For bike helmet fitting instructions in Spanish and English, see Bicycling Monterey’s riding skills, safety, and bike laws section:]
  • Tell your children to ride on the right side of the road with traffic, not against it.  Stay as far to the right as possible.  [For more about proper lane usage, including “taking the lane,”  left turns, and more, see]
  • Use appropriate hand signals and obey traffic signals, stopping at all stop signs and stoplights. [For hand signal illustrations and tips, see]
  • Teach your children to make eye contact with drivers.  Bicyclists: make sure drivers are paying attention and are going to stop before you cross the street. [For more about distracted drivers–and distracted pedestrians and cyclists too, click here.]
  • When riding at dusk, dawn, or in the evening, be bright and use lights – and make sure your bike has reflectors as well.  [For night riding tips and CA laws about equipment requirements, in Spanish and English, see Bicycling Monterey’s section on Biking in the Dark.] It is also smart to wear clothes and accessories that have retro-reflective materials to improve bicyclist visibility to motorists. [See Bicycling Monterey’s tips on high-visibility apparel and accessories.]
  • Actively supervise children until you are comfortable that they are responsible to ride on their own. [For specifics about what’s appropriate for babies, children, and teens, and special tips for them, see Bicycling Monterey’s riding skills, safety, and bike laws section:]

The mission of the California Highway Patrol is to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security to the people of California.

KammannSchoolSalinasMay2014 from SCEEFAbove: May 2014 photo from Kammann School, provided courtesy of the Salinas City Elementary Educational Foundation.

This post was published on 19 September 2014. One or more changes last made to this post on 6 November 2023.

  1. Sam Daniel says:

    Great reminder….Be safe and responsible on the road.

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