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Archive for Thursday, March 10, 2011

Statehouse Live: Bicyclists successfully advocate for ‘3-foot’ law

March 10, 2011, 8:47 a.m. Updated March 10, 2011, 1:05 p.m.

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— A proposal sought by bicyclists as a safety measure was successfully put into a bill on Thursday and teed up for possible approval by a Senate committee.

The provision would require that motorists maintain a 3-foot distance when passing bicyclists. Current law requires a “safe distance.”

In testimony to the Senate Transportation Committee, bicycle riders said that including a numeric distance would better communicate to the public that motorists need to pass a cyclist safely, at a minimum of 3 feet.

“This benefits police officers by providing a simple standard they can explain,” said Alan Apel, treasurer of the Kaw Valley Bike Club.

The 3-foot provision was placed by the Transportation Committee in House Bill 2192, which allows motorcyclists and bicyclists to pass through a red light with caution if their vehicle is unable to trigger the light to change to green after a reasonable amount of time. The final bill will be considered later by the committee.

During debate on the bill in the House, an attempt was made to include the 3-foot provision but it failed on a 55-59 vote.

Comments

Jeremy DeBoard 3 years, 12 months ago

Shouldn't this also mean that bicyclists could not pass or travel 3 feet from vehicles that are parked or stopped?

Jake Esau 3 years, 12 months ago

I see a huge number of bicyclists breaking all sorts of traffic laws (the biggest one being ignoring stop signs). I'm sure that there are plenty that follow the rules, but it always seems like the ones I see are doing something dumb.

boltzmann 3 years, 12 months ago

I see a huge number of car drivers breaking all sorts of traffic laws (the biggest ones being ignoring stop signs, failure to signal, and distracted driving - talking on cell phone). I'm sure that there are plenty that follow the rules, but it always seems like the ones I see are doing something dumb.

boltzmann 3 years, 12 months ago

Car drivers constantly complain about bicyclists and constantly break laws on the road.

NewbieGardener 3 years, 12 months ago

Yes, I hardly ever see drivers breaking the traffic laws...(exceeding the speed limit, no turn signals, etc).

In response to the 3 feet bill, most bicyclists would not go closer than 3 feet of a parked vehicle for fear of a sudden door opening. We have to remember that cyclists are more vulnerable, and this law seeks to give them more protection.

knayte 3 years, 12 months ago

Dang, 3 feet really isn't even that much. A truck going 40mph passing you on your bike 3 feet away doesn't feel like a "safe distance." Better than nothing I guess.

imastinker 3 years, 12 months ago

Do we get to charge road taxes to bicycle riders?

akuna 3 years, 12 months ago

Everyone pays taxes that go toward roads. So yes.

Kirk Larson 3 years, 12 months ago

And bikes cause far less damage to roads so shouldn't bikers pay less?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 12 months ago

You're overstating it-- bikes cause no damage to roads.

sr80 3 years, 12 months ago

I say bike riders should be required to be insured and be registered just as a auto,that would add to the tax base and solve the problem stated above.

sr80 3 years, 12 months ago

I say bike riders should be required to be insured and be registered just as a auto,that would add to the tax base and solve the problem stated above.

firefighter88 3 years, 12 months ago

Ok so does this apply to the idiot cyclists who think it's cute to ride side by side on the road instead of single file like they're supposed to be? You take up that 3 feet of safe distance by doing that so why should I go into oncoming traffic to protect you when you won't protect yourself? Sorry to all the cyclists out there who are polite, but I don't see too many. Don't get me wrong, I don't see too many polite car drivers either, but give me a break. All the cyclists do is complain and want more rights when they don't comply with anything!!

JayhawkAlum03 3 years, 12 months ago

Actually, the law states that it is legal to ride two abreast, but no more than that. So, not complaining or wanting more rights, just doing what is legally allowed.

jafs 3 years, 12 months ago

The last time I researched the topic, the relevant statute stated that cyclists are supposed to ride as far to the right as is practicable when they are traveling slower than the speed limit.

So riding two abreast on a city street with a speed limit of 30mph is not correct.

They should, in fact, ride single file as far to the right as is practicable.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 12 months ago

"They should, in fact, ride single file as far to the right as is practicable."

That would have to be a law specific to the locale.

Is that the case in Lawrence?

jafs 3 years, 12 months ago

It was a KS statute, if I remember correctly.

firefighter88 3 years, 12 months ago

So even in the middle of Lawrence, where the bicycle lanes are only wide enough for one, yet they still think it's ok to ride 2 abreast, I'm supposed to endanger my 2 year old's life in the backseat by having to move over into oncoming traffic? I don't think so. Why is a cyclist's life more valuable than anyone else's? It's supposed to be "sharing" of the road. Not the cyclists getting all the rights, and the car drivers going out of their way to appease them.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 12 months ago

"I'm supposed to endanger my 2 year old's life in the backseat by having to move over into oncoming traffic?"

I agree that in certain areas in the city, riding two abreast is a bit rude. But If you choose to move into oncoming traffic and thereby endanger your 2-year-old, that's on you, not the bike riders.

mmmkisses 3 years, 12 months ago

"I'm supposed to endanger my 2 year old's life in the backseat by having to move over into oncoming traffic? "

Or you could wait until it's safe to pass......

socnick 3 years, 12 months ago

There is nothing wrong with defining a safe distance for bicyclers.

scribe 3 years, 12 months ago

Partial excerpt from the Kansas Driver's Manual regarding bicyclists: BICYCLES Motorists in Kansas should expect to encounter bicyclists on all state and local roadways except for the Interstate system where bicyclists are prohibited or where prohibited by local ordinance. Please be considerate of bicyclists who have rights to the roadway. Expect bicyclists to be two feet from the right edge of the roadway or curb. When passing a bicyclist use extreme caution and pass four feet to the left of the bicyclist.

Jeremy DeBoard 3 years, 12 months ago

so in a sense, this is not defining a safe distance, but lowering a safe distance that has already been established by regulations?

Ken Harris 3 years, 12 months ago

I think the "four feet" in the drivers manual is just a suggestion and not an actual law.

labmonkey 3 years, 12 months ago

Give the cyclists the law, but only with the compromise that they have to license and pay a license fee every year on their bicycles. If they want us to go to a more European society, then license them as in Europe.

boltzmann 3 years, 11 months ago

Having lived and ridden in multiple European countries, I never had to get a license for my bike, so I know that your comment is not true for at least some european countries. It might be true for others, but I was unable to get confirmation of that from an Internet search.

NewbieGardener 3 years, 12 months ago

So we all understand that roads are mainly paid for through federal and state taxes, correct? Now if roads were strictly paid for by a gas tax, you would have an argument.

labmonkey 3 years, 12 months ago

Bicyclists have a way of identifying cars if they break the law with license plates... Motorists should be able to turn in cyclists who break the law in the same way.

MyName 3 years, 12 months ago

Yes, and we should all get an ID number so we can turn each other into the police when one of us notices another breaking any sort of traffic or other minor ordinance, including jaywalking, spitting on the sidewalk, and improperly parking our car. This is clearly a fantastic idea and should be implemented immediately.

labmonkey 3 years, 11 months ago

Cyclists may not be such arrogant smucks if the knew there was a way to turn them in for breaking the law, or a way for them to even be caught. Because really, the only thing that keeps most people from breaking minor laws such as speed limits and not running red lights, even when there is nobody coming, is the fear of being caught, whether by a camera, cop, or another motorist..

Then again, the whole law of physics thing doesn't prevent their smugness, so the fear of getting caught might not either.

boltzmann 3 years, 11 months ago

Judging from your comments and those of others, biicyclists dont have a monopoly on being arrogant schmucks, which by the way is not spelled "smucks"

orlysud 3 years, 12 months ago

Cars dislike cyclists because they think we're a nuissance. Well, we think that cars are a nuissance too when they disrespect us. There should be a new State law implemented that if a vehicle any size, causes a cyclists to have an accident or has rage simply because a cyclists is on the road, should be punished by law.

Kris_H 3 years, 12 months ago

Do the police ever stop cyclists who are clearly breaking the law? I've never personally seen it. Maybe some enforcement would help.

Adrienne Sanders 3 years, 12 months ago

They were doing it on campus a couple years back- giving out lots of tickets for running stop signs.

manfred 3 years, 12 months ago

A friend of mine actually got a ticket for riding his bicycle intoxicated. It obviously wasn't as serious as a DUI, but it was a citation.

ryknow1976 3 years, 12 months ago

So if the cyclist happens to be a stripper do we have to stay 9 feet away from her?

BigDog 3 years, 12 months ago

I believe bicyclists should get the 3 foot allowance when passing .... but then bicyclists shouldn't pass a car on the right when the car is stopped at a light either, that would place them often within that 3 foot area. I also believe if bicyclists violate the rules of the road like running stop signs or stop lights they should pay the same fine as cars do.

repaste 3 years, 11 months ago

A problem I've pondered often - if passing cars at a light, a cyclist should be "crawling", moving very slow. The purist's, as you suggest, stay behind the last car, taking a place in the que. I only do this if I feel up to a strong effort to stay close to car in front, otherwise car behind will be upset at maybe missing his light. Most thoughtful thing I read said you should you should mosey up 2-3 cars from light and follow a car behind his right wheel - watching for a possible right turn. That car protects you from other cars, just don't be so close as to hit him if he stops short.

Mike Hoffmann 3 years, 12 months ago

There is nothing I love more than driving 8mph for several blocks while I wait to pass a cyclist riding on a busy 2-lane road. It's like a parade!

yankeevet 3 years, 12 months ago

Why dont they just stay off the road; and that way no one will get hit or run over...........

Benthic 3 years, 12 months ago

Hey, isn't it about time for another County Administrator rides his bike to work story?? I mean isn't he the only one in this town that rides a bike as exercise?

gsxr600 3 years, 12 months ago

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grimpeur 3 years, 12 months ago

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sr80 3 years, 12 months ago

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remember_username 3 years, 12 months ago

Wow, I always thought I was supposed to give them four feet of space. I'm really not comfortable with less than that but I'll try.

gl0ck0wn3r 3 years, 12 months ago

Cool, so does this mean I can legally drive my car three feet behind a guy on a bike?

jafs 3 years, 12 months ago

Much of the hostility comes from the fact that many cyclists (the overwhelmingly vast majority in my experience) don't observe the basic rules of the road, and have an attitude about it.

manfred 3 years, 12 months ago

Wouldn't you be hostile?! The amount of inconvenience people experience due to inconsiderate cyclists is off the charts! Why, just the other day I encountered a cyclist while driving on Mass Street. I had to slow down, and this added a total of 15 seconds to my commute! I'm still kind of angry about it.

Curtis Lange 3 years, 12 months ago

So, are people going to be riding around with yard sticks extended? There was nothing wrong with the current wording of 'safe distance'...

BigDog 3 years, 12 months ago

What "inane rules" are stagnating business?

BigDog 3 years, 12 months ago

What "inane rules" are stagnating business?

grimpeur 3 years, 12 months ago

Motorists need to have things spelled out for them.

ToriFreak13 3 years, 12 months ago

How does this protect anyone? 90% of the population will not even know the law exists. The same that do not know there is a law to turn your headlights on when your wipers are on. The same that do not know it's illegal to linger in the passing lane on highways. Not to mention most interactions with cyclists are downtown...and there is not 3 feet available between parked cars and the driving lane. Yet cyclists cruise along the side of cars all day. Besides all of that...cyclists will now bully their way around more and swerve at cars they feel impede their 3 feet. Yes cyclists bully their way around...I have had a few swerve out of their bike lane on 15th and 9th streets. These laws will not protect a cyclist from an impact....they should be the ones protecting themselves. There needs to be a law against those cyclists with flashing headlights too. My car is not allowed to have flashing lights.

notorious_agenda 3 years, 12 months ago

Most bike riders are quite considerate of the other drivers and ride well to conserve space and be safe, others though, put a 20" tv on their handle bars and try to drive it across town like its a backwards foot powered motorcycle hatchback.

jafs 3 years, 12 months ago

The overwhelming majority of bike riders I see routinely break traffic laws, and act without consideration for others.

In addition, they have a bad attitude about it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 12 months ago

The vast majority of those bike riders who routinely break traffic laws fall into two categories--

  1. People whose bad habits on a bike are probably also displayed when driving a car.

  2. People who can't get and keep their act together well enough to get a driver's license, and/or maintain a car, and it's much better that they are on the roads on a 25-lbs. bike rather than in a 2000-lbs. car.

Regardless, the way we drive or ride our vehicles of choice is an individual act. The transgression of one bike rider says nothing about all "bike riders, " just as the transgressions of any single car driver says nothing about all "car drivers."

jafs 3 years, 12 months ago

I speak only from personal experience, and my personal experience is that the vast majority of bike riders I see don't follow the basic rules of the road, like stopping at stop signs, signaling turns, riding to the right as far as practicable, etc.

Your various speculations about them are interesting, but somewhat of a tangent.

I'd just like to see them being held to the rules they're supposed to follow, just as I'd like the same of automobile drivers.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 11 months ago

My experience says that your characterizations are a vast exaggeration.

jafs 3 years, 11 months ago

Well, you must have a very different experience then.

Mine is as I've stated, and I'm not exaggerating at all.

Perhaps we travel at different times, or in different parts of the city.

he_who_knows_all 3 years, 12 months ago

Will I still be able to tailgate them by a foot or less even though I'll now have to pass them by three feet?

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 12 months ago

This is really stupid, everyone knows bicycles have only two pedals, how are you going to use three feet to pedal a two foot bike? Oh, you meant like 36inches???

Nevermind.

irvan moore 3 years, 12 months ago

i am just getting ready to get my bike out for spring but you don't have to worry about me, i'm gonna stay on the sidewalks where it's safe.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 12 months ago

I got stopped many years ago for riding a bicycle without a headlight. No ticket though, just a warning. The fact that I was going home from a bar and certainly over the limit didn't seem to matter to him, or me. Really, going home at 2:00 am., how likely is it that I will damage anything?

jafs 3 years, 12 months ago

There's the attitude of which I speak.

If you're supposed to be sober when riding a bike on the road, you should have been ticketed for that.

Blessed4x 3 years, 12 months ago

Hopefully this 3 foot rule will also apply when the bicyclists are zooming between rows of cars sitting in the queue at a stop light. Something tells me it won't, though.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 12 months ago

I got stuck behind a couple a cyclists the other day. By the time oncoming traffic passed and I was able to pass them, 7 whole seconds passed. Can you imagine, I got delayed seven seconds. By the time I got to Dillons, all the food was gone. That caused my entire family to starve to death. See, those damn bicyclists directly caused the death of my family and God knows how many more. Ban them all, I say.

Betty Bartholomew 3 years, 12 months ago

Last summer, we were going down Mass St. and there was a family of four - two adults, two boys - ride in the northbound lane side by side, the adults on the ends and the boys in between. They rode that way for several blocks, and were still going when we finally turned off at 7th st. They impeded traffic, and certainly weren't teaching the boys safe riding.

A couple of months after that, we were northbound on Monterey and a man on a bicycle was riding far over by the right-hand curb. He made no indication that he was getting ready to turn left - no hand signals, not even moving over toward the center of the road - he just turned, coming clear out from the curb to do it. Fortunately, we were a safe enough distance behind him that there was little danger of an accident, but even so, he should've indicated his intention to turn left.

baldwinista 3 years, 11 months ago

It occurs to me that we have become a country of "me, me, me". Everybody seems to think that their rights should be paramount, and their responsiblities should be minimal. Teabaggers march with signs held in one hand protesting taxes being too high, while the other hand is reaching out for their Social Security check. In Wisconsin, they succeeded in stripping public unions of the right to collective bargaining, a prelude to raiding their pensions to balance the budget, while handing out huge tax breaks to corporations. People rant about whatever personal pet peeve they have, demanding that it be legislatively addressed to their satisfaction, whether it be smoking, drinking, gambling or labels on food. Whatever happened to "ask not what your country can do for you, ..."? Folks, we're in a depression, and people are hurting. We're in 2 wars, and people are dying. In my little town of Baldwin City, people go for their morning walks on roads without sidewalks. Kids (and adults) ride their bikes around town. Drivers give them plenty of space, and often wave when they go around. I'm sure most people do the same (well, maybe not in Columbia). This gives me an idea. Can we all just stop being selfish jerks? Try doing something because it's the right thing to do, not because there's a law requiring it. Just my 2 cents. You may now return to your regularly-scheduled argument.

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