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chefjohn
Participant
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John Grabowski II commented on bicycletimesmag.com.

o.k. so now who’s going to enforce this? the police who already are biased towards drivers and don’t know the law? this law only protects your financial interests in the event that you’re hit by a driver, it’s not going to change a thing.

Pennsylvania passes four-foot passing law | Bicycle Times Magazine

http://www.bicycletimesmag.com

With the signature of Governor Tom Corbett, our home state of Pennsylvania today became the latest to require motorists to give a cyclist ample space when passing. While most states make do with three feet, Pennsylvania madates four. It also mandates that no vehicle making a turn can interfere with …

Like · · 13 hours ago

Regis Dee Hopefully you get hit by a car, as its the only way to prove that it didn’t change anything. It’s a good law, focused on saving pedal-cyclists.

9 hours ago · Like

John Grabowski II Regis Dee wow did you really just say, “hopefully you get hit by a car”? really expected Bicycle Magazine readers to be much more civil, bad on you man. I think education and advocacy is what we need not unenforceable laws. You should watch what you say about people getting hit by cars, the next one could be you or someone you love.

15 minutes ago · Like


chefjohn
Participant
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sorry, missed the first part of the conversarion with this person, but i stand behind my belief that a 4 ft. passing law is completely unenforcable and will not affect any of us in any way unless we are involved in an accident and have a reliable witness, Still AMAZED that someone on a bike blog would hope I get hit by a car!!


stefb
Participant
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Yeah people are stupid. I mentioned this several times before, but I am still pissed at an OR nurse that I have to work with frequently who told me that he wants to take his truck and hit cyclists on the road cause they slow him down. Obviously it was after I was telling people about the joys of bike commuting.

You know, there was a recent study that showed that people with low IQs grow up to be racist, etc. when I call stupid people stupid, I now know that there is a long-term study that proves this.


Vannevar
Participant
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Hello ChefJohn,

You might be both right and wrong simultanteously. To paraphrase the famous “if by whisky” speech,

you might be right if you mean that it will be ineffective because nobody will be actively enforcing it and few police officers will be pulling over drivers who are passing bicycles with only two feet of clearance,

but then again,

you might be wrong if you mean that the communications opportunity that this change provides won’t permit an opportunity to say to the public (and to new drivers) “Hey- there’s a right way to do this, and if you can’t do it right then you have to wait”.

OTOH, you’re definitely right that God made some stupid people out there, people who are aggressively arrogantly mindless, and I’m trying not to let them ruin my attitude.

Respectfully,

and hoping to not offend,

V.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
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It strikes me that there are a lot of laws that aren’t necessarily practical to enforce, per se, but rather exist as a means of prosecution after the fact.

I agree it is unlikely any “in the moment” type citations would be written for violations of this law. However, I suspect it will primarily be enforced after the fact in cases where accidents have occurred and the police or DA can assert (by virtue of the fact the bicycle was physically struck by the motor vehicle) that the four-foot buffer had been violated.

(Insert all of the appropriate “i’m not an attorney and i’m sure there is some legal twist here that I am missing” language here…)


chefjohn
Participant
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actually, from an advocacy perspective, i believe this law is a good idea but it’s passage needs to be combined with a p.r. blitz to educate the general public on why it’s neccessary. as cyclists participating in social media we are keenly aware of this new law and other current events that effect our lifestyle, the general public probably is not so savvy. without education this new law will do nothing to protect us until after the fact, and then only with a reliable witness. i can already here drivers defending themselves with the old “inever saw him”,”he came out of nowhere” defense that has been used so effectively so many times before.

that being said, i stand behind my original assertation that this law will not change the way drivers react to cyclists on the road and therefore will not affect us as cyclists in any major way. looks good on paper, but unenforcable.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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+1 chefjohn

Really this is not all that different from the fairly recent statute requiring drivers get in the passing or left lane to pass a stopped police or emergency vehicle. Same kind of PR needed, too.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
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+1, chefjohn. Well stated.


jonawebb
Participant
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Well, some people will follow it because it is the law. That alone will help. And the law also creates a presumption that if a car hits a bicyclist, the driver was in violation of the law. In states where this law already exists, in some car-bicycle accidents, the only thing the driver has been charged with is violation of this law — meaning that if there was no such law they would have been charged with nothing. Finally, there will be cases where a driver flagrantly violates this law by buzzing a cyclist, is seen by a policeman, and is stopped and cited for violation of this law.

So it’s an incremental improvement.


orionz06
Participant
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Do I like the law? I love it. Do I see it being enforced? Hell no. It will merely be tacked on to the list of charges *IF* a motorist hangs around the scene of the accident/crime.

I also have no illusions that it will even be known by most cops as they are unaware of changes to laws that give the appearance of being more significant.


jonawebb
Participant
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One time when I was driving past Phipps and a cop was there to help people cross the street for a flower show I drove through the crosswalk behind some people. The cop stopped me and told me that in PA, I had to stay at least 3 feet (or whatever it was) away from pedestrians in crosswalks. I did not know that. I wasn’t fined or anything, but since then I’ve followed that law. So just because a law is not formally enforced doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an impact on driver behavior, and benefit the people it’s supposed to help.

We could help publicize the law by wearing jerseys like those sold from http://3feetplease.com. That would help.


erok
Keymaster
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having “4 feet” spelled out in the vehicle code means that it can be on a driver’s test, in a driver’s manual, and part of driver’s education programs in high schools, etc. it also means that police need to at least be aware of it. do i think someone will get a ticket for passing at 2 feet…no.

I think education and advocacy is what we need not unenforceable laws.

i disagree. we need education and advocacy and laws. They are not mutually exclusive. Any help we can get out there, and yes, even if it is after a crash, will help. motor vehicle laws don’t have the sole purpose of just “being enforced.” they offer guidelines for appropriate behavior so that we (in theory) are all on the same page. Clearly there are enough cyclists out there now that lawmakers felt that driver’s needed some guidance and clarification on what to do. i hope i’ll never have to “take advantage” of this law, but if i do, i’ll be glad it’s there.


Mick
Participant
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I once posted about a very civil conversation with a school bus driver about whether he passed too close for safety.

It would have been better if I said, “the law says four ft.”

As far as the “hope you get hit” dialog? It makes think of Waylan Jenning comment to Buddy Holly right before Holly took off on his famous last plane ride.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddy_Holly#Death

Bandmate Waylon Jennings had given up his seat on the plane, causing Holly to jokingly tell Jennings, “I hope your ol’ bus freezes up!” Jennings shot back facetiously, “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes!” It was a statement that would haunt Jennings for decades.


chefjohn
Participant
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Thank you one and all for the intellegent debate. It hasn’t completely altered my opinion on this law but the above insight has given me some hope.


ieverhart
Participant
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In addition to creating another item for prosecutors to charge in a criminal case, this also should make recovery in civil litigation easier. Without this statute, it’s all about subjective questions of what different people think is safe or reasonable. With this implemented, it is a lot easier to win a case, because if there is a collision (zero feet) then it is obvious that the four-foot rule was not met. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negligence_per_se .)

Naturally, we’d all rather avoid collisions, injury and litigation in the first place, but this makes an injured cyclist’s lawsuit easier to win.


chefjohn
Participant
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so do you believe then that the “i never saw him”, he came out of nowhere”, or the more recent legal precedent,”the sun was in my eyes” defenses will be rendered moot by this law? i still say, without a reliable witness it comes down to your word against a driver’s.

oh wait i just thought of another one, “i was passing him with 4 feet of clearance, he swerved into me”. not trying to be antagonistic, just realistic.


orionz06
Participant
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I don’t see the sun being a defense. It is an admission of not being able to see. I do see “he swerved” as a possible attempted defense simply because many cyclists (not likely us) do in fact ride in a less than straight path. On the other hand, anyone here who might encounter that has the experience to fall back on, likely making it a moot point.


JustRay
Participant
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The law can also be used to put pressure on the state to provide safer roadways for cyclists. Since there is an assumption in the law that both cars and bikes have a right to use the road, and that (from the centerline to the curb) there needs to (in theory) be room enough for traveling car, bike and (when applicable) parking, roads that have decent middle sections but horrible berms — like Smallman in the strip (above St. Stans) or Buttler in L’ville (with it’s crazy tire-trough pavement)– could now be seen as violating the right of a vehicle operator to use a thoroughfare that he/she has a legal right to.

In real world terms, that doesn’t make an unsafe road any more (or less) safe. But it does paint that road in a different light to the legislature.

Will it change drivers? Not without a lot of education (and then likely not (see: evolution, existence of it). But it can change the way everyone in the state looks at the state of the roads we all share.


Mick
Participant
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IAlthough I’m skeptical of the “glare” excuse it does happen.

I have found myself suddenly blinded by the sun reflecting off buildings or coming out of a shadow on a road that is curving up into the setting sun.

Juries are unlikely to feel culpability is “beyond a reasonable doubt” if the driver describes something that could happen to anyone – even when the jury members are skeptical.

When they have 300 car pile-ups “because of fog,” no one gets prosecuted when pro bably 275+ folks were going demonstrably too fast for conditions

The doctor in LA who passed cyclists, then slammed on his brakes would have had a get-out-of-jail-free card just by saying, ” A cat walked out to the road,” instead of ranting about the cyclists.

It just how our legal system works.

There can and should be legislation that works around it, but that would be unpopular with driving voters.


HiddenVariable
Participant
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the problem with the argument that this “won’t change anything” is that it ignores the fact that this is a very real sign that things are already changing.


WillB
Participant
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Very well said.


chefjohn
Participant
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i agree with you hv. that’s what i meant a few posts ago when i said that my opinion of this law hasn’t changed completely but this debate has given me some hope.

i should be more clear, i don’t think that the law will affect us very much at all in the short term. i do however have hope that with continued driver and law enforcement trainig it may be effective in the long run.

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