Overtaking & Passing

"Control & release" is a cooperative technique used by savvy cyclists to discourage unwise/unsafe passing.

“Control & release” is a cooperative technique used by savvy cyclists to discourage unwise/unsafe passing.

Generally, the rules about overtaking and passing apply to operators of all vehicles.  Passing must be accomplished safely and without interfering with the vehicle being passed.  Overtaking drivers must change lanes to pass another vehicle unless the lane is wide enough (14-16 feet, depending on vehicle size) to pass a bicycle safely, allowing a minimum of 3 feet of clearance, while remaining within the lane.  If on-coming traffic, a blind curve or other hazard exists, the overtaking driver must wait until the hazard is no longer present.

Bicyclists in narrow lanes are not required to keep right or ride single file, regardless of the presence of drivers desiring to go faster. Bicyclist must only move right and ride single file if the lane is wide enough to share.  A bicyclist remaining far to the right in a narrow lane is at risk of unwittingly encouraging drivers to attempt to unlawfully and unsafely pass within the lane.  Moving to the center of the lane communicates to the overtaking driver that there is not room to safely pass within the lane. Bicyclists may even move to the left side of the lane to discourage a pass where there is oncoming traffic, limited visibility to the oncoming lane or a stop sign, stop light or queued traffic ahead. Motorists often try to pass without taking such things into account, smart and assertive bicyclists will attempt to stop an unwise pass.

Category: Overtaking & Passing
"Control & release" is a cooperative technique used by savvy cyclists to discourage unwise/unsafe passing.

“Control & release” is a cooperative technique used by savvy cyclists to discourage unwise/unsafe passing.

Generally, the rules about overtaking and passing apply to operators of all vehicles.  Passing must be accomplished safely and without interfering with the vehicle being passed.  Overtaking drivers must change lanes to pass another vehicle unless the lane is wide enough (14-16 feet, depending on vehicle size) to pass a bicycle safely, allowing a minimum of 3 feet of clearance, while remaining within the lane.  If on-coming traffic, a blind curve or other hazard exists, the overtaking driver must wait until the hazard is no longer present.

Bicyclists in narrow lanes are not required to keep right or ride single file, regardless of the presence of drivers desiring to go faster. Bicyclist must only move right and ride single file if the lane is wide enough to share.  A bicyclist remaining far to the right in a narrow lane is at risk of unwittingly encouraging drivers to attempt to unlawfully and unsafely pass within the lane.  Moving to the center of the lane communicates to the overtaking driver that there is not room to safely pass within the lane. Bicyclists may even move to the left side of the lane to discourage a pass where there is oncoming traffic, limited visibility to the oncoming lane or a stop sign, stop light or queued traffic ahead. Motorists often try to pass without taking such things into account, smart and assertive bicyclists will attempt to stop an unwise pass.

On Your Left

Question Al asked: I ride my bicycle for exercise and wondering if you are going to be passed by another bicycle if they should give some sort of warning. Lately I have been passed by guys in full battle gear

Posted in Ask Geo, Overtaking & Passing

Motorcycles on a Paved Shoulder

Question Kris asked: Though lane splitting is illegal in FL can a motorcycle ride the shoulder to pass heavy traffic, 30 mph or less?

Posted in Ask Geo, Overtaking & Passing

Liability for Bike Crash on Shared-Use Path

Question Diana asked: I have a pretty unique situation. I was on a multipurpose sidewalk bike riding with all my safety equipment, i hand signal a right turn and as i was turning i was hit by another cyclist at

Posted in Ask Geo, Bike Paths, Overtaking & Passing

Unlawful Passing

Question Jeff asked: Had an incident today where we were passed on a downhill double yellow line by a truck. Unfortunately for me the driver of the truck lived at the bottom of the hill and came over directly in

Posted in Ask Geo, Overtaking & Passing

Lane Splitting

Question Bkrassn asked: Is it legal to split the lanes like this cyclist does? What are the relevant sections of law? https://youtu.be/KSNgkapuiKQ

Posted in Ask Geo, Overtaking & Passing

Club Rides Taking the Travel Lane

Question Gary asked: In Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores FL, Gulf Blvd is one lane divided by a double yellow line which means no passing. There’s a designated bike lane. These groups of bicycle club riders some times blocks

Posted in Ask Geo, Lane Width & Sharing, Overtaking & Passing

Right of Way on Paved Shoulder

Question Nathan asked: If two cyclists are on the shoulder, one with (motorized) traffic and the other against traffic, who has right of way?

Posted in Ask Geo, Overtaking & Passing, Rights & Duties

Three Feet

Question Linda asked: If a bicyclist is in the bike lane and a car is in the car lane – is there a distance that the car must stay away from the bicyclist? (i.e. in Maine, the car must stay

Posted in Ask Geo, Overtaking & Passing

Motorbikes and Lane Splitting

Question Frans asked: Question 1: As I understand, lane splitting is illegal except when the width of the lane (14 ft minimum) provides enough space for two vehicles. A motorbike is not much wider than a bicycle, which makes you

Posted in Ask Geo, Lane Width & Sharing, Overtaking & Passing

Passing on the Right

Question Doc asked: If car traffic is traveling slower than I am on my bicycle, may I pass those vehicles on their right? The road is quite wide, with a three to four foot paved shoulder marked by a solid

Posted in Ask Geo, Overtaking & Passing