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  1. #1
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    Is there a better 3' Law?

    Hello, I'm the author of the recent Baltimore Sun article, "Give Them Room," advocating on behalf of a 3' law here in Maryland. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/201...-adopt-bicycle. It's unlikely it will pass, and if it does, it may be stripped of important provisions. That said, I'm thinking toward next year. Generally, my feeling is that the 3' law provides an important zone of protection to cyclists not otherwise available. Is anyone out there aware of, or believe that there might be other legal changes or policies that could accomplish the same result? I'd love to hear your thoughts. - Greg

  2. #2
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Hi, Washington states vulnerable user bill faced opposition last year, but this years safe passing bill was rewritten to include all vulnerable road users in its language, with the 'penalties' were geared to be more educational for drivers ala traffic school rather than more punitive.

    its a start, but it passed this year. include other road users in your pitch. peds/seniors/ safe routes to school/ thunderhead alliance might have some good stuff.

    hope this helps, good luck!
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  3. #3
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Hi Greg!

    For a better 3' law, a quick Google search turned up this:
    D. The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle or pedestrian on a highway shall, whenever possible, leave a safe distance, but not less than three (3) feet, when passing the bicycle or pedestrian and shall maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or individual.
    http://www.cityofboise.org/city_cler...10/o-69-09.pdf

    Found via this link: http://www.boiseweekly.com/boise/boi...nt?oid=1437778

    MDOT added the additional language to our 3' bill about a lawful riding cyclists that did not swerve so we at least have MDOT not opposing this bill. But apparently the House subcommittee (person) knows better then MDOT.

    I will also note that we sought an AG written opinion that this new law would be additive to current law and not replace current due care. I could send that your way if you are interested.

    What really gets my goat is that in Maryland a NASA scientist was killed (one of the worlds leading global warming scientists) while riding his bike by a car passing doing 55 in a 25 mph zone and who was at fault could not be determined basically because we did not have a 3' safe passing bill. Lack of enforceability my foot.

    Other remedies

    One of the things we have discussed is getting the laws to better stress our right to the road. I have serious reservations that cyclists must facilitate faster traffic should be law. Don't get me wrong, I am all for encouraging a cooperative environment on the road for both cyclists and motorists but to make cyclists at fault for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time for being overly cooperative of faster traffic (Jack Yates) or for not being cooperative of faster traffic (Curtis Leymeister (even though exceptions existed for not using the shoulder)) is an affront to justice and the freedom of mobility. What is necessary for safety and only safety should be law, and what should be courteous belongs only in driver and cyclists manuals.

    To that end it is imperative that our mandatory shoulder use law be removed (Hearing 4/6 @ 1 PM SB 624 in the House) as well as removing our mandatory bike lane law. We have talked about flipping our ride to the ride to the far right as practicable (police assert this is the same as possible) law (FRAP) so that it reads something like: "Cyclists have the right to use the full rightmost travel lane unless they are traveling less then the speed limit and there is a continuous space of at least 5' (6' for 45mph+) to the right of the travel lane clear of derbies and other hazards and the cyclist is not making a left turn, the right lane is not a right turn lane ..." Another consideration is to require ALL police officers to get bicycle safety and enforcement training. In no other aspect of law enforcement is it such a common practice for officers to get the law wrong, even MDOT's Safe Cycling in Maryland has "what to do if the police get the laws wrong." No such section exists in the Drivers' Manual. There has been talk about adding more then just one question about bike/ped safety to the 20 question drivers test (but MVA is concerned about making the test too hard (like we have a lot of good drivers in this state so it's not needed ))
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  4. #4
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Human Car View Post
    What really gets my goat is that in Maryland a NASA scientist was killed (one of the worlds leading global warming scientists) while riding his bike by a car passing doing 55 in a 25 mph zone and who was at fault could not be determined basically because we did not have a 3' safe passing bill. Lack of enforceability my foot.
    I don't know anything about this case beyond what you've just said here, and I may be preaching at the choir, but ...

    I don't see how a 3' passing law would in any way be needed to prosecute for a collision. What if it was a car-car collision? The police would site for improper lane change, following too closely, reckless driving, failure to yield or something similar.

    Well, I guess I can think of one case where the law might be needed -- where there was no collision. If the fast moving car closely buzzed the cyclist at a high rate of speed and that caused the cyclist to lose control and crash without an actual collision -- then in that case, the law might be needed to prosecute, though reckless driving or failure to drive with due care should still be options.

    Austin, TX passed a 3' passing law recently after our governor vetoed a statewide bill -- it has two big loopholes. 1) it specifies a 3' passing law or 6' for commercial vehicles -- good -- but it also says that if one is in another lane that also satisfies the law. So if you're riding in a narrow bike lane or shoulder, they can legally buzz you a lot closer than that as long as they're in a different lane, and 2) it's all null and void if the "vulnerable road user" is violating the law in any way. So if the cyclist doesn't have a light at night, you can pass at any distance you want -- that makes a little sense, though it goes too far. But as written, you can also pass at any distance you want if the bike has no brake, or the cyclist has a joint in his pocket, or is out after a curfew, etc. And the passing law also makes things like intentional intimidation, throwing things at the cyclist, etc. illegal -- but again, if the cyclist is breaking any law, that section becomes null and void. (Though of course the offender could still be prosecuted under other laws.)

  5. #5
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gsimmons77 View Post
    Hello, I'm the author of the recent Baltimore Sun article, "Give Them Room," advocating on behalf of a 3' law here in Maryland. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/201...-adopt-bicycle. It's unlikely it will pass, and if it does, it may be stripped of important provisions. That said, I'm thinking toward next year. Generally, my feeling is that the 3' law provides an important zone of protection to cyclists not otherwise available. Is anyone out there aware of, or believe that there might be other legal changes or policies that could accomplish the same result? I'd love to hear your thoughts. - Greg
    The 'three foot', just like bike lanes, is a moot point because, unless there is a physical barrier akin to the 10-ton concrete barriers, it is useless. Because a motorized vehicle could still stray into the path of, or crash into, a bike. Because, While the yellow lines are obvious to everyone, the lines for bike lanes aren't. It just ends up meaning, relying on the sanity n' lucidity of the driver of a motorized vehicle. Because of this, while Maryland has AFRAP, the judgment is still up to the cyclist and, in my prior experiences, when I have AFRAP'ed, I have paid for it. So I 'take the lane', without negotiation.

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