Bike bill rolls into enforcement concerns
FORT COLLINS ” A bike-safety measure that would require drivers to give cyclists a wide berth has hit a bump: officers say it couldn’t be enforced.
The measure, a Senate bill that has passed a committee vote and awaits action by the full chamber, would require drivers to stay at least 3 feet away from cyclists while passing them. Drivers would be allowed to cross a center line to pass bikers if there were no oncoming traffic.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Greg Brophy of Wray, has said the measure is intended to make cycling safer on Colorado roads. But Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden opposes the idea, saying it would be too hard to enforce.
“When you’re in your patrol car on the street how do you measure that?” Alderden told the Coloradoan newspaper. “It’s basically impossible.”
Alderden added that officers now have discretion to ticket drivers if they see them driving dangerously close to other vehicles, including bicycles.
Brophy defends the bill as a safety measure.
“We’re not asking them to determine if a car is 32 or 40 inches away, but if a person clearly passes too close when they had the ability to get over then they should be pulled over,” Brophy told the newspaper.
Bicyclists like the bill.
“Under today’s statute, if there’s no blood there’s no foul,” said Dan Grunig, executive director of Bicycle Colorado.
Grunig said enforcement isn’t as important as the standard it sets for drivers.
“Three feet is pretty easy to envision because if a bicyclist were to stick their arm straight out that would be about 3 feet,” Grunig said.
Brophy’s bill would also allow cyclists to ride on the left shoulder of one-way streets if it were safer than riding on the right shoulder, which is the requirement for two-way streets. The bill undo a requirement that cyclists merge with traffic if a bicycle lane merges with a right-turn-only lane.
Eleven states currently require 3-foot berths for cyclists, and others some have laws requiring cars to give cyclists “a safe operating distance.”
A Boulder-based cycling group that advocates for the rule, called 3 Feet 2 Pass, said similar bills are pending in six states besides Colorado.
Grunig said the bill should be passed even if it’s seldom enforced.
“More important than enforcement is setting the expectation for the driving public,” Grunig said.
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