GRPD unveils radar to monitor bike-car buffer zone

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Police Department unveiled new state-of-the-art technology Tuesday that will be used for detecting, capturing and displaying the proximity of passing vehicles to bicyclists. 

It’s the first police department in the state to use the ultrasonic radar devices, known as C3FT, which will be mounted to GRPD bicycles.

C3FT will launch later this month with a focus on three Grand Rapids corridors: Alpine Avenue and Leonard Street NW in the First Ward, College Avenue and Leonard Street NE in the Second Ward and Madison Avenue and Burton Street SE in the Third Ward.

The department got the devices through a federal study to gauge compliance with safe passing distances between drivers and bikes. 

Grand Rapids and Knoxville, Tennessee are the only two cities participating in the study. Both cities enforce the same 3-foot buffer while passing, which was recently signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder as the minimum statewide standard.

“We are a great test case to see if there a difference with 5-foot passing versus 3-foot passing,” said Chris Zull, Grand Rapids’ traffic safety manager. 

Grand Rapids was picked to take part in the federal study following the city commission’s 2015 approval of a 5-feet-wide ordinance. 

Researchers will compile data on compliance rates and safety results to gauge the effectiveness between the 3-feet and 5-feet standards. 

The findings will be used to help other states and municipalities assess implementation of new safe passing distance ordinances.

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