On Saturday, July 11th, multiple cyclists were nearly struck by a California Highway Patrol officer on a narrow, country road. Two of those cyclists were Ken Adams and Curtis McPherson. They were able to capture their encounter with the officer on video.
According to McPherson, he and Adams were traveling on the right side of the road when they encountered the officer for the first time. In an interview with McPherson he stated that, “the officer passed my friend and [me] in his CHP SUV with about 18″ between myself and his vehicle”. Thinking the officer may be on his way to an emergency, the two men continued on their ride.
Approximately a half mile up the road, the men came into contact with the officer once more; this time parked and waiting outside his vehicle. The officer waved them through and warned them that cars may be passing behind them. Further into their ride, the men reached a straight away road at which time McPherson stated that he heard a vehicle approaching them from the rear. Once again, it was the CHP officer. Both men stated that this time, the officer came within less than 12 inches of their persons and forced them off the road, into the dirt. Startled and dazed, Adams said that they could see the CHP vehicle begin to turn around. “It was at this time that Curtis started to record”, Adams said.
As the officer returned, the two men flagged down the officer in an attempt to have a dialogue. In the video, you can hear the officer immediately imply deniability as he was confronted. After admitting that he passed the cyclists within only inches, the officer attempts to use the law to justify his behavior; the officer stating that, “The law requires you to be at the right edge of the roadway. The law also requires me to maintain the right half of the roadway. I can not break a law to follow a law”. However, according to California state law:
21750. (a) The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken vehicle. A driver of a motor vehicle shall not overtake or pass a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway at a distance of less than three feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator. (d) If the driver of a motor vehicle is unable to comply with subdivision (c), due to traffic or roadway conditions, the driver shall slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent, and may pass only when doing so would not endanger the safety of the operator of the bicycle.
Unconcerned with the safety of the cyclists, the officer continues to display his ignorance of the law with deniability and fallible justification. After the encounter with the officer had ended, McPherson and Adams came into contact with other riders along the road who also claimed that the officer had almost hit them. Ironically, the entire encounter occurred with the nose of the officer’s vehicle in the oncoming lane.
Both McPherson and Adams have filed complaints against the officer.
On Monday, Adams was contacted by Sergeant Mike Dulong from the Baldwin Park Police Department. According to Adams, The Sergeant offered a few incentives that may satisfy the investigation such as, “Modifying their cycling related training and giving daily reminders to their officers to follow the 3-foot law during their daily briefing”. Adams was also invited to attend a daily meeting in which he would be allowed speak to the officers from a “bikers perspective”. According to Adams, [the sergeant] was very careful not to admit any wrongdoing on the part of the officer driving the SUV.
The Officer in the video is identified as Officer Eric Peacock #18357.