Many states and cities have passed the Three Foot Law. The Three Foot Law requires motorists to leave at least three feet of clearance when passing a cyclist. This law is meant to reduce the risk of injuries and crashes when vehicles pass too close to a bicyclist. This law protects cyclists from being struck when vehicles pass too closely when overtaking them. The law is meant to make sharing the road with cyclists safer for all.
Many cyclists have lobbied hard for such laws, while others actually speak out against them. They argue that the three foot law is not easily enforced and that three feet is not enough space for vehicles to safely pass cyclists. Also, these laws may require cyclists to ride to the far right of the lane, putting them at risk for dooring accidents. In this far right position, they may also come across road debris more frequently.
Advocates for the laws state that they raise awareness of cyclists on the roads, and at least present a framework that can be used to prosecute aggressive drivers. Cyclists who have been “buzzed” by drivers can contact their local police and report the issue.
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Drivers who do not adhere to the Three Foot Law place cyclists are an increased risk of injury and hurt the sport as a whole. Many cities still lack lanes for cyclists, so such laws allow them to travel alongside vehicles safely. In addition, police can take action on drivers who pass too closely. Many states promote the law through signs on area roadways and notifications at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
One state, South Dakota, has gone even farther with their Three Foot Law. As of 2015, in South Dakota vehicles must leave at least a three foot space when passing on roads with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less, but must leave at least six feet when passing on roads with a speed limit of more than 35 miles per hour. Most states that do not have any formal Three Foot Law on the books require that drivers allow a safe distance when passing so as not to endanger the cyclist.
For a full list of the laws by state, visit the National Conference of State Legislatures Safely Passing Bicyclists Page. This page is updated regularly and provides information on the laws by state.
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If you have been struck by a driver that has not adhered to the Three Foot Law, contact the experienced team of bicycle attorneys at Kass & Moses. Our attorneys are also cyclists, so we know how damaging bicycle crashes can be. We will do everything in our power to help you recover from your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation. Sharing the road with cyclists should be safe for all!