Bicycle advocates in state legislatures are once again promoting bills that require motorists to give bicyclists 3 feet of clearance when passing.
Currently, 14 states require a 3-foot gap for bicycle riders. They are Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.
This year, lawmakers in Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota and Virginia are considering 3-foot laws. At least two other states, Iowa and Washington, have 3-foot passing laws in committee from last year.
Here are some details about the laws so you can follow along at home:
Iowa — Senate File 117 Passed by the Senate in 2009, but stalled in the House. A subcommittee is revamping the 3-foot bill to include provisions to protect “vulnerable users” by adding enhanced fines. More at Sioux City Journal. [Also, it makes the margin 5 feet and stipulates responsibilities for bicyclists as well.]
Maryland — Senate Bill 51 Requires motorists to pass bicycles by “not less than 3 feet;” also makes it illegal to throw an object at a bicyclist. Also, motorists crossing a bike lane to turn must yield the right of way to bicyclists. (check also One Less Car website)
Mississippi — Nearly identical House and Senate bills, named the John Paul Frerer Bicycle Safety Act in honor of a teen killed on his bicycle. The House Bill is HB 1487. The Senate bill is SB3014. Check Mississippi legislature bill status.
Ohio (announced Sept. 28, 2009; still in committee on Feb. 21, 2010) — Senate Bill 174 requires a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle to maintain a safe passing distance between the motor vehicle and bicycle of not less than 3 feet. It eliminates the current requirement for the operator of an overtaken vehicle, including a bicycle, to give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle at the latter's audible signal.
South Dakota — (Rejected by Senate on Feb. 18) Senate Bill 70 requires a 3-foot gap when passing a bicycle. Refered to the Senate Transportation Committee on Jan. 20. The South Dakota Bicycle Coalition is bird-dogging this bill.
Update: Feb. 11 — Bill failed to get out of Transportation Committee but could make it to Senate floor for debate; ArgusLeader.com
Virginia — (Killed on Feb. 16) Senate Bill 566 and House Bill 1048 requires motorists give bicyclists at least 3 feet. The bills also outlaw tailgating and create a new Class 3 misdemeanor of Careless Driving — to counter the difficulty of charging motorists with Reckless Driving when they kill or injure cyclists. More details at Virginia Bicycling Federation and at Richmond Sunlight (SB 566 and HB 1048).
(At a Senate hearing on Thursday, Virginia Bicycling Federation reports that HB1048 was rolled into SB566. The Transportation Committee passed the 3-foot-passing bill and sent it to the Senate for a vote.)
(Virginia-Pilot newspaper reports Feb. 16, 2010, that HB 1048 was defeated.)
Washington – (Stuck in committee; not going anywhere) HB 1491 passed the House in 2009. It is currently in the Senate Transportation Committee.
More about 3-foot passing laws passed in recent years at 14 states require 3-foot clearance for bicycles.
Please drop me a line or leave a comment if you know of any other 3-foot laws currently in the works.