Passing Bicyclists


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.

1 Comment on “Passing Bicyclists

  1. And to further the rights of a shoulder traveling cyclist, a vehicle in the oncoming lane of a two lane road should not overtake another vehicle in the oncoming lane if there is bicycle traffic in the opposite direction if that cycling traffic is in the zone required to effect the pass. (Even if the cyclist is on the shoulder.) Correct?

    I have encountered such a situation on a State Road, and it gives one cause for serious concern!

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