What is a bicycle buffer zone in California?

2019-12-05T14:06:07+00:00February 11th, 2016|

Bicycling can be a good source of exercise; it is an environmentally friendly mode of transportation; and it can help to cut down motor vehicle traffic congestion on Orange County’s roads. Given the benefits of bike riding, it is no wonder that it is popular throughout California, and that the state has become more and more receptive to accommodating riders.

Special lanes, on certain roads, that are designated only for bicycles, are one example of how Orange County and other areas of California have moved toward making riding safer. Similarly, the creation of bicycle buffer zones is one of the newest methods of increasing rider safety. So what exactly is a bicycle buffer zone?

The California legislature passed a law that requires motorists to give at least three feet of space to bicyclists when the motorist is passing. This legislation, known as the “Three Feet for Safety” law, became effective in late 2014.

Any time that bikers share a roadway with motor vehicles, drivers should slow down and only pass the bicyclist when it is safe to do so. That is a good common sense and safety practice. But, the Three Feet for Safety law goes a step further by requiring that drivers only pass bicyclists when they can give the rider at least three feet of separation from the vehicle.

A bicyclist is extremely vulnerable in a collision with a motor vehicle, and bike accidents can easily result in serious injuries to the biker. Despite California laws aimed at promoting bicycle safety, a negligent driver is still a risk to riders. Bicyclists who are hit by automobiles can hold negligent drivers accountable through personal injury lawsuits.

Source: California Bicycle Coalition, “The Three Feet for Safety Act is now law in California,” Accessed on Feb. 5, 2016