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  1. #1
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Florida Becomes Seventh State with Three-Foot Passing Law

    New state law mandates safe distance for motorists buzzing past bicyclists
    By Chuck McGinness
    Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
    Thursday, September 28, 2006
    http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localne...elaw_0928.html

    It's called getting buzzed.

    In cycling slang, it's when a car passes so close that it forces a biker off the road or, even worse, clips the cyclist with the side mirror.

    A new state law beginning Sunday will require drivers to maintain a minimum 3-foot safe distance when passing cyclists.

    On Sunday, a new state law takes effect that requires motorists to maintain a minimum 3-foot safe distance when passing bicyclists. The fine is $118.50.

    Longtime biker Don Braverman said he's never been hit, but he's had to veer off the road to avoid a collision. He's seen fellow riders suffer punctured lungs and other serious injuries when buzzed.

    "I hope drivers realize that these mirrors stick out a good eight to ten inches and allow for that," said Braverman, president of the Boca Raton Bicycle Club. "A driver's responsibility is the same as passing a car."

    On narrow roads, like State Road A1A, a popular road for cyclists which has 12-foot wide travel lanes, motorists likely will have to cross the center line to comply with the new law. If there is oncoming traffic, drivers will have to wait until it's safe to pass.

    "If a car is going slower than you want to go, you can't just blow your horn, yell and cuss at them and expect them to move off the road so you can pass," said George Martin, executive director of the Safe Bicycling Coalition of Palm Beach County. "Why should someone expect that of a bicyclist?"

    Area police departments aren't planning any special crackdowns to enforce the new law. In Boca Raton, officers will keep a close eye on roads used by cyclists to make sure there aren't any problems, Police Chief Dan Alexander said.

    "Boca Raton is set up nicely for bikers, as opposed to other cities," Alexander said.

    Designated as a "Bicycle Friendly Community" by the Washington-based League of American Bicyclists, the city has 40 miles of bike lanes and 28 miles of off-road bike pathways.

    That makes a big difference in reducing "interactions" between cyclists and motorists, according to a recent University of Texas study. Having painted bike lanes on streets helps both drivers and bikers stay in safer, more-central positions in their respective lanes.

    "Without a marked bike lane, there appears to be a lot of uncertainty about how much space each person needs even when adequate road space is provided," said Randy Machemehl, director of the university's Center for Transportation Research.

    Similarly, a New York City study released this month showed that of the 225 cyclists killed in crashes on city streets over the past 10 years, only one involved a cyclist who was in a marked bike lane. The most common factor contributing to the fatal accidents was bikers' ignoring signals and stop signs and 97 percent of the riders who died were not wearing helmets, according to the report.

    The research shows bike lanes benefit motorists as much as they do bicyclists, said Raphael Clemente, a competitive cyclist and director of transportation, planning and public services for the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority. The Florida law should help improve safety, but only if it's enforced, he said.

    "Police officers are too often unconcerned with the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians and are less likely to be attentive to laws that protect them," Clemente said, adding that police often are unfamiliar with the rights and responsibilities of cyclists.

    Some motorists may argue that the law would not be needed if cyclists were more aware of their surroundings and pulled off the road if they are backing up traffic or preventing someone from passing safely.

    State law says bikers should ride as far to the right as practical, but are not required to "hug the curb." That's dangerous and cyclists can take the entire lane to avoid unsafe conditions, Martin said.

    "The burden of safe passing is, and always has been, on the driver," he said.

    Florida is one of seven states with the passing law. Arizona, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Wisconsin are among the others.

  2. #2
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    So what is the actual language of the law? Does it have the exception that the AZ one does that are anti-vehicular cycling (i.e. not applicable if cyclist close passed was not in a bike lane if present)

    28-735. Overtaking bicycles; civil penalties
    "A. When overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction, a person driving a motor vehicle shall exercise due care by leaving a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet until the motor vehicle is safely past the overtaken bicycle.

    B. If a person violates this section and the violation results in a collision causing:

    1. Serious physical injury as defined in section 13-105 to another person, the violator is subject to a civil penalty of up to five hundred dollars.

    2. Death to another person, the violator is subject to a civil penalty of up to one thousand dollars.

    C. Subsection B of this section does not apply to a bicyclist who is injured in a vehicular traffic lane when a designated bicycle lane or path is present and passable."


    So it otherwords its not a big deal to hit and kill or maim a cyclist if they are not using a bike lane when present or if cyclist is riding on a street with no bike lane, but a MUP parallels. Considering I leave the BL for left turns and for going straight thru intersections...

    Al
    Last edited by noisebeam; 09-28-06 at 12:50 PM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    So what is the actual language of the law? Does it have the exception that the AZ one does that are anti-vehicular cycling (i.e. not applicable if cyclist close passed was not in a bike lane if present)

    28-735. Overtaking bicycles; civil penalties
    "A. When overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction, a person driving a motor vehicle shall exercise due care by leaving a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet until the motor vehicle is safely past the overtaken bicycle.

    B. If a person violates this section and the violation results in a collision causing:

    1. Serious physical injury as defined in section 13-105 to another person, the violator is subject to a civil penalty of up to five hundred dollars.

    2. Death to another person, the violator is subject to a civil penalty of up to one thousand dollars.

    C. Subsection B of this section does not apply to a bicyclist who is injured in a vehicular traffic lane when a designated bicycle lane or path is present and passable."


    So it otherwords its not a big deal to hit and kill or maim a cyclist if they are not using a bike lane when present or if cyclist is riding on a street with no bike lane, but a MUP parallels. Considering I leave the BL for left turns and for going straight thru intersections...

    Al
    http://www.flsenate.gov/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=Ch0316/SEC083.HTM&Title=->2006->Ch0316->Section%20083#0316.083
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

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  4. #4
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho
    http://www.flsenate.gov/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=Ch0316/SEC083.HTM&Title=->2006->Ch0316->Section%20083#0316.083
    Thanks. Looks pretty clean to me.
    Al

  5. #5
    One speed: FAST ! fordfasterr's Avatar
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    Awesome !!!!!!!!!!!!
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  6. #6
    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    Some motorists may argue that the law would not be needed if cyclists were more aware of their surroundings and pulled off the road if they are backing up traffic or preventing someone from passing safely.
    I assume that when the reporter says "some motorists" he means himself.
    The United States of America is the only democratic nation in the world to deny citizens living in the nation's capital representation in the national legislature. District residents have no vote in either the U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives. www.dcvote.org

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    that's great! i wish california would do that!
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by DCCommuter
    I assume that when the reporter says "some motorists" he means himself.
    Exactly, you can certainly see his slant. He also states that "The most common factor contributing to the fatal accidents (in NYC) was bikers' ignoring signals and stop signs". So clearly he has it out for cyclists.

    I wonder where he got that statistic because I distinctly remember reading a study where the vast majority of car/bike collissions were caused by the car, not the cyclist.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho
    I wonder where he got that statistic because I distinctly remember reading a study where the vast majority of car/bike collissions were caused by the car, not the cyclist.
    Maybe he saw the police reports but not the subsequent evaluation by Charles Komanoff and 'Right of Way'.

    "After NYC cycling fatalities increased twofold in 1999, police rushed to cover their, er, reputation by claiming (without analysis or supporting data) that cyclists are to blame in 75% of cycling deaths. Right of Way took a closer look. Surprise! The truth is just the reverse. Our report, The Only Good Cyclist, is available for download. (If you have difficulty downloading, send email and we'll arrange to get you a copy.)"

    The Only Good Cyclist: http://www.cars-suck.org/research/cyclists.pdf

  10. #10
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam

    C. Subsection B of this section does not apply to a bicyclist who is injured in a vehicular traffic lane when a designated bicycle lane or path is present and passable."


    So it otherwords its not a big deal to hit and kill or maim a cyclist if they are not using a bike lane when present or if cyclist is riding on a street with no bike lane, but a MUP parallels. Considering I leave the BL for left turns and for going straight thru intersections...

    Al
    Many of us opposed the similar law proposed in California precisely because they tried to get similar anti-cycling language into it.

  11. #11
    genec genec's Avatar
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    The part about being outside of a Bike Lane is bogus... how do motorists or worse, legislators expect us cyclists to make left turns. I guarantee that bike lanes are not part of the left lane situation.

  12. #12
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    I am surprised more states don't have this law. I live in Arizona. We are looking to ratify this so it is more strict.
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  13. #13
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheel
    We are looking to ratify this so it is more strict.
    Example here:
    http://azbikelaw.org/legi.html
    Basically adding several other infractions, removing BL present language and including traffic school as part of penalty.
    CAB is working on this.
    Al

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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    So it otherwords its not a big deal to hit and kill or maim a cyclist if they are not using a bike lane when present or if cyclist is riding on a street with no bike lane, but a MUP parallels. Considering I leave the BL for left turns and for going straight thru intersections...

    Al
    Regarding Arizona's law (28-735) -- to add even more confusion, the actual 3 foot requirement (section A) is absolute, that is to say it has nothing to do with whether/not there is a bike lane.
    The "Bike lane exclusion", section C, only negates the extra penalties which are meted out in section B, and only apply to death/serious injury.
    A motorist can theoretically get a regular traffic citation for 28-735(A) for "buzzing" a cyclist. Any application of this law is exceedingly rare...AFAIK twice in 5 years, both involving fatalities.
    I have collected up a bunch of stuff about it here

  15. #15
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by azbikelaw
    Regarding Arizona's law (28-735) -- to add even more confusion, the actual 3 foot requirement (section A) is absolute, that is to say it has nothing to do with whether/not there is a bike lane.
    The "Bike lane exclusion", section C, only negates the extra penalties which are meted out in section B, and only apply to death/serious injury.
    A motorist can theoretically get a regular traffic citation for 28-735(A) for "buzzing" a cyclist. Any application of this law is exceedingly rare...AFAIK twice in 5 years, both involving fatalities.
    I have collected up a bunch of stuff about it here
    Firstly, thank you for the good online resource you have created!

    Your musing of the law, expecially this one, ring true:
    "Attempts to reform the law have been unsuccessful. Leading me to re-think the theory of accepting a law with warts in the hopes that it can be "fixed" later.

    Arizona's pre-existing generic vehicle overtaking law is: 28-723, it states that the driver of the overtaking vehicle must pass "at a safe distance" -- was that really so bad?"


    Section C does bug me as I so often can not ride in the bike lane for safety reasons (left turns, going straight, etc.) and the presence of the BL when I am not it it often brings the out the worst in drivers.
    Why should injuring me when I am not in a BL, but legally yielding ROW and following all law, not carry a penalty if a BL is present. Either scratch section C, or get rid on BLs near all intersections.

    Al

  16. #16
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    As you can clearly see section C doesn't apply to the following below, If your are outside a bicycle lane and can claim the following it goes back to section B
    So language might be off, but when you put both of these laws together they make sense.

    28-815. Riding on roadways and bicycle paths; prohibition of motor vehicle traffic on bike paths

    * A. A person riding a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except under any of the following situations:
    1. If overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
    2. If preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
    3. If reasonably necessary to avoid conditions, including fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals or surface hazards.
    4. If the lane in which the person is operating the bicycle is too narrow for. a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
    * B. Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadway set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
    * C. A path or lane that is designated as a bicycle path or lane by state or local authorities is for the exclusive use of bicycles even though other uses are permitted pursuant to subsection D or are otherwise permitted by state or local authorities.
    * D. A person shall not operate, stop, park or leave standing a vehicle in a path or lane designated as a bicycle path or lane by a state or local authority except in the case of emergency or for crossing the path or lane to gain access to a public or private road or driveway.
    * E. Subsection D does not prohibit the use of the path or lane by the appropriate local authority.
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  17. #17
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheel
    As you can clearly see section C doesn't apply to the following below, If your are outside a bicycle lane and can claim the following it goes back to section B
    So language might be off, but when you put both of these laws together they make sense.

    28-815. Riding on roadways and bicycle paths; prohibition of motor vehicle traffic on bike paths

    * A. A person riding a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except under any of the following situations:
    1. If overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
    2. If preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
    3. If reasonably necessary to avoid conditions, including fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals or surface hazards.
    4. If the lane in which the person is operating the bicycle is too narrow for. a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
    * B. Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadway set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
    * C. A path or lane that is designated as a bicycle path or lane by state or local authorities is for the exclusive use of bicycles even though other uses are permitted pursuant to subsection D or are otherwise permitted by state or local authorities.
    * D. A person shall not operate, stop, park or leave standing a vehicle in a path or lane designated as a bicycle path or lane by a state or local authority except in the case of emergency or for crossing the path or lane to gain access to a public or private road or driveway.
    * E. Subsection D does not prohibit the use of the path or lane by the appropriate local authority.
    You may hope/wish so, but that is not how it will be interpreted by the lawyers defending the motorist from the fines if they kill/injure a cyclist who was riding on the road when there was an parallel MUP or the cyclist has merged safely out of BL to outside lane and was then preparing to merge to inside lane to make a left turn - or quite commonly has left the bike lane when going straight thru and intersection (an exception very unfortunately not even stated in 28-815.)

    Again subsection C says "C. Subsection B of this section does not apply to a bicyclist who is injured in a vehicular traffic lane when a designated bicycle lane or path is present and passable."
    It just says if a bike lane or path (i.e. MUP) exists and passable (i.e. doesn't have debris, isn't blocked). It does not say practicable or present for the cyclists destination. In fact is says 'bicyclist in vehicular travel lane' and not in present 'bike lane' strongly implying the cyclist should be in the bike lane and is not 'vehicular.'

    The bottom line: If a cyclist is destination positioning when on a road with no BL and no adjacent path and gets injured or killed by a motorist who passes to closely/hits, the fines clearly apply. If a BL stripe happened to be painted on that same road for the same cyclist destination position, it is very unclear if and likely not that the fines would apply. That is rediculous.

    Al

  18. #18
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    well I am happy we have a law to start with.
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  19. #19
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheel
    well I am happy we have a law to start with.
    Well, I am not (obviously) and agree with azbikelaw to requote what he said so well:

    ""Attempts to reform the law have been unsuccessful. Leading me to re-think the theory of accepting a law with warts in the hopes that it can be "fixed" later.
    Arizona's pre-existing generic vehicle overtaking law is: §28-723, it states that the driver of the overtaking vehicle must pass "at a safe distance" -- was that really so bad?"


    I'd be happy with the law without subsection C, but all section C does is further the perception of cyclists as secondary users of the road only to be accepted if they stay out of 'vehicular lanes' and remain in 'bike lanes'

    It is no more enforceable than 28-723, otherwise the positive '3ft is law' rallying cry of 28-735 would be a stonger pro of this law.

    It is also not about the fines, it is about what the law communicates, which is 'hitting cyclists who leave bike lanes is not as serious as hitting ones who remain in them.' Add to this how poorly designed many bike lanes are in Arizona, this is unarguably anti-cyclist.

    Also consider the history of section C, for which azbikelaw provide the link above with information he has compiled. Added later by a pro-motorist lawmaker only to weaken 28-735.

    To crystalize why the law is bad consider what purpose does section C serve other than to suggest cyclist should stay off the road (in paths) or stay out of the way of motorists (in bike lanes) even when the lane does not serve ones safety or needs.

    Al

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    Senior Member tomcryar's Avatar
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    None of the 3ft. law means anything unless a law "enforcement" officer sees the infraction.

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