Cyclist and Automobiles – 3 Feet of Space

Bicyclists and drivers share the road on a common basis. However, as of Jan. 1, 2020 Washington Drivers must give cyclists and pedestrians three feet of space, or more, if passing them on the road. Lawmakers of Washington approved the new addition to the law in May (RCW 46.61.110).

Previously, drivers were instructed to pass bicyclists at a “safe distance.” The new rules clarify what that is for drivers.

The main points of the new law are:

  • If there are two or more lanes, drivers must move out of the right lane to pass a cyclist.
  • If there is only one lane in each direction, drivers must slow down and give the cyclist at least three feet of space.
  • If there is one lane in each direction, but not enough room to pass, the driver must move into oncoming traffic when safe to do so.

Many bicyclists believe that this is a positive change in the law. There are many reported cases of bicyclists being hit by cars that drove to close to the bicyclists on the road causing accidents and undue traffic.

This new law aims to reduce the amount of vehicular accidents involving bicycle riders in Washington State. Whether or not drivers will fully comply with this law remains to be seen.