More bicycles are on our roadways during the COVID-19 pandemic, and more accidents (how to stay safe)

May 13, 2020 | 6:00 am


With the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis restricting much of everyday life, limiting movement to essential trips for food and medicine and a daily outings for exercise, bikes have emerged as savior for many.

Bicycles have become a welcome tool for this pandemic as a way to quickly get around and get exercise while staying a safe distance from everyone else. In some cities, cycling has increased by more than 150% during the outbreak, according to the World Resource Institute.

Unfortunately, also increasing are injuries from cycling. In New York, authorities reported a nearly 50% jump in cyclists injuries during March. The rise in cyclist injuries comes as the number of people on the road overall is decreasing as more people work and are staying put inside their homes. It appears that driver inattention and failure to yield, and some form of driver error are all to blame.

Locally, The Bakersfield Californian reported that that bicycle shops and bike repair businesses are doing well at a time when many retailers are struggling or shut down entirely. The California Highway Patrol recently issued a reminder to motorists to share the road safely with bicyclists, who may be out in larger numbers as a result of the stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus. In fact, local CHP offices are giving out helmets to children, and parents or guardians. According to the National Safety Council, cyclists who wear a helmet reduce their risk of head injury by an estimated 60 percent. California law requires cyclists under 18 to wear a helmet.

The increase also comes at a time of another sobering statistic: From 2016 through 2018 in California, more cyclists died in traffic accidents across the state than during any three-year period in the past 25 years, according to California Healthline. Surging popularity of bike shares and fitness cycling are part of the reasons.

At the time, and especially during this month’s National Bike Month, Chain | Cohn | Stiles reminds everyone — bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists — to stay alert on our roads to keep everyone safe. Read below for quick tips of how we can all stay safe:

RULES OF THE ROAD

Here are bike laws you need to know to pedal safely and legally, courtesy of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition:

  • Pedestrians have the right of way: In the crosswalk or not, bike riders and drivers are required to yield to pedestrians.
  • Stop behind the crosswalk: Leave crosswalks free and clear for pedestrians. Always stop behind the line.
  • Mind the signs and lights: Stop at stop signs and obey red lights, just like all other vehicles.
  • Stay on the streets: It’s illegal to ride on the sidewalk.
  • Go with the flow: Ride the same direction as traffic. Walk your bike on the sidewalk if you find yourself on the wrong block of a one-way street.
  • Take the lane: If you’re next to parked cars or you’re riding in a narrow lane — if you feel safer, take the lane and ride outside the door zone.
  • It’s OK to leave the bike lane: If you feel safer outside the bike lane, you can ride in other vehicle travel lanes. Merge when safe and signal when changing lanes.
  • Light up the night: Reflectors and a front white light are required by law. We recommend you use a rear light as well.
  • Keep an ear clear: Even when using hands-free devices, bike riders and drivers are required to keep one ear free of headphones.
  • Be a friend to disabled neighbors: Sometimes people with disabilities need access to the curb. Paratransit carriers (including taxis) may have to enter the bikeway to drop them off. Be a good neighbor and give them room.
  • Pass on the left: Although bike lanes are often on the right side of the road, people biking and driving are required to pass on the left.

And here are a few tips to ensure the safety of everyone on the road:

  • Drivers should look behind them before making a turn at an intersection, especially if crossing into a designated bike lane.
  • Drivers should use extra caution backing up or leaving a parking space.
  • Bicyclists should go with the flow of traffic and let faster traffic pass.
  • Bicyclists should make themselves visible and wear brightly colored clothing.
  • Bicyclists are advised to use lights from dusk to dawn (front white light and rear red flashing light or reflectors).
  • Bicyclists should always wear a helmet and use hand signals when turning or stopping.
  • Both drivers and bicyclists should avoid distractions like using their cell phone.

 

CRASH CHECKLIST

If you are involved in a collision while riding a bicycle, it’s important to know the steps to follow to ensure that you receive fair response from the police and collect information you may need for future legal issues. Even if you are not injured, follow this checklist as injuries can come up later.

Immediately after a crash

  • Tell the driver to stay until the police arrive. If they refuse to stay or don’t provide ID, get their and the car’s description, vehicle’s license plate # and state of issue.
  • Call (or ask someone to call) 9-1-1, and ask for the police to come to the scene.
  • Get name and contact info for any witnesses. Ask them to remain on the scene until police arrive, if possible.
  • Ask for the driver’s license and insurance card. Write down name, address, date of birth, and insurance information.

When the police arrive

  • Ask them to take an incident report.
  • Get reporting police officer’s name and badge number.
  • If you’ve been doored, ask the officer to cite the motorist for dooring.
  • Ask the officers to speak to witnesses, if possible.
  • While a doctor’s report of your injury is important for insurance and/or legal action, you do not need to take an ambulance.

In the days after the crash

  • Contact witnesses to ask them to email you their version of what happened while it’s fresh in their mind. Email yourself a description of what happened with relevant information and capture as much detail as you can.
  • Take good photos of your injuries and any bike damage. Get an estimate from a bike shop before making repairs.
  • Request a copy of the incident report from the police.
  • Contact an attorney who has experience with bicycle accidents.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

New year, new laws for California drivers, police, bicyclist, and more

January 1, 2020 | 6:00 am


The New Year brings new laws to California.

For 2020, several new laws will affect roadway safety starting Jan. 1, including increased distracted driving penalties, peace officer use of deadly force, bicycle turning movements at intersections, wildlife salvage permits, and motor carrier permit rules. The following laws are relevant for Chain | Cohn | Stiles legal practices, as the law firm handles accident and injury cases.

  • Traffic control devices for bicycles (AB 1266): This new law allows bicycles to travel straight through a right or left-hand turn-only lane while at an intersection, if an official traffic control device indicates the movement is permitted. The California Department of Transportation would be required to develop standards to implement the provisions.
  • License points for distracted driving (AB 47): Current law prohibits a person from driving a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone in a handheld manner; if found in violation, the offense is punishable by a fine. A new law will levy an additional penalty on a driver found in violation of California’s hands-free law: a point will be added on to a driver’s record for each hands-free violation occurring within 36 months of a prior conviction for the same offense.
  • Peace officer use of deadly force (AB 392): This new law revises the standards for use of deadly force by peace officers. The use of deadly force by a peace officer is justifiable when the officer reasonably believes it is necessary, amending the reasonable force standard to “objectively reasonable force.”
  • Law enforcement training (SB 230): This new law requires law enforcement agencies to rewrite use of force policy and provide mandatory training to all peace officers in order to comply with the new law.
  • Cannabis and passenger vehicles (AB 1810): California law will now prohibit the consumption of cannabis, in any manner, by passengers in a bus, taxicab, pedicab, limousine, housecars, or camper. This exemption is now only applicable to alcoholic beverages consumed by passengers in these types of vehicles.

Besides these traffic laws above, you should be aware of several other new laws in 2020 affecting the workplace, your privacy, animals, schools, and the criminal justice system.

WORKPLACE

  • Minimum wage (SB 3): The minimum wage in California goes up by one dollar to $12 an hour for workers at companies with 25 or fewer employees and to $13 an hour for workers at larger companies.
  • Hairstyles (SB 188): California becomes the first state to ban workplace and school discrimination based on a person’s natural hairstyle or hair texture. Protected hairstyles include braids, twists and locks.
  • Lactation accommodations (SB 142): This new law requires companies to provide appropriate lactation accommodations that is close to the employee’s work area, has electrical plugs and is free of intrusion.
  • Sexual harassment (SB 1343): Requires businesses with at least five employees to provide sexual harassment training to its employees within six months of being hired, and every two years after that.
  • Paid family leave (SB 83): New parents will have more time to care for their child. Benefits under Paid Family Leave will increase from six weeks to eight weeks starting on July 1, 2020.

HOUSEHOLDS

  • AB 1482: Rent control: The law limits rent increases to 5 percent each year plus inflation, but never above 10 percent total. The law does not apply to housing built in the 15 years prior. The limit is a rolling number so the date housing is excluded changes every year.
  • AB 652: Religious displays: The law prohibits landlords and homeowner associations from banning the display of religious items on entry doors or door frames. The items cannot be larger than 26 by 12 inches.
  • SB 222: Housing discrimination: This law expands existing law to protect veterans and military personnel against housing discrimination.
  • SB 30: Domestic partners: This law allows heterosexual couples to register as domestic partners instead of getting married. Currently, only heterosexual couples age 62 or older were allowed to register as domestic partners because of social security benefits. The new law could help couples with combined higher incomes avoid the federal marriage tax penalty.

PRIVACY

  • Online privacy (AB 375): The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) gives internet users more control over their data. Among other things, the law gives users the right to know what data is collected, the right to reject the sale of your information and the right to delete your data.

EDUCATION

  • School suspensions (SB 419): The law bans schools from suspending students in grades 4-8 for disrupting school activities or defying teachers and administrators. Students in grades K-3 already have this protection. High school students must wait until 2025 for the same benefit.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

  • Juvenile hall (SB 439): Minors under 12 who commit non-violent crimes would be released to his or her parent or legal guardian instead of being sent to juvenile hall. The law does not apply to minors who commit murder, rape, or great bodily harm.
  • Human trafficking (SB 970): Operators of motels and hotels in California must provide training to teach its staff how to identify victims of human trafficking.

ANIMALS

  • Dog areas (AB 1762): The California Department of Parks and Recreation has until July 1 to establish a comprehensive list of state parks that allow dogs, including the specific areas that allow dogs and the total miles of trails that are open to dogs.

WILDFIRES

  • Public safety power shutoffs (SB 167): Requires utilities to devise plans on reducing the negative impact of planned power shutoffs to first responders and people with disabilities.
  • Tree trimming (AB 247): Gives the California Public Utilities Commission more oversight over tree trimming efforts by utilities. Power companies would have to submit timely reports on their brush and tree trimming work.
  • Wildfire warning center (SB 209): Establishes a wildfire warning center to broaden the state’s ability to predict and prepare for wildfire. The center would rely on a statewide network of automated weather stations and fire detection cameras.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

‘Bicyclist and Pedestrian Safety Plan’ aims to decrease accidents, deaths in Bakersfield

February 21, 2018 | 10:13 am


Pedestrian and bicycle accidents and fatalities have been climbing year after year in Kern County, with 42 deaths reported in the county in 2017, according to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.

In Bakersfield alone, the Bakersfield Police Department has investigated 49 fatal and injury collisions involving pedestrians during the past three years, and saw an astonishing 21 pedestrian deaths and three bicycle accident fatalities in 2017, according to the City of Bakersfield.

The fact of the matter is that one pedestrian or bicycle accident is one too many, and likely preventable. For this reason, the Bakersfield-based accident and injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles is glad to see the City of Bakersfield’s recent announcement that it is moving forward in developing a plan that aims to reduce injuries and fatalities of bicyclists and pedestrians.

The “Bicyclist and Pedestrian Safety Plan” — a partnership with California Department of Transportation — will examine the city’s roadways to determine which are the most dangerous to bicyclists and pedestrians and recommend design improvements, including more bike lanes, more signage, and new pedestrian and bike paths away from traffic.

For years, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has advocated and fought to raise awareness of bicycle, pedestrian and driver safety throughout the streets Bakersfield and Kern County. For example, each fall, Chain | Cohn | Stiles partners with Bike Bakersfield to give away hundreds of free bicycle lights and over 100 safety helmets throughout Kern County.

A national study revealed that pedestrians and drivers do not obey laws and signals consistently and many of them often use cell phones, text or listen to music while walking or driving. In fact, only 60 percent of pedestrians said they expected drivers to stop when they were in crosswalks, even though they have the right-of-way.

In Bakersfield, law enforcement officials have increased pedestrian safety enforcement operations, patrolling in “trouble spots,” cracking down on drivers and pedestrians who violate traffic laws meant to protect all roadway users. Special attention has been directed toward drivers speeding, making illegal turns, failing to stop for signs and signals, failing to yield to pedestrians in cross walks or any other dangerous violation. Additionally, officers are also targeting pedestrians who cross the street illegally or fail to yield to drivers who have the right of way.

Here are some safety tips that pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers can use to decrease accidents, and potentially save lives:

Drivers

  • Look out for pedestrians, especially in hard-to-see conditions such as at night or in bad weather.
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk where pedestrians are likely to be.
  • Stop at the crosswalk stop line to give drivers in other lanes an opportunity to see and yield to the pedestrians, too.
  • Be cautious when backing up; pedestrians, especially young children, can move across your path.

Pedestrians

  • Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road, cross at crosswalks or intersections, and obey signs and signals.
  • Walk facing traffic, and if there is no sidewalk, walk as far from traffic as possible.
  • Pay attention to the traffic moving around you. This is not the time to be texting or talking on a cell phone.
  • Make eye contact with drivers as they approach. Never assume a driver sees you.
  • Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials (or use a flashlight) at night.
  • Look left, right, and then left again before crossing a street.

Bicyclists

  • Know the rules of the road. Bicycles and motorcycles are considered vehicles on the road with all the rights and responsibilities of automobiles.
  • Be predictable. Ride in a straight line, use signal turns, and signal lane changes.
  • Dress “bright and tight,” which means being seen, and not getting tangled up in your bike.
  • Anticipate what other motorists will do next, whether it’s turning, braking or accelerating.
  • Ride ready. Make sure everything on your bicycle is in working condition.
  • Never ride or drive distracted.
  • Always wear a helmet when on a bicycle or motorcycle, and a seat belt when in a vehicle. A U.S. Department of Transportation certified helmet is recommended for riders. Cyclists should consider a horn or bell to get others’ attention, as well as reflectors. Motorcyclists should make sure headlights and taillights are in working order, too.
  • Never get behind the wheel (or wheels) under the influence of any substance.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a bicycle or pedestrian accident at the fault of someone else, please contact the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Two-wheeled transportation safety tips for bike, motorcycle month and beyond

May 31, 2017 | 10:18 am


May is National Bike Month as well as National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, where we celebrate the benefits of riding on two wheels, while remembering the dangers of doing so and measures to help keep everyone as safe as possible.

California is ranked No. 4 in the United States for percentage of commuters who bike to work, according to the 2016 Benchmarking Report by the Alliance for Walking & Biking. California was also above the state average in commuters who walk, bike or take public transit to work, and in getting 150 minutes or more of aerobic exercise.

But the increase of people enjoying life on two wheels has unfortunately led to an increase of bicycle and motorcycle accidents on our roadways.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 818 bicycle fatalities in 2015 in the United States, which was a 12 percent rise from the previous year. Nearly 40 percent of all these fatalities were influenced by alcohol. To combat this disturbing trend, California has passed legislation, including the “Move Over Law” which requires motorists to have a 3-foot space from cyclists. Read more about that law here.

At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, we believe we should all share the road, and be extra careful when driving around motorcyclist and bicyclists.

Our law firm has been a proud partner of Bike Bakersfield, whose mission it is to promote bicycling as a safe, fun and environmentally-friendly means of everyday transportation. Recently, Chain | Cohn | Stiles served as a sponsor for Project Light Up The Night, where volunteers hand out hundreds of free bicycle lights in various locations throughout Bakersfield. The law firm also donated 100 safety helmets to east Bakersfield students during a Bike Bakersfield “Kidical Mass,” which featured bike repairs, safety demonstrations, and a group bike ride.

We ask you, the reader, to take responsibility in making sure our roadways are safe for cyclist and motorist alike. Here are a few tips on how we can make cycling, riding and driving in Bakersfield safer and more enjoyable:

Rules of the Road for All

  • Know the Rules of the Road: Bicycles and motorcycles are considered vehicles on the road with all the rights and responsibilities of automobiles.
  • Be Predictable: Ride in a straight line, use signal turns, and signal lane changes.
  • Be Easily Seen: Dress “bright and tight,” which means being seen, and not getting tangled up in your bike.
  • Think Ahead: Anticipate what other motorists will do next, whether it’s turning, braking or accelerating.
  • Ride Ready: Make sure everything on your bicycle is in working condition.
  • Ride and Drive Focused: Never ride or drive distracted.
  • Safety First: Always wear a helmet when on a bicycle or motorcycle, and a seat belt when in a vehicle. A DOT certified helmet is recommended for riders. Cyclists should consider a horn or bell to get others’ attention, as well as reflectors. Motorcyclists should make sure headlights and taillights are in working order, too.
  • Alcohol and Drug-Free: Never get behind the wheel (or wheels) under the influence of any substance.

For more bicycle and motorcycle safety tips, click here to read previous Blogging for Justice posts related to two-wheel safety.

 

— Michael Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles as soon as possible at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Safety tips for all during National Bike Month and beyond

May 25, 2016 | 10:23 am


Each May, the League of American Bicyclist reminds us all during National Bike Month of the many, many benefits of bicycling, and encourage more of us to give biking a try.

National Bike Month is an opportunity to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons we ride,” according to the organization founded way back in 1880.

And whether you bike to work or school, ride to save money or time, to preserve your health or the environment, or simply to explore your community, safety is always of the utmost importance.

Kern County in recent years has seen far too many bicycle related accidents resulting in severe injuries and even death.

In 2013, the most recent statistics available, Bakersfield saw nearly 100 victims killed or injured on a bicycle, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety. Pedestrians accounted for another 140 injuries and fatalities, and motorcyclist numbered 60.

With this year’s annual observation coming to a close, Chain | Cohn | Stiles wants to remind all — pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists — to share the roadways with each other every day and all year. For bicyclists, in particular, here are a few quick safety tips to keep in mind before hoping on those wheels.

A-B-C

Before getting on your bicycle, remember A, B, C.

  • A is for Air: Inflate tires to the pressure listed on the side of the tire. Use a pressure gauge to insure proper pressure Check for damage on tired and replace if damaged
  • B is for Brakes: Inspect pads for wear. Replace if there is less than 14-inch of pad left. Check pad adjustment. Make sure they do not rub the tire. Look to see that you can fit your thumb between the brake lever handlebar when the brakes are squeezed all the way
  • C is for cranks and chain: Pull your cranks away from the bike – if they are loose, tighten the bolt. Check your that your chain is free of rust and gunk.

BE A ‘ROLL MODEL’

Being a “roll model” means:

  • Riding and driving focused: Never distracted.
  • Riding and driving prepared: Always expect the unexpected.
  • Putting safety first: We never know when a crash will occur, regardless of skill level or age. Always wear a bicycle helmet when on a bicycle and a seat belt when in a car.
  • Following the rules of the road: A bicyclist is considered a vehicle on the road with all the rights on the roadway and responsibilities of motorized traffic. Expect law enforcement officers to monitor and address unsafe behaviors between motorists and bicyclists that put bicyclists at risk.
  • Share the road: Both vehicle drivers (motorist and bicyclist) should look out for one another and show mutual respect.

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If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle accident, call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles partners with Bike Bakersfield, Children First Campaign in bike safety event for kids

August 25, 2015 | 11:21 am


With school back in session for students throughout Kern County, the roads are busy with buses picking up and dropping off kids at school, parents dropping off their children, and students walking to campuses. Many students also ride their bikes to school.

With so much activity on Bakersfield and Kern County roadways, it’s important for everyone to share the road and be cautious of others.

In an effort to keep the roadways as safe as possible for students who happen to cycle to school, the Bakersfield personal injury and workers’ compensation* law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles has partnered with local nonprofits Bike Bakersfield and Children First Campaign to host a “Kidical Mass” event from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Aug. 29, at Williams Elementary School, 1201 Williams St. in east Bakersfield.

The event will feature bike repairs, safety demonstrations, a group bike ride and a barbecue lunch. Chain | Cohn | Stiles has also donated 100 safety helmets for students and bike riders who may be in need of the safety equipment.

Many of the students who attend Williams Elementary and area Bakersfield City School District schools in east Bakersfield come from low-income households, and may not be able to purchase proper safety equipment, including helmets, said Jorge Barrientos, director of marketing and public relations at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

“There are too many accidents in our community that involve bicycles,” Barrientos said. “Hopefully this event with help raise awareness to help better protect our students, and keep them safe.”

KBAK-KBFX Eyewitness News previewed the event during its morning shows recently, which included representatives from Bike Bakersfield, Children First Campaign and attorney Matthew Clark of Chain | Cohn | Stiles. To see the complete coverage of the news preview, including photos and videos of the segment, click on the Little John Photo blog here.

Kidical Mass, first held in 2008 in Eugene, Oregon, is a safe and fun bike ride for kids, kids at heart, and their families. Bike Bakersfield, whose mission it is to promote bicycling as a safe, fun and environmentally-friendly means of everyday transportation, decided to host its very own Kidical Mass to help improve the biking experience in our local communities, said Bike Bakersfield executive director Jason Cater. This year’s Kidical Mass is also focused on teaching children safe riding habits while having fun on their bikes.

Also joining Bike Bakersfield is the Children First Campaign, which aims to ensure all children live in healthy, safe, and nurturing neighborhoods that promote academic achievement and success, and to counter the negative influences of drugs, crime, violence and poverty.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ attorneys, along with Bike Bakersfield and Children First Campaign representatives, will be on the Williams Elementary campus teaching students proper safety rules and protocols. The event is free and open to the public. Students in need of bike tune-ups, safety equipment and safety lessons are encouraged to attend.

For more bike and school safety tips and information, please read previous chainlawblog.com blog posts below:

— By Jessica Magee for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles gave out 100 bike helmets to children in east Bakersfield on Aug. 29. Each child was fitted properly for his and her helmet, and given a safety lesson on the rules of the road. To see photos and news videos of the event, click the links below.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a bicycle accident, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000 or visit the website chainlaw.com.

New California driving law mandates 3 feet for cyclist safety

September 19, 2014 | 11:14 am


It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3 — and it can decrease accidents, injuries and potentially save lives.

A new California law took effect this week that requires drivers to give bicyclists at least 3 feet space as they pass them on the roads. It’s called the “Three Feet for Safety Act,” which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September 2013 and went into effect on Tuesday.

Violators of the new will be fined $35 if they drive too close to a bicyclist. A $220 fine will be imposed if a cyclist is injured when a driver is violating the 3-foot buffer.

More than 150 cyclists in California were killed in collisions with cars in 2012, according to the Los Angeles Times. And in Los Angeles County, nearly 5,000 cyclists were killed or injured in traffic accidents that same year.

Previous California laws did not specify a safe distance from bicyclists. Now, California is the 24th state to enact a 3-foot passing law. Pennsylvania requires at least 4 feet between cars and bikes. Go here to see a map of all participating states.

Public safety officials — including the California Highway Patrol — advise drivers to slow down near bicyclists, pay attention, check their blind spots and have patience for others. And drivers are reminded that bicyclists can have the right to take control of a full lane of traffic if there are unsafe conditions in bike lanes, or if conditions are unsafe for drivers to pass them.

Bicyclists, too, are reminded about proper safety measures. The California Department of Motor Vehicles, for example, provides several safety tips. They include:

  • Maintain control of your bicycle.
  • Protect yourself–reduce the risk of head injury by always wearing a helmet.
  • Be visible, alert, and communicate your intentions.
  • Ride with traffic.

A rule of thumb for distinguishing if you’re too close to a cyclist while driving: if the bicyclist can reach out his or her arm and touch your vehicle, you’re most likely closer than 3 feet.

Here are some more details on how the law works:

  • The law applies to any place a vehicle passes a bicyclist, regardless of whether there’s a bike lane.
  • A law enforcement officer must witness a violation to issue a fine.
  • One exception: If there is not enough room for a driver to give 3 feet of space, the driver must first slow down before safely passing.

Other rules drivers and cyclists should know, include:

  • Bicyclist can wear earphones or headphones, but must have one ear open to traffic at all times.
  • Riding while talking on a cell phone is permitted.

For more information on bike safety, check out these websites for more resources:

And remember, if you’re ever injured in an accident while riding your bicycle, call the Bakersfield accident and injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000 or visit the website Chainlaw.com.