Ron asked: Does the 3-foot rule apply to vehicles overtaking cyclists that are traveling on the shoulder, outside of the lane edge line?
Yes. The statute gives directions for drivers overtaking and passing a bicyclist, but it does not distinguish between those in the roadway and those on the shoulder. It refers to vehicles proceeding in the same direction.
FS 316.083 – Overtaking and Passing a Vehicle
(1) The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction …. shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance, and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle. The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle 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.
The same safe distance would also apply to drivers passing a bicyclist on the right when that is permitted.
It is unfortunate that this has come to be known as the “3-foot rule”. The three feet is the absolute minimum, and the driver is required to leave a safe distance. That can be much more than three feet under many circumstances.