According the US Census, since 2000, the number of people who commute to work via bicycle has increased 60.8 percent. This is a greater percentage change than any other form of travel workers use. The problem is getting bikers and car drivers to safely share the road space – especially as the new school year begins.
As reported in the Los Angeles Daily News, a new law in California, effective September 16th, is intended to raise awareness and educate drivers for the need of a buffer zone around bicyclists. Drivers are now required to give all bicyclists 3 feet of space before they can attempt to pass them. If there isn’t enough space – then like it or not the driver must slow down and wait until it is safe. Failure to do so can lead to a ticket that starts at $35 and will go higher if the biker is injured. And that does not include possible court costs and civil penalties.
But bikers must also do their part to keep the road safe. Using hand signals, wearing bright clothing and not cutting off the 1200 pound vehicle just in front of you is more than basic courtesy, it’s life saving common sense. A biker should always keep in mind that a car will never be as maneuverable as a bike, no matter how quick the driver’s reflexes. It’s in a biker’s own best interest to give drivers space and time to react to changes in traffic.
Since the state cannot afford separate bike lanes on every major road, bikers and drivers must both learn to coexist peacefully. If the new law can convince drivers and bikers of the need for a safe amount of space and both sides make the effort, perhaps bike accidents will decrease even as more bikers take to the road.