3 Feet Please!

It happened again this past Saturday. The Bagel Ride group just finished the mad stomp west on Pink Hill Road and most riders had peeled off for home or to ride more miles. I turned south on 7 Highway and saw Jim 200 meters up the road, and not wanting to ride in alone, I buried myself to try and catch him. Just as I came up to speed, some jackass in a white Ford F250 complete with stickers, push bars, extended mirrors, and tailpipes bigger than a culvert, buzzed past me. This wasn’t the “I see the rider but can’t move over” kind of buzz. No, this was more like a “Imma teach this damn biker dude to GET OFF MY ROAD” maneuver. As the truck whisked past, his extended mirror passed within inches of my left shoulder.

Seconds after blasting past me, he was on Jim. Same thing. Only, from my perspective, it was much scarier to watch as the truck actually eased closer and closer to Jim. His right-side mirror passed within inches of Jim’s shoulder. This guy was obviously ignorant to the dangers of swerving so closely to a bicyclist. Considering the other lane was clear of traffic, his intentions were definitely more road rage than distracted driving.

As luck would have it the truck hit the next red light. I rolled up behind him and noticed that he wasn’t alone. In the truck with him was what I assume to be his family: a woman in the passenger seat and then two little ones in the back seat. Great example, d00d! I caught Jim at the same light and commented on the driver. But, as always, what’re ya gonna do???

Today, I stumbled upon a web site that’s trying to do something about this. 3feetplease.com is a grassroots bicycle advocacy that promotes bicycle safety with a very clever jersey. The bright yellow jersey reads “3 Feet Please” across the back and has sexy black warning stripes on the sides. The website also includes a map showing the 16 states that have enacted 3-foot laws, which require motorists give bicycles at least 3 feet or risk a fine. It’s quit disappointing to see how few states are addressing bicycle safety–that’s not to say that the 3-foot laws are the only way of managing the situation; but, and this is pure speculation based on nothing more than gut feel, the 30% adoption is probably a fair indicator of states that are actively trying to provide protections to cyclists. Likewise, as is being proven in Oklahoma, the 3-foot laws don’t seem to have any impact on reducing car-bicycle accidents. But, that’s another topic altogether.

That’s what I find so clever and appealing about the jersey. A law is a law and is easily ignored or forgotten. A bright yellow jersey that’s screaming “3 FEET PLEASE” in the driver’s face is a message that’s difficult to miss. It might actually work…at least with those drivers that respect others.

Advertisements

5 comments

  1. How about “I have a wife and two kids at home – please don’t text and drive!” That won’t fit on your sexy yellow jersey, will it? We (wives of cyclists) worry every time you guys don’t show up on time . . .

  2. I dunno, I think if some one attempts to take my life in his hands and use his vehicle as a weapon, I have the right to fear for my life and beat him within an inch of his. I do not think that would be good for the wife and kids to be a part of, but just the same why take that crap? The right front flats or he swerves and your dead.

  3. I had a guy do that to me and I chased really hard until luckily he got caught at a stop sign and there was too much traffic for him to get away. I pulled up to his passenger window and asked him if he wanted to kill me? He said” you bikers are always taking up the road” I said I was going uphill and didn’t want him to pass because he doeesn’t know whats coming over on the other side and if someone does he’s going to swerve back and kill me. I then told him that I have a wife and 3 kids at home and I’m just trying to ride my bike. He said” Well……I’m sorry dude.”
    I wish I could catch every guy but I got a feeling they may not all apologize. I may get beat up or worse. And yes the texting is going to get someone killed. You know, the general feeling is….Bikes are for kids and we really have no business riding them on their roads.
    I was run over by a semi last year and the cop scolded me about other cyclists passing the ambulance that was stopped to help me. Like it was my fault. They may have laws because it looks good to have laws but anyone thats ever been hit on their bike by a car will find out it was an “accident” or ” i didn’t see him”. Ok enough ranting!

  4. Sorry about your encounter…but glad you and Jim are ok. And thank you for your kind comments about the jersey. I am trying to get this jersey on thousands of cyclists around the world…it takes great numbers to make a great difference and the difference I want to make is to save cyclists’ lives.

    The good news is most motorists are very respectful and courteous and they give cyclists at least 3 feet and oftentimes even more space when passing. These folks don’t need to be reminded. They know that cyclist in front of them is a human being, a person, maybe their doctor, their child’s teacher, someone they know and love. They don’t want to hit and hurt that person. So they don’t try to squeeze by and take any chances. They give space. The bad news is there are some motorists, like your dimwit, who don’t make those connections. They don’t see that person. They see something that stands between them and where they are headed and see that thing as an inconvenience. This is sad, but true and the fear of every cyclist out there—the careless motorist.

    Yes, there are careless cyclists out there too. And we need to make sure that we hold these scofflaw cyclists accountable as well. But, a careless cyclist running into a car isn’t going to do much damage to the car or the motorist. A careless motorist hitting a cyclist can change lives—theirs, ours and our families. Their unyielding, sometimes malevolent, carelessness to the safety of cyclists is why we need 3 foot laws and ordinances. And this is why cyclists in cities and states across our country should be helping to build awareness of the importance, the need to give cyclists at least 3 feet clearance when passing from the rear. The jersey is a tool that by all acconts from cyclists wearing the jersey is working…more motorist are giving more space more often…and that’s the great news.

    Thanks again,
    Joe Mizereck
    Founder, The “3 Feet Please” Campaign

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s