Call

Blog

Law
02

Blog

How to Enforce the 3 Foot Law?

Like a lot of states, Georgia has a 3 foot law that requires cars and trucks to leave a distance of at least 3 feet when passing a bicyclist.   The advent of the 3 foot law should have been a tremendous benefit to the safety of the many riders on the roads in Georgia, particularly in the Atlanta area where we have (a) a whole lot of cars and (b) not a lot of protected or dedicated bike lanes.

I say “should have been” because I’ve come to question both the driving public’s awareness of the 3 foot requirement and the enforceability of this law.   To me, it’s similar to the law prohibiting texting while driving.  That’s a great law that serves a very meaningful purpose in letting driver’s know that there are huge fines if they’re driving while distracted by text messaging.  Yet in the 5 years since the texting law passed, I’ve never seen a single case of anyone getting a citation for driving while texting.   The reason is that the law, while well intentioned, is nearly impossible to enforce.   Unless a driver admits to texting, there’s no way for a police officer to tell if someone’s bad driving is the result of texting versus any other cause.   Besides, dialing a number into a phone while driving is legal but text messaging is not.  How is an officer supposed to tell the difference?   Is there even a difference from the standpoint of driver distraction?

Similarly, how can the police tell if someone violates the 3 foot law?   The obvious cases are ones where a bicyclist is taken down by a side view mirror as a car passes but beyond that circumstance, unless the police officer is a witness, how is the officer to enforce the law?    Additionally, when pressed on the subject, it’s apparent that both drivers and (sadly) a lot of law enforcement in this area aren’t even aware that the 3 foot law exists.

Well, here’s something new that serves the multiple purposes of both educating the driving public about the existence of the 3 foot law and documenting specific violations of the law.   It also creates some great “teachable moments” where both motorists, cyclists and law enforcement work together to help make the roads friendlier for everyone.   This pilot program that started in Chattanooga helps their police department give meaning to the 3 foot law in Tennessee.   The first step is to record driver’s violating the law.  The second step is for law enforcement (usually in plain clothes and on a bicycle) to confront those drivers, advise them of their violation, explain the law and issue a warning or, if necessary, a traffic ticket.   The third step is additional education for those drivers who have their cases resolved in the Court.

I love this program.   I’ll be talking to my friends in various Georgia advocacy groups about seeing if we can get a program started like this.  With good communication between cyclists, local police departments and advocacy groups, this seems like something that could be done quickly and effectively.   It’s too good an idea not to give it a try.

Let’s see what we can do to give the 3 foot law some meaning and to make the roads safer for all riders.

Comments

Contributory Negligence
Ann Groninger Apr 08, 2021

There is finally a positive development in the fight against Contributory Negligence in North Carolina. Last week a bill called the “Victims’ Fair Treatment Act” was filed in the North Carolina Senate. If passed, the bill would finally bring North Carolina into line with all but 3 other states by eradicating this deeply unfair law. […]

Read More
Bike Shop with wheels
Danny Feldman Apr 04, 2021

Birmingham is blessed to have a number of great bike shops.  Two of these shops, although very different, are the focus here.  Future blog posts from Bike Law Alabama will focus on some of the other great shops in Birmingham and throughout Alabama. A NON-PROFIT BIKE SHOP: REDEMPTIVE CYCLES Why choose Redemptive as your Bike […]

Read More
Dooring of bicyclist
Charlie Thomas Mar 24, 2021

Buena Batiste did not plan to be “doored.” She was knocked off her bike by a car door and then yelled at by the woman who opened it. Fortunately, we were able to take Buena’s dooring case to trial and win. And in doing so, we set a new precedent for bicyclists who suffer a […]

Read More
Bike Hand Signals
Peter Wilborn Mar 12, 2021

Before you get a driver’s license, you typically have to take a test that demonstrates your understanding of the rules of the road. This includes the importance of signaling your intentions when you are turning or changing lanes. Across the United States, bicyclists are required to use signals to let others know what they plan […]

Read More
Ash Our Streets
Daniel Brazil Jan 13, 2021

As a Minneapolis-based attorney, I live, work, play and bike in the city. Although my city might be known for its lakes and our infamous Juicy Lucy, Minneapolis’ dedication to having safer streets for all should be included in that list. To reach the safe streets goal, numerous non-profit organizations and groups are working tirelessly […]

Read More
Ambassador
Rachael Maney Jan 11, 2021

Applications for the Bike Law Foundation Ambassador Program are now live. CLICK HERE FOR THE APPLICATION. The deadline to apply is Sunday, January 24th. Those selected will be notified on or before February 1. Thanks for your support and willingness to work together to make bicycling safer for all. We are committed to you, to one another, and […]

Read More
3-foot passing close call
Charlie Thomas Jan 11, 2021

It happens all the time: Someone emails me video footage, clearly showing they were biking along when a car buzzes past, coming within inches of a horrible crash — and there’s nothing I can do about it because we don’t have the laws in place to do something to help. Luckily, that might be about […]

Read More
killing cyclist bike law
Rachael Maney Dec 22, 2020

BIKE LAW ANNOUNCES THE INDICTMENT OF CARL BEHLER FOR KILLING CYCLIST AND INJURING OTHERS   Today, Carl Behler appeared in court for the first time for killing cyclist Arthur Carter and injuring others. He was indicted on Friday (12/18) by the Anne Arundel County Grand Jury and promptly arrested and detained for 7 crimes related […]

Read More
Bicycle Mayor
Bruce Hagen Dec 03, 2020

When I (Maria of Bike Law Georgia) called Pattie Baker, the first Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor, she was trudging through marshland on her bicycle on Alpharetta’s Big Creek Greenway. I pictured her in my mind with her bike, wearing her signature skirts, and mud on her sandals. Always on the go, the newly minted Metro […]

Read More
Load More