The always helpful Virginia Bicycling Federation reports that the proposed “3 feet to pass” bill, which provides that cars must give cyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing them, made it out of committee.Â Barely:
After being reported out of Sub Committee yesterday by a 5-2 vote, HB1048, 3 foot passing & following too close, was reported out of the full House Transportation Committee this morning by a very tight 11-10 vote. Since the vote was electronically tallied and then taken down rather quickly, Iâ€™m not sure exactly who voted each way, but it appeared that all the Dâ€™s voted for the bill, joined by two or three Râ€™s (which I think included Oder & Rust).
As in Sub Committee, there was even more discussion of how difficult it would be with the additional foot to legally pass a bicycle without going over the double center line on a two lane road. The strongest anti-cycling sentiment was expressed by Del. Cosgrove of Chesapeake, Del. Knight of Virginia Beach, who clearly voted against the bill, along with Del. Villanueva of Va Beach, even though the representative of that City and Bruce Drees of the Tidewater Bicycling Assn. both spoke in favor of it.
Remember, the Virginia Senate has already passed this bill, and it is an unlikely veto target.Â So all that stands between this sensible idea becoming law is the Virginia House of Delegates.Â VBF asks:
Now its on to the Full House floor (either on Saturday or Monday), where Chairman Joe May of Loudon (who also appeared to vote against the bill) wished our patron, Kaye Kory, a good-natured â€œGood luck on the floorâ€ after he announced the result of the voting.
Now, we need EVERYONE to contact their delegate. If you donâ€™t know who it is, you can find out at the VA General Assemblyâ€™s Whoâ€™s My Legislator pageâ€¦
Please take a few minutes to do this, even if you think you live in the district of someone who will certainly vote for it.Â It would be a shame to get so close to success, yet lose because of a bit of complacency.
Well intentioned, but stupid, unenforceable law. What shall we have the cops do, run out with a yard stick just in time to catch someone passing?
I recently saw an accident where a woman swerved several feet into oncoming traffic to pass a cyclist. She ran head-on into another SUV and although they only met at about three feet of the front surface of each vehicle, the woman’s SUV completely flipped over! The irony was that the cyclist had plenty of room and there was no logical reason for her to swerve into the oncoming lane in order to pass.
Give me about a foot of passing clearance and I am fine.
I grew up in a very busy urban area and rode my bike to work for years. As long as the cyclist keeps alert, driving in traffic is not a big problem.
Sure someone will cut you off at a corner or open a car door on you. Some assholes will even throw things at you, but we have existing law to handle the latter case.
Having cyclists who wear visible clothes and having educated drivers does the most to mitigate the problems of biking in traffic.
When I lived in California, I noticed that drivers were much more aware of cyclists. As soon as I moved back East, I found the same old lack of awareness of cyclists.
I support increased emphasis by the DMV on cyclist awareness, but this law is plainly unenforceable and would not address the underlying problem.
The problem in your example, Gill, is that the SUV driver didn’t need to give the cyclist room, or that she was not smart enough to avoid swerving into oncoming traffic? This is the cyclist’s problem, how?
In any event, while you may may comfortable with a foot of space in passing (and I suspect you’re underestimating that quite a bit), most cyclists are not. It’s a function of safety, and you can enforce this the same way the police enforce reckless driving, unsafe passing, etc. Police witness (or talk to witnesses) and make a judgment call.
As far as awareness, the passage of this law would make a perfect occasion for an education campaign by the DMV.
Make it happpen Virginia. Motorists can use and will find value in a concrete frame of reference–3 Feet Please–when passing cyclists from the rear. Cyclists can find value and comfort in knowing they have protected space when riding on our roads.
The question is simple: will it save lives? The answer is YES.
So, please, get on the phones and on your computers and let your representatives know you want this law adopted. And remind them, the law will provide an excellent tool to help educate motorists on what is and is not a safe distance when passing a cyclist from the rear–at least 3 feet. It truly is a no-brainer…and will be a big step in the right direction in making cycling safer in Virginia.