[Safer Riding] Jason Bultman is a longtime bicycle safety activist, a husband and father of two young children and lives in Salt Lake City. He's been using a bike for his primary means of transportation for years--long before $3.19-per gallon gas prices and chatter about our carbon footprint.
Bultman also had his ankle crushed a few years ago--an injury that has required numerous surgeries to repair--when a driver of a car slammed into him as he rode his bike in Salt Lake City. Bultman believes a case he recently pursued against a clueless driver may be the first prosecution of Utah's "3-foot-law" for road cyclists.
The law, passed in 2006, requires that drivers of vehicles give bicyclists three feet of space when passing them on the road.
In an e-mail Bultman writes: I was riding north on 900 East last fall (going to a Bike Collective Board Meeting) when I was "brushed" by a guy hanging out of the passenger window of a pickup truck. The truck was within inches but did not contact me, and I did not fall, but damn, that was scary. Luckily, I did not catch up to the truck to express my feelings. I stopped a police officer and gave the tag number. The police found the driver and passenger who confessed and were apologetic. When given the option to prosecute for assault or reckless endangerment, I instead decided to pursue prosecution of the 3-ft-law (State Code 41-6A-706.5) since it was the driver who threatened my life, and also since very few are aware of this new law to get some media attention and educate the public.
The driver did not show up to his recent arraignment hearing and there is now a warrant out for his arrest. I also found out that violation of this law is a $82 citation.
Bultman asks that people who circulate this story remind everyone that cyclists have the same rights to the road as drivers. Also, if there are not three feet available to pass, a driver must wait to pass a cyclist until the space presents itself. And another obligatory reminder to cyclists: You must obey all safety rules--including stopping for lights and stop signs. Just like cars and trucks.