Mississippi passes 3 foot passing law

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour signed SB 3014 — “The John Paul Frerer Bicycle Safety Act” — this week. This “Bicycle Safety Law” includes a “three foot” passing requirement and other important changes to Mississippi law. Mississippi also joins the 41 states with discriminatory “Far to the Right” laws on the books.

Effective July 1, 2010, the Bicycle Safety law includes these changes to Mississippi traffic law:

  • Currently, Mississippi is one of nine states without the discriminatory “Far to the Right” (FTR) law opposed by the League of American Bicyclists. This new bicycle safety law adds an FTR requirement that applies specifically to cyclists, with the usual exceptions (normal speed of traffic, unsafe conditions, passing, move out of a right turn lane, making a left turn, hazard avoidance).
  • Motor vehicles may not block a bike lane. Confidential to Biking In Law: I think that means no parking in bike lanes.
  • Many cyclists will like this part:

    Section 5.
    (1) While passing a bicyclist on a roadway, a motorist shall leave a safe distance of not less than three (3) feet between his vehicle and the bicyclist and shall maintain such clearance until safely past the bicycle.
    (2) A motor vehicle operator may pass a bicycle traveling in the same direction in a nonpassing zone with the duty to execute the pass only when it is safe to do so.
    (3) The operator of a vehicle that passes a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction may not make a right turn at any intersection or into any highway or driveway unless the turn can be made with reasonable safety.

  • With the new law, cyclists may extend their right arms to signal a right turn.
  • Cyclists will also like this part:

    It is unlawful to harass, taunt or maliciously throw an object at or in the direction of any person riding a bicycle. A person convicted of a violation of this section shall be fined One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) for the first offense, Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) for the second offense, and a fine of Two Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($2,500.00) and imprisonment in the county jail for seven (7) days for the third and subsequent offenses.

  • Some background on the passage of this law in Mississippi in this news story. Ignore the ignorant comments from readers that follow the article.

Tip of the hat to Paul Metz & Richard Swent.


  1. Biking In Law? Is that anything like a brother in law?

    And yes, no blocking bike lanes makes me very happy. Then again, I'd gladly take the three-foot and anti-harassment laws, too.

  2. Bravo Mississippi. I commend the House and Senate for their work and Gov. Haley Barbour for doing the right thing and signing the “3 foot clearance rule” into law. Most of all, I commend the late cyclist John Paul Frerer's mom Liria for all she did to secure this protection for Mississippi's cyclists and to save other moms from experiencing the loss she has experienced.

    After you take a moment to celebrate this victory you will need to begin planning a statewide campaign to educate motorists about this new law and the need to give cyclists at least 3 feet clearance when passing from the rear. Here is where the other 14 states that have adopted the law have sadly dropped the ball. They passed the law and that was it. A little effort here and there, but not one of the 14 states have capitalized on the law's greatest value–to educate motorists about what is and what is not a safe passing distance. Here is where Mississippi can get it right and really make cycling safer…and save lives.

    Well done Mississippi…this is good news and it will be great news when motorists understand what is required to pass a cyclist safely from the rear—3 feet please.

    Joe Mizereck

  3. These laws are well and good; however, what about when a bike rider stops at a red light in my lane and scratches the entire right side of my car with his bike (from the bumper to the passenger door) then catches a ride holding onto my car with his right arm? That is very dangerous.

    1) Bikes sometimes hover between the right side of the road and into lanes of traffic without notice, no signals.
    2) There is no identifier for a bike rider that uses public roads. If Bike riders are to use public roads and have these luxuries, then it should be mandated that they purchase a TAG and have an ID that they are a bike rider (just like they do for motorcycle riders). . Purchasing a Bike license tag and an ID as a bike rider contributes to using public roads (as motor vehicle drivers have to and contributes to the tax payer system for use of public roads. .
    4) If a bike rider damages your car by swerving and scratching car, they should be liable for damages. However, when the bike rider takes off when the police arrive, even the police could not identify the bike rider as they have no tag #, etc. to identify them. This should have been considered a “hit and run”. Mississippi definitely needs an identifier system for bike riders.
    5) What is the rule when “one” lane turns into “three lanes before a red light (far two left lanes are headed straight and the far right lane is a merge lane on the right to enter another road before a red light).. Before the roads splits into 3 lanes, the bike is riding on the right side of the road. As soon as the road splits into these 3 lanes, the vehicle needs to get in the far right exit to merge onto another street (as many others do travelling to work in the busy early morning hours where traffic is high). . The bike rider starts slowing down riding from the right side and swerves (with no signals) over to the far left lane causing the vehicle in the far left lane to miss crossing over to the far right lane because of the bike rider crossing over the lanes at the same time. Being that the vehicle could not cross, the vehicle is still in the far left lane at the red light and the bicycle rider is in the same lane as the vehicle sharing it stopping right at the passenger’s window? Now the vehicle has to reroute during this busy time of morning to get to work. This could have been dangerous b/c he is swerving to the left lane before the red light and the vehicle is trying to get in the right lane merge to exit to turn right?? Since the first and second lane was headed straight and “apparently” this bike rider decided at last minute to go straight, he could have stayed in the second lane headed straight to at least be in a safer condition being next the shoulder after the red light (although this intersection is very very busy at this time). Cars do not share lanes — why does a bike rider share lanes with a vehicle? This just does not seem safe.

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