Scene of the Crash of Dorine Peregrim
In 2013, Dorine Peregrim was struck from behind while riding her bike in
Upstate New York. Despite the wide shoulder on which she was riding, and
the multiple witnesses who were all able to clearly see Dorine before
the crash, the driver still passed Dorine too close, hitting her, and
violently throwing her from her bike.
Dorine suffered devastating injuries which put her in the ICU for three
days. Dorine, who has been an avid cyclist for over 25 years, will now
never ride the same again.
State Troopers responded to the crash and conducted an investigation. Dorine’s
bike was found on the shoulder and the driver’s vehicle had extensive
damage to the passenger side hood and windshield. Despite this overwhelming
evidence, the driver was not ticketed. The responding trooper told Dorine
"a collision occurred and it could not be determined who hit who"
His explanation? Sorry, but “you were just at the wrong place at
the wrong time”. Till this day, the Driver has never faced criminal
charges for striking Dorine.
Well cyclists of New York, this is all about to change.
As many of you know, I serve on the
Board of Directors of the New York Bicycle Coalition. Thanks to the strong leadership of
my Board President Jim Reed and our Board Member Emeritus Ivan Vamos,
who himself was hit by a motor-vehicle - and support from Transportation
Alternatives, the New York Bicycling Coalition (NYBC) has launched an
all-out campaign this legislative session in Albany to amend the vague
and impossible to enforce 2010 Safe Passing law. We want to the 3ft. passing
which is now the law in 26 other states across the country, implemented in New York.
NYBC further applauds the leadership of State Senator Tom O'Mara and
Assemblyman Phil Steck for sponsoring this legislation, amendment as A9189/S6649.
State Senator O'Mara and Assemblyman Steck have just this week begun
to circulate memos in their respective chambers seeking co-sponsors for
the 3' amendment.
What’s needs to happen?
Only a simple, quick change to the existing amendment. Currently, Vehicle
& Traffic Law § 1122-a. entitled Overtaking a bicycle states:
“The operator of a vehicle overtaking, from behind, a bicycle proceeding
on the same side of a roadway shall pass to the left of such bicycle at
a safe distance until safely clear thereof.
The amendment would change the statute to read: “The operator of
a vehicle overtaking, from behind, a bicycle proceeding on the same side
of a roadway shall pass to the left of such bicycle at
a distance of not less than 3 feet until safely clear thereof.
NYBC also recommends the addition of this clause to the existing statute: “The collision of a motor vehicle with a person operating a bicycle is prima
facie evidence of a violation of this section”.
Why three feet?
3' - the width of a handlebar or the length of an extended arm - gives
bicyclists, motorists and law enforcement a clear sense of what is safe
and what is dangerous. 3' - particularly if it is enforced - will
save lives and reduce crashes that so often result in death and needless
tragedy. We are seeking a small, but important, amendment to the current
arbitrary standard (“safe distance”) to an objective, easily
understood, 3’ distance (the length of a yardstick or a set of bike
Here are the reasons this simple change makes sense:
· The existing law is ambiguous and difficult to enforce.
· The existing law can easily be changed with by deleting a single
ambiguous word (“safe”) and adding a clear statement of “not
less than 3 feet”.
· Most importantly, a 3’ law will save lives by better protecting
NY cyclists and will save millions of health care dollars by reducing
the number of NY bicycle/vehicle collisions.
The majority of states have adopted at least 3’ as their safe passing
standard. 26 states, and D.C., have defined a “safe distance”
for a motorist passing a bicyclist as “at least 3 feet.” There
are other states that give cyclist’s even greater protection than
the 3’ standard. Notably, Pennsylvania has a “no less than
4 feet” standard.
Please Help Us!
We call upon you, our NYBC members and supporters - to get in touch with
their Albany representatives, no matter what their political affiliation
- to sign on this simple amendment, a tweak to an existing law.
Let’s bring NYS law in to the 21st century. Let’s save lives and save money. Let’s send a message
that New York is serious about creating a safe and shared road system
throughout our great state!
Please join NYBC’s 2016 campaign to amend the Safe Passing Law.