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Safely Passing Bicyclists

Safely Passing Bicyclists Chart

8/1/2014

bicycle being passed by carA bicycle safety policy that has gained significant interest and activity in state legislatures is 3-feet or safe passing laws. These laws seek to ensure that, when passing bicycles, motor vehicles allow adequate space to avoid sideswiping bicyclists or causing them to overcorrect to avoid a vehicle. Skeptics doubt such laws can be enforced and whether 3 feet allows sufficient space for bicyclists. In addition, many bicyclists feel that laws dictating they must ride to the far right of a lane are of more concern because they often encourage too-close passing and leave bicyclists vulnerable to being “doored” by a parked car or to encountering roadside debris. Advocates state that these passing laws at least create a legal framework to protect bicyclists who are hit or buzzed from behind, create a less arbitrary standard and raise awareness of the importance of safe passing.

In 1973, Wisconsin became the first state to enact such a law; several more states have since enacted such measures. As of June 2014, 24 states—Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin—and the District of Columbia have enacted 3-feet passing laws. Pennsylvania has a 4-feet passing law. In 19 other states there are general laws that provide that motorists must pass at a “safe distance.” These laws typically state that vehicles must pass bicyclists at a safe distance and speed, but usually are not more specific.
 

Map of States with Statutes Regarding Motorists Passing Bicyclists

state map of passing statutes

State Statutes Regarding Motorists Passing Bicyclists

The box allows you to conduct a full text search or use the dropdown menu option to select a state.

States Statute Summary of Laws
Alabama None  
Alaska None  
Arizona A.R.S. § 28-735 Exercise due care by leaving a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three (3) feet until the motor vehicle is safely past the overtaken bicycle.
Arkansas A.C.A. § 27-51-311 Exercise due care and pass to the left at a safe distance of not less than three (3) feet and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken bicycle.
California Cal Veh. Code § 21760

A driver of a motor vehicle shall not overtake or pass a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway at a distance of less than three feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator. The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking and passing a bicycle shall do so at a safe distance that does not interfere with the safe operation of the overtaken bicycle, having due regard for the size and speed of the motor vehicle and the bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and the surface and width of the highway.

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Colorado C.R.S. 42-4-1002 Allow the bicyclist at least a three (3) foot separation between the right side of the driver's vehicle, including all mirrors or other projections, and the left side of the bicyclist at all times.
Connecticut Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-232 A "safe distance" means not less than three (3) feet when the driver of a vehicle overtakes and passes a person riding a bicycle .
Delaware 21 Del. C. § 4116 Proceed with caution and reduce the speed of the vehicle to a safe speed and leave a reasonable and prudent distance by providing a minimum of three (3) feet of clearance while passing such bicyclist.
District of Columbia Rule 18-2202.10 Exercise due care by leaving a safe distance, but in no case less than three (3) feet, when overtaking and passing a bicycle.
Florida Fla. Stat. § 316.083 Must pass the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle at a safe distance of not less than three (3) feet between the vehicle and the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle.
Georgia O.C.G.A. § 40-6-56 Leave a safe distance between such vehicle and the bicycle and shall maintain such clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle. The term "safe distance" means not less than three (3) feet .
Guam None  
Hawaii None  
Idaho None  
Illinois 625 ILCS 5/11-703 Leave a safe distance, but not less than three (3) feet, when passing the bicycle or individual and shall maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or individual.
Indiana None  
Iowa None  
Kansas K.S.A. § 8-1516 Pass to the left at a distance of not less than three (3) feet and do not drive to the right side of the roadway until the vehicle is safely clear of the overtaken bicycle.
Kentucky None  
Louisiana La. R.S. 32:76.1 Pass with not less than three (3) feet and maintain such clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.
Maine 29-A M.R.S. § 2070 Pass with a distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three (3) feet.
Maryland Md. TRANSPORTATION Code Ann. § 21-1209 Must pass safely at a distance of not less than three (3) feet.
Massachusetts ALM GL ch. 89, § 2 If it is not possible to overtake a bicycle or other vehicle at a safe distance in the same lane, the overtaking vehicle shall use all or part of an adjacent lane if it is safe to do so or wait for a safe opportunity to overtake.
Michigan None  
Minnesota Minn. Stat. § 169.18 Leave a safe distance, but in no case less than three (3) feet clearance, when passing a bicycle or individual and maintain clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or individual.
Mississippi Miss. Code Ann. § 63-3-1309 Leave a safe distance of not less than three (3) feet between the vehicle and the bicyclist and maintain such clearance until safely past the bicycle.
Missouri § 300.411 R.S.Mo Leave a safe distance when passing the bicycle, and maintain clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.
Montana Mont. Code Anno., § 61-8-320 Overtake and pass a person riding a bicycle only when the operator of the motor vehicle can do so safely without endangering the person riding the bicycle.
Nebraska Neb. Rev. Stat. 60-6, 133

The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle or electric personal assistive mobility device proceeding in the same direction shall exercise due care, which shall include, but not be limited to, leaving a safe distance of no less than three feet clearance, when applicable, when passing a bicycle or electric personal assistive mobility device and shall maintain such clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or electric personal assistive mobility device.

Nevada Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 484B.270 Must pass to the left with no less than three (3) feet between any portion of the vehicle and the bicycle.
New Hampshire RSA 265:143-a Leave a reasonable and prudent distance between the vehicle and the bicycle. The distance shall be presumed to be reasonable and prudent if it is at least three (3) feet when the vehicle is traveling at 30 miles per hour or less, with one additional foot of clearance required for every 10 miles per hour above 30 miles per hour.
New Jersey None  
New Mexico None  
New York NY CLS Veh. & Tr. § 1122-a 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 safe distance until safely clear thereof.
North Carolina None  
North Dakota None  
Ohio None  
Oklahoma 47 Okl. St. §11-1208 Pass with a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three (3) feet until the motor vehicle is safely past the overtaken bicycle.
Oregon ORS § 811.065 A speed less than 35 mph and a "safe distance" means a distance that is sufficient to prevent contact with the person operating the bicycle if the person were to fall into the driver's lane of traffic.
Pennsylvania 75 Pa.C.S. § 3303 Pass to the left of the pedalcycle within not less than four (4) feet at a careful and prudent reduced speed.
Puerto Rico None  
Rhode Island R.I. Gen. Laws § 31-15-18 A speed less than 15 mph and a "safe distance" means a distance that is sufficient to prevent contact with the person operating the bicycle if the person were to fall into the driver's lane of traffic.
South Carolina S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-3435 A driver of a motor vehicle must at all times maintain a safe operating distance between the motor vehicle and a bicycle.
South Dakota None  
Tennessee Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-8-175 Leave a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet (3') and shall maintain the clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.
Texas None  
Utah Utah Code Ann. § 41-6a-706.5 A motor vehicle may not knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly operate a motor vehicle within three (3) feet of a moving bicycle, unless the operator of the motor vehicle operates the motor vehicle within a reasonable and safe distance of the bicycle.
Vermont 23 V.S.A. § 1033 Exercise due care, which includes increasing clearance, to pass the vulnerable user safely.
Virginia Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-839 A reasonable speed at least three feet to the left of the overtaken bicycle.
Washington None  
West Virginia W Va. Code § 17C-7-3 The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle traveling in the same direction shall pass to the left of the bicycle at a distance of not less than three feet at a careful and reduced speed, and may not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken bicycle.
Wisconsin Wis. Stat. § 346.075 Exercise due care, leaving a safe distance, but in no case less than three (3) feet clearance when passing the bicycle and maintain clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.
Wyoming None  
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