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New Buffer Zone Law for Bikes on Road

There’s a new law that will require drivers to give cyclists a 3 feet of space.

Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill this week and the law will go into effect Sept. 16, 2014.

More people are turning to the pedal power of a bicycle, meaning bikes and cars need to share the road. The new law is intended to protect cyclists from aggressive drivers.

Will Dolan is an avid bicyclist and he’s been in his fair share of accidents.

“I’ve been hit by a couple cars before. On Carrillo under the bridge, I’ve been hit twice,” he said.

Dolan thinks the new law giving bikes a buffer zone between cars will help reduce the number of serious crashes.

“It’s a great way to do it. There are too many accidents, especially during tourist season in places like Santa Barbara. You got to wear a helmet and just pray you’re not going to get run over every time you go biking,” said Dolan.

According to the Department of Transportation, 677 people died in bike versus vehicle accidents in the United States in 2011.

“Working in a bike shop, you always see the aftermath of the accidents. I see people come in in slings, I see the bikes in absolute huge states of disrepair,” said Noah Crary of Velo Pro Cyclery.

He thinks the new law will work if it is enforced.

“A safety bubble of 3 feet seems like a good idea,” said Crary.

The new law will be a big change for drivers. Bike lane or not, motorists will have to give cyclists the 3-foot buffer while they pass. If they can’t do it safely, they will have to wait until they can.

“If they’re not in a true bike lane, the problem is you have to give them 3 feet. You can follow them for a long ways trying to give them that 3 feet,” said Joel Berti.

That wait might be inconvenient drivers in cars, but for those on bikes, they’re excited for the change.

“I think it’s really good. A lot of times you’re on the highway or on the road and cars don’t give you much room to pedal on and so I think it’s a step forward,” said Ed Rodriguez.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Traffic Unit said the way they will enforce the law will be a judgement call. If someone passes a bike at an unsafe speed or too closely, they will issue a ticket.

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