Cindy Speaker: Good afternoon and welcome to our broadcast today. My name is Cindy Speaker, and I have with us today, Attorney David Daggett of Daggett Shuler, Attorneys at Law. David, before I start talking to you, let me tell you this. David is an avid cyclist and we’re gonna talk about bicycling today. He’s also a licensed bicycle racer and a very accomplished Iron Man triathlete.
David, thanks for being with us.
David Daggett: Thank you, Cindy. Thanks for having me.
Cindy Speaker: You bet. Listen, we’re gonna talk about bicycling today, and I know that you have some new laws in North Carolina. They’ve been around for a little while, but a lot of people are just not aware of them yet.
Let’s talk a little bit about that, and where I’d like to start it, let’s talk about some of the safety things that families need to be aware of. There’s families that go out and do cycling with their children.
David Daggett: Sure, sure. This is a good time to review bicycle safety. The weather’s getting warmer outside, later this month we have big bicycle races here in Winston-Salem. There’s gonna be a lot of focus and attention on bicycling, and it’s a great recreational and fitness healthy activity for individuals and families.
Safety, it always starts with knowing how your bicycle works, learning the mechanics, they’re usually pretty simple, but learning the breaks, and the gears, and make sure the brakes are operational. Always, always, always wear a helmet.
In North Carolina, 16 and under, it’s mandatory to wear a bicycle helmet. If you’re over that age it’s not mandatory, but as the sign in the bicycle shops says, “A helmet is cheaper than a neurosurgical exam.”
Cindy Speaker: Boy, that’s for sure.
David Daggett: Yeah, so number one thing in safety is wear a bicycle helmet, make sure it gets fit properly. All the bicycle shops in town are very, very good, and they’ll help you fit it and make sure the straps are right, and that sort of thing.
Cindy Speaker: Yeah.
David Daggett: That’s the main thing for families, being visible. You ride on the right-hand side of the road. The law says you can ride two-abreast. I like single file. It’s more polite for motorists, and it allows cars to pass easily.
When I’m speaking with bicycle groups, sometimes they want to argue with me that the law says you’re allowed to ride two-abreast, but if you get a pack of riders riding two-abreast it makes it very difficult for motorists. The last thing we want to do as bicyclists is to tick off motorists. We want to befriend them and be good ambassadors to them.
I can assure you my wife, she’s as big a fan of bicyclists as there is, and she gets upset when there’s big packs on the road that are hindering the motor vehicles coming by. Please be wise and be a good ambassador in that regard.
Cindy Speaker: David, lets talk a little bit about this four foot rule, because I think that’s a change for North Carolina.
David Daggett: Yeah, it’s a huge change.
Cindy Speaker: Okay.
David Daggett: North Carolina historically has had what’s called the two foot rule. Which means, a motor vehicle when passing has to be at least two feet to the side of the bicyclist going by. It’s speeds of 35 miles an hour or more, that feels pretty close when you’re on a bicycle.
Most states have what’s called a three foot rule, so you have to give three feet when passing. A few states, including Pennsylvania, have a four foot rule. North Carolina has gone from the two foot rule to the four foot rule anytime it’s a no-passing zone.
A very large percentage of bicycle riding is done in urban areas and on two-lane country roads, which are typically large percentage no-passing zones. This is a great safety provision for cyclists that cars now have to be four feet or completely in the other lane of travel when passing.
One thing I like to remind cyclists though, is remember, people don’t sit around and read the North Carolina statues and don’t keep up with law changes, and I would bet that most motorists don’t know that we don’t have a four foot rule.
That’s one reason we publish that little book that we have, to explain those laws, but also cyclists need to be ambassadors and inform their friends and family members of the four foot rule, and let that spread through the community so there’s a larger degree of awareness.
I personally think that’s the biggest change that we have in the new laws. We’ve got the two foot rule now gone to four feet, that’s important for safety. We used to have to have reflectors on the back of our bikes from dusk til dawn that would reflect from 250 feet back.
Now, you have to have lights that are visible from 300 feet or further, or have a reflective vest on that you can see from 300 feet or further. Now, a lot of cyclists it’s become very popular to have lights on the back of your bike. In fact, I have lights both on the back and on the front of my bike that I use in daytime or in the dawn to dusk period … or, dusk to dawn period.
The nice thing is the lights now are very affordable. They’re USB port chargeable, so they’re very easy to recharge and very easy to use. That’s an obligation, so there’s responsibilities that have been put on cyclists, also. I think they’re good responsibilities. That’s with regard to lighting invisibility. Bicyclists always have to pretend that motor vehicles can’t see you. You have to do everything you can to be visible.
Going through a couple of other changes in the law: using hand signals. Experienced cyclists for years would … You can do right turn like this, or right turn by pointing your right arm out. The law has now been codified that hand signals can be done with either arm, so you can do left turn, right turn, or you can do right turn this way, but you can use either hand.
The thing that I always say is you have to be conscious of the motorists around you, What you want to do, and this goes back to always being a good ambassador, is use whatever is most visible to the motorist around you to help them, showing them that you’re going to turn one direction or the other. The slowdown, putting your arm down, the slowdown sign is also very helpful.
Motorists appreciate it when cyclists give those hand signals and indications, because it helps them, and it helps you be more safe.
Cindy Speaker: Yeah.
David Daggett: Some other things that … changes in the law … It was interesting … historically, motorcyclists were given a little bit more protection than bicyclists. For example, motorcyclists, if they get crowded off the road, but it’s no contact, that’s still a pretty hefty fine against the motorist. If there’s any property damage or injury the fines go up.
Those laws have now been extended to bicyclists, so if a vehicle crowds you off the road, or crowds you off the road and it ends up with either property damage or bodily injury, then the fines go up. Bicyclists are afforded those legal protections. Same goes with getting into a turn lane, motorists have to respect your right to get into the turn lane to turn, and those sort of things.
I think there’s some very, very important changes. Cyclists need to be aware of them first, and then they have to be good ambassadors to the rest of the community and help spread the word on what these new laws and changes are.
Cindy Speaker: Right, and like you said, we really need motorists to understand these laws.
David Daggett: Yeah, and that takes a long time, it’s a long effort. You know, it’s interesting to me, I always try to be a good Samaritan, I’d say I probably am 99% of the time. I was out in the country not long ago, and had the flashing light on the back, and had a great big loud pickup truck come up next to me and roll down his window. I’m thinking, “Oh no, what does this guy want?” He leans over and says, “Hey, thanks for having that flashing light, I could see you from a long ways away.”
Cindy Speaker: Wow!
David Daggett: Pretty nice, pretty nice.
Cindy Speaker: That’s great.
David Daggett: The one thing that we don’t have a whole lot of in our area are designated bicycle lane. We are starting to get some more. One of the problems, and I … This is another one that’s kind of funny. I was biking last weekend and I was kind of on the line of the bicycle lane, but also just slightly into the road, and an old couple came by, and the guy shook his fist. We get to the stoplight, and I go up next to him, I say, “Good Morning, sir,” and he said, “Well, you should’ve been all the way into the bicycle lane,” and I said, “Well, you’re right, but you know what happened, is the street sweeper came through and pushed all the debris from the roadway into the bicycle lane, actually making the bicycle lane hazardous.” He kind of laughed and said, “Well, thank you for telling me that, and be safe.”
If we all, every ride make one friend, all of a sudden we’ve spread some good karma throughout the motorist community, and I believe that helps keep all bicyclists just a little bit safer.
Cindy Speaker: Yeah, that’s great. David, I want you to tell us a little bit about the book that you wrote. We have an E-book that we’re gonna make available. Tell us a little bit about that.
David Daggett: Sure, sure. We wrote a very short E-book with the updated safety laws in North Carolina. We intentionally made it very, very short, so it’s very, very easy to read, either for cyclists or for motorists. We also made it free, it’s a free download, free to share, free to use.
The purpose of that is, is to be a very concise informational piece on the new safety laws for bicyclists in North Carolina. The good news is, is that book has been shared a lot of times, and we’re glad that we’re an instrumental part in getting that word out.
Cindy Speaker: Yeah. What we’re gonna ask those of you watching today, whether live or on replay, if you have people that you know that are cyclists, please share the book. We’re gonna put a link right on this page. Just click on it, you can download it free. We want to get the word out. As David said, not just for the cyclists, but really the drivers-
David Daggett: Sure.
Cindy Speaker: Because, as a driver I was not aware even about … I’m in Pennsylvania, you’re in North Carolina, but I wasn’t even aware of the four foot rule in Pennsylvania.
David Daggett: Yes.
Cindy Speaker: That’s good for all drivers to know those types of things-
David Daggett: It’s very good. Most drivers, they want to be safe-
Cindy Speaker: Absolutely.
David Daggett: But, they want us to follow the rules, and if we follow the rules they want to follow the rules, too.
Cindy Speaker: Right.
David Daggett: It’s a back and forth. People tend to want to take sides on those issues. There’s not sides to take. The side to take is safety for all of us, good ambassadors all of us, and that makes the road safer for cyclists and motorcyclists.
Cindy Speaker: Absolutely. David, how can someone reach your office? We’re talking about a really wonderful topic here today. Sometimes people end up in bicycle accidents. You’re a person they can call, you handle a lot of those cases. How can they reach your office?
David Daggett: Sure. Just for free information, and sometimes cyclists just call me to talk, and that’s fine, too. 336-724-1234, or we have lots of information on our website at DaggettShulerLaw.com.
Cindy Speaker: Okay. David, thanks so much for your time today.
David Daggett: Thank you, Cindy, and thank you for spreading the good word on bicycle safety.
Cindy Speaker: You bet. Okay, thanks everybody for tuning in. Again, we really appreciate it if you’d help share this information, get the word out with us. Thanks, everybody.
David Daggett: If you have any questions post them and we’ll answer them.
Cindy Speaker: Absolutely. David will answer them himself. Thanks, everybody.
David Daggett: Thank you.