By law, bicyclists in the 81,000-population town of Edmond, Oklahoma, will get a little breathing room from passing cars beginning next month.
The City Council approved a change in the local bicycle ordinance that requires motorists to give bicyclists at least 3 feet of space when passing. Failure to do so, can bring a $500 fine.
While 16 states currently have a 3-foot-passing rule for motorists overtaking bicyclists, it's rare for a city to enact such a law. Boise, Idaho, is the only other city I've heard of that has enacted such a law.
An Edmond police spokesman said the ordinance follows “a lot of close calls.” The city will post signs and hand out bumper stickers to remind motorists of the new law, that goes into effect April 27.
Meanwhile, a bill in the Oklahoma state legislature — SB951 — creates a $500 fine for failure to give bicyclists a 3-foot gap when passing. The bill, which is sitting in the Public Safety Committee, calls for a $1,000 penalty for hitting and injuring a bicyclists, and $5,000 penalty for killing a bicyclist. Throwing an object at a cyclist brings a more severe punishment; it would become a felony carrying a 10-year prison sentence and $10,000 fine.
The 16 states with 3-foot laws are: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado,
Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota,
Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.
While a few more could have been added to that list this year, 2011 hasn't been kind to 3-foot legislation.
The best chance for passage appears in Kansas, where a seat belt bill (HB2192) was amended to include a 3-foot passing provision. KanBikeWalk reported on Tuesday that
the bill separately passed the Senate and the House, received approval
of a conference committee, then is returning to the House and Senate for
approval of the conference report. See the KanBikeWalk website if you
want to help support the bill.
I've already reported on three-foot bills failing in Virginia and Wyoming, and the withdrawal of a bill in Washington state after it drew criticism from bicyclists. In Rhode Island, the sponsor of a bill to widen the gap for passing from two to three feet withdrew that bill earlier this month.
For more on the states with 3-foot laws, see: “16 states require 3-foot clearance for bicycles…”