Bill targets 'buzzing' of cyclists

A proposed Georgia law would require motorists to give cyclists three feet of space when passing.

House Bill 180 states that motorists should pass within a "safe distance," which it defines as three feet. If it becomes law, it would directly address the issue of motorists "buzzing" bicycles and give law enforcement a specific yardstick for enforcement, according to nonprofit advocacy group Georgia Bikes.

A study by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center found just 1.2 percent of bicycle crashes involved motorists passing too closely but that 22 percent of those crashes resulted in serious injury or death.

Cyclists in the Augusta area have complained about some motorists deliberately passing too closely.

In October, cyclist Matthew Burke was struck on Beech Island Avenue. He died of his injuries in February. Investigators have charged the driver, Daniel Johnson, with reckless homicide.

If H.B. 180 becomes law, Georgia would join 16 other states that have an established passing distance. South Carolina's Bicycle Safety Act of 2008 mandates that motorists should "at all times maintain a safe operating distance."

The measure is one of three in the General Assembly that aim to make cycling safer in the Peach State.

House Bill 101 clarifies and amends the existing traffic laws concerning bicycles on Georgia roads. It defines bicycle lanes and ensures that they are installed according to minimum national guidelines. It also requires motorists to yield to bicycle lane traffic and not block or impede the lane.

"We're big fans of (the bill)," said Brent Buice, the executive director of Georgia Bikes.

Another measure, House Bill 71, would allow residents to petition their local governments to allow them to ride bicycles on sidewalks.

Under current law, only children younger than 12 can ride on sidewalks. State Rep. Doug McKillip, R-Athens, said he was asked by a 75-year-old man in Athens for the right to ride on the sidewalk and out of traffic.

"He made a good practical point," McKillip said.

McKillip also sponsored H.B. 101, which he said came at the request of cycling advocates and groups such as Georgia Bikes.

Comments (14) Add comment
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Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 02/27/11 - 11:35 pm
0
0
My goodness! How would the

My goodness! How would the hapless patrolman (or woman) possibly enforce this law? They cannot put a yardstick between the motor vehicle and the bicyclist just before the crash. Did the motorist veer to avoid an oncoming car? Did the bicyclist veer to avoid a sewer grate? This proposed law must be defeated. Please call your representative and senator now and urge them to vote NO!

walrus4ever
354
Points
walrus4ever 02/28/11 - 12:11 am
0
0
This topic has filled the AC

This topic has filled the AC for weeks. Isnt there other newsworthy items to publish. Motorists have been demonized by the cycling community on a daily basis in this paper. Respect each other on the road and a word to bikers: stay off SC28 before your presence on the pavement results in a head on crash. Three feet over puts the motor vehicle in the opposite lane. There are very few passing zones between the Savannah River and Clarks Hill. Legally you cant cross the double line so I guess motor vehicles must creep for miles behind cyclers to keep them happy. Enough already.

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 02/28/11 - 07:25 pm
0
0
If you want true bicycle

If you want true bicycle safety and less "accidents" then the we should pass laws keeping bikes off of roadways with speed limits that exceed 25mph. Bicyclist, no matter what laws are written are placing theirselves and others in unnecessary danger by riding on main roads.

Use parks, bike paths or neighborhoods.

nofrills
0
Points
nofrills 02/28/11 - 07:29 am
0
0
Asitisinaug- you are so

Asitisinaug- you are so right! This bill will not even address what happens when they go to other states to ride...

airbud7
1
Points
airbud7 02/28/11 - 10:06 am
0
0
So true Little Lamb, I can

So true Little Lamb, I can see it in court now....

Defendant- But your honor, I was 3 feet 1 inch away when I passed.

Patrolman- No you weren't, you were 2 feet 11 inches.

Real Justice
5
Points
Real Justice 02/28/11 - 11:25 am
0
0
All cyclists are very aware

All cyclists are very aware that there is a risk when riding on the roadways. There is an equal risk if we choose to ride on walkways such as the Greeneway in North Augusta. Walkers in majority have their music buds firmly planted in their ears and cannot hear your warnings that you are passing. Parents choose these paths to teach their children to ride bikes or trikes. Seniors prefer to walk there. Groups walk together and take up all the lane width. All these are legitimate and are not to be challenged. The cyclists are simply asking for consideration from motorists. I truely believe the flap from motorists is mostly about attitude. There simply is nothing so important in their lives that a few seconds of consideration will change. Get over it and give it up.

AWyld1
3
Points
AWyld1 02/28/11 - 03:06 pm
0
0
It's a knee jerk reaction to

It's a knee jerk reaction to a tragedy. There are dangers in riding a bicycle on the road. There are instances when a car comes close to the riders. There are also instances where I have seen bicyclists on Martintown road run redlights. Both bicyclists and motorists should be careful but this law is stupid....

john
990
Points
john 02/28/11 - 03:50 pm
0
0
one cyclist being a jerk

one cyclist being a jerk doesnt equal "Many".

lcosentino
0
Points
lcosentino 03/01/11 - 01:56 am
0
0
"Motorists have been

"Motorists have been demonized by the cycling community on a daily basis in this paper." Really? I have been following this since Oct and I have only seen one example of this, and when it occurred, I asked that it be removed as it did not reflect the thoughts of the family and friends of Dr. Burke. (see comments under "Cyclist, surgeon's life celebrated at his funeral" 2/12/11). As another family expressed, we asked that the paper uphold its own integrity according to its standards for "respectful conversation" by deleting 'all comments other than those that remember Dr. Burke and honor him as he well deserves.' We have handled this respectfully despite our great pain, and desire the animosity to cease as it has needlessly increased the pain of already excruciating circumstances.

It is encouraging to see positive measures being taken during our time of grief to help prevent others from potentially experiencing the anguish of precious life lost. However, it is troubling that there is such an upheaval over the desire to protect cyclists from "buzzing" incidents. Such a law should not even have to be necessary if it weren't for instances of uncontrolled anger, negligence and disregard for human life. Why would a motorist even think buzzing is ok? But where we are seeking healing, comments such as the one posted by "Walrus4ever" reflect that some are preferring to hold onto, what they view as, their right to buzz cyclists.

Keep in mind very few people use cycling as their sole mode of transportation, so that would make the majority of cyclists motorists. So the comment "cyclists have been demonizing motorists" makes no sense. It has been the reverse. Grieving friends and family have endured unnecessary additional grief caused by people who are expressing antagonism toward cyclists in a setting where the cylists were abiding by all safety and traffic laws, whereas the driver’s reckless actions cost the life of our loved one. No one should feel safe on the roads with people who have expressed the degree of hostility that has been directed toward cyclists, appallingly, in the setting of life lost. Your ongoing callous remarks have proven all the more why H.B 101 is necessary.

louiemcman
64
Points
louiemcman 03/01/11 - 09:38 am
0
0
I agree that there is no way

I agree that there is no way to enforce such a law, my question is are bicycles required to use lights when riding at night? If no why not? Reflective clothing is not enough to safely ride after dark. If bicyclist want the same road rights as cars and motorcycles they should have to follow the same practices, day and night.

Clover
0
Points
Clover 03/01/11 - 10:57 am
0
0
I have no problem with

I have no problem with cyclists sharing the road, except for the frightening prospect of coming upon them early in the morning, dusk, in a curve, or the other side of a hill driving the speed limit, which is usually 55mph, this is tragedy waiting to happen. I have no problem with giving them space and trying to pass them safely, but realistically on the highway whether 2-lane or four a cyclist must know he or she is risking a lot by riding in traffic or on what they consider to be a low traffic road.
I do not have the answer to this controversy, but I do have an opinion with regard to this sport or hobby as the rider sees fit to deem. A bicycle is a mechanism allowed on the highway, no different in my opinion than a boat used for leisure, hunting, or fishing each requiring either licensure, registration, and/or taxation. If law enforcement officers must work to enforce the already imposed laws for a bicycle such as reflectors, use of signaling for turns and stopping, riding with the flow of traffic, then cyclists should also help pay their salaries in the form of registration, tax, and/or licensure.

jmizereck
0
Points
jmizereck 03/04/11 - 12:44 pm
0
0
Bravo Georgia. I commend

Bravo Georgia. I commend State Rep. Doug McKillip, R-Athens for introducing H.B. 180, which is focused on securing at least 3 feet of protected space for Georgia bicyclists when being overtaken by a motorist. Sixteen states and a growing number of cities have seen the wisdom and value of having such a law on the books. The value of this law isn’t found in giving motorists tickets, but rather, using the law as a tool to help educate motorists on what is considered a minimum safe passing distance—at least 3 feet please.

There will be naysayers will say the law is only a “feel good” law and unenforceable. I say hogwash. Energetic law enforcement agencies who understand their mission to protect and serve the members of their communities waste no time in rolling up their sleeves and finding ways to do their job. And some of the best do it without issuing one single ticket—pure education. So, I repeat...it's not about enforcement, but rather, educating motorists on how to safely negotiate around a cyclist from behind. And the key thing for a motorist to remember is this: if you don't believe you can pass a cyclist with at least a yard-stick worth of clearance, then wait until you can.

Look, so much of the noise surrounding cycling safety issues are focused on the actions of the few motorists and cyclists who just don't get it. Most motorists and cyclists, thank God, are very respectful and responsible. But there are those few who don't care about their own safety let alone others' safety. We argue endlessly about the actions of these few scofflaws on both sides. And while we argue people are getting hurt and killed. Moms and dads and brothers and sisters and just good people are losing their lives because we cannot get it right. We cannot focus our attention on taking reasonable steps to provide clear standards (like a 3 foot law) for behavior and ultimately safer roads for drivers, runners, cyclists, pedestrians and all others. We have to push aside all the meaningless noise, roll up our sleeves and do whatever we can to give vulnerable road users greater protection in our car centric society. And at the same time we need to let vulnerable road users know that they have rules to follow as well...and they too will be held accountable. Authorities must address the violation of the laws by all road users.

Indeed, changing motorist behavior will save lives, but it is also important to understand that changing cyclist behavior is where we can make the greatest impact on cyclist safety because cyclists, not motorists have a very strong personal interest in modifying their behavior to be visible and predicable…the keys to safe cycling. Bottom line, cyclists can solve a majority of their own problems by riding visibly and predictably.

It is critical for all Georgia cyclists to get on the same page and help your legislative leadership understand what you expect them to do to help make our roads safer. I assure you, if we can get motorists to give cyclists at least 3 feet clearance when passing and do this by using the law as an educational tool, that will be something we can all feel good about.

The question is really very simple: will a 3 foot law save Georgia cyclists’ lives? The answer is, YES. So, you know what to do Georgia…make it happen, please. Lives are at stake.

By the way, my mom was born and raised in Augusta. Her name was Edythe Benson Mizereck and she was always so proud to be a Georgia peach and I was always so proud she was my mom.

Let me know if I can help.

Joseph Benson Mizereck
Founder, The "3 Feet Please" Campaign
joe@3feetplease.com

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