New bicycle law may pose a conflict with traffic

A law that went into effect Oct. 1, 2011, is designed to help make streets safer for bicyclists and motorists but it still poses conflict, according to officer Bill Cassell of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

“Our department is still evaluating what we’re going to do with (enforcing) the law,” Cassell said. “There’s some potential conflict in some cases with cyclists and oncoming traffic, so we’re waiting to see what’s going to happen with it.”

The “3-foot law,” which was adopted during the 2011 legislative session and signed in May, requires motorists to move to the immediate left lane or, if there is only one lane of traffic, give cyclists at least 3 feet when passing on the road. Penalties for violations include a fine up to $1,000 and six months in jail.

Carol Vails, bicyclist and salesperson at Las Vegas Cyclery, 8221 W. Charleston Blvd., said she and fellow bicyclists are glad to see Nevada join a variety of other states in passing the 3-foot law.

“From a cyclist’s perspective, we’re really happy about it,” Vails said. “If someone doesn’t obey (the law), it’s now on the record.”

Nevada is one of 20 states that adopted the 3-foot law, according to 3feetplease.com.

Vails said that from personal experience, motorists along the roads where she rides — mostly in Summerlin — have been obedient to the law.

“In general, people are pretty good here,” Vails said. “I still see people coming around me and then cut in front to make a right-hand turn, but people are usually good about (giving enough room).”

Officer Chrissie Coon of the North Las Vegas Police Department said officials haven’t placed much emphasis on the 3-foot law because it is not a primary problem in the area. She said officials are primarily focused on the recent pedestrian and motorist crashes and the new law banning texting while driving.

“It’s not that we would be opposed to (advocating) anything, but it is not a particular problem in our jurisdiction,” Coon said. “We’ve actually only had one or two pedal cycle crashes (in 2011), and neither were fatal.”

City of Henderson police could not be reached to comment by press time.

Vails believes the law is not as apparent to residents in Nevada as it is in other states. She hopes officials will enforce and inform residents of the new law.

“I think just getting the word out and educating people is the biggest thing,” Vails said. “I think it’s also important to inform cyclists that they have to obey the law, as well.”

Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter Lisa Carter at lcarter@viewnews.com or 383-4686.

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