You are here:Home > 3 Foot Rule by State
Here's the full lists of the US States having a 3 Foot Rule and/or Law:

3-Foot Clearance States

Arizona: "When overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction, a person driving a motor vehicle shall exercise due care by leaving a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet ..." Sets fines if violation causes death or injury. (Doesn't apply if bicyclist is not using an adjacent bike lane or bike path.) Enacted in 2000.

Arkansas: "... pass to the left at a safe distance of not less 3 feet..." Sets fines in case of death or injury. Enacted in 2007.

Colorado: The law requires motorists give bicycles at least 3 feet or risk a $110 fine. Also states anyone who throws an object at bicyclist be charged with class 2 misdemeanor, which carries a $250 to $1,000 fine and 3 to 12 month jail sentence. (Enacted in 2009; went into effect Aug. 5)

Connecticut: "... safe distance means not less than three feet when the driver of a vehicle overtakes and passes a person riding a bicycle." (Enacted 2008)

Delaware: May 2011 Delaware Senate passes bill to give cyclists space! Motorists must leave 3 feet or move into non-adjacent lane

Florida: "... must pass the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle." See also Florida Bicycle Law guide published by the Florida Bicycle Association. Enacted 2006.

Georgia: In the midst of National Bike Month, Governor Nathan Deal signed HB 101, the "Better Bicycling Bill," which, among other improvements to bicycling safety, establishes a 3 foot safe passing distance in Georgia!
The changes made by HB 101 will go into effect on July 1, 2011.
Thanks to all of you who contacted legislators to express your support for safer bicycling conditions in Georgia!

Illinois: "... leave a safe distance, but not less than 3 feet..." Enacted 2007.

Kansas: "The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a distance of not less than three feet ..." Enacted 2011

Louisiana: Motor vehicle operator "shall leave a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet and shall maintain such clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle." Also includes anti-harassment provision. See "Louisiana governor signs 3-foot rule"

Maine: "... exercise due care by leaving a distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than 3 feet ..." See also Bicycle Coalition of Maine: New Bicycle Laws. Enacted 2007.

Maryland: "...when overtaking a bicycle, .... pass safely at a distance of not less than 3 feet ..." Enacted 2010.

May 2011 -The passage of a new bicycle law in Maryland has created steeper fines and harsher penalties for motorists who injure or kill cyclists.

Now, the maximum penalty for criminally negligent drivers is $5,000 a manslaughter charge, and up to three years in jail. Previously, the maximum penalty was a trip to traffic court and a fine of $300.

The new bicycle law (House Bill 363) comes at a time of high-profile bicycle accident cases. In one, a cyclist is still in a coma after being hit by an 83-year-old driver. The driver received two traffic citations. In another, a cyclist died after being run over. The driver was punished by getting 3 points on her license and was required to pay a fine. In another case, a State Highway Administrator was struck and killed by a motorist. They received a $280 fine and three points against their license.

"The passage of HB363 is extremely important in making Maryland's roads safer and our judicial system more equitable," Carol Silldorff of the Baltimore Bicycle Club, told Bike Radar.

Mississippi: Requires 3 feet when passing, and forbids throwing objects at bicyclists from cars. Enacted 2010.

Minnesota: " ... shall leave a safe distance, but in no case less than three feet
clearance, when passing the bicycle or individual ..." Enacted 2004.

Nevada: We’ve been following the introduction of SB248 in the Nevada Legislature and, we are happy to report, the bill has become law!  It passed the State Senate on April 22nd, 2011 with 21 Yea Votes to 0 Nay Votes.  Then, on May 11th, 2011 it passed the State Assembly with 34 Yea to 8 Nay Votes.  May 19th, 2011, the Governor signed it into law.  Effective October 1st, 2011, all motorists must now give bicyclists and electric bicyclists 3 feet when passing.

New Hampshire: "... the distance shall be deemed to be reasonable and prudent if it is at leat 3 feet when the vehicle is traveling at 30 mph or less, with one additional foot of clearance for every 10 mph above 30 mph." (Enacted 2008)

Oklahoma: "... 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." Enacted 2006

Tennessee: Creates a subsection known as "Jeff Roth and Brian Brown Bicycle Protection Act of 2007 ... shall leave a safe distance between the motor vehicle and bicycle bof not less than three feet and shall maintain such clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle." Enacted 2007

Utah: "An operator of a motor vehicle may not knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly operate a motor vehicle within three 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." Enacted 2006

Wisconsin: "... shall exercise due care, leaving a safe distance, but in no case less than 3 feet clearance when passing the bicycle or electric personal assistive mobility device..." Enacted 1973 (!). See also Safety and Consumer Protection: Motorist reminders... "Leave at least three feet when passing bicycles, more room at higher speeds."

Cities

Boise, Idaho:  City Council passes law requiring that cars leave 3 feet of space when passing a bicycle (also must yield to bicycles in intersections and cannot cut-off cyclists when turning) Also illegal to throw objects at bicyclists or otherwise harass them. (added Jan. 13, 2010)

Other cities with 3-foot laws include Oklahoma City and Edmond, Oklahoma, as well as Austin, Fort Worth, Edinburgh, Beaumont, El Paso, Helotes, New Braunfels, San Antonio, and Denton, in Texas.

Safe Distance States

Rhode Island enacted a law in 2010 that requires motorists pass at a safe distance, defined as a distance sufficient to prevent contact if the bicyclist were to fall into the driver's lane of traffic.

South Carolina enacted a law in 2008 that requires a "safe operating distance" (not 3 feet per se).

Michigan's motor vehicle code, section 257.636, says the driver of a vehicle overtaking a vehicle proceeding in the same director shall pass as a safe distance to the left of that vehicle. This applies to bicycles, as bikes are considered vehicles when they're on the road.

Drivers' Manual States

Kentucky:  "Pass a cyclist only when it can be done safely, and give ample room (3 feet) between your car and the cyclist. ... Give the cyclist extra room if your vehicle has extended outside review mirrors." -- page 66.Kansas Driving Handbook says: "When passing a bicyclist use extreme caution and pass four feet to the left of the bicyclist." I think this is just a recommendation, however, and is not part of the law...

Washington: "Space for bicyclists: ... Allow three feet of space when overtaking or passing a bicyclist..." -- pages 78 and 79.

Kansas: "When passing a bicyclist use extreme caution and pass four feet to the left of the bicyclist." -- page 24.

Texas: Although there's no guidance for automobile, it is recommended that trucks and other large vehicles give six feet of clearance. "You should always allow at least six feet to the left of the two-wheeled vehicle when you are passing." -- page 15-20.

Facts:

The number of bike commuters rose from about 483,145 in 2003 to about 664,859 in 2007, a 37.6% increase, according to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

In 2008, 716 pedal cyclists were killed and an additional 52,000 were injured in traffic crashes. Pedal cyclist deaths accounted for 2 percent of all traffic fatalities, and pedalcyclists made up 2 percent of all the people injured in traffic crashes during the year.

• Louisiana passed a 3-feet-to-pass law in June. Motorists who fail to give riders enough room to pass can be fined up to $50. The law also makes it unlawful to harass, taunt or maliciously throw objects at cyclists.

Wisconsin eliminated a requirement that bicyclists ride 3 feet away from parked cars. The law also prohibits motorists from opening car doors without checking for cyclists.

New Jersey's General Assembly passed a 3-feet-to-pass bill on June 25. It is now being considered by the Senate transportation committee.

Austin,Texas has a 3 foot passing ordinance

Rhode Island legislators passed a measure -- "Frank's Law" -- that requires motorists drive a safe distance from a bicyclist. There's no specific distance in the law; safe is defined as a distance sufficient to prevent contact if the bicyclist were to fall into the driver's lane of traffic. The bill was named for bicyclist Frank J. Cabral, who was struck and killed by a passing car in 2007.

UPDATE:Rhode Island Rep. Joseph M. McNamara introduced a bill (H 5096) that requires motorists to pass bicycles or other human-powered vehicles by 3 feet or more, according to the Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition.The bill amends the so-called Frank's Law that passed the legislature and went into effect last year. That law said motorists must pass at a safe distance, defined as “a distance that is sufficient to prevent contact with the person operating the bicycle if the person were to fall over into the driver’s lane of traffic.”  The new bill by McNamara redefines that "safe distance" as 3 feet.

Virginia Virginia Bicycling Federation reports that two 3-foot passing bills were killed in the House of Delegates Subcommittee on Transportation on Wednesday morning.The bills would have extended the distance by which motorists must pass bicyclists from the current two feet to three feet. Both bills -- HB 1683 and HB 2194 -- failed by a 4-3 vote; the vote tally is supplied at the Virginia Bicycling Federation website.

A Senate version (SB 928) is still alive. It establishes a 3-foot gap for passing bicyclists and prohibits following a bicycle "more closely than is reasonable."

Wyoming the Wyoming State House defeated a bill that would have required motorists to give bicyclists a 3-foot gap when passing by a vote of 30-28. That's one shy of passage.Opponents said that giving bicyclists a lot of room when passing is just common sense, the AP reported.

Oklahoma considering an increase to fines in its three-foot bill and making it a felony to throw objects at a bicyclist.

Bills submitted for 2011

Georgia -- HB 101; enacted.

Kansas -- HB 2192; 3-foot provision added to a seatbelt bill

North Dakota -- Rejected 17-29 after legislators couldn't see "consistent and meaningful" enforcement, Grand Forks Herald

Oklahoma -- SB 951 sets penalties for failure to give 3-foot gap and harassing; in committee

Rhode Island -- Withdrawn; extended 2-foot law to 3 feet

Virginia -- Tabled in Transporation Committee

Washington -- Withdrawn; part of a "mutual responsibilities bill" that was not well received by bicyclists; Seattle Bike Blog

Wyoming -- Failed to get necessary 31 votes (30-28), AP

Bills submitted for 2010

Iowa -- Senate File 117 Passed by the Senate in 2009, but stalled in the House. A subcommittee is revamping the 3-foot bill to include provisions to protect "vulnerable users" by adding enhanced fines. More at Sioux City Journal.

Maryland -- Senate Bill 51 Requires motorists to pass bicycles by "not less than 3 feet;" also makes it illegal to throw an object at a bicyclist. Also, motorists crossing a bike lane to turn must yield the right of way to bicyclists.

Missouri -- House Bill 1250 requires a driver to pass a bicycle at a distance not less than 3 feet. See other bicycling bills at BikeMoFed.

Ohio (announced Sept. 28, 2009) Senate Bill 174 requires a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle to maintain a safe passing distance between the motor vehicle and bicycle of not less than three feet. It eliminates the current requirement for the operator of an overtaken vehicle, including a bicycle, to give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle at the latter's audible signal.

South Dakota -- Senate Bill 70 requires a 3-foot gap when passing a bicycle. Refered to the Senate Transportation Committee on Jan. 20. The South Dakota Bicycle Coalition is bird-dogging this bill.

Virginia -- Senate Bill 566 and House Bill 1048 (HB 1048 defeated) requires motorists give bicyclists at least three feet. The bills also outlaw tailgating and create a a new Class 3 misdemeanor of Careless Driving — to counter the difficulty of charging motorists with Reckless Driving when they kill or injure cyclists. More details at Virginia Bicycling Federation and at Richmond Sunlight (SB 566 and HB 1048).

State laws under consideration in 2009

Colorado (passed and signed into law)

Iowa

Louisiana (passed and signed into law)

Maryland (passed and signed into law in 2010)

Rhode Island (amended and enacted in 2010)

Texas (passed, but Gov. Nick Perry vetoed)

Washington (not resolved)

Previously under consideration

Hawaii: SB 2892 -- For any motor vehicle passing a bicyclist, a safe distance shall be not less than 3 feet, except that a bicyclist may reasonably leave a bicycle lane to avoid debris or other hazardous conditions. Check status.

New Hampshire: HB 1203 -- The distance shall be presumed to be reasonable and prudent if it is at least 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. Check status at Bike-Walk Alliance of New Hampshire or QuickBill search.

New Jersey: The state legislature passed a 3-feet-to-pass bill on June 25; it's under consideration by the Senate transportation committee.

Ohio: HB 390 -- "When the operator of a vehicle or trackless trolley overtakes a bicycle or other slow vehicle, the operator shall pass at a distance of not less than three feet between the vehicle or trackless trolley and the bicycle or other slow vehicle." Check updates at Ohio House bill status

South Carolina: HB 3006 -- "An operator of a motor vehicle shall allow a safe operating distance between the motor vehicle and a bicycle when passing and overtaking a bicyclist." This bill passed the House and became SB 0354. Check Palmetto Cycling Coalition for updates. (Passed out of Senate committee on April 23, 2008 -- The State.)(Signed into law June 10, 2008 -- AP)

Vermont: H.578 -- "An operator of a motor vehicle that is passing a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction shall exercise due care by leaving a distance between the motor vehicle and the bicyclist of not less than three feet while the motor vehicle is passing the bicycle.  Additionally, the operator of a vehicle that passes a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction may not make a right turn at any intersection or into any highway or driveway unless the turn can be made with reasonable safety." Also S. 275. Check status at Vermont bill tracking.

Washington: HB 2732 -- "The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian or bicycle that is on the roadway or on the right-hand shoulder or bicycle lane of the roadway shall pass to the left at a safe distance, of no less than three feet, to clearly avoid coming into contact with the pedetrian or bicyclist...." Check for updates at Washington legislature bill search or Bicycle Alliance of Washington bill watch.

 -- This list of 3-foot passing bills considered in state legislatures was compiled in part with information provided by the National Bike Summit published by League of American Bicyclists.

 
3 Foot Rule Related Links

Canada

United Kingdom

Foundations

Other