Call

Blog

Law
02

Blog

A Close Call Leads to a Classroom Course on Bicyclists’ Rights


In the above video, a motorist passes a group of bicyclists with just inches to spare. The Georgia bicyclist who is buzzed reacts angrily. Who can blame him?

Many of the 10,000 bicyclists who have watched that YouTube video have probably had a similar reaction. But I am happy to report that fellow Georgia Bike Law attorney Ken Rosskopf and I were able to turn this incident into something positive. We used the moment to raise awareness of bicyclists’ rights and, in the process, we brought about meaningful change for the entire community, including bicyclists and the local police department.

A Close Call and A Call to the Police Chief

The YouTube video shows a motorist narrowly missing a cyclist who was lawfully riding in the road in Milton, Georgia.  The bicyclists in the video were riding two abreast, which is allowed under Georgia law (O.C.G.A. Sec. 40-6-294).

As you can see in the video, a passing car buzzes the cyclists with far less than the three feet, the minimum distance required to pass a bike in Georgia (O.C.G.A. Sec. 40-6-56). The passing vehicle also passed the cyclists despite a car coming from the opposite direction, which was not just potentially deadly to the cyclists but to the other drivers.

Most importantly, the passing vehicle wasn’t just any car — it was a City of Milton police vehicle being driven by a police officer on duty.

The video was posted online and the outcry was immediate. Not shying away from responsibility, the City of Milton Police Chief Steven Krokoff immediately issued a statement that both took ownership of the incident and promised change:

“Thank you for bringing this to our attention. It is imperative that our officers lead by example and this is not setting a good example. We will address the issue with the officer in question and retrain on GA Code 40-6-56, commonly known as The Three Foot Law. The Milton Police Department apologizes to the community for this instance of poor judgment.”

Seizing the Opportunity for Bike Law Training

bicycle accident, bike crash, bicycle accident attorney, bicycle accident lawyer, Georgia bicycle accident, Georgia bicycle accident lawyer, Atlanta bicycle accident, Atlanta bike accident lawyer, Milton, police department, close call, youtube video Seizing the opportunity to see if the chief meant what he said, I contacted him to offer my assistance in providing training to his officers. I received a warm response in return. The chief made it clear he was not going to shy away from his commitment.

The chief and I immediately scheduled four one-hour training sessions. The picture above shows fellow Bike Law Georgia attorney Ken Rosskopf (seated, front) and me during one of those sessions. We made sure that the entire police department was informed on bicyclists’ rights. We covered not just rights but cyclists’ responsibilities as well. We helped the officers understand what it means and feels like to be a person on a bike.

Ken and I spent a significant amount of time training the officers on how to investigate crashes involving people on bikes, and how to look at physical damage on bicycles to help determine the cause of a crash.

We also spent a fair amount of time listening to complaints that the officers had about bad behavior by people on bicycles, which is a source of frustration for them. We reminded them that ALL bicyclists can’t be judged by the behavior of a few lawbreakers any more than you can stereotype ALL motorists based on the behavior of a couple of scofflaw motorists. We emphasized fairness in their approach to bicyclists’ rights, and we were met with a great response.

In addition to presenting our own materials, Ken and I shared a state-approved educational presentation from “Georgia Bikes!” That advocacy group supports bicycle safety throughout Georgia.

 Leaving A Lasting Impression

There’s no doubt that the entire exchange of ideas was helpful and made a lasting impression on the officers. That’s not to say that there won’t be other mishaps in the future, but the solution to any problem starts with understanding of what that problem is. We did our best to make sure that the City of Milton Police Department has a very clear understanding of the laws that protect people on bikes and the very real challenges that we face every day on the road.

Too often it takes a catastrophic event such as a death or severe injury to bring a dangerous practice to light and effect meaningful change. In this case, a short but powerful video clip made all the difference. It opened the door to a meaningful dialogue between our local law enforcement officials and the cycling community. Thank you to Chief Steven Krokoff and Lt. Charles Barstow for facilitating this great event.

Bike Law Attorneys At Your Riding Group

If you would like Bike Law to come speak to your local law enforcement or riding group, please contact us by emailing [email protected]

Comments

Is It Illegal to Ride Your Bike on the Sidewalk bikelaw
Peter Wilborn Aug 01, 2022

The laws dictating whether you can ride your bike on the sidewalk differ depending where you live. Different states have different laws on this matter, and local ordinances also vary. Let’s take a look at the legal framework behind various state laws related to cycling on sidewalks. The laws of sidewalk-riding can be very complicated […]

Read More
Ebike crash
Bruce Hagen Apr 26, 2022

DRIVER ON METH KILLS 17 YEAR OLD BICYCLIST, BARROW COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY REFUSES TO CHARGE DRIVER WITH FELONY.   On August 23, 2020, at approximately 8:40pm, 17-year old Obianuju Osuegbu was on her way home from her summer job working at a grocery store. She had earned enough money that summer to buy herself a […]

Read More
Stop as Yield
Brian Weiss Apr 25, 2022

Finally, “Stop As Yield” (the much sought after common sense traffic law for bicyclists) is coming to Colorado in 2022, likely July 1st.   Stop as Yield, aka the “Safety Stop” After the Governor Polis signs the law and the Safety Stop becomes effective, anyone who rides a bicycle or scooter on public roads will […]

Read More
Contributory Negligence
Ann Groninger Apr 25, 2022

It took losing at trial and a long appellate process, but it ended in a blow to contributory negligence in North Carolina. We just won an appeal on a bicycle crash case that happened in 2016 and came to us in 2018. The case went to trial during the spring of 2021. Our client was […]

Read More
Bike accident on sidewalk
Ann Groninger Mar 03, 2022

At Bike Law North Carolina, we’ve seen our share of collisions between bicyclists and motorists at sidewalk intersections. Two recent cases, one which we tried and lost and the other, which settled favorably to our client, highlight the challenges, especially in North Carolina and other pure contributory negligence states (Alabama, Virginia and Maryland).   The […]

Read More
WALLER CRASH
Rachael Maney Nov 08, 2021

WALLER 6 UPDATE: November 20, 2021 The teenage son of Jason and Jennifer Arnold, who, with their permission, was operating his parents’ F-250 diesel truck when he plowed into our 6 clients while they were riding their bicycles on September 25th, 2021 in Waller, Texas, was released to his parents on Thursday afternoon (11/18/21) after […]

Read More
Atlanta Bike Crash
Peter Wilborn Oct 25, 2021

Many of you have heard about the horrific multi-victim crash from October 7, 2021, in which a Chattanooga driver brutally plowed her car into a group of 5 pedestrians as they were crossing a street, causing catastrophic and life changing injuries. In the chaotic aftermath of running a red light and almost killing an entire […]

Read More
Waller Bike Crash Carnage
Rachael Maney Oct 02, 2021

PRESS RELEASE FROM BIKE LAW’S NATIONAL DIRECTOR RACHAEL MANEY In light of the recent Waller Bike Crash in Texas, and in an effort to help untangle and unpack some of the emotionally-charged comments, questions, and inaccurate assumptions being made, we want to update you on the parts that we can share. I hope that this […]

Read More
Brother James
Peter Wilborn Sep 29, 2021

23 years ago today, the world lost my brother Jim. He was killed on his bike by an under-aged driver who blew through a red light. While the years don’t really blunt the loss, they foster gratitude for the gifts left behind. My brother blessed me with so much, but 3 things stand out:   […]

Read More
Load More