Bike law change #3: Ban the “I just didn’t see him” excuse

It shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that cyclists and drivers sometimes try to defy the laws of physics by occupying the same space at the same time. And when that happens, the driver usually blames the cyclist, or claims he just didn’t see the rider — and too often, gets away with it.

However, the law requires that drivers be alert and aware of the traffic conditions around them. Which means that they are required to see, and take notice of, any bicyclists that are visible on the road around them.

There are situations where riders can be hidden behind another vehicle, of course, or riding where they shouldn’t be, like in the driver’s blind spot or on the wrong side of the road. But in the vast majority of cases, there’s no reason why an alert driver shouldn’t be able to see any cyclist who might be sharing the road with them. And if you can see the driver, he or she should certainly be able to see you.

So let’s put the responsibility exactly where it belongs, and prohibit any use of the “I just didn’t see him” excuse, unless it can be clearly demonstrated that it wasn’t possible to see the rider under the existing conditions.

One comment

  1. labikerides says:

    of the three very good suggestions you’ve put forward so far, this is the one that i’m most interested in. it doesn’t require an entirely new approach to the road – as the law mandating 3 ft of passing room might – and it can be fairly easily implemented. plus, i think it goes in the direction of treating cyclists as vehicles on the road as well. if the “i didn’t see him” excuse isn’t tenable between two cars, why should it be valid between a car and a bike? (that is, of course, assuming that the cyclist is making him or herself visible.) i’ll look forward to what comes next.

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