California bicyclist cycle through Los Angeles

What is California’s “Move Over Law” designed to protect bicyclists?

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

California’s “Move Over Law” is designed to enhance safety on the roads, particularly for bicyclists. The law, formally known as the OmniBike Bill (AB-1909), brings significant changes to how drivers and bicyclists share the road. Here’s an overview of what the law entails and how it affects both bicyclists and drivers in California:

Text of the Law

The California Vehicle Code, specifically Section 21809, outlines the requirements for drivers when approaching stationary authorized emergency vehicles, tow trucks, or Department of Transportation vehicles displaying emergency or flashing amber lights. The law mandates drivers to either change lanes or slow down when passing these vehicles, provided it’s safe and practicable.

Impact on Bicyclists

The OmniBike Bill, a critical part of the Move Over Law, specifically addresses the safety of bicyclists. It requires drivers to change lanes when passing a bicyclist traveling in the same direction, if it is safe and feasible to do so. This requirement marks a significant departure from the previous “3-foot rule,” which mandated drivers to maintain a three-foot distance while passing bicyclists but was often deemed hard to measure and enforce. The new regulation provides clearer directives for drivers and aims to prevent “dooring” accidents, which occur when a driver opens their car door without checking for approaching bicyclists. By requiring a lane change, this law aims to reduce the risk of collisions and enhance the safety of bicyclists on California roads.

Implications for Drivers

For drivers, the Move Over Law translates to increased responsibility when sharing the road with bicyclists. The requirement to change lanes or slow down significantly when approaching bicyclists ensures that there is ample space for the safety of the cyclists. Drivers who fail to comply with this law face fines and penalties, which may vary by county. The law thus not only promotes safer driving practices but also holds drivers accountable for ensuring the safety of bicyclists.

Overall Goal

The overarching goal of California’s Move Over Law, particularly the OmniBike Bill, is to foster a safer and more harmonious sharing of roads between drivers and bicyclists. By clearly defining the expectations for driver conduct around bicyclists and emphasizing the need for sufficient space when passing, the law aims to reduce accidents involving bicycles and vehicles, making the roads safer for everyone.

In conclusion, California’s Move Over Law is a significant step towards enhancing road safety, particularly for bicyclists. It represents a shift in the state’s approach to road sharing, emphasizing the protection of vulnerable road users and promoting a culture of respect and safety on the roads.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.