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Yucca Mesa, Cal.- The public is invited to join friends and neighbors of Yucca Mesa at their monthly potluck meeting. These popular gatherings offer good food, good company and wonderful guest speakers. The potluck will be held this Friday at 6pm at the Yucca Mesa Community Center located at 3133 Balsa Avenue, Yucca Valley. Bring any dish to serve 6-8 persons with your own plates and utensils. Beverages and dessert will be provided at the meeting.
The featured guest speaker for Friday’s meeting is a resident of Yucca Mesa, David Cooper, who is also a Hydrology Engineer, Ex-Marine, Search & Rescue member and bicyclist advocate. When Cooper is not promoting the Morongo Basin bike lanes and bike safety, he is teaching his fellow SAR members how to repel off the side of a cliff.
Cooper gave a presentation at the last Big MAC meeting on February 10th sharing the bike maps he has been working on for the last 25 years and to get the word out on the new bike highway laws that will become effective this September.
Reporter Rebecca Unger posted this excellent article on Cooper’s presentation:
MORONGO BASIN — California motorists and bicycle riders will be adding three feet of safety to their commutes, beginning Sept. 16.
A new Assembly bill, the Three Feet for Safety Act, will require people driving in the right lane in any direction to put three feet between themselves and a bicycle when passing the cyclist on a public road.
If it is not possible to do that in a safe manner, the motorist must slow to a reasonable speed and only pass the bicycle when there is no danger to the cyclist, another motorist or themselves.
The penalties for violating the law begin with a $35 fine. The law doesn’t apply when cyclists are riding in a dedicated bike lane.
The law is the result of the successful “Give Me 3” campaign by the California Bicycle Coalition. The existing law only requires that a “safe distance” be maintained between motorists and cyclists, but doesn’t define what that distance is. The coalition argued that motorists in a parking lot can open their car doors three feet wide without hitting an adjacent vehicle, so the three-foot clearance between bike and auto was doable.
“The law will be particularly valuable where a violation results in a collision that injures a bicyclist, because it establishes a clear basis for citing the driver for unsafe passing,” the coalition’s media kit claims. “Under existing law it’s not illegal to injure a bicyclist with a car. Drivers who kill bicyclists can be prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter, a criminal charge. But there isn’t a comparable charge for injuring a bicyclist, even when the injuries are severe or permanently disabling.”
The law is specific to motor vehicles passing bicyclists from behind. A bicyclist who passes a car by less than three feet would not be violating the law, nor be causing the motorist to violate the law.
David Cooper of Yucca Mesa is a civil engineer and an avid cyclist. In 1994 he created a biking guide map to Yucca Valley and the surrounding areas that the town incorporated in its plan for bike lanes.
“The three-foot law mandates that motorist allow three feet between their vehicle’s outside mirror, not the tires, and a cyclist they are passing,” Cooper explained during his presentation at the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council public meeting Feb. 10. “We have 11-foot lanes, and we can’t pass a cyclist legally or safely. We’re going to start screaming for bike lanes. The idea behind my maps was to keep bicyclists off Highway 62, yet allow them east-west passage.”
“If the driver of a vehicle has the responsibility to stay three feet away from a cyclist, what is the cyclist’s responsibility?” Mary Helen Tuttle, MAC member from Copper Mountain Mesa, asked Cooper.
“The bicycle should be as far over to the right as possible, but beyond the white line the roadway is not maintained,” Cooper replied. “Don’t expect the cyclist to be right on the white line, because it’s like being on the edge of cliff. That’s why bike lanes are six feet wide, for clearance to the vehicle’s mirror.”
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