Three Feet for Safety: New Protection for Bicyclists

California recently enacted a new provision for protection of bicyclists on our roadways, Vehicle Code section 21760, popularly known as the “Three Feet for Safety” law. This provision states that a driver of a motor vehicle overtaking and passing a bicycle going the same direction shall only do so at a safe distance, no less than three feet from the bicycle.  Bicycles have the same rights to be on the roadway as cars and trucks (despite what some drivers seem to think), and this new law was intended to improve safety for both bicyclists and drivers.  Bicyclists have been killed or suffered serious injuries when struck from behind by motor vehicles attempting to pass them going the same direction.  Two recent cases handled by Janssen Malloy LLP partner Michael Crowley illustrate the dangers bicyclists face on the road and necessity of this new law.

One case involved a young woman riding her bicycle along Myrtle Avenue in Eureka, several feet right of the roadway edge, when she was struck from behind by an inattentive driver, ejecting her off her bicycle and onto the pavement.  The passenger side mirror of the vehicle struck the woman’s left side and arm, resulting in deep laceration injuries and requiring emergency medical treatment and plastic surgery revision of the resulting significant scarring.  The second case presented a similar scenario: a 70 year old bicyclist riding far the right of the roadway edge in Fortuna, when struck from behind by a motorist.  He was thrown from his bicycle down an embankment, sustaining pelvic fractures.  Both incidents would have been averted if the drivers had simply obeyed the “Three Feet for Safety” law. 

The case regarding the young woman has resolved for the defendant driver’s automobile insurance liability limits and the matter for the male bicyclist is currently in litigation. 

If you or a loved one has been injured while bicycling, competent, experienced trial counsel is needed to protect your rights and obtain the full measure of justice due when drivers do not obey the law.  The attorneys at Janssen Malloy LLP stand ready to assist.