Herman asked: I was talking to an acquaintance a while back and she was telling me that the 3′ law applies even when we’re in the bike lane. Is that true?
The applicable statute is:
s. 316.083 – Overtaking and Passing a Vehicle
The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction
(1) …. 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 statute does not impose any limitations by the location of the bicyclist which could be in the roadway, including a bike lane, or the paved shoulder, which is not part of the roadway. The same is true whether the bicyclist is being passed on the left or right, when that is permissible.
Note also that the three feet is the absolute minimum and in many situations the safe passing distance may be more.