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3' Law. . measured from where?

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3' Law. . measured from where?

Old 08-28-08, 03:58 AM
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3' Law. . measured from where?

Last year, Arkansas passed a law, requiring drivers to give cyclists 3' when passing. Where is the 3' measured from? Seems it would be the broadest part of your body, maybe elbows? I have some pass, who I could almost reach out and touch.
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Old 08-28-08, 04:18 AM
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You have to look at the exact words of your law. Ideally, I think such laws should measure from the outermost part of the cyclist and the car or truck--cyclist's elbow to car's rear view mirror.
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Old 08-28-08, 05:21 AM
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The 3 ft laws are generally a bit vague. I'd push for hard point to hard point - bars to mirror.
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Old 08-28-08, 05:31 AM
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How exactly would you measure it? If anything, its more of a generalization.
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Old 08-28-08, 06:17 AM
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Originally Posted by 5kdad View Post
Last year, Arkansas passed a law, requiring drivers to give cyclists 3' when passing. Where is the 3' measured from? Seems it would be the broadest part of your body, maybe elbows? I have some pass, who I could almost reach out and touch.
In Wisconsin our 3 foot law says the passing vehicle must maintain a 3 foot clearance when passing a bicycle. I take that to mean 3 feet of space between the widest part of my bike/me and the widest part of the passing vehicle.

If a truck passes me and he has those extra wide mirrors on for hauling a wide load his mirror could actually hit me, even if the side of his truck is 3 feet away. That was not the intent of the legislature when they passed the 3 foot law.

I'm not a lawyer and I don't play one on tv. Your mileage may vary.
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Old 08-28-08, 09:36 AM
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Though anything can happen in a courtroom and even more in A&S, this seems like an easy one. In this context, clearance is the distance by which one thing clears another -- the space between two objects.
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Old 08-28-08, 09:50 AM
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If the cyclist is not hit then there was a 3' pass
If they were, then the cyclist swerved into the path of passing vehicle.
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Old 08-28-08, 01:30 PM
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Good question. The Maine law is vague:

An operator of a motor vehicle that is passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall exercise due care by leaving a distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than 3 feet while the motor vehicle is passing the bicycle. A motor vehicle operator may pass a bicycle traveling in the same direction in a no-passing zone only when it is safe to do so.
I would say it is the distance between the inside edge of both vehicles, probably, as mandovoodoo suggested, handlebar edge to car/truck mirror. If anything else, what's the point? But I'm not a lawyer.
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Old 08-28-08, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by 5kdad View Post
Last year, Arkansas passed a law, requiring drivers to give cyclists 3' when passing. Where is the 3' measured from? Seems it would be the broadest part of your body, maybe elbows? I have some pass, who I could almost reach out and touch.

Well I sure hope it is 3 feet to the left of where the cyclist can safely in the roadway, , not "3 feet from wherever the cyclist happens to be."

In many cases there is an excellent shoulder, several feet wide. In that case cars in their normal course of traffic, with the right tire track a few feet to the left of the white line, are doing perfectly fine. If a cyclist decides to ride further to the left for some stylish reason, i see no reason for the 3 foot rule to apply based on their location.

In the city though, without shoulders and with parked cars/dooring/etc as threats, I don't see any other way to interpret the law than as you suggest, because the rider is doing his best to ride safely given the conditions, and your assessment of where ya need to be in the roadway is just as good as anyone elses.

If not more so!

roughstuff
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Old 08-28-08, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Roughstuff View Post
Well I sure hope it is 3 feet to the left of where the cyclist can safely in the roadway, , not "3 feet from wherever the cyclist happens to be."

In many cases there is an excellent shoulder, several feet wide. In that case cars in their normal course of traffic, with the right tire track a few feet to the left of the white line, are doing perfectly fine. If a cyclist decides to ride further to the left for some stylish reason, i see no reason for the 3 foot rule to apply based on their location.
Are you being reality based sarcastic like I was? I sure hope so.

Al
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Old 08-28-08, 01:50 PM
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An interesting point of view, Roughstuff. Problem being that our opinions don't count. I see the main purpose of the law as creating another negligence per se count in passing and hook accidents, one specific to bicycles. Especially where a close pass blows a cyclist over without impact. The cyclist's assessment of where she needs to be is one we're at mostly. You and I don't get to make that call. That a driver may disagree with a cyclist's choice of road position never establishes a right to violate the law.
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Old 08-28-08, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
Are you being reality based sarcastic like I was? I sure hope so.

Al
No Al I am not. In rural areas the 3 foot rule is almost irrelevant. In some areas the shoulder is the widest lane in the road. But in the cities I am sure it is different.

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Old 08-28-08, 02:01 PM
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As a pracical matter is going to be the Police officer's judgement. If the Officer believes the car passed too close to be safe, the Officer can give the ticket. If he thinks the car gave sufficinet clearence to be safe, he's not going to ticket the car.

And if we're talking about applying the statute to establish negligence per se in subsequent litigation over an accident, it 's only going to come up when there's a collision, and then there will have been zero feet clearence.

It's not like there's going to be videotape, or scale photos to which one could put a ruler.
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Old 08-28-08, 02:03 PM
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Its an imaginary distance in some politican's mind that is completely irrelevant, unrealistic, impractical, ineffective and unenforceable.

Motorists can still run down a cyclist and claim "didn't see them, came out of nowhere" or "swerved in front of me". Even if they leave skidmarks in the shoulder/berm/breakdown lane, worst case is they'll sweat out a trial and the jury will find not guilty - cuz they're drivers too!

They might get slapped with a fine for breaking the imaginary 3 foot rule if a helmet is found lodged in their windshield. It's a consolation punishment for the benefit of the cyclist's friends and family.
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Old 08-28-08, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
Its an imaginary distance in some politican's mind that is completely irrelevant, unrealistic, impractical, ineffective and unenforceable.

Motorists can still run down a cyclist and claim "didn't see them, came out of nowhere" or "swerved in front of me". Even if they leave skidmarks in the shoulder/berm/breakdown lane, worst case is they'll sweat out a trial and the jury will find not guilty - cuz they're drivers too!

They might get slapped with a fine for breaking the imaginary 3 foot rule if a helmet is found lodged in their windshield. It's a consolation punishment for the benefit of the cyclist's friends and family.
I'd agree largely unenforceable. It doesn't have to ineffective.

If Drivers are educated to the law, it could actually change some behavior.

It would be fantastic, if this could be a question on the driver's test. Also some states require an open book teat for license renewal. Cyclists in at least one state have gotten cycling questions on that test.

It would be great to get the 3 foot rule in as one of those questions.

It won't stop every stupid driver. But it may make some rethink their assumption that they can buzz by a cyclist in the same lane anytime they want regardless of circumstances.
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Old 08-28-08, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Roughstuff View Post
No Al I am not. In rural areas the 3 foot rule is almost irrelevant. In some areas the shoulder is the widest lane in the road. But in the cities I am sure it is different.

roughstuff
I was hoping you were not suggesting that it should be OK to buzz or close pass a cyclist if their lane or roadway position is not to your liking.

Al
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Old 08-28-08, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Roughstuff View Post
No Al I am not. In rural areas the 3 foot rule is almost irrelevant. In some areas the shoulder is the widest lane in the road. But in the cities I am sure it is different.

roughstuff
The 3 foot LAW is never irrelevent. Just because there may be plenty of room to pass with far more than 3 feet, does not make the law irrelevent, motorist must still pass providing at least 3 feet of clearance.
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Old 08-28-08, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
If the cyclist is not hit then there was a 3' pass
If they were, then the cyclist swerved into the path of passing vehicle.
That is the sad reality.
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Old 08-29-08, 10:25 PM
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Legally speaking, a car passing a cyclist with 35 7/8" clearance would be violating the law. In reality, well, brace yourself -- good f'n luck!

The widest part of me & my bike is the 26" handlebar; so, since I have a 34+" sleeve, I figure if I can't reach out and touch the car, I'm OK. If I CAN touch it, that driver better get ready, cuz I WILL....forcefully!
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Old 08-30-08, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by 5kdad View Post
Last year, Arkansas passed a law, requiring drivers to give cyclists 3' when passing. Where is the 3' measured from? Seems it would be the broadest part of your body, maybe elbows? I have some pass, who I could almost reach out and touch.
I think: If they contact you they were less than 3' away. If they buzzed you they need a talking to by an officer of the law (and maybe some minor ticket).

I think it's 3' because a "no buzzing" law wouldn't make sense and 3' is quite a bit of space in the city. Although no space accounts for the noise of a large truck with glass packs flooring it as he goes around you.
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Old 08-30-08, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
If the cyclist is not hit then there was a 3' pass
If they were, then the cyclist swerved into the path of passing vehicle.
+2.
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Old 08-31-08, 06:23 AM
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Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
Are you being reality based sarcastic like I was? I sure hope so.

Al
Originally Posted by Roughstuff View Post
Well I sure hope it is 3 feet to the left of where the cyclist can safely in the roadway, , not "3 feet from wherever the cyclist happens to be."

In many cases there is an excellent shoulder, several feet wide. In that case cars in their normal course of traffic, with the right tire track a few feet to the left of the white line, are doing perfectly fine. If a cyclist decides to ride further to the left for some stylish reason, i see no reason for the 3 foot rule to apply based on their location. roughstuff
In other words, rely on the judgement of drivers as to whether or not cyclists have a good reason to be where they are? And then give them the freedom to drive as and where they chose?

If the law requires them to overtake with at least a 3' clearance, then it is not for the driver to decide otherwise because of an opinion by someone who may well, as 1000s of posts have shown, have not the slightest idea of what the rights of cyclists are, nor what their own legal obligations towards other road users are?

If drivers (some, not all) knew what their duties were, under law, and held to them, there would be no need for the 3' law, since they would treat other road users with respect and care for their safety. Since far too many have demonstrated otherwise, your suggestion smacks of a rather touching faith in those same drivers.

Even the failure of cyclists to position themselves correctly does not absolve other road users of their duty of care towards their safety.
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