3 Feet *and* 15 MPH?

California Senate Bill 910 proposes a maximum 15 MPH speed differential for cars passing bicycles in addition to a three foot passing distance.

Update: The bill has been amended so that motorists have an option of passing at least 3 feet or with the 15 MPH speed difference. The and has been replaced with or. SB 910 passed the state Senate and now sits in the state Assembly Transportation Committee.

An act to amend Section 21750 of, and to add Section 21750.1 to, the Vehicle Code, relating to vehicles.

(1) Under existing law, a driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle or a bicycle proceeding in the same direction is required to pass to the left at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken vehicle or bicycle, subject to certain limitations and exceptions. A violation of this provision is an infraction punishable by a fine not exceeding $100 for a first conviction, and up to a $250 fine for a 3rd and subsequent conviction occurring within one year of 2 or more prior infractions.

This bill would recast this provision as to overtaking a bicycle by requiring the driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction to pass to the left at a safe distance, at a minimum clearance of 3 feet and at a speed not exceeding 15 miles per hour faster than the bicycle, without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken bicycle. The bill would make a violation of this provision an infraction punishable by a $250-fine. The bill would make it a misdemeanor or felony if a person operates a motor vehicle in violation of the above requirement and that conduct proximately causes significant or substantial physical injury or death to the bicycle operator.

Because this bill would create a new crime and would expand the scope of an existing crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
(2) The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that
reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. Section 21750 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:
21750. 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, subject to the limitations and exceptions set forth in this article.
SEC. 2. Section 21750.1 is added to the Vehicle Code , to read:
21750.1. (a) (1) The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left at a safe distance, at a minimum clearance of three feet, at a speed not
exceeding 15 miles per hour faster than the speed of the bicycle, without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken bicycle.

(2) A violation of paragraph (1) is an infraction punishable by a fine of two hundred fifty dollars ($250).
(b) If a person operates a motor vehicle in violation of subdivision (a) and that conduct proximately causes great bodily injury, as defined in subdivision (f) of Section 12022.7 of the Penal
Code, or death to the bicycle operator, the person driving the motor vehicle, upon conviction, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail or in the state prison.
SEC. 3. No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.


California State Senator Alan Lowenthal introduced SB 910,on February 2011 with support from the City of Los Angeles and the California Bicycle Coalition. As amended on March 25, SB 910 adds a new section 21750.1 to the California Vehicle Code, which would read in part (with emphasis added by me):

The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left at a safe distance, at a minimum clearance of three feet, at a speed not exceeding 15 miles per hour faster than the speed of the bicycle, without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken bicycle.

The “motor vehicle” language specifically exempts cyclists from the three foot and 15 MPH requirement.

Santa Clara County Expressways are a network of high speed arterials with 40 MPH to 55 MPH speed limits. Some of these expressways are popular with commuting cyclists of all abilities because they feature wide, smooth shoulders and few intersections. Fast recreational cyclists riding at 30 MPH are common on Foothills Expressway from Cupertino through Los Altos to Palo Alto, but slower commuters poking along at 10 to 15 MPH aren’t uncommon, and some uphill segments drag cyclist speeds down to the single digits.

Cyclists are also allowed on long stretches of California Interstate highways and other limited access highways. Long distance touring cyclists often utilize these roads. On hills and in headwinds, their speeds very often drop down below 10 MPH.

SB 910, if passed, brings the effective speed limit on parts of Foothills Expressway from 45 MPH down to 25 or 30 MPH. I honestly can’t see the CHP or the Santa Clara County Sheriff even pretend to enforce this law. Interstate 5 through Siskiyou and Shasta Counties would be even worse, with a signed 65 MPH limit. Orange County cyclist advocate Brian DeSousa believes this 15 MPH law will be “a lightning rod for suburban cities and counties to come out in opposition.”

Complete text of the bill as amended on March 25 2011 is to the right.

What do you think? Good idea or not?

39 Comments

  • April 4, 2011 - 11:00 pm | Permalink

    This seems hard to enforce. The police officer would have to measure the speed of the bicyclist AND the driver at about the same time.

  • Murali
    April 4, 2011 - 11:39 pm | Permalink

    Bad idea. There is no need to turn cyclist into impediments. Just enforce speed limits and lane restrictions and everyone is better off.

    I always choose to ride safely, but that sometimes include roads where I will be more than 15 mph lower than the speed limit (particularly if it is uphill). But I always choose routes where there is a good combination of road space, low traffic density, and/or good visibility.

    I just do not see how this benefits the cyclist more than just enforcing existing laws. And if current laws are not being enforced, there is no point having a new law that is not enforced.

  • April 4, 2011 - 11:51 pm | Permalink

    It really doesn’t get more polarizing than this. I think most cyclists will really like it. Type A motorists who don’t own a bike will have one more reason to resent cyclists.

    I used to commute on Almaden Expressway in San Jose. 6 to 10 lanes of motor vehicles whizzing by at 40 to 60 MPH. I would roll along at 14 to 18 MPH. I felt safe most of the time, because of the wide shoulders you mention. The only time I didn’t feel safe was at intersections, where the rounded corners allow motorists to take right turns at high speed, and I would often feel invisible…in spite of my bright orange shirt. This bill would help in those instances.

    I see that the California Bicycle Coalition supports this bill, but have they commented on the 15 MPH speed difference? I think Steve’s right. It’s gonna be hard to enforce.

  • April 5, 2011 - 2:52 am | Permalink

    Crazy. Three feet? YES. But 15 mph passing where I live is crazy. I often commute on a 45 mph four-lane divided suburban road. I don’t need them to slow, just to not hit me.

  • April 5, 2011 - 2:52 am | Permalink

    Crazy. Three feet? YES. But 15 mph passing where I live is crazy. I often commute on a 45 mph four-lane divided suburban road. I don’t need them to slow, just to not hit me.

  • April 5, 2011 - 3:31 am | Permalink

    Cyclists are allowed on the 280 shoulder (of course that’s not part of the roadway and so may not constitute a legal pass).

    I agree the 15 mph speed is silly. To the contrary, I think any such law, to be workable, needs to have an exemption for cars moving slower than, for example, 15 mph to facilitate intersections. Red light, cyclists pulls up on right of cars, light changes, driver moves straight ahead passing cyclist. 3 feet may not be practical in that situation.

  • Anonymous
    April 5, 2011 - 4:47 am | Permalink

    From the Public safety this rule would seem a great idea.

  • Anonymous
    April 5, 2011 - 4:47 am | Permalink

    From the Public safety this rule would seem a great idea.

  • Anonymous
    April 5, 2011 - 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I’d prefer not to have someone blast past my 15 MPH bike at, 55 or 60 MPH, but it seems like a bad idea to me. Hear me out. Some of the roads I use are 45 MPH and have adequate space in the road for a bicycle and a car adjacent to one another, safely. 45 MPH traffic means that there’s probably something like a 30-35 MPH difference between cyclists and otherwise law-abiding motorists. If law requires everyone to slow down to 30 MPH to pass me, then traffic will get backed up, I’ll spend more time riding directly adjacent to cars, and the motorists behind me will get more aggravated. It’s a lose-lose situation.

    Then, there’s the simple fact that motorists have absolutely no way to know how fast a specific cyclist is traveling, and the enforcers of this new “law” would have a very hard time measuring “speed delta” between motorists and cyclists. This is an ineffective law simply by the fact that both the subjects to it and the enforcers of it would have to just guess.

    I think we all have too many laws and regulations as it is, but when I see a law that can’t even be enforced with data and measurements (because the proper instruments for ensuring your own compliance or enforcing compliance don’t even exist), I just have to bash my head against a desk. Stupid hurts.

  • April 5, 2011 - 2:36 pm | Permalink

    It does seem like a lightening rod. Though, i’m wondering if it is put in the case of a collision with a bike, they just have something to pin them on, so they don’t get off with just a slap on the wrist? Not sure exactly but just a hunch.

  • Andy
    April 5, 2011 - 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Cyclists sometimes make the worst cycling advocates. :)

  • Andy
    April 5, 2011 - 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Why try to define it down to feet and mph? Just call it a “safe passing distance.” When a cyclist is hit from behind by a car moving faster than the bike, automatically give a fee to the car driver. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that police don’t care one bit about laws like this, so anything we can do to make them easier to enforce is in our favor.

  • Anonymous
    April 5, 2011 - 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I would rather have 10 cars pass me safely at the speed limit at random intervals than have a wall of 10 cars stacked up behind me, angry that some guy on a bike is making them slow down.

    Also, whilst driving, I’d be tempted to ignore this law. The burden of proof is on the law enforcement officer, and that’s a lot of extra work. I’m not even certain that LIDAR guns can store two speeds, but he’d have to prove the speed of both the cyclist and myself. My guess is he’d just pull me over while the cyclist moves on down the road. And if cops start pulling over cyclists *AND* the offending motorists at the same time just to prove the speed delta, is this really working in the cyclists’ advantage? I think not.

    No. This is a completely irrational proposal.

  • Andy
    April 5, 2011 - 3:12 pm | Permalink

    I guess it depends on what type of road we are discussing.

    On a single lane in each direction, having cars approach quickly from behind, then making a quick decision to pass or not based on oncoming traffic is certainly unsafe. I live on a road like this, and often drivers race up behind me only to slam on the brakes because an oncoming car blocks their pass, or they try to squeeze by at an unsafe speed differential (probably why any safe passing laws exist). If these cars all approach at different times, it often means each will slow down to my pace before attempting to pass, and having to accelerate harder (especially on the section where it’s a good hill).

    If there are 2 lanes in the same direction, than I’m riding in the right lane, and any cars wishing to pass can easily do so in the left lane. Again, a line of 10 cars passing at once at a reasonable pace is much preferred over having cars randomly zooming past 30mph faster than me.

    If you don’t slow down a car while passing closely by cyclists already, I hope to never be riding on a road where you are driving. It amazes me that cyclists that encounter these issues would also admit to ignoring the laws that prevent them while they are driving.

  • April 5, 2011 - 3:18 pm | Permalink

    This is simple one-upmanship. 3 foot clearance laws are becoming commonplace, so adding a speed differential makes it even more betterer. It’s a way for one state’s bike-ped advocates to distinguish themselves from another state’s.

    I would prefer the passing driver overtake at a higher speed than lower (while still at a safe distance, as required by current law) because it means they spend less time in a non-standard position, either (a) sharing my lane side-by-side, or (b) completely or partially in the opposite-direction traffic lane. Permitting a larger speed differential means the overtaking maneuver consumes a smaller distance along the road, which means the maneuver can occur in a greater number of places. If the overtaking motorist must wait until we arrive at a longer stretch of road presenting conditions for a safe low-speed-differential pass, many otherwise useful pieces of roadway will be disqualified, and motorists will be unnecessarily inconvenienced.

    So, typical of bike-ped advocates’ efforts, this measure turns out to be anti-motoring, not pro-cyclist.

  • Anonymous
    April 5, 2011 - 3:24 pm | Permalink

    I don’t closely pass cyclists at any speed, ever. That’s stupid and unsafe. It’s also a Real Dick Move and goes against my “Be excellent to one another” rule. I give cyclists room. Even in no-passing zones, I’ll go into the oncoming lane when it’s safe if there’s not enough room to pass. Fortunately, most states have provisions for passing slow moving vehicles in a no-passing-zone. As long as you can see far enough ahead to safely pass the SMV, it’s totally legal where I live.

    Anyhow, go ahead and rally for laws that are going to be impossible to enforce and will be used to further the loathing of cyclists. As for me, I’ll keep on riding like I always do, and I’ll watch as hundreds of motorists safely pass me for every single asshole who buzzes me or passes going 15 over the speed limit.

  • Anonymous
    April 5, 2011 - 3:24 pm | Permalink

    I don’t closely pass cyclists at any speed, ever. That’s stupid and unsafe. It’s also a Real Dick Move and goes against my “Be excellent to one another” rule. I give cyclists room. Even in no-passing zones, I’ll go into the oncoming lane when it’s safe if there’s not enough room to pass. Fortunately, most states have provisions for passing slow moving vehicles in a no-passing-zone. As long as you can see far enough ahead to safely pass the SMV, it’s totally legal where I live.

    Anyhow, go ahead and rally for laws that are going to be impossible to enforce and will be used to further the loathing of cyclists. As for me, I’ll keep on riding like I always do, and I’ll watch as hundreds of motorists safely pass me for every single asshole who buzzes me or passes going 15 over the speed limit.

  • Anonymous
    April 5, 2011 - 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Andy needs to read this. ^^^

  • Anonymous
    April 5, 2011 - 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I’m from NYC, and I wish we had this law here! The thing is, our streets are set up differently and the overall speed limits are lower. Asking motorists not to blow by cyclists is very reasonable in a dense urban setting. That said, I could see how this law might not be right for the geography you describe.

    Frequently, a motorist will pass me at what looks like 40-60mph, on a small city street this is terror-inducing especially when they have just turned a corner and are coming out of nowhere…It is quite common for drivers to force me out of my lane as well. It’s like they think I should ride deep down in the gutter underneath the parked cars or something.

    I’m mostly going at the same speed as traffic here yet I end up yelling things like “I have every right to be here!” in to their windows. UGH. I deserve 3 feet. In fact, I want more like 5 feet! I do my best to move just like a car on the road. I stop at most lights, give turn signals etc. But, I still feel pretty marginalized out there in some places.

    I’d also like to see some kind of reminder to cars that YES, bikes CAN make left hand turns at two-way intersections just like cars. Whenever I do this some idiot honks at me.

    OK, this was a tangential rant… but my point is that this law has a place in a dense urban area. My other point is that I’m sick of tip-toeing around worrying about hurting driver’s feelings. I’ve taken enough abuse out there– it’s high time someone thought about MY feelings.

    Don’t honk at me, don’t edge me off of the road, don’t make lewd comments to me or ask for my number, don’t tell me that it’s not safe to bike, don’t pass me on the right, get off your goddamed ‘hands free’ cell phone, slow down and let me make my left turn just like anyone else!

  • April 5, 2011 - 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I think what this debate shows is that the narrow focus on getting the three feet rule passed has been flawed from the beginning. Yes, it was catchy, it was a very concrete goal that almost everyone could agree on, and it was probably better than what was there before. But at the same time it is a very inflexible approach. 3 ft work fine under some conditions, but not under others. Riding in the city, with 35 mph cars passing 15 mph cyclists: no problem. Narrow rural road with 15 mph cyclist being passed by 60 mph SUV: 3 ft are totally inadequate.

    I’m not quite sure what the way out of this quandary is. Creating ever more rules that won’t be enforced anyway doesn’t seem to be the solution. And the particular approach of a max 15mph differential is just stupid. I have no problem with cars passing me as fast as they want to — as long as they keep enough distance (i.e. move over to the other lane).

  • Eric B
    April 5, 2011 - 6:33 pm | Permalink

    This law is designed with my commute in mind. I ride (nearly) daily on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. It is a 4-lane road with a center “suicide” turn lane and an inconsistent shoulder on either side. The shoulder is frequently good, but also frequently used by parked cars or covered in debris, mud, glass, etc. The right lane is about 12-feet wide and therefore unsharable at any speed. The speed limit is generally 45 but increases to 50 as the highway straightens out to the west (north). Bikes typically travel around 20-25 mph while vehicles generally speed at 50-55 mph leading to a 30 mph speed differential.

    The road is also one of the most dangerous roads in the state for both motorists and cyclists due to the high density of turning maneuvers (lefts, rights, and u-turns) without frequent signalized intersections. Cyclists are very common, both in large pelotons and small groups, because PCH provides access to some of the best climbing terrain in the LA area.

    Because the shoulder is so inconsistent, cyclists are forced to repeatedly merge into high-speed traffic in the right lane. Often the obstructions that force cyclists into the lane are unnoticed by motorists, such as debris and door zones. The result is a high-speed dance that all-to-often ends in sideswipes. Three out of four bicycle-involved collisions on PCH are the motorist’s fault. (Yes, I have the SWITRS data to prove it.)

    As a cyclist, good lane position is the only arrow in my quiver to keep myself safe. I am forced to control the right lane for certain stretches every day, much to the consternation of the motorists behind. However, most fellow cyclists I’ve talked to on the route don’t understand lane control and/or prefer to hug the fog line or ride in the door zone–choosing perceived safety over actual safety. Again, the result is a very high number of sideswipe collisions.

    Aside from sorely needed infrastructure changes (i.e. a bike lane or consistent shoulder), education is the primary thing needed. Motorists simply don’t know that the onus for safe passing is on them, not the bike they are overtaking. Instead they remark about how unsafe cycling must be, while passing cyclists two feet away with a 30 mph speed differential. Worse, when one car passes too close, the cars behind cannot see the cyclist so a whole line of cars ends up passing unsafely. When the first car in a line does the right thing and passes at a distance or (better) changes lanes, all the cars behind are alerted to the presence of a cyclist and can actually see him or her.

    Three-foot passing laws are designed as an educational tool. All the comments on this thread talking about how the law is “unenforceable” completely miss the point. What this law does is creates a standard that can be taught in drivers ed and elsewhere for how to safely pass bicycles. Right now, even those that realize that passing safely is their responsibility often think that passing safely = not hitting. This law can be successful even if no tickets are ever written if it changes these underlying assumptions.

    Besides that, the 15 mph may very well have been thrown in as a straw man. I wouldn’t be surprised if the provision is removed as a “compromise,” leaving the 3-foot law intact as the bill works its way through committee.

    Kudos to the CBC for leading this charge.

  • April 5, 2011 - 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Eric, I think most of the discussion on enforcement here is on the 15 MPH part of it, not the 3 foot provision. Like you, I suspect the 15 MPH part was thrown in as way to get compromise. I asked Lowenthal’s office but haven’t heard back from them.

  • packfodder
    April 6, 2011 - 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Check out New Hampshire’s law. I don’t have it in front of me, but it’s a variation of the three-foot law, but the buffer is increased based on car speed. I think it’s 3 feet plus 1 foot for every 10 mph over 30 (ie 4 at 40, 5 at 50), but don’t quote me on the numbers. A 15 mph differential speed is impractical, but being buzzed at 55 with only a 3-foot barrier is equally dangerous. I like the NH model.

  • MikeOnBike
    April 6, 2011 - 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Andy says: “Why try to define it down to feet and mph? Just call it a ‘safe passing distance’.”

    Yes, that’s what the current law (CVC 21750) says:

    “The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle or a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken vehicle or bicycle, subject to the limitations and exceptions hereinafter stated.”

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  • Anonymous
    April 7, 2011 - 3:12 am | Permalink

    Too arbitrary. Benefit of the doubt will go to the driver. With this logic, we repeal the whole vehicle code and replace it with a single line: “every driver shall operate his vehicle in a safe and predictable manner”. There’s a good reason we have specific, objective law.

  • April 7, 2011 - 3:27 pm | Permalink

    This sounds like a good model in principle. I’m sure, however, that it is not enforced, and laws that are not enforced are somewhere between useless and dangerous. It would be interesting to see if there any citation statistics or cases where the law has been applied after there has been an accident (which is the only scenario where I can see a potential benefit of a clearly stated passing distance).

  • MikeOnBike
    April 7, 2011 - 4:30 pm | Permalink

    In case of a collision, I would hope the motorist is cited for something a bit more serious than “unsafe passing”.

    If a passing motorist collides with a cyclist, the wording of the safe passing law is irrelevant. A collision is obviously less than 3 feet, and is also obviously not a safe distance. It’s a violation either way.

    The real trick would be a citation for unsafe passing when the cyclist ISN’T hit. Does anybody have documentation of how many of those are issued in each state? For extra credit, what’s the difference in citations between states with a 3 foot rule and states with the standard safe distance rule? We should have good data on that by now.

  • Andy
    April 7, 2011 - 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately most reports mentioned online (usually I notice these on Streetsblog), even when the cyclist is put in the hospital or killed, the driver doesn’t get ticketed for this. They usually don’t get ticketed for manslaughter or reckless driving either. I have no idea how to make law enforcement more effective, but surely that would go a long way, even before adding more laws like this.

  • Dannytaffe
    April 7, 2011 - 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Agreed, there is a difference between the law as a principle and the enforcement of that law. But in my mind this speaks to the “safe passing distance” argument. “Safe” is subjective and thus open to interpretation (by drivers, cops, lawyers, judges), usually not in favor of the cyclist. A 3 foot boundary (or 4 or 5) provides an objective measure that can’t be argued; if it can be shown that a driver came closer than 3 feet, the safety argument will be a moot point. Admittedly, proving the 3-foot violation can be difficult (probably less difficult than proving 5 or 6 feet), hence the trouble enforcing the law.

    I think there is a second argument in favor of the 3 foot law, and that is publicity. Drivers don’t perceive a brushback as being unsafe. In other words, a close call that scares the pants off me doesn’t register to the driver as having been unsafe. By publicizing a 3 foot legal boundary, we provide drivers that objective guide. If you think in terms of speed limits, compare how people would drive when told to go a “safe” speed, vs how they drive when given a numerical limit. It’s not that they always obey the limit, but their perception and awareness of the numerical limit is more accurate than their perception of the “safe” speed limit.

  • MikeOnBike
    April 7, 2011 - 5:18 pm | Permalink

    That’s why I asked for data about unsafe passing citations, under both the standard language and the 3 foot language. We should have some data by now showing how many “under 3 foot” violations have been cited compared to “safe distance” violations.

    Or, if the law isn’t actually enforced, but serves as a public service announcement, then we should have some good before/after studies of average passing distances in states that have enacted a 3 foot rule.

  • MikeOnBike
    April 7, 2011 - 5:18 pm | Permalink

    That’s why I asked for data about unsafe passing citations, under both the standard language and the 3 foot language. We should have some data by now showing how many “under 3 foot” violations have been cited compared to “safe distance” violations.

    Or, if the law isn’t actually enforced, but serves as a public service announcement, then we should have some good before/after studies of average passing distances in states that have enacted a 3 foot rule.

  • MikeOnBike
    April 7, 2011 - 5:18 pm | Permalink

    That’s why I asked for data about unsafe passing citations, under both the standard language and the 3 foot language. We should have some data by now showing how many “under 3 foot” violations have been cited compared to “safe distance” violations.

    Or, if the law isn’t actually enforced, but serves as a public service announcement, then we should have some good before/after studies of average passing distances in states that have enacted a 3 foot rule.

  • Eric B
    April 7, 2011 - 5:38 pm | Permalink

    There are virtually zero citations for the status quo “safe distance” as that would only be used if a collision occurs (which is prima facie evidence of an unsafe pass). I wouldn’t hold my breath for many citations under the new “3-foot” rule either. Officers go after the violations that are easier (and, honestly, more important) like speeding, where enforcement is fairly simple and routine. Every time I talk to law enforcement, I emphasize that bicyclists face the same hazards as other drivers (plus a few extra): speeding, reckless driving, DUI, and distracted driving.

    This whole thing really is about educating drivers that it is not enough to not hit the cyclist–you actually have to leave a distance of XX feet. I would be interested in your empirical studies, but it’s not like a new law takes immediate effect. This one would make a difference over the course of a couple decades as a new generation of drivers are trained with 3-feet as part of the drivers ed curriculum.

  • MikeOnBike
    April 7, 2011 - 5:49 pm | Permalink

    If the point of the law is education rather than enforcement, there should be a “public service announcement” effect which should be immediately noticeable. Then again, look at how little compliance there is with “hands free” laws despite much more publicity (and enforcement).

    Then there’s the long-term effect based on future 16-year-olds hopefully being told (once) about the 3 foot law. Of all the things new drivers learn about, I’m guessing bike related laws are pretty low on the list.

    I suspect the vast majority of people who are even vaguely aware of 3 foot laws are cyclists who spend a lot of time on the internet. Outside of this group, I suspect these laws are virtually unknown. On the plus side, typing is about the only upper body exercise I get as a cyclist. ;-)

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  • 3footrule.com
    April 18, 2011 - 1:09 pm | Permalink

    The 3 foot rule is currently a law in 16 states and is in legislation in almost every other US state.If anything, its just a good rule for both motorists and cyclists alike! Most motorists don’t even realize there is a rule, most don’t care and feel cyclists are an intrusion to “their” road. That being said, whether it is a law, rule ordinance or just common sense, its just a good idea to have a 3 foot safe passing distance. We at http://www.3footrule.com believe Awareness is key here! Young and old need to be educated. Please visit us at http://www.3footrule.com for the latest information regarding your state. We also have 3 foot rule cycling jerseys to help spread the awareness! Ride Safe! Drive Safe!

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