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Three Feet for Safety Act is CA law


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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“My job includes enforcing this new law. I still want you to be careful out there, because not all drivers will know about the law–and unfortunately, some who know will be careless! And ‘3 feet’ bumper stickers can help get the word out.”Boy in Vista Verde t with Greenfield PD - fitted for helmet - 2012Above: Officer Armando Mendoza of the Greenfield Police Department helping youth to bike Greenfield with greater safety. As Officer Mendoza and other local cops know, as the new school year begins, many teens and younger kids too are among those out biking. Click here for the California Highway Patrol’s alert,  “As new school year rolls in, law requires motorists to give bicyclists three feet for safety.”

The Three Feet for Safety Act (CA VC 21760), passed to help make California roads safer for people who choose biking as their transportation option, went into effect September 16, 2014.
This post was first published 6/26/12. It begins with September 2014 local media coverage, includes FAQs and stickers to get the word out, and ends with an archive of some of the steps that resulted in the passing of this law.

3 feet is law in ca

Local media coverage

What makes biking safer?

As Ana Ceballos reported in the Monterey County Herald on 9/15/14, I remind people that “bike safety is not about just one thing.” It’s about:

  • Laws, like Three Feet for Safety
  • Law enforcement
  • Infrastructure improvements
  • Responsible behavior by people who bike, drive, walk, or otherwise get about
  • And simply an increase in the numbers of people who bike makes communities safer for biking too

Learn more about all those contributing factors on the Bicycling Monterey website (e.g., “Riding Skills, Safety, and Bike Laws,”  “Keeping the Local Bike Scene Cool,” “Bicycle Advocacy–What you can do,” “Constables of the Peace“)  or contact me with your questions.

The Herald’s story states,The law also says bike riders must travel as close to the right side of the lane in the direction of traffic,” and this statement may be misleading. Read about proper lane usage, including “taking the lane,” left-hand turns, and more in “Riding Skills, Safety, and Bike Laws,”  

The Herald story also quotes bike-friendly Salinas PD’s Sgt. Gerard Ross about some of the challenges of enforcing this new law. In the FAQs below, read some input from the California Highway Patrol, which also provided a press release about the new law; click here. Questions? Feel free to contact me.

As KION reported 9/15/14, the Transportation Agency for Monterey County’s outreach about Three Feet for Safety will include demonstrations at the next Ciclovia Salinas, 11/1/14. Tell your friends: Ciclovia Salinas- 1 Nov 2014 – 4-to-a-page mini fliers

In KSBW’s 9/16/14 story, Monterey bicyclist Mark Hardt emphasizes: “Cyclists need to obey the laws. Stop at stop signs, use hand signals. It’s going to take an effort from both sides.”

People who bike California: Eyes are on you, more than ever, because of the Three Feet for Safety law. Show that most people on bikes are among the most responsible users of CA roads!

On 9/12/14, I observed a woman on her bike blow through multiple stop signs, at high-traffic intersections during rush hour to boot. She did this brazenly and repeatedly from downtown Monterey to the Oak Grove neighborhood. Not only is that dangerous, she is obviously contributing to the warranted complaints drivers have about some bicyclists.

Don’t be that person!  Instead, be sure you know and follow bike laws. Grab a bike law summary here, then follow up and learn more in Bicycling Monterey’s section on “Riding Skills, Safety, and CA Bike Laws,”which includes Monterey County bike-related ordinances too, such as about sidewalk riding.

For a quick summary, see Be Cool, Be Safe – Bike Law Summary & Advocating for Biking or Leyes de ciclismo de CA – Laws for bicyclists in CA (Spanish, English) – Summary

Among other Monterey Bay region media coverage was “Santa Cruz County celebrates new cyclist safety law” by Jessica A. York in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Take a look–click here.


As of June 2014, 24 states have three feet passing laws. The National Conference of State Legislatures website provides a map and details; click here.

Local blogger Big Sur Kate has concerns. These make sense, especially in particular sections of our Big Sur coast–e.g., from Big Sur valley to San Simeon. You may wish to read Kate’s 9/16/14 editorial.

In response, here are some comments from the California Highway Patrol:

If there is a bicycle within the lane and a vehicle cannot safely pass giving three feet of clearance, then they cannot pass. This brings up a lot of questions from the public (e.g., “If a bicycle is going uphill, do I have to stay behind it, all the way up, even if it takes up to 45 minutes?”). The answer is yes and no. If you cannot pass the bike safely, then you will have to wait. On the other hand, section 21656 of the vehicle code states that when five or more vehicles are behind a slow-moving vehicle (e.g., a bicycle), the slow-moving vehicle shall turn off the roadway to let traffic pass.

Click here for discussion at Street Smarts Santa Cruz.

The California Bicycle Coalition / Cal Bike provided these frequently asked questions about this new law, the Three Feet for Safety Act.

Cal Bike’s stickers to help get the word out

In Monterey County, since spring 2014, you may have seen stickers like these on motor vehicles, bicycles, bike helmets, or elsewhere. To help get the word out, Cal Bike has “Give Me 3” stickers available for bikes, and “I give 3 feet” stickers for motor vehicles. Order from California Bicycle Coalition [click here to go to CBC’s order form].

For motor vehicles

I Give 3 Feet bumper sticker 2.75” x 5”

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For bikes

Reflective Give Me 3 stickers 2″ x 1.25″

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Bike advocacy from the cops in Monterey County’s largest city and county seat

Thanks to Salinas Police Department for being the first cops/Constables of the Peace in Monterey County to request these stickers from Cal Bike. Salinas police asked Cal Bike on 5/16/14 to provide “I give 3 feet” stickers for all patrol cars.

Why?  Salinas PD knows there are many Salinas residents who use bicycling for transportation. They want to help make Salinas safer for people who bike!

For more ways Salinas PD supports biking, click here.

Salinas PD 3 Ft for Safety - 4107

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Start Smart – for Drivers

Thanks to Officer Rios, a Monterey County officer with California Highway Patrol–and an educator for the popular and free Start Smart driver education program–for immediately sharing the good news about the Governor’s approval, this time, of the 3′ law they knew we’d been following: Jerry Brown signs law requiring cars to give bicyclists space.

Officer Rios cares about helping Californians share the road safely, whether they are driving or biking.

Start Smart began in Monterey County in 2002. It targets youth ages 15-19, and their parents/guardians.  It is so valuable it expanded into a statewide program.

To learn when the next Start Smart  sessions take place, contact your local CHP office. Or to ask questions about Monterey County classes, contact Officer Rios, 831-796-2197.

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The below is an archive of just some of the many steps required before this new law became reality.
From the California Bicycle Coalition to former Senator Sam Blakeslee, thanks to all who made this new law happen!

9/4/13: It’s quick and easy to let Governor Jerry Brown know you want him to sign AB 1371, giving bicyclists three feet clearance.  Click here.

For the latest on the continuing attempt to get a 3-Foot Passing bill signed for California, click here and read a report by Richard Masoner/Cycleicious.

Governor Jerry Brown failed to sign both of the previous bills passed by California legislators.

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CA Assembly Transportation Committee approves Senate Bill 1364, 3-Foot Passing for Bicyclists

June 25, 2012: The California Assembly Transportation Committee approved Senate Bill 1464, the California Bicycle Coalition’s 3-foot passing bill, by 10-3 today. The bill was authored by  Senator Alan Lowenthal and supported by local Senator Sam Blakeslee.

Senator Blakeslee Reaffirms His Support for Bicycling

May 25, 2012: This morning the California Senate voted 27-6 to approve SB 1464, the 3-foot passing bill advocated by the California Bicycle Coalition and Bike Safe California–and Bicycling Monterey as well.  Monterey County’s Senator Sam Blakeslee (GOP-15th district) again voted yes.  Please join me in expressing your thanks to Senator Blakeslee for recognizing that bicycling is a smart transportation option, and road safety is not a partisan issue.

Where and how to express your gratitude to the Senator? Scroll down to

“Please send Senator Sam Blakeslee a message of appreciation.”

October 7, 2011 update: Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill.  Learn more, and what’s next.

September 6, 2011 update: The California Assembly voted 44 to 25 to approve Senate Bill 910, the 3-foot passing bill. The bill now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.  

June 16, 2011 update. Next step:  The bill is scheduled for hearing by the California Assembly Transportation Committee on Mon., June 27.   Send a letter of support by 5 p.m. on Tues., June 21  to Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal, chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee.  For details and updates, please check with

June 2, 2011 update.  Special thanks to State Senator Sam Blakeslee, who represents constituents of California’s 15th district, which includes portions of Monterey County.

Senator Blakeslee demonstrated important support for the safety of everyone who bikes in California with his YES vote on the 3-foot passing bill, SB 910.  The bill passed the California Senate on  June 1, 2011, with 27 “yes” votes, and 9 “no” votes.

Please send Senator Sam Blakeslee a message of appreciation

If you prefer to phone or fax, see contact info at the Senator’s website.  Are you on Twitter? Spread the good news with a thank-you tweet @SamBlakeslee.

Via postal mail, address a thank you note to Senator Blakeslee at any of the following three addresses.  Let him know you appreciate his wisdom in recognizing that bicycling is a health-building,  environmentally sound, economically savvy transportation choice that deserves safer conditions, such as the three-foot passing requirement he voted in support of.

Senator Sam Blakeslee, Monterey Office

590 Calle Principal
Monterey, CA 93940

Senator Sam Blakeslee, Capitol Office

State Capitol, Room 4070
Sacramento, CA 95814

Senator Sam Blakeslee, San Luis Obispo Office

1104 Palm Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

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Better bicycle infrastructure has many benefits, including safer conditions for cyclists.  Besides infrastructure changes, certain legislation can also be appropriate and effective, such as the California Senate Bill 910, which would ensure that California motorists give bicyclists at least 3 feet of space when passing from behind.  Nineteen other states have passed similar bills.  For more info, see the California Bicycle Coalition’s

I am grateful that my senator, Senator Sam Blakeslee, gave careful consideration to this bill.  I  asked that my senator vote yes on SB 910, and I appreciate that his reflection on the issue resulted in a YES vote.

How else to stay safe?

In addition to infrastructure and appropriate legislation, of course, it is vital that both motorists and cyclists take personal responsibility for traveling as safely and predictably as possible.

Not a Pretty Picture:  When Bikes and Cars Collide

Sadly, as I headed home this evening [May 25, original date of this post] via this route alongside the Naval Postgraduate School,  I came upon the scene below at the corner of Sloat and Del Monte in Monterey.

As to the details, I will leave that to others.  The photographs here are shared as a reminder:  Work for better bike infrastructure, legislation where appropriate, and better relationships with other users on shared bikeways.  And, of course, take personal action to protect your personal safety on the bikeways.

And gratitude to the emergency services personnel who were quick to arrive and assist–police officers, fire department, and ambulance.

Previously published 6/26/12

This post was published on 23 September 2013. One or more changes last made to this post on 6 November 2023.

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