Gov. Jerry Brown passed the Three Feet for Safety Act on Monday, Sept. 23, which prohibits cars from driving closer than three feet from a bicyclist.[wzslider]

In 2011 and 2012, similar bills were sent to the governor’s office but were not passed into law as Gov. Brown cited potential liability concerns for the state. Brown explained that previous bills allowed cars to pass the double-yellow line during a left turn to avoid hitting bicyclists. In the event of a collision between the passing car and an oncoming vehicle on the other side of traffic, the state could have become liable.

The new law was simplified and addressed the concerns the governor had. According to the law, cars will no longer be allowed to cross the yellow line in the presence of bicyclists. Additionally, the act will require motorists to drive more slowly when passing by bicyclists.

The bill, which officially became law on Sept. 23, will also affect college students at UC Riverside who depend heavily on bike transportation to move around campus.

According to Alternative Transportation Program Manager Irma Henderson, the total number of bikes registered over the last few years has increased “significantly” with Transportation and Parking Services registering a total of 751 bikes from July 2012 to June 2013.

UCR’s biking community has grown so significantly that the bike shop Pedals was recently brought to campus to address the needs of the many bicyclists on campus. Additionally, every street surrounding the campus has a designated biking lane, allowing students to share the road with motor vehicles in order to travel in and around the university.

Students who depend heavily on this mode of transportation recently voiced their thoughts on the new law.

“I think it’s a great idea because I meet a lot of motorists who are unaware of their surroundings all the time,” said former ASUCR Director of External Affairs Lazaro Cardenas. “So I’m always freaking out all the time. I’ve gotten hit dozens of times … So I would definitely feel safer if something like that were enforced.”

Other students didn’t share the same enthusiasm, however, but still felt that the new law was a step in the right direction.

“I honestly think that I would be pretty safe either way,” said UCR student and bicyclist Liam Nguyen. “I feel like that law is a really good effort and it’ll make things a lot nicer just in case you do ever get into a car accident … (The law) will help you (press) charges. I got hit by a car once and I didn’t get anything for it because there was no law in place.”

Drivers who violate the law will be hit with a $35 base fine, which could increase to $154 with additional fees, as stated by the California Bicycle Coalition. Drivers who collide and injure cyclists will be punished with a $220 fine.