Gov. Deal signs 3-foot safe passing bill into law

May 11, 2011 - Just in time for National Bike Month, Georgia’s roads will soon be safer for its many bicyclists. On May 11th, Governor Nathan Deal will finalize efforts to improve bicycling conditions and road safety in Georgia by signing HB 101, “The Better Bicycling Bill,” into law.

HB 101 modernizes a host of outdated bicycling laws in the state code and also implements a number of significant improvements for bicyclist and motorist safety. 101 makes lawful the sale and use of clipless pedals and recumbent-style bicycles, both popular and widely used in Georgia, which are technically illegal under the old code. Other changes include recognition of bicyclists’ right-of-way in dedicated bike lanes, establishing minimum design guidelines for bicycle lanes, and clarifying circumstances under which a cyclist may take the full travel lane due to unsafe conditions or obstructions.

Most significantly, however, a Senate amendment to the bill defines three feet as the minimum safe passing distance for motor vehicles overtaking cyclists. With the adoption of this law, Georgia joins a growing number of states with safe passing distance laws. Motor vehicles passing a cyclist too closely, known as “buzzing,” are a serious factor in causing bicycle crashes.

In a addition to the Governor and huge majorities of in the Senate and House,  Lt. Governor Casey Cagle strongly supported HB 101. “This legislation updates some of Georgia’s cycling laws and includes the critically important three-foot minimum passing distance requirement,” he says. “Under this new law, both cyclists and motorists will all be able to operate on Georgia’s roads more safely.”

Georgia Bikes’ Executive Director Brent Buice also applauds the enactment of bill, noting that “the three foot passing provision in HB 101 is a tremendous safety improvement for Georgia’s cyclists. HB 101 will help create the conditions that surveys show Georgians want: safer, more comfortable conditions for cycling.”

For more about safe bicycling in Georgia, visit http://georgiabikes.org.

CONTACT:

Statewide - Brent Buice, Executive Director, Georgia Bikes

706-372-9529

Atlanta - Rebecca Serna, Executive Director,

Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, 404-881-1112 or 678-431-5079

Comments

I'm glad to see this

I'm glad to see this law passed.  In NC and in CA where I used to live, there is quite a difference in the way drivers react to riders, and I'd like to see this 3 foot passing bill enacted in every state.  It's especially helpful, or should be, in states where the public roads have less shoulder width to ride on, like we have on country roads in NC.  Let's hope other states follow Georgia's lead on this for bike safety.
frank verdin

3 foot passing

I'm glad to see this law passed.  In NC and in CA where I used to live, there is quite a difference in the way drivers react to riders, and I'd like to see this 3 foot passing bill enacted in every state.  It's especially helpful, or should be, in states where the public roads have less shoulder width to ride on, like we have on country roads in NC.  Let's hope other states follow Georgia's lead on this for bike safety.

Good law

I'm glad to see this 3 foot law passed.  It's still going to be tough out there on the roads when there isn't much of a shoulder and car drivers are going to test the 3 foot limit.  Biking in North Carolina and Califorinia, I've experienced quite different biking laws as well as driver attitudes.  Let's hope we see a drop in accidents (and worse) in Georgia biking stats now that this law has passed.  As always, bicyclists should use proper bike lighting when riding at daybreak, dusk, and certainly at night.  It's also helpful to wear reflective bike gear to be seen, and to encourage drivers to drive wide and obey the 3 foot passing rule.  Let's hope more and more states adopt this law.  Georgia riders, be safe out there.

a few thoughts

While I applaud this legislation, especially the three foot buzzing part, I do have some concerns.  I'm hoping this does not cause some of us cyclists to use it as an excuse to get more obnoxious than some of us already are. Yes, we have to share the road. Yes, motor vehicles can kills us. Yes, some drivers seem like they are trying to kill us or at best scare us. Yes, some drivers get aggressive around cyclists. Sharing the road means sharing with cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles and pedestrians. We need to really focus on everyone operating in a safe manner. I have too often run into cyclists and pedestrians who interpret the term right of way to mean, "I can step/pedal wherever I want when I want, my safety and yours be damned." I implore my fellow cyclists to ride in a safe and courteous manner. What you do reflects on all of us.

And while I have the talking stick let me add:

1) "Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalk" does not mean you can step out from between parked cars into oncoming traffic in the middle of a block not 20 feet from a marked crosswalk. Doing this with a toddler and baby carriage qualifies you for water boarding.

2) Please do not ride your crotch rocket down 75/85 at 110mph, girlfriend on the back, front wheel 8 inches off the ground, wearing nothing but flip flops, shorts and a t-shirt. I'll have to pick your teeth out of my tires when the over agressive guy in the pickup truck swerves at you to "teach you a lesson." I hope you're an organ donor.

3) Please do not lane split, scrape my rear door and cut off the pedestrians crossing the street so you can keep up with your cycling group. That kind of thing makes people less tolerant of cyclists.

4) To the idiot on 400 who filled the gap between me and car in front of me at 80mph in the left lane. Yes, I'm doing 80 and so is the car in front of me. I left that gap so I would have increased reaction time in case of a change in traffic situation. It is not there so you can tailgate the car in front of me.

5) Yes, that was me who waved you through the intersection and smiled as he did it. See, not all BMW drivers are a$$holes. Well, the real reason I did it is that you look like an incompetent driver and I'd rather have you in front of me where I can keep an eye on you.

6) Please do not tailgate me. I know you want to go faster, so do I. But I am going the same speed as the vehicle in front of me. If I go faster I will hit him. It's called physics.

7) If you have to swerve into the next lane to avoid hitting me when I put on the brakes you are following too closely, watching my bumber not the traffic ahead of me or both.

8) When I slow down/stop for you to cross the street or get your Home Depot cart to your car can you try and put a little hustle in your step? You actually don't even need to move faster as long as you look like you are making an effort.

9) A flashing red signal light means "stop". A flashing yellow means "caution" not "stop." In the intesection you typically will get one street on a flashing red and the other with a flashing yellow. I know you think you are being safe by stopping on the yellow but you are just confusing everyone and creating unnatural traffic patterns.

10) Hey cyclist, are you riding in the traffic lane? No problem, I do that too when I can do it safely. Are you riding near the curb to let traffic pass? I do that too when I can do it safely. Please don't do both at the same time.

......and for the record I drive, I cycle, I motorcyle, I run.