On Wednesday, September 7th, Bike Jax Board Member Abhishek Mukherjee got on his Xtracycle and left his Riverside apartment as he had done thousands of times before. This time however, his ride was going to be just a little bit different. Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) bus #2105 would see to that. Bike Jax has obtained a copy of the video from the bus's cameras. We are posting it here not as a platform for vengeance, but simply to show how vulnerable cyclists are as vehicles and most of us most likely already know the feeling of being buzzed too uncomfortably close by a JTA bus. Despite our many attempts to contact JTA for information on driver training and education concerning cyclists, we have come up empty. With the best of intentions, we have chosen to post this video in the hopes that maybe public response might encourage better driver training pertaining to cyclists. Audio portions of the video have been removed to lessen its severity.
Abhishek left from his apartment towards Downtown on Riverside Ave and as usual, a stickler for the rules, he took control of the extra narrow lane on Riverside Avenue. He could hear the JTA bus approaching in the distance behind him and making its normal stops. 5 blocks later he stopped at the red stop signal at the intersection of Riverside Ave and Computer Power. (Intersection in front of RAM, Google lists as Gilmore St. but not so) As he waited for the signal to change, the bus was sitting directly behind him. Once the light changed, he proceeded through the intersection where Riverside Ave. prepares to widen to a 14 foot lane. As it was rush hour traffic and knowing the lane would widen he can clearly be seen in the video moving closer to the lane-edge-marking but never giving up the lane. JTA bus #2105 never wavered in the slightest from it's path and never made any attempt to provide the State mandated 3 foot clearance while passing.
JTA hit the wrong guy, Abhishek not only knows and can recite each and every statute pertaining to cycling, he actually knows how those laws are interpreted and applied. Fortunately, he never lost consciousness and could recall every detail of the incident. Most times the cyclist isn't so lucky and authorities are left hearing only on side of the story. This time that would not be the case; no "he suddenly veered in front of me", no "I never saw him", no "he came out of nowhere and just hit me" (which is what the driver told authorities). Abhishek also has another very useful resource, attorney Chris Burns. Chris is without a doubt the most knowlegeable and skilled cycling counsel in the Southeast.
The Jacksonville Sheriffs office found the driver at fault and while I'm not certain what he was cited with, I do know he wasn't cited for The 3 foot Law.
316.083 Overtaking and passing a vehicle.
The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions, and special rules hereinafter stated:
(1) The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall give an appropriate signal as provided for in s. 316.156, shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance, and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle. The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle must pass the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle.
(2) Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle, on audible signal or upon the visible blinking of the headlamps of the overtaking vehicle if such overtaking is being attempted at nighttime, and shall not increase the speed of his or her vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.
(3) A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a moving violation as provided in chapter 318.