Road and bicycle safety

MLPDCYCLING ETIQUETTE AND THE NEW THREE FEET FOR SAFETY ACT

With the introduction of the new “Three Feet for Safety Act” that goes into effect September 16, 2014, the Town will be actively communicating proper cycling etiquette and the rules of the road to both motorists and cyclists.

Known as the “Three Feet for Safety Act,” new state vehicle code section (21760) requires that a driver of a motor vehicle shall not overtake or pass a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway at a distance of less than three feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator.

Police Chief Dan Watson is urging all drivers in Mammoth Lakes to comply with the new law. “This law includes public streets and even if three feet is not possible, the motor vehicle must slow to a reasonable and prudent speed and only pass when no danger is present to the bicyclist. Failing to do so can incur a fine, regardless of a collision or not.”

Chief Watson also urges all bicyclists to comply with the rules of the road, including stopping for stop signs and pedestrians, riding as far to the right as practicable, and riding in single file. Bicyclists are also encouraged to use the Town’s extensive system of bike paths when possible. The Town will not be pursuing a local ordinance to implement the new law as the definition applied is very broad and includes all public streets. It should also be noted that currently the Town of Mammoth Lakes Municipal Code does not prohibit bikes on sidewalks.

Additional information about the “Three Feet for Safety Act,” including violations; can be viewed online at: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21760.htm.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) that details the factors behind traffic fatalities on our roads, in California (2011), the statewide percentage of bicyclist fatalities was 4.1% of all fatalities, which is nearly twice the national average of 2.1%.

FARS also identified that between 2009 and 2011, collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles are more likely to occur on local roadways than the State Highway System, and 85% of fatalities involving bicycles and 89% of severe injuries involving bicycles occurred on a local road compared to 57% of fatalities overall and 64% of severe injuries overall.

Supporting the passage of AB 1371 (Bradford) was the California Association of Bicycling Organizations (CABO). From the CABO President’s point of view, “I support this bill because of my expectation, well hope, that incidences of antagonistic or clueless “buzz-backs”/scary close passing and hit from behind crashes will subside as people learn about the Three Feet for Safety Act.”

Local cycling advocate and Eastside Velo (ESV) President John Armstrong hopes that someday a sign will be erected upon entering Mono County that says “We Respect People on Bikes.”

ESV has over 200 active members who ride regularly throughout the Eastern Sierra. As an organization, they actively promote proper cycling etiquette and even have a short video on their website that promotes safe and responsible riding practices. Their Top 3 “Rules to Ride by…” are as follows:

1. Be courteous and share the road. Being courteous gains respect and helps make the roads safer for all cyclists.

2. Signal your intentions if you can safely do so. If you are turning, point in the direction you plan on going. If you are slowing, put your hand out behind you.

3. Be friendly. If someone is courteous to you and does the right thing, wave and smile. Everyone likes to be acknowledged for doing the right thing.

Please visit the ESV website (www.eastsidevelo.org) to review the complete list of “Rules to Ride by.”

Armstrong hopes that common sense will prevail regarding the new “Three Feet for Safety Act,” but understands that the best strategy for cyclist’s safety is educating our motoring public.
“Many times on my bike I have been in a situation where a motorist does not slow down. The motorist powers onwards and forces a squeeze play with another vehicle and me, and guess who comes off the worst? Oftentimes I end up in the dirt or on the sidewalk.”

To facilitate effective education, Armstrong recommends cyclists and motorists pick up a copy of the new “Quick Guide to Smart Cycling” distributed by the League of American Bicyclists that will be available locally this fall. This full-color, 24-page Quick Guide covers just about everything you need to know to ride a bike safely and confidently, providing an easy-to-understand resource that appeals to all demographics: prospective bicyclists, novice riders, and even seasoned pros.
To read the Smart Cycling Quick Guide online, visit this link: http://bikeleague.org/quickguide.
Mammoth Lakes Police Department Reserve Officer Mike Braun will be actively communicating proper cycling etiquette and the rules of the road to both motorists and cyclists within Mammoth Lakes this fall.

“Cyclists have the same rights and duties as drivers. They need to obey traffic signals and stop signs, and most importantly, need to ride with traffic, and use the rightmost lane headed in the direction they are going,” stated Braun.

Officer Braun also encourages cyclists to be predictable by making their intentions clear to everyone on the road. “Signal turns and check behind you well before making a turn or changing lanes.”

Above all, stay safe, stay visible and ride on the right!

For additional information regarding the new “Three Feet for Safety Act” and proper cycling etiquette, please call the Mammoth Lakes Police Department at (760) 934-2011 or contact Officer Braun at [email protected]

Additional Info…

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51 Comments
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Trouble
Trouble
7 years ago

Why do you have to wear a helmet if no one is supposed to get hurt?

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
7 years ago
Reply to  Trouble

Please, no rhetorical questions, Trouble. BK

Trouble
Trouble
7 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

I would hate to confuse all our customers!

mono county local
mono county local
7 years ago

I did not own a car so commuted on a bike – In the Sf bay area. I don’t remember cyclists getting all militant back then but we also did not wear lycra and special shoes. all this talk about “just move over into the other lane” as if all… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
7 years ago

mono county local: Sadly, I find your story completely believable. I think there is something in the water….

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
7 years ago

The “Ignacio Way” is to avoid a collision when operating any kind of moving means of transportation whether that means moving to the left or right, being an auto ,cycle , moto ,drone whatever . Millions of miles of courtesy extended to one another . Perfect till a lapse in… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
7 years ago

It’s encouraging to see such complete agreement on pragmatic rules of the road on how to integrate pedestrians, bikes, skateboarders, scooters, families with baby carriages, school buses, motorcycles, motorhomes, bucket loaders , bobcats, dog walkers with multiple dogs on and off leash, wild animals like bears and coyote and deer,… Read more »

erik simpson
erik simpson
7 years ago

I heartily concur with complaints about thoughtless (sometime deliberately aggravating) behavior by cyclists, but as a road cyclist myself, I have to defend riding in the traffic lane when riding further to the right is not practicable. Small debris is not a minor problem with road bike tires. A sudden… Read more »

billdsd
billdsd
7 years ago
Reply to  erik simpson

A sudden flat can cause a crash, especially if it’s to the front wheel. Even if it doesn’t cause a crash, it forces you to stop and fix the flat which takes a lot of time. Bicyclists shouldn’t have to lose a lot of time just because some motorists think… Read more »

Joe
Joe
7 years ago
Reply to  billdsd

You forgot to cite a code. There has to be one for flat tires and the consumption of time.

billdsd
billdsd
7 years ago
Reply to  Joe

Why does it not surprise me that an anti-bicycle person has no respect for what the law actually says?

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
7 years ago
Reply to  billdsd

You can be dead right….

Joe
Joe
7 years ago
Reply to  billdsd

Bill- I am not anti-bike as I own a mountain bike and regularly ride it on streets and on dirt trails. I pointed out that laws should not replace etiquette and common sense. The laws will not guarantee your safety. Not all people anticipate blind curves by slowing down so… Read more »

billdsd
billdsd
7 years ago
Reply to  billdsd

Again, the blind curve thing doesn’t work the way that you think it does. When you are catching up to bicyclists on a curvy road, you tend to see them well before you reach them. If they go around a blind curve before you have a chance to see them,… Read more »

John Barton
John Barton
7 years ago

South Barlow lane has a nice pedestrian/bike path yet numerous riders must think they are too important to ride on a bike path. This presents a hazard for everyone. I also see ample riders riding outside of the designated bike lanes and inside of the vehicle lane on Line St.… Read more »

billdsd
billdsd
7 years ago
Reply to  John Barton

It’s not safe for bicyclists to ride more than maybe 8mph on paths that include pedestrians. A lot of sport cyclists ride at speeds in excess of 20mph on level roads. That is simply not reasonable on a path with pedestrians. Bicyclists have a right to use the road. That’s… Read more »

John Barton
John Barton
7 years ago
Reply to  billdsd

I sense that Bill uses the one finger solution at will quite often and when it’s not waving at motorists he’s pointing it at everyone else citing codes verbatum. BTW, it is likewise rude for cyclists to not make an effort to go single file temporarily to make for safer… Read more »

sugar magnolia
sugar magnolia
7 years ago
Reply to  John Barton

I think you are confusing bike lanes and shoulders. Shoulders are multi-purpose areas of a road (not a traveled lane though). On shoulders, pedestrians are suppose to walk opposite of traffic…..and they typically stay to the left (right of the travelling public). A cyclist should have room to pass the… Read more »

billdsd
billdsd
7 years ago
Reply to  sugar magnolia

I avoid shared paths for the same reason. It should be noted that CVC 530 excludes the shoulder from being part of the roadway (though it is part of the highway, as are adjacent sidewalks). CVC 21650 exempts bicyclists from it’s prohibition from traveling on shoulders. Bicyclists have the option… Read more »

billdsd
billdsd
7 years ago
Reply to  John Barton

CVC 21966 says that pedestrians may only walk in the bike lane if and only if there is no adequate adjacent pedestrian facility. When I see a pedestrian in the bike lane, I move into the travel lane, usually leaving at least 5 feet of clearance; often more. I don’t… Read more »

Pedro
Pedro
7 years ago
Reply to  billdsd

I slow down and wait to safely pass all slow moving vehicles, including bicycles. I also expect slow vehicles to follow code and use turnouts. If the lane is wide enough you could also allow me to share it if I’m not acting like I want to hurt you. Lane… Read more »

erik simpson
erik simpson
7 years ago
Reply to  billdsd

Thank you, Pedro. When I’m on my bike I try to acknowledge drivers who have clearly cut me a little extra slack. It’s appreciated.

billdsd
billdsd
7 years ago
Reply to  billdsd

Pedro, it’s good that you drive like that and it is appreciated. You are also in the majority. Most motorists don’t want to endanger bicyclists. Unfortunately, the minority that pass close is still too large. The bulk of these do it because they are trying to stay in their lane… Read more »

Pedro
Pedro
7 years ago
Reply to  billdsd

billdsd, I understand the turnout rules, but people that wait for five cars are usually idiots. A big rig going up a grade is going to cause more problems if they slow down, but most everyone else should use them more. Ya, the only place all this should be an… Read more »

billdsd
billdsd
7 years ago
Reply to  billdsd

Indeed. If people would obey the law and have a little consideration we wouldn’t need so many laws. For decades now, CVC 21750 has required maintaining safe distance when passing anyone or anything. Unfortunately, too many motorists and law enforcement officers define safe passing distance as anything that doesn’t involve… Read more »

Mark
Mark
7 years ago
Reply to  billdsd

We are a society that picks and chooses which laws we will obey.

roger
roger
7 years ago
Reply to  John Barton

John Barton, The most dangerous place to ride – statistically- is the bike path.

billdsd
billdsd
7 years ago
Reply to  roger

Actually, sidewalks are more dangerous than bike paths.

Proper bike paths don’t intersect with the travel of motor vehicles. Sidewalks do.

Joe
Joe
7 years ago

My biggest gripe are the cyclists grouping up two, three or more wide without care of motorized traffic coming up on them and the hazards that presents to oncoming traffic. As if their conversations are more important than their safety! I honk and inevitably I get a one finger solution… Read more »

billdsd
billdsd
7 years ago
Reply to  Joe

Riding side by side makes bicyclists more visually noticeable from a greater distance and it gets motorists to move entirely into the next lane to pass. Both of these things make the bicyclists safer. Riding side by side is safer. You imagine that it’s less safe. You’re wrong. Honking at… Read more »

Joe
Joe
7 years ago
Reply to  billdsd

You can cite all the codes you like but that won’t protect you from death or injury as a result of lack of common sense. While driving at a legal speed down Rock Creek Canyon Rd a turned a corner and there were two bicyclists riding side by side. Fortunately… Read more »

sugar magnolia
sugar magnolia
7 years ago
Reply to  Joe

Hey Joe, if you had hit one of the cyclist, you would have been at fault. A driver can only drive as fast as he/she can see ahead and allow time to react.
Not an easy law to follow as far as I’m concerned, but that is the law.

billdsd
billdsd
7 years ago
Reply to  sugar magnolia

Actually it’s a very easy law to follow. Even when I was young and had a tendency to drive too fast, I still always made sure that I had space to stop — especially around blind curves. Twice I avoided collisions around blind curves with disabled vehicles with no difficulty.… Read more »

Marty S
Marty S
7 years ago
Reply to  billdsd

Honking alerts others to their whereabouts. Since when is that rude? It is rude when the bikes make no effort to move a little closer to the side especially then sharing a narrow road with vehicles.

Marty S
Marty S
7 years ago
Reply to  billdsd

CVC 27001(a) allows for the use of horns to warn others. Consider the sound of my horn as a warning.

billdsd
billdsd
7 years ago
Reply to  Marty S

A warning of what? A warning that you intend to endanger them?

The law says that the only legal use of the horn is to ensure safe operation.

What you’re doing is not that. It’s harassment.

erik simpson
erik simpson
7 years ago
Reply to  billdsd

I have to say you don’t seem to get it. It isn’t that it’s illegal to ride side-by-side, but that it’s inconsiderate. When I’m riding the last thing I want is an irritated driver behind me. I’ve seen those situations too often that a driver passes bikes ‘taking the lane’… Read more »

billdsd
billdsd
7 years ago
Reply to  erik simpson

Which is more inconsiderate? 1. Endangering someone’s life because you passed too close in the same lane. 2. Causing someone to have to move over to pass or wait a few seconds for a safe place to move over to pass. Choice 1 could result in the death of a… Read more »

erik simpson
erik simpson
7 years ago
Reply to  billdsd

I wouldn’t want to assume the driver will choose your option 2. It might be that he’ll just pass anyway. I’ve seen it happen and have been forced off the road. Good luck to you.

billdsd
billdsd
7 years ago
Reply to  billdsd

You misunderstand. By riding at the edge of the road, bicyclists encourage motorists to make choice number 1. I have had many close passes while riding on the edge of the road because some motorists think that small clearances when passing bicyclists is OK. It isn’t OK. By using the… Read more »

Tinner
Tinner
7 years ago

Unfortunately with the level of entitlement that exists in our society (or maybe its just here in California) there is not much room left for etiquette. There also seems to be some confusion between etiquette, common courtesy and respect; more so in the younger generation. I’ve been cycling at or… Read more »

billdsd
billdsd
7 years ago
Reply to  Tinner

Taking up an entire lane of traffic is not in any way a hazard or dangerous. It makes the bicyclists more likely to be noticed from a greater distance and gets drivers to change lanes to pass at a safe distance. Those both make the bicyclists safer. The delusions of… Read more »

Charles O. Jones
Charles O. Jones
7 years ago
Reply to  billdsd

If you truly believe the sense of entitlement exists only with motorists then you are living in a fantasy world. I have been riding consistently since the early 80’s, I have raced on the road, off road and triathlon. Some of the behavior I have witnessed from my fellow cyclists… Read more »

billdsd
billdsd
7 years ago

Bicyclists have a right to ride on the road. That’s the law. Bicyclists usually have a right to use the full right most travel lane. That is also the law. When people accuse bicyclists of being self entitled, it’s almost always due to the fact that the accusers do not… Read more »

Charles O. Jones
Charles O. Jones
7 years ago
Reply to  billdsd

I’m well aware of the laws regarding cycling. Laws do not negate the need for common sense and common courtesy among different road users. Another poster mentioned Rock Creek Canyon. RCC is windy and narrow with many blind corners. It is a perfect example of a place where your strategy… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
7 years ago

Benett Kessler August 26, 2014 at 2:16 pm # It’s not bias. It’s a dislike for useless, mean comments. Benett Kessler Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 4 DESCO August 26, 2014 at 5:38 pm # Benett, Maybe time to cut some people off. Free speech does… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
7 years ago

Totally agree with Mr.Jones and the five finger solution, LOL . There is plenty of respect and common courtesy everyday here in the Eastern Sierra, but not always on sharing the road. There is always the need for more cooperative attitudes as we make our way to our destinations. There… Read more »

Charles O. Jones
Charles O. Jones
7 years ago

Thank you to the Sierra Wave for posting this article. As both a motorist and a cyclist, I can say that both groups need to try a little harder to get along. Some motorists obviously have chips on their shoulders when it comes to cyclists on the road. And some… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
7 years ago

I found that the only thing that really works is paranoia. I figure everybody is out to get me and it’s up to me to stay out of the way. Expecting courtesy from motorists is simply fantasy.

Tom O
Tom O
7 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

‘paranoia’?..coming from you Ken, I believe it.

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
7 years ago
Reply to  Tom O

Charles wrote: “why not try to treat each other with a little more respect and common courtesy?”