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California bike-safety road law not widely enforced

California's Three Feet for Safety Act went into effect four years ago, and it was hailed as the way to keep bicyclists safe on the roads. The law required drivers to keep three feet between themselves and bike riders as they passed.

Since the law took effect, though, officers with the Los Angeles Police Department have written only 13 tickets to drivers who have broken the law, according to a recent report. That is 13 citations compared to the more than 1 million traffic tickets written by LAPD officers since the bike law took effect.

In nearby Long Beach, officers have cited only four drivers. One Long Beach police lieutenant said the law is difficult to enforce because the infraction must happen in front of the police officer.

Driver awareness of the law apparently is limited, and the fine for violating it is relatively small: $35, which can rise to as much as $220 if there is a collision.

Despite its good weather that lends itself to year-round bike riding, Los Angeles was named the worst city in America for bike riding by Bicycling Magazine in October.

Bicyclists sound discouraged about the state of bike riding in the L.A. area. There's the talk of distracted driving and a bike network that seemingly has stopped expanding.

All of this has led safety advocates to start pushing for changes to infrastructure to make the streets safer. One bike enthusiast said the only way to enforce the three-foot rule is to put a barrier to make it impossible for drivers to get within three feet of the bikes on the roads. That would require a redesign of streets.

In a metropolis such as Los Angeles, bike safety is a challenge. With miles and miles of roads, the cost to make the necessary safety changes throughout the area would be exorbitant. Until a solution is found, there will continue to be auto-bicycle collisions and, unfortunately, bicyclists who are injured and need some help with their recoveries.

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