California Senate Bill 1464 requires drivers to keep at least three feet of clearance between their vehicles and a bicycle headed in the same direction. The bill was introduced by state Senator Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach and awaits final approval by the assembly. It arises from a problem that cannot be ignored in a state with vast amounts of year-round bicycling weather.
When Los Angeles area bicyclists travel the Mulholland Highway Loop or pedal along the Los Angeles River through densely populated areas, windy roads and traffic-filled streets, they have a right to feel safe. Unfortunately, LA bicycle enthusiasts can end up becoming injured or killed as the result of unsafe road conditions and other factors. Many times cars and trucks are to blame for the bike accidents that cause tragedy. Often these motorists are underinsured. Though Senate Bill 1464 may make streets safer if law enforcement can devise a reasonable way to enforce it, the bill will not solve the problem of uninsured or underinsured motorists.
Many Los Angeles motorists do not have adequate insurance to cover the catastrophic injuries that cyclists can suffer.California law has longrequired that all motorists have liability insurance. In California, manydrivers purchase the legally allowed minimum coverage. But the injuries sustained in a bicycle accident involving an automobile can far exceed the limits of coverage. When the cost of an injured bicyclist’s injuries exceed the coverage provided by the at-fault driver, an under-insured claim may be filed against the bicyclist’s insurance company or against the at-fault motorist. But if a driver is uninsured or underinsured, they may also not have the assets to compensate the injured cyclist. The legal complexities, physical struggles and financial difficulties involved require attorneys experienced in this area of the law. Despite the best efforts of the state senate, litigation may still be necessary to ensure safety for Los Angeles’ many cycling enthusiasts.