Florida passes 3-foot law



Florida passes 3-foot law

According to a Pantagraph article, Florida is the latest state to pass a 3-foot law, whereby

vehicles are required to give cyclists at least 3 feet of clearance when passing. Violators face fines up to $500.

Ed Barsotti, executive director of the League of Illinois Bicyclists, stressed the new law merely spells out what earlier traffic laws referred to as a “safe distance” between “vehicles.” Previous state law defined bikes as vehicles and gave them the same rights and responsibilities as cars, trucks and other traffic.

“We aren’t hearing many naysayers about the 3-feet rule,” Barsotti said. “Most people understand that it’s common sense. I realize enforcement will be difficult. …Should there be a collision where a motorist hits a cyclist, there’ll now be something they can be charged with. …But, the big impact is in education. Now, in drivers’ education classes and the Rules of the Road (brochure), we can talk about not squeezing by cyclists. When you see a cyclist, give them 3 feet.”

This follows on the heels of an even stricter law passed recently in Chicago

In March, Chicago aldermen passed an ordinance mirroring the state law mandating at least 3 feet of clearance, but they went further. They disallowed making left or right turns in front of bicyclists, opening a vehicle door into the path of bicyclists (a type of crash called “dooring”), and double parking in marked shared vehicle/bike lanes.

Fines for driving, standing or parking in a bicycle lane also were increased: Each violation carries a minimum $150 fine, increasing to $500 if the violation results in a bicycle crash.

Perhaps the cyclists in Rhode Island should unite and start asking our representatives to enact such a law.  While it’s unlikely the law would ever be enforced, it goes a long ways towards protecting cyclists should there be an accident.  I totally agree with Mr. Barsotti that one of the big benefits is that the law will now be taught in driver education classes, forcing at least some amount of bicycle education upon motorists.

1 Comment

  • Karen Ciavarini
    May 10, 2008 at 8:01 am


    My name is Karen Ciavarini and I am a founding member and chairman of the newly forming Blackstone River Bikeway Patrol. I would love to have an opportunity to meet with someone at PBC about this new non profit venture. Our mission is to promote the use of the BRB by providing a presence on the path, hospitality, basic first aide, and family friendly events.

    I would greatly appreciate hearing from you and possibly setting up a time for us to meet to discuss how we might mutually benefit our programs by forming a supportive partnership.

    I have great respect for all your organization does and hope to learn from you.


    Karen Ciavarini

    Blackstone River Bikeway Patrol, Chairman

    CorridorKeeper, Board Member