Safe Passing Distance


Joe the Bike Man asked: Is there a Florida Law about a minimum distance from a cyclist that a motorist should be when passing the bicycle?  Some state have what is a called a 4-foot or 5-foot law



s. 316.083Overtaking and Passing a Vehicle – The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions, and special rules hereinafter stated:

(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.

7 Comments on “Safe Passing Distance

  1. Phil,

    Enforcing this law is particularly problematic since it would require some type of calibrated distance measuring device to accurately assess three feet. Also, it would require a dedicated effort which may not be productive enough to be warranted.
    If there could be some manner of determining that the riders actions before a crash were appropriate and lawful, the law might be prima facie evidence of a violation.
    This is an example of a law passed without consideration of the law enforcement implications.

  2. An FLPD officer came within a foot of me when I was ridding in a bike lane at the beach. When I caught him at the traffic light I tapped on his window and asked if he could give me three feet when passing. He pulled me over and tried to harass me, I guess he was not use to someone telling him what to do… I told him to read the yellow sticker on the back bumper of his patrol car 3 ft please. I’m guessing he didn’t think it applied to a cyclist in a bike lane. I told him the law does not say 3 ft here and 3 ft there it’s 3 feet period, no matter where in the road I’m ridding.

  3. So three feet distance when passing a bicyclist and I assume a skateboarder also. Does the width of the lane matter? As I understand the law, if the road lane isn’t wide enough to pass in the same lane with three feet clearance, the driver of the motor vehicle is supposed to change lanes to pass, if it’s safe to do so. Narrow roads (under 14′ wide lance, driver of car or truck is supposed to change lanes. Any law enforcement people here who can comment on this?

  4. I do not see any language that says speed of the overtaking vehicle matters. Is that correct? And, if so, does the law apply in publicly accessed private lanes such as shopping centers?

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