Skip navigation
Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Your Health

California Bike Buffer Zone Takes Effect

Bikes are about to get much more space on the streets, but how will that be enforced?

Cyclists across California now have a little more wiggle room. 

Starting Tuesday, drivers are legally required to give cyclists 3 feet of space while passing. Motorists caught inside the buffer zone will face a $35 fine. If a collision occurs, drivers could be on the hook for up to $220. 

The percentage of Californians walking, biking or using public transit has nearly doubled since 2000, according to a 2012 survey by The California Department of Transportation. In addition to the 3-feet law, hundreds of miles of bike lanes were created to accommodate this growing population. 

USC cyclists were excited about the law. They’ve been scared by drivers passing too close, but one student is curious to hear how it will all work.

"I'll be curious to see how that really works in practice," said Jake Porter. "Because some of the bike lanes are in such close proximity to the car lanes that I don't really know if they have much room to move away."

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition also heralded the law’s implementation. They see it as a way to protect cyclists from harassment and neglect. 

California is the 24th state to approve a safe passing law. Prior to Tuesday, drivers were only required to pass at a “safe distance." The new legislation aims to make this language clearer. 

Advocates have launched statewide education efforts, including signs and tip sheets.  The Los Angeles Police Department says it’s doing its best to make implementation as smooth as possible. 

Leave a comment

We've Moved!

By Sam Bergum
01/21/16 | 11:09 a.m. PST

Visit us at!

USC Basketball Knocks Off Rival UCLA 89- 75

By Scott Cook
01/14/16 | 12:05 a.m. PST

USC defeats UCLA with stellar play from their Freshmen. 

Holiday Bowl - USC vs Wisconsin Post-Game Press Conference

Su'a Cravens: "It's the players that need to step up"

Darreus Rogers: "It comes down to the players"

Trojans Fall to Wisconsin in the Holiday Bowl 23-21

We detected that you might be on a mobile device such as an iPad or iPhone. Sorry, at this time the video box is only visible on desktop computers.