CYCLING ETIQUETTE AND THE NEW THREE FEET FOR SAFETY ACT
With the introduction of the new “Three Feet for Safety Act” that goes into effect September 16, 2014, the Town will be actively communicating proper cycling etiquette and the rules of the road to both motorists and cyclists.
Known as the “Three Feet for Safety Act,” new state vehicle code section (21760) requires that a driver of a motor vehicle shall not overtake or pass a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway at a distance of less than three feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator.
Police Chief Dan Watson is urging all drivers in Mammoth Lakes to comply with the new law. “This law includes public streets and even if three feet is not possible, the motor vehicle must slow to a reasonable and prudent speed and only pass when no danger is present to the bicyclist. Failing to do so can incur a fine, regardless of a collision or not.”
Chief Watson also urges all bicyclists to comply with the rules of the road, including stopping for stop signs and pedestrians, riding as far to the right as practicable, and riding in single file. Bicyclists are also encouraged to use the Town’s extensive system of bike paths when possible. The Town will not be pursuing a local ordinance to implement the new law as the definition applied is very broad and includes all public streets. It should also be noted that currently the Town of Mammoth Lakes Municipal Code does not prohibit bikes on sidewalks.
Additional information about the “Three Feet for Safety Act,” including violations; can be viewed online at: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21760.htm.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) that details the factors behind traffic fatalities on our roads, in California (2011), the statewide percentage of bicyclist fatalities was 4.1% of all fatalities, which is nearly twice the national average of 2.1%.
FARS also identified that between 2009 and 2011, collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles are more likely to occur on local roadways than the State Highway System, and 85% of fatalities involving bicycles and 89% of severe injuries involving bicycles occurred on a local road compared to 57% of fatalities overall and 64% of severe injuries overall.
Supporting the passage of AB 1371 (Bradford) was the California Association of Bicycling Organizations (CABO). From the CABO President’s point of view, “I support this bill because of my expectation, well hope, that incidences of antagonistic or clueless “buzz-backs”/scary close passing and hit from behind crashes will subside as people learn about the Three Feet for Safety Act.”
Local cycling advocate and Eastside Velo (ESV) President John Armstrong hopes that someday a sign will be erected upon entering Mono County that says “We Respect People on Bikes.”
ESV has over 200 active members who ride regularly throughout the Eastern Sierra. As an organization, they actively promote proper cycling etiquette and even have a short video on their website that promotes safe and responsible riding practices. Their Top 3 “Rules to Ride by…” are as follows:
1. Be courteous and share the road. Being courteous gains respect and helps make the roads safer for all cyclists.
2. Signal your intentions if you can safely do so. If you are turning, point in the direction you plan on going. If you are slowing, put your hand out behind you.
3. Be friendly. If someone is courteous to you and does the right thing, wave and smile. Everyone likes to be acknowledged for doing the right thing.
Please visit the ESV website (www.eastsidevelo.org) to review the complete list of “Rules to Ride by.”
Armstrong hopes that common sense will prevail regarding the new “Three Feet for Safety Act,” but understands that the best strategy for cyclist’s safety is educating our motoring public.
“Many times on my bike I have been in a situation where a motorist does not slow down. The motorist powers onwards and forces a squeeze play with another vehicle and me, and guess who comes off the worst? Oftentimes I end up in the dirt or on the sidewalk.”
To facilitate effective education, Armstrong recommends cyclists and motorists pick up a copy of the new “Quick Guide to Smart Cycling” distributed by the League of American Bicyclists that will be available locally this fall. This full-color, 24-page Quick Guide covers just about everything you need to know to ride a bike safely and confidently, providing an easy-to-understand resource that appeals to all demographics: prospective bicyclists, novice riders, and even seasoned pros.
To read the Smart Cycling Quick Guide online, visit this link: http://bikeleague.org/quickguide.
Mammoth Lakes Police Department Reserve Officer Mike Braun will be actively communicating proper cycling etiquette and the rules of the road to both motorists and cyclists within Mammoth Lakes this fall.
“Cyclists have the same rights and duties as drivers. They need to obey traffic signals and stop signs, and most importantly, need to ride with traffic, and use the rightmost lane headed in the direction they are going,” stated Braun.
Officer Braun also encourages cyclists to be predictable by making their intentions clear to everyone on the road. “Signal turns and check behind you well before making a turn or changing lanes.”
Above all, stay safe, stay visible and ride on the right!
For additional information regarding the new “Three Feet for Safety Act” and proper cycling etiquette, please call the Mammoth Lakes Police Department at (760) 934-2011 or contact Officer Braun at firstname.lastname@example.org.