COLUMBUS, Ohio -
At least 22 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws requiring motorists to allow a specified amount of space when passing bicyclists.
A similar measure was proposed in the Ohio House of Representatives last year but now appears likely to be derailed. A spokesman for Rep. Michael Henne, sponsor of HB 145, said the three foot provision will be withdrawn from the bill as a result of opponent testimony.
News of the demise of the “three-feet-biking-law” comes just days after another Ohio bicyclist was struck and killed. Fifty-Six-year-old Joseph Giampapa of Dublin was riding along on a two-lane road in Miami County when he was struck from behind. Giampapa was an accomplished cyclist and was participating in a 200 mile bike tour.
In September of 2013, DeSales High School teacher Bob Lennon was struck by a motorist and killed while bicycling on Miller-Paul Road in Delaware County. The motorist, Katy Paul, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident and was sentenced to four and a half years in prison.
A statement issued from Giampapa’s family read, in part, “The Ohio Bike Federation has been trying to pass a ‘three foot biking law’ through the legislature. We urge the community to support this important measure.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 22 states have enacted three-feet passing laws. Pennsylvania has a four-feet passing law and Virginia has a two-feet passing law. The NCSL website says “These laws seek to ensure that, when passing bicycles, motor vehicles allow adequate space to avoid sideswiping bicyclists or causing them to overcorrect to avoid a vehicle.
Skeptics doubt such laws can be enforced and whether three feet allows sufficient space for bicyclists. In addition, many bicyclists feel that laws dictating they must ride to the far right of a lane are of more concern because they often encourage too-close passing and leave bicyclists vulnerable to being “doored” by a parked car or to encountering roadside debris.
Advocates state that these passing laws at least create a legal framework to protect bicyclists who are hit or buzzed from behind, create a less arbitrary standard and raise awareness of the importance of safe passing.”[space]