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 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

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