Governor Jerry Brown signed into law (AB 1371) in CA that drivers gives cyclists 3 feet of space when passing, or otherwise slow down and pass slowly at a safe distance. As a novice cyclists (for less than a year biking to work), this works for me. Because I am still relatively new to the world of cycling, I choose routes with well marked bike lanes of streets without bike lanes whenever possible. Of course it's impossible to get away with this 100% of the time, I only share the lane on roads with lower speed limits. Overall, I feel very safe along my route and most drives in San Mateo and Sunnyvale do watch out for cyclists.
The new law is without doubt a huge victory for the safety of cyclists. Even if it hasn't yet affected me, it's a good reminder for drivers that the road is to be shared. That being said, I have not witnessed any close calls involving overly aggressive drivers, but I have witnessed cyclists running red lights and stop sign. I believe that if cyclists are to be taken seriously, they need to stop thinking they are above the rules. And also, enough with Critical Mass. It sounds fun to bike in a huge group (I would never participate myself), but it only infuriates drivers when cyclists get away with breaking laws and does nothing to convince drivers to help the biker's cause.
Though the law has good merits, I can't see how the police will actively enforced the law. In Texas, police ran setups where a police on bikes (fitted with cameras) would radio ahead if a police car if drivers got too close. This is one way to get the news out on the new law, but in all, they had 104 citations and warnings. In the end, this is just another headache for both the police (who have to enforce yet another law) and drivers who may have been innocently caught up in a new law.
And as a driver, the new law is a good reminder on common sense. But even before this new law passed, I can't even recall the number of times I've had to follow slowly behind two cyclists riding side-by-side on a single lane road without a bike lane because they were chatting while cycling. As both a cyclist and a driver, police should cite cyclists just as often as they do drivers when rules are broken.