A Kentucky senator is pushing a bill that requires motorists to give bicyclists a 3-foot gap when passing.
Currently 30 states and the District of Columbia require at least a 3-foot measure of safety when passing bicyclists. Kentucky’s neighbor to the north, Ohio, became the 30th state to require the gap when Gov. John Kasich signed the bike safety bill in December.
Senator Robin Webb, D-Grayson, is sponsoring Senate Bill 54, which passed the Senate Transportation Committee this week. A similar bill passed the Senate in 2016, but the House did not act on it.
In addition to requiring the 3-foot gap, the bill allows motorists to cross a double-yellow line to ensure bicyclists get that margin of safety. It also requires bicyclists to keep to the right side of the highway, but they don’t have to ride on the shoulder.
Webb cited the growing use of bicycles for transportation and tourism in the state as an impetus for the bike safety bill.
Bicycle travelers from out of state have long been negotiating the narrow and twisty rural roads of Kentucky as they pass through on the TransAmerica Trail.
Passage of this bill would make that journey less perilous. Sen. Webb told the committee:
“From a tourism and economic development standpoint — and as part of the Trail Town initiative — the rise in the number of cyclists demands that we address safety on the roadways.”
The Trail Town initiative highlights “hub towns” in the state located near rail trails, or other types of trails, as an economic stimulus.
Webb noted that her home is located between the trail towns of Morehead and Olive Hill.