Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cyclist Tests "3-Foot Law"

[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.

(Holly Mullen)

5 comments:

  1. We should ALL ride somethingFebruary 21, 2008 at 8:17 PM

    Good point. Cyclist have to think just like they are a slow moving vehicle to the shoulder of the road. They have to obey ALL laws. Too often I see cyclist demand to be treated like slow moving vehicles but then they treat a stop light like a four way stop. Think about it...if you were in a car stopped at a red light, you looked both ways and the coast was clear, would you go? Of course not. You are a vehicle! act like you are driving a vehicle and you will be treated like a person driving a vehicle.

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  2. I know exactly how you feel! Just this afternoon, for instance, as I drove home from work, a dozen cars sped by going well over the speed limit. And when I got into town, not one of them came to a full stop at the stop sign. If these motorists want to be treated as good, law-abiding citizens rather than irresponsible jerks, they need to obey the law!

    Now, what was that about cyclists again?

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  3. I know Jason (a really great person) and got to see a little of what he had to go through with his ankle injury. He has permanent injuries and I'm sure he'll suffer complications for many years to come, all because of a careless driver.

    I'm not a cyclist but after knowing Jason, I certainly have a lot more respect for them.

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  4. I am a big orange triangleFebruary 22, 2008 at 6:04 PM

    Like it or not the roads are built for and dominated by cars. Whether you are driving farm equipment, riding a horse, or peddling a bike if you are not extra careful, you will get hurt.

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  5. what does "extra careful" mean? i can't get more careful riding my bike among these idiot drivers. if drivers of cars obeyed ALL laws then cyclists wouldn't have to be constantly on the defense. people in cars need to wake up, put down the cell phone, and realize that they're no match for someone on a bike.

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