3 Feet is Not Enough


3 feet law cycling

The 3 feet law has done a good job of making it aware to cyclists that they should be getting this much room from vehicles while out cycling….but I have a feeling that if you asked drivers what they think of the law, they would say “What is the 3 feet law?”.

Yeah, I may just be flying off on something once again but I don’t feel the 3 feet law is helping things too much.  Not only is it something many drivers don’t know exists, but how exactly do you measure 3 feet anyway?

In my opinion, it would be much better if the law required drivers to slow down while passing cyclists.  Because at high speeds, there isn’t much time for a driver to judge their distance and give enough room.  Plus there is so much margin for error when navigating around cyclists when driving fast.

I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t get 3 feet from vehicles  when passing…and the only time it really bothers me is when they are flying by at high speeds.  Of course it would be fantastic to get at least 3 feet in addition to them driving by at a slower pace.  Maybe it should be 3ft/40mph law.

Once again, I’m asking for your feedback on things.  I have my opinions, but always open to thoughts and comments on what goes on in my mind.  What do you think of the 3 feet law?  Is it the way to go or is something better?

Enjoy Your Ride

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  • Cece

    3 feet is enough if they go slowly – but in almost all cases vehicles whiz by without a care about the individual on the bicycle. I’ve been grazed by too many cars. Every driver should have to attempt to ride on the roads before getting their license – then at least they’d know what it feels like to be a cyclist and perhaps be more mindful of passing.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      I totally agree, Cece. I wrote a post once about how if all drivers spent some time cycling the roads they just might be better at driving around cyclists. I’m all for it.

  • Micah

    It would be nice if the cops would actually enforce this law!

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      They might try to enforce it in some places, but it’s honestly something so hard to define. If a car is pulled over for not giving 3 feet, how does the police prove it? That’s one of the reasons I don’t feel the law is enough….and also the reason it’s not enforced like it should be.

  • IndianaDave

    My town in Northern Indiana just passed this law and I was astonished at it when I heard…and not astonished in a good way. I ride often and always on the roads (even with my kids). When our town passed the law, it came with a whopping 15 DOLLAR FINE for motorists who break the law!!!! Can you believe it? A whole 15 bucks. The cycling community here is not strong so there was no opposition or complaint about this.
    This is to be expected living near the heart of the “cars rule the world” enclave…oh well.

    We ride on!

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Yeah, that fine sure won’t motivate too many people….crazy, dude. Keep on riding on and enjoy your ride. Thanks for your comment on this.

  • Dan

    This was an interesting blog from an Ann Arbor, Michigan cyclist in regards to the cyclist/motorist interaction. There’s a slight bit of salty language in there.


    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Yeah, that is very interesting. Thanks for sharing it, Dan.

  • Eric Hutchins

    Ugh, As someone who has been hit by a car (twice seriously, and many other times) I am a little cynical about the whole thing. The bottom line as impractical and sad as it seems, I dont know that Bikes will ever really be safe on the roads with cars. Particular when drivers are texting and talking as much as they are. No 3 foot rule, or speed control will make much difference. I think they only true safety comes when communities decided it is worth to put up physical barriers, alternate REAL bike roads. recognize the value of cycling from a Health/Environment perspective and actually make bike specific roads. I know its a pipe dream but I think that is what we should all be working for. 1 mile at a time.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      I’ve thought this same thing many times, Eric. It might sound bad, but the only real answer is to have separate roads for cyclists and vehicles. Bike specific roads would be good on so many levels.

  • Julie Starling

    I agree that the 3 foot law isn’t working. Only cyclists know the law. Until they require drivers to know, it doesn’t do much good. The considerate drivers will remain careful regardless. It is the “I’m in a rush, get out of my way” types who need to learn to slow down and share the road with everyone.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks Julie….I appreciate you adding to this one.

  • oldgeezer

    The other day I was passed by a large SUV with probably less
    than 1 foot of clearance. Not long after I pulled up beside that same vehicle
    at a stop light. As politely as I could, I told the driver that the law
    required at least 3 feet clearance when passing a bicycle. Looking genuinely surprised, she said, “I was
    at least 10 feet from you when I passed.”
    If people are that bad at judging distance, I don’t know if there is
    really much hope at all.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      You’ve brought up something good here. There are tons of drivers out there who just aren’t great with judging distances….that’s a scary thing to think about when you’re out there on a bike.

  • http://www.cyclelicio.us/ Cyclelicious

    Most 3 foot laws say “safe distance” and say 3 feet is the minimum. A lot of us interpret that as a hard l limit, however. The laws can be useful as an education tool, and I know of a handful of law enforcement agencies that enforce the 3 foot law (where it exists).

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks for getting in on this Richard. Yeah, I don’t mean to bash the law as it’s definitely better than nothing at all. I’m just not convinced that it’s had a huge impact or educated the majority of drivers. It’s great to hear that it is being enforced…that will go far in making it stick.

  • Ashley Fleming

    I’m a cyclist and didn’t know about the 3 feet law! I think counties have learned how beneficial it is to be “bike-friendly” and thus attract the “business.” I tend to go where I’m wanted and not on roads with a speed limit over 35 so 40 mph is more than generous!

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      That’s a good way to be….if you can make it work. You’ve definitely got the right idea by cycling where you’re most comfortable.

  • Kai

    A 3/20 rule would be interesting… i’d never get overtaken :D

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      That’s what I was thinking, Kai. 20 might be a little too slow….but it sure would be great.

      • Dan

        LOL! I didn’t think about that. But as a rule, some of those cycists going consistently under 20 MPH typically are a bit more erratic and need a little extra elbow room. All in fun, right?

        • Kai

          It would be unenforceable anyway – we can’t even enforce the speed limits…

  • Dan

    20 mph / 3′ minimum, 35/4, 45/5, 50 / 1/2 a lane, etc

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      We should have implementing city and national road laws.

  • BikingBrian

    Motorists passing other motorists in other lanes do so with more than three feet and at a lower speed differential than a motorist passing a cyclist. So, I agree, three feet is not enough.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks Brian…..good to get your opinion.

  • exchefinma

    I would tend to agree. Speed and proximity tends to go hand in hand, if drivers were required to SLOW and give room it might make us all safer. Not just the cyclists in this case.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks for jumping in on this. I’m not sure what the ultimate program is to help cyclists and not inconvenience drivers….but I’m not so sure the 3 foot law is the answer.

  • http://www.bant-shirts.com BanTshirts

    40 mph is too much in my opinion, unless they give you the whole lane and have very good visibility. Otherwise I’d say 3 feet and 20mph.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      3/20 would be fantastic. Maybe the 3 foot law is the start of more good things to come. Let’s hope.


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