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New Suffolk County Law Forces Drivers To Give Bicyclists Extra Room

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A new law signed Tuesday in Suffolk County forces drivers to give bicyclists extra room on the road. The law, the first of its kind in the state, comes with stiff fines and is meant to save lives; CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reports.

Video Transcript

- A new law signed today in Suffolk County forces drivers to give bicyclists extra room on the road.

- The law, the first of its kind in the state, comes with some stiff fines and is meant to save lives. CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan has the story from Stoneybrook.

JENNIFER MCLOGAN: Martin and Elise Buchman own Storybrookside Bed and Bike Inn. As avid cyclists, have had their share of dangerous encounters with cars.

MARTIN BUCHMAN: I was hit and taken away by ambulance.

ELISE BUCHMAN: People don't account for their side-view mirrors.

JENNIFER MCLOGAN: Suffolk consistently ranks among New York's most deadly for bicyclists. But now, with a new law signed outside the Bed and Bike Inn, becomes the first in the state to fine drivers hundreds of for failing to give cyclists at least 3 feet of space when passing them.

KARA HAHN: Giving a cyclist a 3-foot buffer allows them the opportunity to swerve if they have to avoid an unexpected obstacle in their path.

JENNIFER MCLOGAN: What if a driver crosses a solid white or a double yellow line?

DANIEL FLANZIG: Yeah, so the law doesn't automatically prohibit you crossing over double yellow line if you need to make a safe pass. It is in the vehicle and traffic law.

JENNIFER MCLOGAN: Cyclists have obligations too. Wear a helmet, reflective clothing. Obey traffic laws. Stay to the extreme right, single file.

Studies show careless, distracted drivers going too fast are mostly responsible for the nation's growing bicycle death toll, nearly 700 killed last year in our area, a doctor, a nurse, a fiancee, a child.

NEAL PASOFF: Once people realize that they're supposed to give bikes some distance, then people start changing their habits.

MARTIN BUCHMAN: The best answer is to build as many bicycles and mixed use paths as possible.

JENNIFER MCLOGAN: The county executive points to the Greenway, rails-to-trails, hike and bike, and says under a master plan, as infrastructure is rebuilt--

STEVE BELLONE: If we do this the right way, we can have a totally different environment for bicycling in this county.

JENNIFER MCLOGAN: Violating the 3-foot law begins with a $225 fine and can reach $425 for a repeat offender. From Suffolk County, Long Island, Jennifer McLogan, CBS 2 News.