The three foot rule is a dog with no teeth. The Ft. Myers News Press in an article on April 3, 2015 reported only 500 tickets were issued against drivers in Florida last year. According to their research only eight of those drivers were found guilty. Now that’s impressive!
You might remember the three foot rule was initially passed in 2006 after a series of cycling accidents. But it seems the rule is mostly used to educate and inform drivers, not for enforcement.
One of the chief problems is proving how close a driver came to a cyclist when there was no collision. I can tell you from my experience, unless there was photographic or video evidence made at the time, it is impossible to prove without actual contact having been made. How does a cop prove the vehicle was 18 or 27 inches from a rider? What part of the rider or the bicycle is used as the nearest point? What was the perspective of the officer? All these points are hotly contested if a driver is cited. This is complicated by the fact both the vehicle and the bike are moving and the traffic violation takes only an instant.
When a driver actually hits a cyclist they are cited for careless driving, failure to drive in a single lane, improper turn or violation of right of way. Last year in Florida these incidents of a driver striking a cyclist resulted in the deaths of 121 riders.
One suggestion has been to scrap the 3 foot rule and simply require drivers to “move over” similar to the requirements when passing a police or emergency vehicle stopped on the right of way or side of the road. That way a cyclist would be given an entire lane when passing. What are your thoughts?
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