AB 1371 is Steven Bradford’s “Three Feet for Safety Act” that mandates (sorta kinda) a minimum three feet of clearance when a motor vehicle passes a cyclist. And because people keep asking about this, the law specifies 3 feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator.”
Bradford’s original bill was a work of genius; subsequent amendments in committee of both chambers of the California legislature weakens the law, mostly to incorporate compromises that Brown deemed essential to guarantee his signature.
The most important compromise is the so-called “Part D exception,” which says:
If the driver of a motor vehicle is unable to due to traffic or roadway conditions, the driver shall slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent, and may pass only when doing so would not endanger the safety of the operator of the bicycle, taking into account the size and speed of the motor vehicle and bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and surface and width of the highway.
Still, cyclist and cycling advocate organizations statewide supported AB 1371 as a symbolic measure that recognizes the importance of taking increased care while driving around cyclists.
The law will take effect September 16, 2014. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 22 states currently have a minimum passing distance law on the books.