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 videoSeizing 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

Bike Law Ambassador
Bruce Hagen Nov 18, 2019

Trena, as her friends and family call her, is also Joshua’s mom, she works in accounting, a born and raised Atlantan and perhaps the most enthusiastic daily user of the controversial Atlanta Streetcar.  What was at first just a weight loss goal quickly turned into an unexpected journey of self-discovery, transformation and purpose. Today Trena […]

Read More
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Nov 17, 2019

Today, we at Bike Law join the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims (“FEVR”) in commemorating the 2019 World Day of Remembrance, honoring and remembering the many millions of people killed, injured and impacted by traffic crashes, and recognizing that “life is not a car part.”    We ask you to watch and pass along this […]

Read More
Brendan Kevenides Nov 11, 2019

A federal government agency is making a controversial recommendation to all 50 states that all bicyclists be required to wear helmets.   Mandatory bicycle helmet laws are a terrible idea.  Cycling as a form of recreation and transportation offers a myriad of benefits to the individual and the community as a whole.  An adult or child […]

Read More
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Nov 07, 2019

On Saturday, November 2, 2019, the family of Kathleen (“Kate”) Kirsch placed a ghost bike in her honor near the site of the tragic September 13, 2019 motor vehicle operator versus bicyclist collision that ultimately led to the loss of her life. Ghost bikes are public memorials parked on public ways near fatal crash sites […]

Read More
Rachael Maney Nov 01, 2019

November 1, 2019: Daylight Savings ends this Sunday, November 3rd, and we are counting down to fewer day time hours and the most dangerous time of year to ride a bike in the U.S. With approximately 65% of all crashes occurring in low light conditions, and the number of fatal crashes at a 30 year […]

Read More
Rachael Maney Oct 28, 2019

CLICK HERE FOR .PDF OF THE LETTER. [CLICK AGAIN ON THE .PDF AFTER JUMP FOR DOWNLOADABLE VERSION] To all members of the media and Associated Press: Crash fatalities amongst cyclists and pedestrians are at a 30 year high with more than 2 people on bikes being killed every day and pedestrians at an alarming rate […]

Read More
Bruce Hagen Oct 23, 2019

In the quaint downtown of Hogansville, Georgia, the memories of a once thriving economy are visible at every turn, from the old Opera House to the Royal Theater.   In this quiet corner of Troup County, south of the hustle and bustle of Newnan and the revitalized town of Senoia, Hogansville sits like a memory […]

Read More
Fairhope Bike Shop
Peter Wilborn Sep 16, 2019

Katie Bolton and her husband Joseph are the proud owners of Fairhope Cycle and Tri in Fairhope, Alabama – the eastern shore.  Their shop has been open for 8 years now and in addition to selling and servicing bicycles, the shop often is a “hub” for cycling events in the Fairhope area.   Katie grew up in […]

Read More
Rick Bernardi Sep 13, 2019

Stop as Yield. It was the legislative Holy Grail for Oregon cyclists. Idaho had pioneered the Stop As Yield concept—allowing cyclists to treat a stop sign as if it’s a yield sign—in 1982, and for decades, Idaho remained the only state where Stop as Yield was legal for cyclists, despite the actual practice being widespread, […]

Read More
Peter Wilborn Aug 20, 2019

A camera is necessary kit for every ride. But finding the right camera has been a challenge, until now. My rebuttable presumption: the Ricoh GR III is the best cycling camera of all time. Read on, and if you can prove there’s a better one, let me know. The Ideal Cycling Camera To find the […]

Read More
Human Shield Bike Lane
Bruce Hagen Jul 29, 2019

If you ride bikes around Atlanta, chances are that you know Niklas Vollmer and Andreas Wolfe.  They’re some of the many people in town who seem to live on their bikes and can be seen riding everywhere.  While they both have their “day jobs,” folks in the cycling world know them for their place in […]

Read More
Bruce Hagen Jul 19, 2019

This is a time when advocacy efforts are crucial to making our streets safer for everyone. Within 24 hours from the Two Wheel Tuesday gathering we suffered two more casualties.  On Wednesday morning, Marten Bijvank was on his way to work on his bicycle when he was struck and killed by an unlicensed DUI driver […]

Read More
Load More