Buffer for bicyclists

A new state law requires motorists to give bicyclists a 3-foot buffer on roadways. Above, the intersection of Bundy Drive and Idaho Avenue in West Los Angeles. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / September 10, 2013)

With Southern California still building its infrastructure for bicycles, Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature gave riders a bit of breathing room -- 3 feet to be exact.

Brown signed a measure Monday requiring California drivers to provide 3 feet of space between their vehicle and any bicyclist they pass on the road — or to slow to a safe speed as the bicycle goes by. The bill does not specify what speed that is.

The bill represents a partial victory for bicyclists who have lobbied for years for stricter safety measures in response to a large number of accidents involving cars and bicycles.

Brown vetoed a similar bill last year that also would have directed motorists to cross the double yellow line into opposing traffic lanes if safe to do so and necessary to provide the 3-foot buffer.

The provision on crossing into other lanes was removed from this year's bill, AB 1371, by Steven Bradford (D-Gardena).

When the new law takes effect next September, a violation will be an infraction punishable by a base fine of $35 plus court fees. For violators who collide with a bicyclist, causing injury, the fine is $220.

The added protections come as the Los Angeles area takes more steps to promote traveling on two wheels. CicLAvia, a nonprofit that stages popular car-free events on major streets, has received a $500,000 grant to hold more events over the next two years.

The grant from the Wasserman Foundation is CicLAvia's largest to date. During each daylong event, one or more major streets are closed to cars but kept open to bicyclists and pedestrians.

L.A. celebrates its sixth CicLAvia on Oct. 6.

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melanie.mason@latimes.com

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com