“The Knoxville Police Department’s Minimum 3 in Tennessee is going to enforce a law that has been the law for over a decade,” said bike law attorney Amy Johnson.
The local bicycle scene has picked up in recent years, especially after gas prices began rising.
Since 2012, the City of Knoxville has more than tripled its bicycle lanes covering nearly 17 miles, and now the “Minimum 3 in Tennessee'”campaign will be enforcing it more than ever with ultrasonic devices known as C3FT.
Johnson practices bike law across the state of Tennessee and says not a week goes by where she does not get a “too close call” from a cyclist “who is shaken up, but unharmed and just glad to be alive because they’ve experienced what we call a ‘close call’ or a ‘buzz,'” says Johnson.
When a cyclist is passed by a car and they come within the legal limit of three-feet – or otherwise known as making an unsafe pass – they can be rammed, side-swiped or clipped by a side view mirror and sent flying.
“I’ve been riding my bike all over the city as a part of this project — equipped with a camera and a C3FT device as a part of this project — every single time I’ve ridden I’ve experienced an unsafe pass,” Johnson says.
The three-feet law has been in place in Tennessee since 2007, a law Johnson says was passed because people are dying. Like in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 2016 when five-bicyclists were killed and four more were injured after a pick up truck crashed into a group of them.
“A law that was passed because children are losing their fathers, wives are losing their husbands, husbands are losing their wives, workers are losing their colleagues, children are losing their parents,” says Johnson. “This is not a campaign to pit cars against bicycles, this is a campaign to educate and enforce the law that enables cars and bikes to effectively share the road.”
KPD will be using the next few weeks to promote the new campaign, after that it is a $50 ticket if you are caught violating the “Minimum 3 in Tennessee” law.
In the meantime, if you are pulled over within the next few weeks, the department is handing out these cards as a warning, complete with the entire Tennessee law code.