3 Feet for Bicycle Safety

What does it mean to give bicyclists 3 feet while passing?


California law requires that drivers maintain a minimum 3-foot buffer when passing a bicyclist (California Vehicle Code section 21760).

Why do we need a law about passing bicyclists?

Many traffic laws reflect the fact that some road users are especially vulnerable to passing motor vehicles. That’s why drivers have special speed limits and special passing rules when approaching crosswalks, schools, emergency vehicles and road crews. Specifying three feet as the minimum passing distance extends similar protection to people on bikes.

How will this law be enforced?

It will be enforced the same way California’s current law is enforced: a driver who is observed to be violating the law can be cited.

The law is invaluable when a bicyclist is injured in a collision. It establishes a clear basis for citing motorists for unsafe passing.

How do motorists tell if they’re giving at least 3 feet?

By doing what they already know how to do. Motorists park their cars with enough space so they can open the passenger-side door — which is about three feet wide — without hitting anything else. That’s at least the clearance they should give a bicyclist when passing in the same lane.

How do motorists give 3 feet on narrow roads?

State law has never guaranteed motorists a right to pass whenever or wherever they want. Motorists may only pass when it’s safe to do so. This doesn’t change with the Three Feet for Safety Act.

This information was provided by the California Bicycle Coalition, and can be explored in more depth in their FAQ’s.

What does 3 feet feel like?

Our friends at the City of Santa Rosa remind us why three feet is reasonable, on or off your bike.


The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition helped produce the following video which emphasizes driving respectfully and uses gentle humor to remind motorists that bicyclists are their friends and neighbors.

Friends & Neighbors: Give Them Space!

The cyclist you pass on the road may be your child's teacher, a neighbor, doctor, firefighter. Giving them three feet of space is not only the law, but the courteous thing to do!

Posted by Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition on Friday, November 3, 2017


Help others give 3 feet

Please help us share the message. We welcome you to use the images below on social media or elsewhere to spread the 3 foot message. Let’s Bike Safe, Sonoma!


Additional Materials:

Bike Safe Sonoma Radio Ad (mp3)


Da tres pies y consejos de seguridad para ciclistas

Consejos de seguridad para ciclistas (mp3)

4 consejos para la conducción, 4 consejos para el ciclismo (pdf)


Funding and Support

This campaign is funded with Transportation Development Act Article 3 funds allocated to the County of Sonoma. It was produced with support from the Sonoma County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors through Supervisor Shirlee Zane’s office.