Jim Wheeler from the Sarasota Manatee Bike Club called me a week or so ago and had a question. He had been riding with his weekly group when they were passed by another group of riders. His concern was the passing riders did not announce their approach and passed, in his view, dangerously close to them. His question was whether the “3 foot” rule applied to riders. My answer may surprise you.
Let’s start by looking at the statute language that applies. First, Fla Stat 316.003 defines a “driver” as any person who drives… a vehicle. A “vehicle” is defined as every device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported… upon a highway. A “highway” is virtually every way open for vehicle traffic. A “bicycle” includes every vehicle propelled solely by human power. This means a bicycle is a vehicle.
Section 316.083 requires the driver of every vehicle passing another vehicle going in the same direction to give an appropriate signal (this means to warn other drivers of the intent to move left and can be given by hand). The three foot rule requires “the driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle… must pass at a safe distance of not less than three feet between the vehicle and the bicycle…”
Two things: first, in my view the 3 foot rule applies to “people on bicycles.” Second, the rule is the minimum for us and for vehicles passing us. The law says “a safe distance of not less than three feet.”