Thursday, April 19, 2012
Video Shows Motorist Buzzing Bicyclist, Violating 3-Foot Buffer Law
A recent video posted on Facebook shows a motorist on a local narrow road coming up on a bicyclist in the same traffic lane.
There's also a car coming in the opposite direction.
See the video here.
So, what does the driver do?
Does he slow down, wait for the oncoming car to pass in the opposite lane and then safely drive around the cyclist?
Or does he speed up, buzz the bicyclist and zip around the cyclist beating the oncoming driver in the opposite lane by a few seconds?
This being the Tampa Bay area, the motorist buzzes the cyclist -- violating the state law that requires a motorist to pass a bicyclist by a minimum distance of three feet -- and zips back into the lane before the oncoming car.
The scene was captured by a bicyclist's hemlet-cam. The bicyclist caught up with the motorist and tried to inform the motorist about the state's 3-foot buffer law.
The lesson didn't go over well on the driver, who tells the bicyclist to bike on the sidewalk. For bicyclists in an area with many roads that lack bike lanes and shoulders, it's a scene played out all the time.
What's the law and what's the standard here?
I refer to the folks at Cycling Savvy, who have a wonderful program educating bicyclists about the best lane positions to take and, in doing so, explains to motorists why a bicyclist is in a specific position in the road.
"Most overtaking crashes involve a motorist who attempts to squeeze past (illegally) in a lane that is too narrow to share," according to http://cyclingsavvy.org/hows-my-driving/
Cycling Savvy says, "While Florida law [FS316.2065-5] does say bicyclists must drive 'as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway,' it also provides many exceptions to this rule, including
•When overtaking and passing another vehicle
•When traveling at or near the same speed as other traffic
•When preparing for a left turn
•Where a lane is too narrow to share safely with another vehicle
•To avoid any condition that makes it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge"
Indeed, many roads around Tampa Bay are too narrow to share safely with another vehicle, so as a bicyclist I will be "taking the lane" when there is an oncoming car and then waving a motorist behind me to go around me when there is no oncoming traffic.
In the case captured by this video, I likely would have taken the lane because it is too dangerous and narrow to share it safely with another vehicle and would have forced the motorist to move at my speed until the car in the oncoming lane passed.
To educate the motorized travellers in Tampa about the 3-foot law, I am also happy to say that Tampa lawyer J, Steele Olmstead of South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers is donating $2,000 to the Tampa Police Department to add more Share the Road Give 3 Feet Decals to the rear windows of Tampa police cruisers.