With the warm weather finally taking hold in upstate New York, there will be a tremendous increase in biking traffic as people take to the roads for recreation and training. This is the weather that cyclists young and old in the Capital District wait for all year. And with cyclists returning to the roadways, it’s important for motorists to be cautious and give 3 feet when passing cyclists.
If you drive a car perhaps you’ve squeezed past a rider cycling on the shoulder of the road. However getting too close can lead to sideswiping cyclists or forcing cyclists off the side of the road which can be dangerous and can lead to serious injuries for a cyclist.
One question we often hear is: how much room do I really need to give a cyclist when passing?
According to New York state law, you are required to pass “left of [a] bicycle at a safe distance until safely clear thereof.” N.Y. State Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1122-a. Although in New York, presently there is no definite distance that a motorist must keep when passing a cyclist, it’s important to always play it safe and give as much room as possible.
Approximately 26 states have enacted laws requiring motorists to give cyclists a minimum of three feet when passing. http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/safely-passing-bicyclists.aspx
If a driver is unable to move completely to the opposite side of the road, getting no closer than three feet is a good rule to follow to avoid crashes.
There is currently a push within the state of New York to enact a 3-feet law. The proposed amended VTL section 1122-a would state as follows:
- § 1122-a. Overtaking a bicycle. The operator of a vehicle overtaking, from behind, a bicycle proceeding on the same side of a roadway shall pass to the left of such bicycle at a distance of not less than three feet until safely clear thereof.
When in doubt, a good rule of thumb is to always put safety first and imagine yourself in the shoes of the cyclist — how close would you want a car passing you?
The lawyers of LaMarche Safranko Law PLLC understand how important exercise is to an active lifestyle. We advocate for pedestrians, runners and bicyclists in and out of the courtroom.
For more information on our involvement in the community and tips for a safe walking, running and biking, visit our Facebook page here.