Bike Law Maine Uses Video and Driver Gets Ticket
Last November, an experienced rider from Maine was commuting to work on his bicycle when a tractor trailer operator came up on him from behind him and passed him at a dangerous and nearly deadly distance. As the rider describes it, as the tractor trailer operator was overtaking him, he was “boxed in” and he believes his jacket was “grazed” by the back of tractor trailer. If you want to see the unsafe pass for yourself, check out the footage, particularly the footage at 2:25 to 2:48.
Fortunately, the rider used his strong handling skills to remain upright and injury free. Not only did he survive the incident, but so did his front and back Cycliq footage, which proved very useful when I, as a Maine bicycle advocate and bike lawyer, contacted law enforcement on his behalf to discuss Maine’s safe passing law and follow up on the incident.
Section 2070 (1-A) of Maine’s Motor Vehicle and Traffic Code sets forth the duties of care that motor vehicle operators must abide by when they pass Maine bicyclists on the roadway. The law requires drivers to leave at least three feet between all parts of their vehicles and all parts of a bicycle when carrying out a pass. As you can see from the Cycliq footage, three feet clearance was definitely not given by the tractor trailer operator to the bicyclist.
When the police in Portland, Maine were contacted about the incident and reviewed the footage, they agreed. The responding officer even stated in an email to me: “The driver definitely should have changed lanes to the left travel lane when passing . . . .” He also noted that “due to the good quality of the video and the help of the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles Commercial Enforcement Division” he was able to get additional information regarding the truck and company involved in the incident.
At our request, the Portland Police proceeded to ticket the driver and contacted the company owner to share the footage and public safety concerns about its driver’s unsafe operational choices. That same week, I was working on several other cases involving unsafe driver operation where the police exercised their discretion not to issue tickets. I was also on a group ride involving a similarly dangerous pass where no cameras were running and no ticket was issued despite five witnesses to the illegal operation and unsafe pass.
The major difference, of course, was the Cycliq footage. Having this type of evidence available has time and time again proven to be valuable to cyclists.