Creating a safe cycling environment can only happen if we educate drivers and cyclists about the 3 Foot Laws and change driver’s behavior.
We have spoken with countless Nevada drivers who are surprised that there is a 3 Foot Law.
3 Foot Laws differ from state to state so how does one navigate the different laws?
Some call Nevada’s 3 Foot Law progressive because it states that drivers must give cyclists a whole lane if it’s safe to do so. Giving cyclists a whole lane is just common sense when drivers understand the obstacles cyclists face on the road. Some states have 3 Foot Laws with exceptions that defy common sense. California’s recently passed 3 Foot Law, which goes into effect in Sept 2014, says that drivers “should” give cyclists 3 Feet “unless” they can’t and then it’s up to them what to do. That is just insulting to cyclists, provides no guidance for drivers, and won’t change any reckless behavior.
Cyclists also bear common sense responsibility for safe cycling. Considering all the cycling obstacles and drivers who “feel” cyclists should not even be on the road, safe cycling practices are crucial. Cycling two abreast, while legal in NV, multiplies all the road hazards and risks discussed in Weapons of Mass Destruction and the risks we will outline below.
All of our images are taken by a single cyclist riding in the middle of the right shoulder while avoiding broken glass, rocks, tree limbs, exploded car and truck tire debris, road kill, sewer covers, flash floods, high winds buffeting bike stability, and wind wake from big SUVs, Pickup Trucks, Semis and speeding cars driving much too close to cyclists.
There is also the occasional tree planter box planted in the cycling lane.
Tiny objects like broken glass only reveal themselves if the sun strikes them at just the right angle to flash in the cyclist’s eyes. When the sun is not being helpful the only clue is the crunch of glass under the front tire and rapid snake-like hissing of escaping air causing the cyclist to attempt a rapid maneuver to avoid a serious accident. The image below shows a glass shard that pierced an expensive, heavily armored tire.
Vegas has very high winds. It’s not unusual for winds to gust up to 60+ mph.
And then there are the desert floods. Who would have guessed there are floods in the desert? The desert is so dry and the ground has no dirt so rain does not absorb into the ground. It produces surface water runoff. On August 25, 2013 Mount Charleston received 4 inches of rain in 2 hours. Most parts of the country wouldn’t even notice 4 inches of rain, because they have grass, soil and trees so water can absorb into the porous ground. Mount Charleston, in the North West of the valley, has a peak of about 12,000 feet where the majority of the valley’s clouds form producing the majority of the valley’s rain and snow. Lots of homes and the Strip sit in the bottom of the valley. The concrete-like ground sends the water flooding down to the lowest points in the valley causing roads to turn into rivers and lakes and leaving serious damage in its wake.
The Las Vegas valley always has a lot of construction sites throughout the valley. Frequent big winds combined with ground that is more dust and sand than dirt cause significant issues with clouds of blowing dust and sand.
There is also runoff from construction sites. Even very small rain can lead to spillage as in the following image. In the summer, with temperatures up to 120, this stuff pretty much immediately bakes into concrete. Road cyclists cannot ride on this stuff so they have to veer outside of the bike lane. It took a cleanup team with high pressure water hoses several hours to remove this obstacle.
Highway shoulders pose additional debris and hazards while cyclists are endangered by vehicles traveling at 75+ mph.
The highway is littered with blown truck tires. A road cyclist has no choice but to maneuver to avoid this debris.
Even with maneuvering to avoid the obvious bits of blown truck tires, thin strands of loose steel truck tire beads can still find their way into a bike’s drivetrain and destroy it.
This was a prized Campagnolo Record derailleur destroyed by inadvertently picking up one of the metal tire beads from one of these blown tires. Campagnolo Record has been some of the highest quality equipment in cycling for many decades. Their equipment is impeccably engineered from the finest materials to last pretty much forever. It’s also elegantly designed, an example of engineering art. After picking up the truck tire bead shown in the image below the Campagnolo Record rear derailleur was so severely torqued it snapped, exposing the main spring. Sadly, it is now a piece of modern art.
There is also an occasional car broken down or parked on the shoulder.
Although many state laws allow cyclists to ride side by side, specifically 2 cyclists side by side, we disagree with this when on roads with any kind of traffic. Road debris is hard enough to avoid when cycling alone. When there is another cyclist effectively boxing the inside cyclist in on the curb it is a recipe for disaster especially considering cars may be driving too close for the outside cyclist to avoid a collision by moving outward into the lane of traffic due to road debris or some unexpected obstacle for either cyclist.
3FootCycling.com will develop and deliver a series of online courses and certifications for both drivers and cyclists. The courses will be developed with input from all stakeholders. This will be valuable for corporations to ensure and document when their drivers were trained and certified.
This is not about blame, it is about education and changing behavior so our roads are safe for all cyclists and drivers to share and look out for each other. If a corporation has drivers that break the laws or endanger cyclists we will contact them and discuss how they can educate their drivers.