On Wednesday, August 5 2009, Colorado joins 14 other states with bills which require a distance of three feet when passing a cyclist. Burt Reynolds could not be happier about gaining three feet (1 yard). The bill, 148, also gives motorists the right to safely cross the center line whilst passing cyclists…I could joke about motorists crossing the line but I won’t. Riding as far right as deemed safe is also a right of the cyclist now which means you are legally allowed to “take the lane” without impeding the flow of traffic. This is where it gets a bit grey and common sense needs to be called in.
On a four lane road with no shoulder such as Horsetooth, near College Ave, or Riverside, cyclists are allowed and encouraged, for safety sake, to ride in the right lane. I hope you’ve noticed the “share the road” signs posted in these areas. They’re there for just this purpose! On a two lane lane road with no bike lane, this also means a cyclist can ride in the lane, but it does not mean we can hold up a car from passing in a reasonable amount of time (impeding traffic)….how long is ‘ a reasonable amount of time’ you ask? As soon is it is safe for you to move over. The reason you ride in the lane is to ensure vehicles see you and make a conscious effort to pass safely. I call it a little take and give; take the lane and then give it when it’s safe. Riding in the far right or in the gutter on such roads encourages and forces drivers to violate the three foot LAW (doesn’t that have a nice ring to it?) when there is oncoming traffic or on curvy roads.
As for two a-breast riding… cyclists can ride side by side but must move to single file to allow vehicles to pass. Now I’m not saying moving to single file in the gutter – remember, the law says as far right as deemed safe by the cyclist. The moving to single file is more a means for cyclists to let vehicles know they are cognizant of them and thus expect the same in return.
What else does this bill mean for cyclists? It means that we cyclists must watch our ‘Ps and Qs’ even more so until the bill is understood and accepted by everyone. If we’re going to demand adherence to the new bill, we must also follow the rules of the road…..Three feet pertains to us as well and squeezing between cars and the gutter at intersections violates this law as well. Move in with traffic in these situations.
In related news, I came across a good idea for license plates while visiting the http://www.3feet2pass.com/ site. It’s a license plate dedicated to the three feet to pass law and a local rider’s foundation. In Tennessee they need 1000 people signed up before they will print them and donations go to http://jeffrothcyclingfoundation.org/. Might be something to check out!
Now for this week’s tip — I’d like every cyclist to learn, practice and preach the rules of the road to other cyclists. Remember – 3 feet, no gutters, right lane and single file when necessary!
That’s it for now! This weekend, forget mowing the lawn and enjoy your real back “yard”…..go ride!
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