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Do you have a four foot rule?
#1
My state has a four foot rule, where drivers have to give bicyclists four feet of space when passing, and only pass when they can do so safely. Of course, many don't! And as I was out riding this past weekend, there were some crazy drivers who almost drove into oncoming traffic because they couldn't stand waiting on a bicycle. Cyclists are permitted to ride on the shoulder, if it exists, but we don't have to. And in many cases, I prefer to ride in the road rather than on a sketchy shoulder.

How about you? Do you find motorists give you plenty of room when passing or do we need to do a better job of spreading the word?
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#2
If there is no marked bike lane then, in Florida, you have the right by law to use the entire lane; cars must provide 3 feet clearance. In the city I rarely get that much clearance and often just 6". I think MA changed from 3' to 4' clearance.
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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#3
Hello Jesper, you are right. Massachusetts passed a 4-foot distance law. But sadly, many of the backroads in MA don't have enough shoulders to safely ride on. So, I used to be on the road and many times faced the ire of vehicular traffic. Like you, many times that 4 feet was a mere 6".

Riding in a bicycle lane or along the edge of the road wasn't sufficient. I drew curses and angry words from a few car drivers. Unfortunately, many of us cyclists don't obey rules while using the roads. A couple of times, I was thanked by car drivers because I was waiting at a traffic light while other cyclists were running the red light.

Interestingly, I saw a lot more respect for and patience towards cyclists in South America. The same has been my experience here in India. Huge buses and trucks would wait patiently before they could safely pass me. These were small backroads which were mostly one-laned with no dividers to separate incoming traffic.



(04-15-2024, 11:19 PM)Jesper Wrote:  If there is no marked bike lane then, in Florida, you have the right by law to use the entire lane; cars must provide 3 feet clearance. In the city I rarely get that much clearance and often just 6". I think MA changed from 3' to 4' clearance.
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#4
(04-17-2024, 11:14 AM)GirishH Wrote:  Hello Jesper, you are right. Massachusetts passed a 4-foot distance law. But sadly, many of the backroads in MA don't have enough shoulders to safely ride on. So, I used to be on the road and many times faced the ire of vehicular traffic. Like you, many times that 4 feet was a mere 6".

Riding in a bicycle lane or along the edge of the road wasn't sufficient. I drew curses and angry words from a few car drivers. Unfortunately, many of us cyclists don't obey rules while using the roads. A couple of times, I was thanked by car drivers because I was waiting at a traffic light while other cyclists were running the red light.

Interestingly, I saw a lot more respect for and patience towards cyclists in South America. The same has been my experience here in India. Huge buses and trucks would wait patiently before they could safely pass me. These were small backroads which were mostly one-laned with no dividers to separate incoming traffic.

The last last time I was in MA it was still 3', but I try to keep up with laws as a cyclist and driver. The road passing my house was a narrow bumpy road when I grew up; 2 cars could nor easily pass on it. Now it's a "superhighway"; widened and smooth pavement (before oil sprayed onto gravel). As a kid and young adult I could hear the vehicles coming a mile away and they needed to travel slowly (about 35mph); now no noise and travelling much faster. It is nicer to ride on as far as comfort and speed, but cars driving by do not provide the required clearance even when they can safely do so.
Most people ride a bike like they drive a car. I drive a car like I ride a bike; aside from being safer (for drivers and cyclists alike), it also saves me money on fuel and maintenance.
As far as cyclists creating their own problem, it is true. The beaches are the worst since I guess riding around in a bathing suit and flipflops means cars need to watch out for you whether you are running stop signs/lights and swerving all over the road, or cutting between cars while they are in motion. I do not ride or drive near beaches since it is a recipe for disaster; not to mention the increased alcohol and drug use in those areas by cyclists and drivers. I guess my desire for a real CX or gravel bike (I ride a "converted" road bike on off-road gravel/grass trails) is growing out of my need to ride on off-road trails (paved or dirt) and avoid traffic altogether; but I find more inexperienced cyclists now doing "beach style" riding on these trails also so I need to ride them when less busy. I had a family blocking an 8' wide paved trail halfway down on my "high speed" descent. If I had been doing my normal riding I would hit a kid (or 2) and a bad day would have resulted. Instead, I have to coast down these blind areas without the intended speed I want to travel at just out of fear of facing the same situation again. People walking dogs on trails is particularly dangerous due to the unpredictability of animals and the irresponsibility of their owners in controlling them.
Then we have the new problem both on roads and off; the e-bike! The trails I ride on are for non-motorized vehicles only (and have 20mph speed limits; I admit to going faster than 20mph on flats and descents), and any gas or electric powered bike capable of travelling over 20mph requires the rider to be licensed and the bike to be registered as a motor vehicle (State law). That is not happening and now trails and bike lanes are infested with those just commuting or "site-seeing" at a higher speed than they are used to and using their speed as the "rule-of-the-road" when needing to negotiate around cyclists they are heading at or overtaking from behind. Rarely is there a gesture or audible signal of these riders' intent and it is generally the standard cyclist who is inconvenienced by needing to slow down or stop to let these fools pass by and who are often actively using a mobile device in one hand (just as they would be when walking or driving a car). My new design for motorized bikes is to make brakes inoperable at speeds over 20mph; try them and they just shear off the frame. Also, tires would automatically blow off the rims at higher speeds (this would not be mentioned in owner's manual except to say that the bike is unsafe at speeds in excess of 20mph).
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
  Reply
#5
Hello Jesper, please patent and sell those 'new designs for motorized bikes'... :-) I was laughing out loud when I read your detailed reply.

Like you, riding a bike made me a better and more aware driver. Being aware, considerate and careful of other road users is thanks to my experience as a bicycle rider.

I am genuinely surprised how people find ways to get themselves distracted while biking but also while driving.

(04-17-2024, 12:49 PM)Jesper Wrote:  
(04-17-2024, 11:14 AM)GirishH Wrote:  Hello Jesper, you are right. Massachusetts passed a 4-foot distance law. But sadly, many of the backroads in MA don't have enough shoulders to safely ride on. So, I used to be on the road and many times faced the ire of vehicular traffic. Like you, many times that 4 feet was a mere 6".

Riding in a bicycle lane or along the edge of the road wasn't sufficient. I drew curses and angry words from a few car drivers. Unfortunately, many of us cyclists don't obey rules while using the roads. A couple of times, I was thanked by car drivers because I was waiting at a traffic light while other cyclists were running the red light.

Interestingly, I saw a lot more respect for and patience towards cyclists in South America. The same has been my experience here in India. Huge buses and trucks would wait patiently before they could safely pass me. These were small backroads which were mostly one-laned with no dividers to separate incoming traffic.

The last last time I was in MA it was still 3', but I try to keep up with laws as a cyclist and driver. The road passing my house was a narrow bumpy road when I grew up; 2 cars could nor easily pass on it. Now it's a "superhighway"; widened and smooth pavement (before oil sprayed onto gravel). As a kid and young adult I could hear the vehicles coming a mile away and they needed to travel slowly (about 35mph); now no noise and travelling much faster. It is nicer to ride on as far as comfort and speed, but cars driving by do not provide the required clearance even when they can safely do so.
Most people ride a bike like they drive a car. I drive a car like I ride a bike; aside from being safer (for drivers and cyclists alike), it also saves me money on fuel and maintenance.
As far as cyclists creating their own problem, it is true. The beaches are the worst since I guess riding around in a bathing suit and flipflops means cars need to watch out for you whether you are running stop signs/lights and swerving all over the road, or cutting between cars while they are in motion. I do not ride or drive near beaches since it is a recipe for disaster; not to mention the increased alcohol and drug use in those areas by cyclists and drivers. I guess my desire for a real CX or gravel bike (I ride a "converted" road bike on off-road gravel/grass trails) is growing out of my need to ride on off-road trails (paved or dirt) and avoid traffic altogether; but I find more inexperienced cyclists now doing "beach style" riding on these trails also so I need to ride them when less busy. I had a family blocking an 8' wide paved trail halfway down on my "high speed" descent. If I had been doing my normal riding I would hit a kid (or 2) and a bad day would have resulted. Instead, I have to coast down these blind areas without the intended speed I want to travel at just out of fear of facing the same situation again. People walking dogs on trails is particularly dangerous due to the unpredictability of animals and the irresponsibility of their owners in controlling them.
Then we have the new problem both on roads and off; the e-bike! The trails I ride on are for non-motorized vehicles only (and have 20mph speed limits; I admit to going faster than 20mph on flats and descents), and any gas or electric powered bike capable of travelling over 20mph requires the rider to be licensed and the bike to be registered as a motor vehicle (State law). That is not happening and now trails and bike lanes are infested with those just commuting or "site-seeing" at a higher speed than they are used to and using their speed as the "rule-of-the-road" when needing to negotiate around cyclists they are heading at or overtaking from behind. Rarely is there a gesture or audible signal of these riders' intent and it is generally the standard cyclist who is inconvenienced by needing to slow down or stop to let these fools pass by and who are often actively using a mobile device in one hand (just as they would be when walking or driving a car). My new design for motorized bikes is to make brakes inoperable at speeds over 20mph; try them and they just shear off the frame. Also, tires would automatically blow off the rims at higher speeds (this would not be mentioned in owner's manual except to say that the bike is unsafe at speeds in excess of 20mph).
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#6
I think riding on the road is sometimes safer than riding on the trails around here - the walkers don't pay attention to what's going on around them and often have their headphones on so they don't hear you approach. Then they're frightened when you pass, even if you're careful and polite!

I think the speed limit on our trails is 15mph, but there are a few folks that I know that keep trying to get the KOMs on the trail, and they put a lot of others at risk because they only care about their KOM, not about the safety of others. So I don't ride the trails too much anymore, I mostly stick to the roads and track racing.

I live in a Mennonite area, where there are a lot of people who use bikes as their main method of transportation (and horse and buggies too), so on the rural roads, people are pretty patient. It's more towards the city that people are impatient with cyclists.
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#7
In the UK, we don't have a 'rule' we have a 'guide'. That means that there's no actual legislation to stipulate minimum passing distance:

"leave at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists at speeds of up to 30mph, and give them more space when overtaking at higher speeds"

and

"you should wait behind the motorcyclist, cyclist, horse rider, horse drawn vehicle or pedestrian and not overtake if it is unsafe or not possible to meet these clearances."

However, a car driver that gives a cyclist less than the "safe" distance when passing them can be prosecuted under related legislation regarding things like "driving without due care and attention" or "dangerous driving."

If I was in charge, I would eliminate the bulk of these rules and replace them with a simple law: "Don't be an idiot." Anyone that needs guidance on how to safely overtake a cyclist shouldn't be allowed a driving licence. Big Grin
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#8
In my state, cyclists have the right-of-way at all times and are to be treated as pedestrians. They may use the entire bike lane.

But sadly, motorists can be incredibly homebrew and entitled when it comes to how they treat cyclists on the road.

Nice to always see the cautions ones, but it's about 50/50 still for how many entitled incautious people there are, that will pass you incredibly close and in unfavorable conditions.
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#9
(04-26-2024, 01:39 PM)ReapThaWhirlwind Wrote:  In my state, cyclists have the right-of-way at all times and are to be treated as pedestrians. They may use the entire bike lane.

But sadly, motorists can be incredibly homebrew and entitled when it comes to how they treat cyclists on the road.

Nice to always see the cautions ones, but it's about 50/50 still for how many entitled incautious people there are, that will pass you incredibly close and in unfavorable conditions.

Same problem here in the UK. The majority of motorists think "bikes can move over" = "bikes MUST move over to let me past."
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#10
I've had my fairshare of reckless drivers. I am not gonna blame them entirely, sometimes I am at fault too with pedestrians and when taking shortcuts but this is the first time I've heard of this rule. Worth sharing and speaking about with others
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#11
Hello Talha, it's refreshing to see that we aren't blaming motorists entirely.

I have seen enough cyclists riding without any clue of how to pass other cyclists or motor traffic. Some even had the guts to ride on the footpath/sidewalks and yell at pedestrians.

Sadly, in the neighboring town of Lexington, a couple of cyclists collided while on a bike path, and tragically, one lost his life. I believe the other was in a serious condition.

I always advocate that we cyclists need to play defensive and stay safe because we don't have any airbags or a metal cage around us in case of a crash.

Hello Amanda_W, just curious whats a KOM?

BTW, I agree with your observation that folks in the rural parts/roads are much more patient and kind..

(04-26-2024, 09:31 AM)Amanda_W Wrote:  I think riding on the road is sometimes safer than riding on the trails around here - the walkers don't pay attention to what's going on around them and often have their headphones on so they don't hear you approach. Then they're frightened when you pass, even if you're careful and polite!

I think the speed limit on our trails is 15mph, but there are a few folks that I know that keep trying to get the KOMs on the trail, and they put a lot of others at risk because they only care about their KOM, not about the safety of others. So I don't ride the trails too much anymore, I mostly stick to the roads and track racing.

I live in a Mennonite area, where there are a lot of people who use bikes as their main method of transportation (and horse and buggies too), so on the rural roads, people are pretty patient. It's more towards the city that people are impatient with cyclists.
  Reply
#12
(05-09-2024, 12:32 PM)GirishH Wrote:  Hello Talha, it's refreshing to see that we aren't blaming motorists entirely.

I have seen enough cyclists riding without any clue of how to pass other cyclists or motor traffic. Some even had the guts to ride on the footpath/sidewalks and yell at pedestrians.

Sadly, in the neighboring town of Lexington, a couple of cyclists collided while on a bike path, and tragically, one lost his life. I believe the other was in a serious condition.

I always advocate that we cyclists need to play defensive and stay safe because we don't have any airbags or a metal cage around us in case of a crash.

Hello Amanda_W, just curious whats a KOM?

BTW, I agree with your observation that folks in the rural parts/roads are much more patient and kind..

(04-26-2024, 09:31 AM)Amanda_W Wrote:  I think riding on the road is sometimes safer than riding on the trails around here - the walkers don't pay attention to what's going on around them and often have their headphones on so they don't hear you approach. Then they're frightened when you pass, even if you're careful and polite!

I think the speed limit on our trails is 15mph, but there are a few folks that I know that keep trying to get the KOMs on the trail, and they put a lot of others at risk because they only care about their KOM, not about the safety of others. So I don't ride the trails too much anymore, I mostly stick to the roads and track racing.

I live in a Mennonite area, where there are a lot of people who use bikes as their main method of transportation (and horse and buggies too), so on the rural roads, people are pretty patient. It's more towards the city that people are impatient with cyclists.

KOM/QOM = King/Queen of the Mountain for fastest ascent. It's a Strava kind of thing if it matters to you what you do compared to others. There are ways to cheat it so people's times mean nothing in the long run unless it is for your personal best time, or when in an actual race amongst others; otherwise you do not fully know the truth of the matter. I know people who have driven their vehicles or e-bikes using the Strava program and registered it as a self powered bike ride. Kind of the Strava version of a "deep fake".
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
  Reply
#13
@Amanda_W
Here, in Latvia, we don't have such a specific rule/law, but once in a while, we have media campaigns (from our Road Safety Audit department) running and being targeted towards car drivers - about keeping 1.5 m distance when overtaking cyclists; which is 5 feet. "One road for all", "Closer NO!", "Break vices, don't break bones" - some of the motos.

Overall the situation on the roads here is OK, but there are some bad, impatient drivers as well. Those who are not cyclists themselves.
Merida Scultura 5000 (2015)
Merida Big Nine 400 (2019)
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