Skip to Content
Streetsblog California home
Streetsblog California home
Log In
News

CHP Finds a New Way to Blame the Bicycle Rider

On Sunday, a car driver on the wrong side of a two-lane highway in rural Yolo county crashed head-on into a bicycle rider and killed him. What was the California Highway Patrol's response? Blame the victim. The CHP says the driver of the car was just following the law, which requires a three-foot passing distance around bicycles. The driver was giving a wide berth to a  group of riders on her side of the road.

The crash occurred on County Road 19 near Woodland, where it is clearly difficult to see for any distance.
The crash occurred on County Road 19 near Woodland, where sight distance is clearly not an issue. Image: Google Maps
The crash occurred on County Road 19 near Woodland, where it is clearly difficult to see for any distance.

But somehow she failed to notice Allen Blumm on a bicycle directly in front of her in the oncoming lane. The CHP, according to the Sacramento Bee, has not filed any charges against the driver. Worse, officers said the bicycle rider himself was partly to blame because he was not riding way over on the right side of his lane.

But, as Cyclelicious points out,

California’s far right law . . . applies only in the presence of other, faster traffic traveling in the same direction. Excluding the long list of exceptions that allow cyclists to “take the lane” where necessary, the law says:Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway….

Also, he writes, the law requires a driver to wait until the lane is clear before passing anyone.

At the very least, the driver could (and probably should) be cited for violating CVC 21751, which requires the passing driver to wait for the oncoming lane to be “free of oncoming traffic.” We’re required to slow and wait until it is safe to pass.

It is tragic that someone was killed, and that someone else made such a terrible mistake. But it is also very bad that law enforcement is picking and choosing which laws to apply in a way that makes it clear to drivers that they have more right to the road than anyone on a bike.

Or, as Systemic Failure writes:

As in so many car-bike collisions, the police in this case found creative legal interpretations to absolve a driver of her dangerous and illegal behavior.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog California

Automated Enforcement Coming Soon to a Bus Lane Near You

Metro is already installing on-bus cameras. Soon comes testing, outreach, then warning tickets.

April 19, 2024

Friday’s Headlines

SF plans street redesign at crash site; Santa Cruz commission still supports plan to have both trail and rail; State budget includes subsidies for fossil fuel industry; Unhoused camping; More

April 19, 2024

Legislators Tackle AV, School Zone Safety

Are AVs freight trucks ready to be deployed on California roads with no one in them?

April 17, 2024

Metro Looks to Approve Torrance C Line Extension Alignment

Selecting the relatively low-cost hybrid alternative should help the oft-delayed South Bay C Line extension move a step closer to reality

April 17, 2024
See all posts