San Diego residents should be aware of a new law that has recent gone into effect, giving bikers added protections when they ride in traffic amongst other vehicles. The new law creates a buffer zone, which requires all motor vehicle traffic to stay at least three feet away from cyclists. Bicyclists in California who share the road with cars, trucks and other vehicles call it getting “buzzed” when a car gets too close to them. But this whimsical nickname underlies a very serious threat to cyclists that could cause them to get into a serious bicycle accident.
Last year, there were over 500 bicycle accidents in San Diego. Tragically, four of these crashes ended in the death of a cyclist. Bike accidents have also been on the rise in surrounding areas, so this isn’t a problem that is only confined to the city.
The goal of the law is to minimize collisions between cars and cyclists — which inevitably end up far worse for the defenseless cyclist. Cyclists often suffer serious injury or death as a result of collisions, so the hope is that the new law will save lives, as well as create awareness and make drivers more courteous when it comes to sharing the road. For motorists, this law means waiting, not passing too closely and allowing a wider berth for cyclists.
The new law comes with a rather minimal fine for a traffic infraction of $35, but drivers shouldn’t scoff at these penalties. All told, including court costs and other fees, this infraction could cost a driver upwards of $200.
Hopefully there will be fewer bike accidents as a result of this law, but those who are injured as a result of an inconsiderate or downright dangerous driver should make sure they understand their legal rights following an accident.
Source: UT San Diego, “Driver alert: Bike buffer zone now the law,” Lindsay Winkley, Sept. 16, 2014