A House Bill intended to force motorist to allow three feet of space when passing a cyclist on the roadway fell shy one vote in the state of Wyoming on Wednesday.
House floor votes rejected the bike-safety bill 30-28 leaving the cycling community disappointed.
“The three-foot rule would be very important for cyclists and motorists in Wyoming and I feel that it should be adopted nation wide,” said Scott Fitzgerald, owner of Fitzgerald’s Bicycles in Jackson. “Our rural highways in Wyoming have very limited shoulders and pose great hazards for all highway users.”
Fitzgerald spoke on behalf of the cycling community stating that a three-foot rule was a valuable educational tool for motorists that would force them to be more aware of cyclist on the road. Educational tools, even one seemingly as small as a three-foot rule when passing cyclists, would lead to safer roads for everyone.
“The three-foot law would not only provide a buffer for cyclists, but would also provide motorists with a guideline by which to navigate around cyclists,” Fitzgerald said. “Too often motorists feel they have to move entirely into the on coming lane to pass a cyclist. This creates additional danger for the motorist, any on coming motorists, and the cyclist. The three-foot rule helps to educate all users on how to co-exist.”
According to Fitzgerald, Teton County has had two fatalities due to motor vehicle-bicycle collisions that might have been prevented with more driver education about the presence of cyclists on the road. “The three-foot rule poses no threat to drivers but has the potential to save lives through increased awareness of motorists.”
It was reported in the Associated Press that those against the House Bill thought it common sense to leave enough space on the roadway when passing a cyclists and that the law would be hard to enforce anyway. “Introduction and discussion of a three-foot passing bill makes this issue more immediate or relevant and helps get it on the agenda as well,” said Tim Young, executive director of Friends of Pathways.
“Three-foot passing laws don’t usually have very meaningful penalties attached to them so we still need legislation that raises the severity of offences where there may be no intent to cause harm, but harm is caused because people were behaving in ways that we know result in crashes,” he added.
There are currently 16 states that require a safe-passing distance of three feet. However, the bill has recently been defeated in Wyoming, North Dakota and Washington.