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GLENDORA: Cyclists and CHP Officer Face Off Over 3 Feet for Safety Law

GLENDORA, California (July 13, 2015) — Cyclist Ken Adams and a friend were both cycling uphill on a narrow stretch of Glendora Mountain Road Saturday when an SUV drove past them at a what they felt was a dangerously close distance — enough to rattle them.

It’s something that happens all too often to cyclists, despite California’s Three Feet for Safety law that requires motorists provide a distance of three feet between them and cyclists or slow down and pass only when it is safe to do so.

What made this incident so alarming was this driver was a California Highway Patrol officer. The two cyclists were not harmed in the incident, just shaken up. They believe the officer passed within a foot to 18 inches of them.

As the two cyclists continued to ride uphill as close to the edge of the road as they could, they saw the officer heading back downhill and waved at him to stop. The CHP officer stopped and spoke to the two riders and his response shocked the two men.

First, the CHP officer told the two riders they needed to stay on the right side of the road and then he told them the law requires him as a driver to “maintain a right path.” The roadway has no middle line and there are sections where it would be unsafe to pass, but Adams contends at the point they were being passed there was enough distance ahead to see oncoming traffic and there were no cars.

The officer told the men he was driving 25 mph and clarified his position to them: “I’m not going to break the law to follow another law … I’m not going to drive on the wrong side of the road.”

The officer made it clear in this video that he disregarded the Three Feet for Safety law, regardless of the fact that doing so put two riders into harm’s way. The cyclists wondered if the police officer put them in harm’s way intentionally.

Adams made a formal complaint to the CHP who are investigating what happened, but without a video of the actual incident they cannot take an action against the police officer. The cyclist also found out that the patrol SUV does not have its video running unless the officer has his siren lights turned on which in this case he did not.

“Cycling is dangerous enough without vehicles intentionally” driving too close, Adams told Johnson Attorneys Group. “It was very disconcerting experience regardless of his motive.”

The Three Feet for Safety Act became a law in September 2014 after Gov. Jerry Brown approved the legislation the previous year. Vehicle Code 21760 was intended to cut down on the growing number of injuries and fatalities to bicyclists.  There were 147 cyclists killed in 2012 and 13,921 injured in California traffic accidents. Those who violate the law are subject to files of $35 or $220 if there are injuries involved.

“It is troubling to see this video because it shows that even police officers do not have a clear understanding of this law,” said Attorney James Johnson. “I’m glad that no one was hurt in this incident, but I hope that this helps bring more awareness to this law and how it applies to drivers.”

If you have legal questions after an injury accident and would like to speak to an attorney about your potential claim, contact Johnson Attorneys Group at 800-235-6801 for a free consultation.

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